The World’s Biggest Diasporas [Infographic]

The list of countries with the largest share of the native-born population living in the diaspora reveals stories of war and displacement but also of economic stagnation and lack of opportunity. Although there are many reasons why a person may leave the place where they were born, small countries are most often affected by the phenomenon because they are inherently disadvantaged when offering opportunities and chances to move. first inside the country.

In regions where small countries are common and where remoteness is added as another factor, for example in the Caribbean or Oceania, living in the diaspora is most common. Of all sovereign countries with a population of at least 750,000, the Caribbean nation Guyana had the largest share of its native-born population – 36.4% – living abroad. Jamaica comes fifth with 28.6%. Taking into account independent countries of all sizes, island nations dominate the top ranks with up to half of their population having settled in other countries. Polynesia was the region with the highest overall share of the diaspora in 2020, at 28.7%, followed by the Caribbean at 17.7%.

Another group that commonly appears among countries with the largest diasporas are those from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. After the collapse of communism in the early 1990s, many people left in search of better economic opportunities, for example in Western Europe. The region saw more unrest and wars in the 1990s, increasing the size of the diasporas. Bosnia and Herzegovina, which declared independence in 1991 when communist Yugoslavia fell and suffered a bloody ethnic war afterwards, had 34% of its population living abroad in 2020. Albania put an end to more than forty years of communism and international isolation in 1992. Serious financial mismanagement and the ensuing civil war kept the country in dire straits throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium. Today, almost a third of the population lives abroad. More Eastern European nations and former Soviet republics among the countries with the largest diasporas in the world are Moldova, Armenia, North Macedonia, Croatia, and Kazakhstan.

Countries that are currently or have been very recently involved in wars and conflicts also make significant appearances on the list. Syria, a country of around 28 million native-born people, now has eight million of them, or around 30%, living abroad. South Sudan, where a civil war officially ended in 2020, has a diaspora share of 21%. Countries that are seriously mismanaged by their governments include Eritrea with an 18.5% diaspora share and Venezuela with 16.6%. Another continental Latin American country has an even larger diaspora: El Salvador’s civil war ended in 1992, but gang violence prevailed – more than 20% of the nation now lives abroad.

However, the largest conflict-driven diaspora is in non-sovereign territory, as more than 45% of people born in Palestine currently reside abroad, according to UN figures.

The least developed countries are the most mobile

Some wealthy countries and territories also have highly mobile populations, for example the United Arab Emirates. Counting only native-born residents – a fraction of the more than nine million who reside in the country – yields a diaspora quota of over 26%. In Hong Kong, where a third of residents are immigrants, the native-born population has moved at a rate of more than 18%. In Western Europe, Portugal was the country with the largest diaspora, followed by Ireland. Both countries have experienced weak economic growth and opportunity. For comparison, the size of the US-born American diaspora was just 1% in 2020.

In terms of global development strata, the world’s least developed countries have experienced the greatest exodus, with their diasporas accounting for an average of 12.5% ​​of their native-born populations, far ahead of both less and more developed countries. with about 3-6% of people living abroad. .

The United Nations Population Division calculates estimates of countries’ residential population and global stock of migrants, with 2020 being the latest year available. For migrants, the organization determines their status if possible by country of birth. Otherwise, migrant status could be determined by nationality, which can lead to both undercount and overcount of migrants. In places where many foreign-born residents have obtained citizenship, the number of migrants will be underestimated. In cases where native-born people do not automatically receive citizenship, which can occur among refugee populations but also in countries with restrictive laws, the number of migrants would be overestimated.

Mapped by Statistical

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