The United States has the highest number of immigrants (foreign-born individuals), with 48 million in 2015, five times more than in Saudi Arabia (11 million) and six times more than in Canada (7.6 million).
However, in proportion to their population size, these two countries have significantly more immigrants: 34% and 21%, respectively, versus 15% in the United States.
This is according to Gilles Pison, professor at the National Museum of Natural History and Associate Researcher at INED, who has released a new report on the world’s immigration patterns for The Conversation.
Notably, South Africa places 15th on the list with 3.8 million immigrants in the country – making up 6.9% of the total population.
Pison said that countries with a high proportion of immigrants can typically be divided into five groups:
- The first group comprises countries that are sparsely populated but have abundant oil resources, where immigrants sometimes outnumber the native-born population (e.g the UAE);
- The second group consists of very small territories, microstates, often with special tax rules (e.g Monaco);
- The third group is made up of nations formerly designated as “new countries”, which cover vast territories but are still sparsely populated (e.g Australia and Canada);
- The fourth group, which is similar to the third in terms of mode of development, is that of Western industrial democracies, in which the proportion of immigrants generally ranges from 9% to 17% (e.g Australia and Sweden);
- The fifth group includes the so-called “countries of first asylum”, which receive massive flows of refugees due to conflicts in a neighbouring country (e.g Lebanon)