The world’s movement of people – in one map

With the refugee crisis in Syria, the rhetoric of the US presidential campaign and the recent Brexit vote, it’s no surprise that the movement of people is such a major talking point.

The world is experiencing the biggest displacement of people since the Second World War, with more than 22 million displaced from their home countries. More than 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015 alone.

This map, posted on and based on estimates from the UN Population Division, gives a remarkable insight into the extent of global migration.

It shows the estimated net migration by origin and destination between 2010 and 2015. Each yellow dot represents 1,000 people, while blue dots indicate positive net migration, and red negative net migration.

Country-to-country net migration (2010-20151F9HzalwFbm_g8TqWaYRNPgYnYqXpPX1aHNrH4KbyOA

An interactive version of the map is available here.

It highlights the mass movement of people across Europe and the Middle East, as well as along clearly defined routes in Africa.

The impact of the war is Syria is also depicted by the largest red circle, which shows the enormous number of refugees fleeing the country over this period.

The significant positive net immigration into the US is also clear. The UK, Australia and South Africa, among other countries, also experienced positive net migration between 2010 and 2015. Despite the Brexit campaign focusing on the free movement of people within the European Union, migration into the UK is global – as the map below makes clear.


Extensive migration and movement across the globe can bring with it challenges, including pressure on infrastructure and basic services.

However, it also brings well-documented economic benefits. “Migrants are entrepreneurs, workers, consumers and taxpayers,” as Khalid Koser, Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Migration, writes. Skilled workers are migrating to the US in particular, and with this comes economic growth, notably across the construction, agriculture and services sectors. Immigration also boosts the incomes of families in the developing world viaremittances.

Written by: Rachel Hallett, Content Producer, Formative Content

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