Countries With The Most People Living Abroad - Emigration Rate by Country

A list of countries with the most emigrants. Somebody who emigrates is somebody who leaves his or her home country to take up residence elsewhere.

Emigration occurs when somebody leaves their home country to take up residence in another one. People can choose to emigrate due to a variety of reasons, known as push and pull factors. Some of the countries with the largest number of emigrants living abroad include India, Mexico, Russia, and China. All data comes from the Migration Data Portal

5. Bangladesh - 7.5 Million

Since the 1980s, Bangladesh has witnessed large scale emigration from the country to countries abroad. This is especially true of Bengali movements into the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who, like Bangladesh, are predominately Muslim, yet, unlike Bangladesh, have a greater wealth of job opportunities. According to official data, 5 million Bangladeshis migrated to the GCC states between 1976 and 2009 in search of jobs. In the 1990s, labor migration from Bangladesh started expanding to include other countries, like other Southeast Asian nations, Japan, and a few African countries. Among these, Malaysia received the largest number, with 698,736 Bangladeshi workers arriving between 1976 and 2009. Emigration from Bangladesh continues to this date in large numbers, with about 7.5 million Bangladeshis living outside their homeland as per current statistics.

4. China - 10 Million

Mass emigration from China occurred in the period between the start of the 19th Century and 1949, as a result of wars, food crises, foreign invasions, and political corruption. Most of the emigrants during this period involved unskilled laborers, who left their homeland for countries in the Americas, Southeast Asian countries, South Africa, and Australia. Even though China’s strict controls in the past attempted to prevent large scale migration of Chinese into foreign lands, scientists and students from this country had to be allowed to attend conferences worldwide to allow for the continued exchange of education and scientific information among the nations. Thus, in 1983, Chinese emigration restrictions were eased, allowing the emigration of large numbers of Chinese students and scientific personnel into countries abroad. Growing contact with the industrialized nations also led to the export of labor from China to these lands, which continues to this day.

3. Russia - 10.6 Million

According to a recent Reuters report, Russia is experiencing a major ‘brain-drain’ issue, seeing the emigration of Russians being five times more common as of now than in the early 2000s. It is claimed that this rise in emigration is mostly due to the migrant population's demand for a better life, greater political freedom, and a more stable economic situation. According to official data, 186,382 Russians left the country in 2013, which is significantly higher than the figure of 122,751 in 2012. Although these are official figures, some theorize that the actual numbers could be much higher still.

2. Mexico - 13 Million

Mexico’s emigration situation is a unique one, with more than 98% of all Mexican migrants living in the U.S.A, the country with which Mexico shares a border that runs 1,933 miles in length. The Mexican emigration rate increased substantially since the 1960s and, with more than 11% of Mexicans living abroad, Mexico is the country with the second largest number of emigrants in the world. Besides the U.S.A, Mexican emigrant populations have also settled in other English-dominant countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as certain Latin American countries to their south. There are also reports of significant numbers of Mexican laborers migrating to the Ukraine and Saudi Arabia to work in the oil and construction industries there.

1. India - 16.6 Million

India’s situation of emigration is an extremely complex one, and so is its large and extremely diverse population. Indians have migrated to all corners of the globe since the 19th Century, and established their own ethnic communities in all of the continents of the world, as well as on islands in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. A major emigration wave occurred in India during the British rule there, when Indian laborers were transported to British colonies abroad to serve various positions demanding unskilled labor. After India’s Independence, a large number of unskilled, skilled, and professional workers alike from India migrated to the United Kingdom. In more recent years, a significant number of Indian students (153,000 in 2007) have emigrated to nations with more developed economies for their education. With the growth in India’s Information Technology (IT) industrial sector and a booming growth of IT professionals, many of them have emigrated abroad to work in multinational corporations. Today, a staggering figure of around 11,400,000 Indians are living abroad, most serving in various professional, skilled, and unskilled work positions in foreign lands.

Which Country Has the Most Expats?

Some of the world's countries with the most emigrants living in other countries include Mexico, India, Russia, China, and Ukraine.

Countries by Number of Emigrants

RankCountyNumber of Emigrants (Millions)
1India 16.6
10United Kingdom4.9

More in Society