Youth Perspectives

The world's movement of people – in one map

Armed Forces of Malta marines toss bottles of water to a group of around 180 illegal immigrants as a rescue operation gets underway after their vessel ran into engine trouble, some 30km (19 miles) southwest of Malta in this September 25, 2005 file photo. As many as 900 people may have died in Sunday's disaster off the coast of Libya. That would be the highest death toll in recent times among migrants, who are trafficked in the tens of thousands in rickety vessels across the Mediterranean. The mass deaths have caused shock in Europe, where a decision to scale back naval operations last year seems to have increased the risks for migrants without reducing their numbers. The European Union has proposed doubling the size of its Mediterranean search and rescue operations in response to the crisis.  REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Files   MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA  TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY   PICTURE 02 OF 28 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY 'ISLE LANDERS'  SEARCH 'DARRIN ISLE' FOR ALL IMAGES - RTX19ZDA

The world is experiencing the biggest movement of people since the Second World War. Image: REUTERS/Darrin Zammit

Rachel Hallett
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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With the refugee crisis in Syria, the result of the US presidential election and the 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 (2010-2015)

Country-to-country net migration (2010-2015)

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.

 Country-to-country net migration (2010-2015)

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 via remittances.

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