Pew Research, an American think tank, has released a new report which followed the origins and destinations of the world’s migrants between 1990 and 2017.

And it’s no surprise that at least 900 000 people born in the territory of South Africa were living in other countries for more than a year in 2017.

The data is based on international migrant data published by the United Nations (UN). The UN makes use of a taxonomy of nations and territories, then classifies migrants born in the different territories as international migrants, even if their citizenship is not in the territory of their birth.

“Since migrants have both an origin and a destination, international migrants can be viewed from two directions – as an emigrant (leaving an origin country) or as an immigrant (entering a destination country),” Pew Research said.

According to the UN’s Population Division, an international migrant is someone who has been living in a country for a year or longer, and this is not the country that he or she was born in.

This means that many foreign workers and international students can be counted as migrants. Tourists, foreign-aid workers, temporary workers (those who work abroad for less than a year) and overseas military personnel are typically not counted as migrants.

For South Africans, the United Kingdom was the destination of choice, with 210,000 migrants as of 2017. It was closely followed by Australia (with 190 000) and other popular countries including the USA (with 100 000) and New Zealand (with 60 000).

Below are the top five countries South African emigrate to:


1 United Kingdom 210 000
2 Australia 190 000
3 United States of America 100 000
4 New Zealand 60 000
5 Canada 50 000
Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.