New Migration Profile Now Available: “Migration Panorama for South America”

Argentina - The latest publication in the IOM Migration Profile series looks at migration from South America to Europe, North America and Asia, as well as movements within the sub-continent.

The panorama for South America points to Paraguay-Argentina and Bolivia-Argentina as the main regional migration corridors.  Other migration corridors are Peru-Argentina, Peru-Chile, Colombia-Venezuela, Colombia-Ecuador and Bolivia-Brazil.

While extra-regional migration from South America to the United States has been ongoing since the mid-twentieth century, migration to Europe and Asia began in the 1990s and has significantly increased since 2000.  Today, the vast majority of migrants from the continent are living in the United States (3.1 million) and Spain (2.1 million).

“The study also found a sizeable number of South American migrants in Japan, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, France and the United Kingdom,” explains Diego Beltrand, IOM Director for South America.

“But in the last four years we have witnessed major changes in migration trends in the region.  This can be attributed to the global economic crisis, which has impacted some of the major countries of destination, and to stricter border controls,” adds Beltrand.

The economic crisis has resulted in an increase in intraregional migration, with Argentina and Chile as the main countries of destination.  In Argentina, the largest migrant communities are Paraguayans (550,713) and Bolivians (345,272).  In Chile, most migrants are from Peru (130,859). Other Andean countries (Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia) account for another 56,000.

South American countries have also seen an increase in the return of their nationals from countries of destination.  According to Spain’s national statistics institute, in 2011 the number of Argentineans, Bolivians, Brazilians, Chileans, Ecuadorians and Uruguayan nationals fell compared to the previous year.  South Americans in Spain showed an outflow of 24,000 in 2010 and nearly 50,000 in 2011.

At the same time, European migrants have turned to South America to escape the economic crisis in their countries.  Nine of every 10 Spaniards and Italians that have migrated to Latin America since 2008 have arrived in the southern cone region, mainly in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

Between June 2009 and November 2010, more than 33,000 Spaniards migrated to Argentina.  Another 6,000 Spaniards chose Chile and Uruguay as their destinations.  The number of Spaniards residing in Ecuador, not a traditional country of immigration, rose 131 per cent from 2,900 in 2006 to 6,700 in 2010.

Brazil is also host to increasing numbers of migrants both from the region and outside the region.  Approximately 1.5 million migrants are now living in the country – most of them arriving in last decade attracted by the booming economy.

In the past decade, with a marked increase in the past five years, migrants from Africa and Asia have also been arriving in South America.  The main countries of origin are Ethiopia, Somalia, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal. Asian migrants are arriving from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, China and Japan.

The IOM report also looks at returning migrants, the importance of remittances for families left behind, irregular migration, human trafficking, national migration policies and laws, and regional integration and consultative processes.  

IOM has published migration profiles in the following South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The IOM migration panorama for South America is available in Spanish at: .

For more information, please contact

Ezequiel Texidó
IOM Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 11 5219 2033/4/5