Last Updated on May 10, 2022 by Allard John Keeley
Countries with the Most Immigrants
When you think about where people are immigrating to, countries like Canada and Australia keep showing up at the top of destination lists. Nearly 30% of Australia’s population is foreign-born, and Canada has close to 22%. The challenges and benefits of integrating such large number of immigrants into the culture and general population of Canadians and Aussies are debated over and over again. In other words, Canada and Australia are where the action is when dealing with immigration, right?
The frozen sub-arctic federation and the sun-baked lucky land are not even close. To get to where the real action is in terms of large numbers of immigrants you have to head east. As in the Middle East. And a few secluded corners of Europe.
So let’s see which countries, in fact, have the largest percentage of immigrants. And when we say largest we mean lots of immigrants. The lowest on the list has twice as many immigrants proportionately compared to Canada. You just may be surprised.
Not Canada. It’s Luxembourg. The only remaining Grand Duchy left standing after Europe’s endless wars. This tiny country has an impressive résumé. A NATO member. A founding member of the EU. An “offshore” banking centre for the wealthy. The second or third richest country in the world measured by income per capita. And 43.97% of its residents are immigrants. Many no doubt manning the phones and computers in its financial sector. A little too tidy and well run for the likes of drunken British bond traders.
Not Canada. It’s another tiny wealthy country, called Singapore. Also an important financial centre for all those Asian billionaires and up-and-coming mere millionaires. 45.39% of its population are immigrants, so you can be sure to find people from most corners of the world working at all sorts of jobs on this wealthy well-run island enclave. Watch out for drunken British bond traders who like to do silly dances on Friday evenings. And Thursdays. And Wednesdays. And Saturday of course.
Still not Canada. Bahrain, an Arab Gulf State nestled on an island archipelago off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the waters of the Persian Gulf. Who cares if there’s rioting and shooting of protesters and that the supposed constitutional monarchy is more like a despotic absolute monarchy? Bahrain has one of the fastest growing economies in the Arab world. A financial centre and oil exporter, it has an immigrant population of 51.14% – just over half the population for you math experts, and nearly 2 and ½ times the proportion of immigrants in Canada. With a few drunk British bond traders dancing to Tom Jones hits in the pubs. Maybe not in the Irish pubs.
Speaking of despots. At one time Monaco was something of an absolute monarchy but those days are long gone – absent a fleeing, don’t-wanna-be-a-princess South African – and Monaco has long been a respectable centre of fleeing money launderers, swindlers, and casino pimps. A shining city by the sea, with the world’s highest concentration of billionaires and millionaires per capita, and the highest GDP per capita. And no income taxes. You’ll find more French than Monaco natives, and Italians are a large percentage of the population as well. And a few hard-drinking British expats burning themselves to a crisp on the balconies of their overpriced apartments. All in all, immigrants make up 55.37% of the population.
Just 60 km southwest of Hong Kong, and 145 km from the world’s manufacturing centre of Guangdong, we have Macau (Macao). The world’s wealthiest enclave according to some measures, it relies heavily on tourism, having laid its chips on the roulette wheel of Chinese mainland economic growth. And guess what? The bet paid off. As you might guess, it is now the world’s largest gambling centre. Take that Vegas! Actually, it’s more like: Vegas takes Macau. A who’s who list of the top gambling/entertainment enterprises from the USA are firmly established on the tiny island/peninsula gambling enclave. That means Macau needs lots of hired hands brought in from abroad to make sure drunken British bond traders from Tokyo, Singapore, and a few Aussie bond traders from Sydney do not burn down the place: and that means that 58.28% of the population are immigrants.
Ok, how about a tiny country in the Pyrenees run by the French President and the Bishop of Urgell? Where Catalan is the official language but you can get by fine with Spanish, French, and even Portuguese? Andorra is tiny, landlocked, alpine, microstate; and has a prosperous tourist-driven economy. There are citizens without Andorran nationality, so it gets a little tricky figuring out who is an immigrant. The drunken swags at the Daily Telegraph estimate the immigrant population at 60.12%. That’s close to 3 times Canada’s rate.
An Alpine, land-locked principality governed by a German-speaking prince. A constitutional monarchy. A very prosperous microstate – one of the world’s wealthiest countries. Surrounded by Switzerland and Austria with a population even smaller than Monaco’s. Why it’s Liechtenstein, with lots of skiing and banking – kind of like their Swiss neighbours. A low corporate tax rate – Andorra’s is the lowest in Europe but Liechtenstein’s is the next lowest – means lots of corporate headquarters with well paid executives commuting between the world’s major economies and Liechtenstein. And you bet, 61.82% of the population are immigrants. Drunken British bond traders are not very common here. You’re more likely to find tax lawyers sampling expensive wine.
Here the numbers really start getting serious. Or ridiculous. 73.64% of the total population are immigrants. That means three quarters are imported workers or experts. While the Kuwaitis do the spending. Drunken British bond traders prefer Bahrain.
An oil-rich gulf state that has 75.51% of its population born elsewhere. When we say oil rich, we mean the 3rd highest gas and oil reserves on the planet. With a local population of less than 280,000 Qatari’s and 1.5 million immigrants, one wonders how evenly the world’s highest per capita income is distributed. A tidy little constitutional monarchy all in all. Drunken British bond traders have to keep a low profile when it comes to their deeply felt love for beer and all other alcoholic drinks.
1. United Arab Emirates
The land of pumping oil wells and blazing towers, this influential scimitar-shaped collection of seven emirates is also well-off as they say. They have made huge efforts to diversify their economy into trade, finance, tourism and aviation. Dubai International is the world’s busiest airport by some measures. But having the 7th largest oil and gas reserves in the world means they remain a petro-economy. And what percentage of the population is made up of immigrants you may ask? Try 88.4%. That means that nearly 9 of every 10 residents are immigrants. Drunken British bond traders are more likely to get away with silly dances in secluded expat parties here than in Kuwait. That’s more than 4 times the proportion of immigrants in Canada.
To be fair to Canada – and why not, Australia – some of the top nations on this list are nothing more than labor camps for their enormous population of low-wage immigrant workers, who live in miserable conditions and send their meagre pay back to places like Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. When they are no longer needed to build shining cities by the sea, many of these workers will migrate elsewhere. This is aside from their highly skilled professional immigrants who can write their own tickets to a multitude of locations around the globe. And, finally, these low-wage workers are quite unlike the skilled worker immigrants in Canada, who tend to come to Canada to settle, work, and raise their families.
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.