Country Profiles

Country profiles provide information on migration, refugee flows and integration in different countries - covering countries of immigration and emigration in Europe and world-wide. The profiles include information on:

  • Data and statistics
  • Historical background
  • Legislation and policy
  • Current public debates

In addition, they offer further tips on reading and internet links, giving readers the chance to gain more indepth knowledge on the country in question.

Country profiles

Currently available

  • Country Profile 21: Australia
    by Graeme Hugo

    With almost half of its total resident population either born in a foreign country or the child of such a person, Australia is one of the world’s quintessential immigration countries. Moreover, in mid-2008 there were also over 800 000 people in Australia on a temporary basis and a million Australians living overseas on a permanent or long-term basis. A majority of its resident population perceives migration as having a positive economic and social impact. In his overview over history and present of Australian immigration policies, Graeme Hugo explains how policies aim at maintaining positive impacts. (Version from September 2010)
  • Country Profile 20: Russian Federation
    by Dr. Maria Nozhenko

    International migration in Russia is composed of the inflow of immigrants from other countries of the former Soviet Union and an outflow of emigrants into economically more developed countries.
    In the country profile on Russia, Dr. Maria Nozhenko gives an overview over the history of Russian migration policy and features Russian particularities, as for instance the repatriation of ethnic Russians and the “ghost towns” emerging in the process of economic transition, or the lack of integration policy, despite significant immigration. (Version from July 2010).
  • Country Profile 19: Ireland
    by Emma Quinn

    Traditionally Ireland has been a country marked by a declining population and high rates of emigration. Within the last two decades this situation has reversed dramatically. Immigration has increased significantly in the context of rapid economic growth. At first, flows were driven by returning Irish emigrants, but from the early 2000s EU and non-EU nationals began to arrive in significant numbers for the first time, mainly to work but also to seek asylum.
    Emma Quinn reflects the historic development of Ireland as a country of emigration and immigration and gives an overview on the different aspects of the current migration policy (version from 01/2010).
  • Country Profile 18: Sweden
    By Bernd Parusel

    By comparison with the rest of Europe, Sweden takes in many refugees and actively encourages new labour migrants. It was also the only EU country to immediately open its doors to citizens from the EU accession countries of 2004 and 2007. These facts are endorsed or at least tolerated by the majority of the population.
    In the country profile on Sweden, Bernd Parusel gives an overview over Swedish migration and integration policies and features current policy developments. Their implementation and consequences will be observed with great interest all over Europe (version from 09/2009).
  • Country Profile 17: European Union
    By Sandra Lavenex

    Cooperation in matters of immigration and asylum is one of the most recently addressed aspects of European integration. Its significance has expanded rapidly since the matter was first introduced at the end of the 1980s, and today it is without doubt one of the core areas of the European integration project. Member states’ claims to sovereignty are nevertheless ever-present, not least due to the sensitive nature of immigration policy matters internally and their relevance to national sovereignty and national identity. The significant expansion of European powers and responsibilities has, therefore, led as yet only to isolated common policies, and these matters are generally handled intergovernmentally. Any cooperation is concentrated on areas in which the member states are pursuing common interests. This concern, above all, improved state control over migration, cooperation between border police and strengthened the fight against irregular immigration and asylum abuse.  (Version from 3/2009)
  • Country Profile 16: Morocco
    By Hein de Haas

    Since the 1960s, Morocco has evolved into one of the prime source countries of labour migrants to Europe. Increasing immigration restrictions in Europe did little to stop migration, and have led instead to the increasingly irregular character of migration and to the exploration of new destinations beyond the traditional ones of France and the Benelux countries. Persistent demand for migrant labour in Europe, along with demographic factors and increasing aspirations due to improved education and intensive media exposure, suggest that the propensity to migrate over formally closed borders is likely to remain high in the near future. However, in the longer term, out-migration might decrease and Morocco could increasingly develop into a destination for migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, a transition process that might have already been set in motion. (Version from 02/2009)
  • Country Profile 15: Brazil
    By Sabina Stelzig

    Brazil, the fifth biggest country in the world in terms of area and population, is primarily known in Europe as an attractive holiday destination and former immigration country. Between the first Portuguese settlement in the 16th century and the Second World War, more than four million people migrated to the country, most of them Europeans. In the 1980s the situation reversed. An estimated three million Brazilians have left their country to date; initially their primary destination was the USA, but increasingly they also aim for Europe and Japan.
    Due to the stabilised economic situation of the past decade, Brazil has now become a rewarding destination for migrant workers and refugees. Much of this immigration takes the form of irregular immigration.
    From the mid 1990s, Brazil’s extreme socio-structural division initially slowed down, but since then has picked up pace again. For this reason, many well-educated young Brazilians can see no professional opportunities in their homeland in the immediate future and are leaving the country for the USA, Japan and Europe. (Version from 11/2008)

  • Country Profile 14: Mexico
    By David Fitzgerald

    Mexico is a country of immigration, transmigration – mostly from Central America to the United States – and emigration, mostly to the United States. For the past century, emigration has far outweighed the other forms of international migration, yet the influences of all three forms of migration have been felt.
    One of the most unusual features of Mexican migration is the concentration of more than 98 percent of its migrants on one destination – the United States. Roughly eleven million Mexicans, representing 11 percent of Mexico’s population, lived in the United States in 2005. An estimated 400,000 more Mexicans join the net U.S. population each year. (Version from 8/2008)
  • Country Profile 13: Israel
    By Jan Schneider

    With regard to the subject of migration, too, Israel is unusual in one very important way: the state is virtually built on immigration. Mass immigration characterised various periods of the 20th century, especially the years immediately before and after the founding of the state in 1948. The subsequent war that broke out with the neighbouring Arab states (War of Independence) led, on the other hand, to a wave of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons. The population of Israel has doubled several times over the past 60 years, in particular as a result of immigration. Today the country has 6.4 million inhabitants. Since 1948 more than three million immigrants have been registered, and in the 1990s Israel was even the country with the highest percentage of immigration worldwide in proportion to the size of its population. Given the considerable number of Jewish immigrants, questions of integration and of the co-existence of new immigrants with the indigenous population play an important role in Israel. In recent times, migration and integration policy has been faced with newly developing challenges. These include labour migration, refugeeism and illegal residence – challenges with which western immigration countries have been typically confronted up to now. (Version from 6/2008)
  • Country Profile 12: United Kingdom
    By Randall Hansen

    The United Kingdom became a country of immigration after the Second World War, following large-scale immigration from its former colonies. Events since the mid-1990s have undermined confidence both in the ability of the country to integrate visible minorities and in the efficacy of multicultural policies in doing so. Today, the United Kingdom is receiving more immigrants than at any point in its history. These new arrivals come at a time when the UK has not fully coped with the challenges thrown up by earlier waves in postwar migration. (Version from 12/2007)
  • Country Profile 11: Netherlands
    By Evelyn Ersanili

    For a long time the Dutch took pride in the fact that many people came to their country because of its relative tolerance towards other cultures and religions. Immigrants who came after the Second World War, as guest workers or from former colonies, were initially encouraged to maintain their own cultures, even after it became clear they would stay in the Netherlands permanently. Since 1998, however, several new immigration and integration laws have been introduced. Without exception they have made Dutch immigration and integration policies stricter. Whereas early integration policies aimed at maintaining cultural diversity, this diversity is increasingly seen as something that obstructs integration into Dutch society. (Version from 11/2007)
  • Country Profile 10: Senegal
    By Felix Gerdes

    In Europe and elsewhere, there is a widespread image of Africa as a continent in crisis, whose population seeks en masse to find a route to Europe. The example of Senegal, however, illustrates that African migration is far more complex a phenomenon. To begin with, migration to and from Senegal has, until recently, primarily been in connection with other African states. Historically, Senegal was not a country of origin, but rather the destination of migrants. There is, however, evidence of a turnaround since the 1990s, with Senegal becoming more and more a country of emigration and new target regions emerging for Senegalese migrants. As a result, Senegal is facing a range of new challenges. (Version from 11/2007)
  • Country Profile 9: Romania
    By István Horváth

    During the past one hundred years Romania was predominantly a country of emigration, with a rather impressive record regarding the number of persons involved, the outcomes and the varieties of migratory arrangements. Political violence and deprivation generated by a largely ineffective and authoritarian administration were significant causes for flight and emigration for a large number of Romanians during and immediately after the demise of the Communist era. The slow and socially burdensome transition from a centrally planned economy to an effectively functioning market economy (over the past one and a half decades) has provided another impetus for Romanians to search for employment abroad. Emigration, combined with an ageing population, will likely make Romania turn to labour immigration in the future. Here the country will face considerable challenges, from finding a way of managing – and perhaps reversing – the outflow of workers to developing policies for managing the reception and integration of large numbers of immigrants, an area in which it has little experience. (Version from 9/2007)
  • Country Profile 8: Canada
    By Jennifer Elrick

    Since the 1980s, Canada has accepted more immigrants and refugees for permanent settlement in proportion to its population than any other country. In the course of the twentieth century, the country’s immigration policy was transformed from a mechanism for keeping people of non-European origin out into a tool for meeting economic, demographic, social and humanitarian goals. Above all, years of careful policy-making have achieved a relatively broad level of acceptance across political parties and among the general public of large-scale immigration and the increasing diversity that comes with it. (Version from 3/2007)
  • Country Profile 7: Lithuania
    By Benjamin Brake

    Lituania, the biggest of the three Balitic States, lies on the eastern border of the EU, to which it was admitted in 2004. Since regaining independence in 1990, Lithuania has been strongly affected by labour emigration. Additionally, the country has been trying since its entry into the EU to overcome the difficulties arising from its role as a destination, source and transit country for legal and irregular international migration. (Version from 1/2007)
  • Country Profile 6: Spain
    By Axel Kreienbrink

    Traditionally an emigration country, Spain has been transformed within the space of a few decades to become one of the most important immigration countries in Europe. Since the middle of the 1980s Spain’s foreign population has risen nineteen-fold to 4.52 million. Legislation has been modified many times in order to keep pace with this ever-changing situation. From the beginning, the focus has been on controlling the flow of immigrants and combating illegal migration, which represents a central problem for Spain. Although questions concerning the social integration of immigrants were not initially addressed, they are increasingly gaining importance. While immigration has become a key political and social issue in public debate, discussion over what it will mean for Spain and the Spanish self-image in the future is only starting to get off the ground. (Version from 8/2008)
  • Country Profile 5: Turkey
    By Ahmet İçduygu and Deniz Sert

    With the exception of the influx of the Turkish Muslim populations of the Ottoman Empire who were left out of its newly established borders in 1923, Turkey has largely been considered a country of emigration throughout much of the 20th century. However, the last quarter of the 20th century witnessed a significant change in Turkey's role in international migration regimes as it transformed into a transit and immigration country. Turkey’s transition from being a predominantly migrant-sending country to a migrant-receiving country, and its ongoing effort to become a member of the European Union, are generating pressure to reform Turkish immigration policies, a big challenge that Turkey has to face in the very near future. (Version from 4/2009)
  • Country Profile 4: USA
    By Nicholas Parrott

    The United States is often regarded as the definitive “immigrant nation”. After more than two hundred years of significant inflows, immigration to the US is characterised by its diversity. Each year large numbers of people from different socio-economic, educational and ethnic backgrounds are drawn to the country. Immigration is now both a symbol of the very essence of the US and a controversial political issue. Security has played an increasingly important role in the debate since the terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001, as has the controversy surrounding the unauthorised immigrant population. (Version from 8/2007)
  • Country Profile 3: Poland
    By Stefan Alscher

    The history of migration in Poland is characterised largely by emigration. Because of its geographic location between Eastern and Western Europe, Poland frequently serves as a transit country for migrants. In addition to this, it is developing into a destination country, primarily for migrants from neighbouring countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia) on its eastern border, and from other parts of the former Soviet Union. (Version from 1/2008)
  • Country Profile 2: France
    By Marcus Engler

    The immigration situation in France has been strongly influenced to the present day by a legacy of colonialism of earlier centuries as well as a long tradition of recruiting foreign workers. Although immigration has been regarded as a success story in economic terms, in the past three decades it has increasingly been perceived as the root of social problems. As a result, integration policy has moved towards the centre of public attention in recent years. Moreover, immigration policy has taken an increasingly restrictive course. Increased control of admissions and the integration of second- and thrird-generation descendants of immigrants represent the most important challenges for immigration policy-making in France in the near future. (Version from 3/2007)
  • Country Profile 1: Germany
    By Veysel Özcan

    Germany was mainly a country of emigration in the 19th and first half of the 20th century. Since the mid-1950s, however, Germany has become one of the most important European destinations for migrants. The recruitment of guest workers, the influx of Aussiedler (ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states), as well as the reception of asylum seekers have led to the growth of the immigrant population in the country. Since the beginning of the 1990s, immigration and integration have become important and highly contested topics in domestic policy discussions. (Version from 5/2007)
Migration Research Group
Netzwerk Migration in Europa e.V.