The world is on the move as never before. People living outside their homelands total nearly 125 million, enough to make up the ninth-most populous country in the world.
In what population experts say is one of the surest signs of increased global stress, a rising number of people worldwide are fleeing oppression, forced out by war, looking for better jobs or just moving to be with relatives who have gone before them.The number of refugees has been climbing since the early 1960s, from barely 1.3 million to more than 19 million.
But most of the world's foreigners are legal immigrants, rather than displaced people, and reports show their numbers growing, too.
A study released during the weekend by Population Action International, a private group pushing for universal access to family planning and world population stabilization, says long-term migration from poor to rich countries has quadrupled since the 1960s.
The report covers refugees who are forced from their homelands for various reasons, as well as voluntary migrants, who usually enter new lands to seek a better life. The line between the two can be thin, because both may be moving for reasons rooted in economics.
The report shows the biggest flow of humanity from East and Southeast Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to North America.
It also charts significant migration into Western Europe and to Australia and New Zealand.
Some of the smallest migrations are from sub-Saharan Africa, where growing populations are so impoverished that leaving the continent voluntarily is rarely an option. And those who are forced out often end up in neighboring countries, worse off than in the lands they left.
The top countries hosting refugees, based on estimates for 1992, were Iran with 4.2 million, the former Yugoslavia with upwards of 2 million, Pakistan with 1.6 million, Malawi with 1.1 million, Jordan with 1 million, Germany with 827,100 and Sudan with 725,600.
The United States was 11th with 473,000.