One billion people crossed international borders in 2012

In 2012, one billion people made an international trip, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. David Scowsill of the WTTC said 'this is an astounding milestone. There is an inexorable growth in the number of people who want to travel around the world'.

Most of these journeys will be for the purpose of leisure and tourism. France and the USA are the most popular tourist destinations though there is also strong growth in tourism around the world. Though the overall numbers are still low, there has been considerable growth in the tourism industry in countries such as Guatemala, Ivory Coast and The Dominican Republic.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the top five travel destinations are

  1. Paris
  2. London
  3. New York
  4. Anatalya, Turkey
  5. Singapore

210,000,000 migrants globally

It is also clear that the numbers of migrants globally have increased enormously in recent years. The World Economic Forum and the United Nations believe that 3% of the world's population; around 210,000,000 people, are migrants.

But many more would like to leave their homeland for a new life. A recent Gallup poll found that 13% of the world's adult population – around 640,000,000 people would like to emigrate. 150,000,000 would like to go to the US alone. There is no one reason why people want to emigrate. The Gallup poll suggested that a great many wanted to emigrate to countries in North America and Europe in order to find economic opportunity.

Often, it would seem that poor conditions at home give people an incentive to emigrate while existing relationships between countries may help potential émigrés to decide where they want to go. This point is illustrated by the case of Liberia.

Liberia has a population of about 4,100,000. It is a desperately poor country with the third lowest per capita income in the world. It has also been riven by civil war since 1989. It is placed 174th out of 186 countries on the Human Development Index, which measures the quality of life around the world. It is therefore not surprising that many Liberians want to emigrate. But, there is a particular reason why 37% of Liberia's population, some 1,500,000 people want to emigrate to the USA. This can be explained by the strong links between the two countries. Liberia was settled by large numbers of freed slaves from the US from 1820 onwards and has been the recipient of a great deal of US aid since the Second World War.

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