American diaspora

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American diaspora
Flag of the United States.svg
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Mexico 738,100[2][3]
Philippines 300,000[4]
Israel 200,000[5][6]
Liberia 160,000[7]
Canada 137,000[8][9]
Costa Rica 130,000[10]
South Korea 120,000[11]
United Kingdom 115,000[12][13]
Germany 107,755[14]
France 100,000[15]
Australia 99,349[16]
China 71,493[17]
Brazil 70,000[18]
Colombia 60,000[19]
Hong Kong 60,000[20]
India 60,000[21]
Japan 51,321[22]
Italy 50,000[23]
Malaysia 40,000[24]
Ireland 38,000
Argentina 37,000[25]
Norway 33,509[26]
Bahamas 30,000[27]
Lebanon 25,000[28]
Panama 25,000[29]
New Zealand 21,462[30]
Qatar 15,000[31]
Honduras 15,000[32]
Chile 12,000[33]
Taiwan 10,645[34]
Bermuda 8,000[35]
Kuwait 8,000[36]
English, Spanish and others.
Related ethnic groups

The American diaspora or overseas Americans refers to the population of United States citizens who relocate, temporarily or permanently, to foreign countries. There are no reliable figures on how many Americans live abroad, but a State Department estimate suggests that the number may be between 3 million and 6 million.[37]


Americans have traveled to foreign countries since before the country was founded. In recent years, there has been an increase in both the number of Americans who live abroad, and the number of news articles on the subject.

Reasons for emigrating[edit]

Americans have a wide range of reasons for leaving the country. While many Americans emigrate for economic reasons, America's position of an affluent country and a country of immigrants means that Americans may leave for a chance to experience other parts of the world, to return to their country of origin, for religious reasons, such as missionary work, or to escape policies of the American government.[38]

With the ongoing problems with the American economy, and increase in economic opportunities for skilled laborers in emerging markets, economic opportunities are increasingly driving migration abroad, both for native-born Americans[39] and naturalized immigrants returning to their home country.


Due to the flow of people back and forth between Britain and the colonies, and America and the Caribbean, there has been an American diaspora of a sort since before the United States was founded. Residence in countries outside the British Empire was unusual, and usually limited to the well to do, such as Benjamin Franklin, who was able to self-finance his trip to Paris as an American diplomat.

19th century[edit]

Thanks to the increase of whalers and clipper ships, Americans began to travel all over the world for commercial reasons.

The early 19th Century also saw the beginning of overseas missionary activity, such as with Adoniram Judson in Burma.

The middle of the 19th century saw the immigration of many New Englanders to Hawaii, as missionaries for the Congregational Church, and as traders and whalers. The American population eventually overthrew the government of Hawaii, leading to its annexation by the United States.

During this time former slaves also migrated to Liberia, becoming the Americo-Liberians, who dominated the country for most of its history.

In Asia, the American government made efforts to secure special privileges for its citizens. This began with the Treaty of Wanghia in China in 1844. It was followed by the expedition of Commodore Perry to Japan 10 years later, and the United States–Korea Treaty of 1882. American traders began to settle in those countries.

Early 20th century[edit]

Cecil Rhodes created the Rhodes Scholarship in 1902 to encourage greater cooperation between the United States, the British Empire, and Germany by allowing students to study abroad.

Interwar period[edit]

In the period between the First and Second World Wars, many Americans, particularly writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound migrated to Europe, to take part in the cultural scene.

European cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm and Vienna came to host a large number of Americans. Many Americans also participated in the Spanish Civil War in Spain while they lived in Madrid and elsewhere.

Other Americans returned home to the countries of their origin, including the parents of American author/illustrator Eric Carle, who returned to Germany.

Cold War[edit]

During the Cold War, Americans became a permanent fixture in many countries with large populations of American soldiers, such as Germany and South Korea.

The Cold War also saw the development of government programs to encourage young Americans to go abroad. The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 to encourage cultural exchange, and the Peace Corps was created in 1961 both to encourage cultural exchange and a civic spirit of volunteerism.

With the formation of the state of Israel, over 100,000 Jews made Aliyah to the holy land, where they played a role in the creation of the state. Other Americans traveled to countries like Lebanon, again to take place in the cultural scene.

In the 1960s and 70s many American men also traveled to Canada and Mexico to escape the draft. European nations including neutral states like Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland offered asylum to thousands of American expatriates who refused to fight in the Vietnam War.

Some Americans abandoned the country permanently, defecting to the Soviet Union, or other Communist-inclined countries, such as Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, current Libyan nominee as UN ambassador.

During this period Americans continued to travel abroad for religious reasons, such as Richard James, inventor of the Slinky, who went to Bolivia with the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Peoples Temple establishment of Jonestown in Guyana.

After the Cold War[edit]

The opening of Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia after the Cold War provided new opportunities for American businesspeople.

Additionally, with the global dominance of America in the world economy, the ESL industry continued to grow, especially in new and emerging markets.

Many Americans also take a year abroad during college, and some return to the country after graduation.


One of the biggest issues with the American diaspora is the issue of taxation. Unusually among developed nations, the United States taxes its citizens even when they live overseas. While the United States has tax treaties with most countries where Americans work, exemptions only apply to a certain amount, causing significant problems for many Americans.[37][40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ People live in Mexico, INEGI, 2010
  3. ^ Smith, Dr. Claire M. (August 2010). "These are our Numbers: Civilian Americans Overseas and Voter Turnout". OVF Research Newsletter. Overseas Vote Foundation. Retrieved 11 December 2012. Previous research indicates that the number of U.S. Americans living in Mexico is around 1 million, with 600,000 of those living in Mexico City. 
  4. ^ "U.S. Relations With the Philippines". Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. United States Department of State. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. There are an estimated four million Americans of Philippine ancestry in the United States, and more than 300,000 U.S. citizens in the Philippines. 
  5. ^ Daphna Berman (23 January 2008). "Need an appointment at the U.S. Embassy? Get on line!". Haaretz. Retrieved 11 December 2012. According to estimates, some 200,000 American citizens live in Israel and the Palestinian territories. 
  6. ^ Michele Chabin (19 March 2012). "In vitro babies denied U.S. citizenship". USA Today (Jerusalem). Retrieved 11 December 2012. Most of the 200,000 U.S. citizens in Israel have dual citizenship, and fertility treatments are common because they are free. 
  7. ^ Americans abroad 1999[dead link]
  8. ^ "Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories - 20% sample data". Statistics Canada. Government of Canada. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Barrie McKenna (27 June 2012). "Tax amnesty offered to Americans in Canada". The Globe and Mail (Ottawa). Retrieved 17 December 2012. There are roughly a million Americans in Canada – many with little or no ties to the United States. 
  10. ^ "Background Note: Costa Rica". Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. United States Department of State. 9 April 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. Over 130,000 private American citizens, including many retirees, reside in the country and more than 700,000 American citizens visit Costa Rica annually. 
  11. ^ "U.S. Citizen Services". Embassy of the United States Seoul, Korea. United States Department of State. Retrieved 11 December 2012. This website is updated daily and should be your primary resource when applying for a passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, notarization, or any of the other services we offer to the estimated 120,000 U.S. citizens traveling, living, and working in Korea. 
  12. ^ "Population by Country of Birth and Nationality Report, August 2012". Office for National Statistics. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Simon Rogers (26 May 2011). "The UK's foreign-born population: see where people live and where they're from". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  14. ^ Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland
  15. ^ "Americans in France". Embassy of the United States, Paris. United States Department of STate. Retrieved 11 December 2012. Today, although no official figure is available, it is estimated that over 100,000 American citizens reside in France, making France one of the top 10 destinations for American expatriates. 
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ "Major Figures on Residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and Foreigners Covered by 2010 Population Census". National Bureau of Statistics of China. April 29, 2011. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Brazil (11/30/11)". Previous Editions of Brazil Background Note. United States Department of State. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. The consular section of the embassy, the consulates, and the consular agents provide vital services to the estimated 70,000 U.S. citizens residing in Brazil. 
  19. ^ "Colombia (03/28/13)". Previous Editions of Hong Kong Background Note. United States Department of State. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2013. Based on Colombian statistics, an estimated 60,000 U.S. citizens reside in Colombia and 280,000 U.S. citizens travel, study and do business in Colombia each year. 
  20. ^ "Hong Kong (10/11/11)". Previous Editions of Hong Kong Background Note. United States Department of State. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2012. There are some 1,400 U.S. firms, including 817 regional operations (288 regional headquarters and 529 regional offices), and over 60,000 American residents in Hong Kong. 
  21. ^ Barry Bearak; Seth Mydans (8 June 2002). "Many Americans, Unfazed, Go On Doing Business in India". New York Times. Retrieved 17 December 2012. The number of Americans living in India is often estimated at 60,000. 
  22. ^ "Table 10.1 Registered Foreigners by Nationality: 1950-2006". Ministry of Justice, . Annual Report of Statistics on Legal Migrants. National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  23. ^ Kelly Carter (17 May 2005). "High cost of living crush Americans' dreams of Italian living". USA Today (Positano, Italy). Retrieved 17 December 2012. Nearly 50,000 Americans lived in Italy at the end of 2003, according to Italy's immigration office. 
  24. ^ "Top Reasons Western Expats Are Moving to Malaysia: Opportunity, Lifestyle, Education and Healthcare.". 
  25. ^ "Argentina (03/12/12)". Previous Editions of Argentina Background Note. United States Department of State. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012. The Embassy's Consular Section monitors the welfare and whereabouts of some 37,000 U.S. citizen residents of Argentina and more than 500,000 U.S. tourists each year. 
  26. ^ Statistics Norway – Persons with immigrant background by immigration category and country background. January 1, 2010
  27. ^ "Bahamas, The (01/25/12)". Previous Editions of Panama Background Note. United States Department of State. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. The countries share ethnic and cultural ties, especially in education, and The Bahamas is home to approximately 30,000 American residents. 
  28. ^ Kate King (July 18, 2006). "U.S. family: Get us out of Lebanon". CNN. Retrieved February 14, 2012. About 350 of the estimated 25,000 American citizens in Lebanon had been flown to Cyprus from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut by nightfall Tuesday, Maura Harty, the assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, told reporters. 
  29. ^ "Panama (03/09)". Previous Editions of Panama Background Note. United States Department of State. March 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2012. About 25,000 American citizens reside in Panama, many retirees from the Panama Canal Commission and individuals who hold dual nationality. 
  30. ^ "2013 Census totals by topic". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  31. ^ "Qatar´s population by nationality". bq magazine. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  32. ^ "Honduras (11/23/09)". Previous Editions of Honduras Background Note. United States Department of State. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2012. U.S.-Honduran ties are further strengthened by numerous private sector contacts, with an average of between 80,000 and 110,000 U.S. citizens visiting Honduras annually and about 15,000 Americans residing there. 
  33. ^ "Chile (07/08)". Previous Editions of Chile Background Note. United States Department of State. July 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2012. The Consular Section of the Embassy provides vital services to the more than 12,000 U.S. citizens residing in Chile. 
  34. ^ "06-08 外僑居留人數 Foreign Residents". National Immigration Agency, MOI. Department of Statistics, Ministry of the Interior. 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  35. ^ "Bermuda (12/09/11)". Previous Editions of Bermuda Background Note. United States Department of State. 9 December 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2012. An estimated 8,000 registered U.S. citizens live in Bermuda, many of them employed in the international business community. 
  36. ^ Tatiana Morales (2 August 2009). "Americans in Kuwait: When To Go?". CBS News. Retrieved 17 December 2012. There are about 8,000 Americans who live in Kuwait. 
  37. ^ a b "The American Diaspora". Esquire. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  38. ^ Sullivan, Andrew. The New American Diaspora, The Atlantic, 22 December 2009, accessed 17 April 2011.
  39. ^ Sappho, Paul. A Looming American Diaspora, Harvard Business Review, 2009, accessed 17 April 2011.
  40. ^ "Costing More Over There", The Economist, 22 June 2006, accessed 17 April 2011

External links[edit]