SA does not collect data on the numbers of people emigrating. The figures have to be obtained from the countries to which South Africans immigrate, which record the number of residents born in foreign countries. The major destinations for SA emigrants can be divided into three categories: the five large English-speaking countries – UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, (the so-called Big 5); the United Arab Emirates (the Gulf); and other developed countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In 2000, there were an estimated 435,000 SA nationals in these three combined. Our best estimate for 2017 (extrapolating from earlier data in some cases) is that this number increased by almost 90% to about 820,000, with 76% resident in the Big 5, a little over 12% in the Gulf and almost 12% in the OECD countries for which data are available.

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