For generations, immigrants from Burkina Faso and Togo have done much of the manual work, including mining, in Ghana; immigrant traders from Nigeria have conducted much of the petty trade; and Lebanese and Syrians have been important as intermediaries. In 1969, when many foreigners were expelled, Ghana's alien community was about 2,000,000 out of a population of about 8,400,000. In 1986, the government estimated that at least 500,000 aliens were residing in Ghana, mostly engaged in trading.
Ghanaians also work abroad, some as fishermen in neighboring coastal countries. Many Ghanaians were welcomed in the 1970s by Nigeria, which was in the midst of an oil boom and in need of cheap labor. In early 1983, as the oil boom faded, up to 700,000 Ghanaians were expelled from Nigeria; soon after, however, many deportees were reportedly being invited back by Nigerian employers unable to fill the vacant posts with indigenous labor. But in May 1985, an estimated 100,000 Ghanaians again were expelled from Nigeria.
In 1999, Ghana was hosting some 14,600 refugees, including 11,905 Liberians, 1,051 Togolese, 1,292 Sierra Leoneans, 94 Sudanese, and 83 others from Rwanda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Burundi. UNHCR organized a plan for the voluntary repatriation of some 15,000 Liberian refugees; since June 1997, 3,342 have repatriated under the plan. Of those Liberian refugees remaining in Ghana, another 4,000 have expressed willingness to return to their homeland; however, the majority wish to stay in Ghana or be resettled in third countries. Repatriation efforts for both Liberian and Togolese refugees were ongoing in 1999. Also in 1999, both Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees were still arriving in Ghana in sizable numbers. In 2000 the number of migrants living in Ghana was 614,000. In that year the net migration rate was -1.2 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.