Despite government inducements, such as the granting of agricultural land in the eastern plains, immigration has been insignificant, partly because of the turbulence and violence of the 1940s and 1950s. Emigration is small but significant, since many of those who leave the country are scientists, technicians, and doctors. Between 1951 and 1985, some 218,724 Colombians settled in the US, at an annual rate that surpassed 10,000 by 1981 and rose to 11,802 in 1985. In 1990 there were more persons in the US of Colombian birth—304,000—than of any other South American nationality.
As of May 1997, more than 900,000 people had been internally displaced by the violence between the leftist guerillas and government forces. By 1999, estimates of the number of internally displaced persons ranged between 450,000 and 1.6 million. Though estimates varied, studies agree that displacement is pan-national and on the rise. Twenty-seven provinces within Colombia have been affected by the internal displacement in as far as most of the displaced people have moved to the city of Colombia. According to SISDESC (System of Information on the Families Displaced by Violence in Colombia), in 1997, every two hours, two families were displaced by violence in the country.
While the level of external displacement does not match the level of internal displacement, there is a steady outflow of people fleeing the country. The three neighboring countries most affected by cross-border movements are Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela. In 1999, about 3,000 Colombians from the north of Santander Department fled to Venezuela in response to the armed conflict in the region. As of 2000, the net migration rate of Colombia was1.0 migrants per 1,000 population, or a loss of 40,000 people. The total number of migrants in Columbia in that year was 115,000. Refugees numbered less than 200. The government views the migrant levels as satisfactory.