Throughout history, international migration has held opportunities for migrants, their families and communities, and the countries involved. However, these —sometimes symbolic— potential gains are often undermined by objective adversities faced by migrants on their travels, at their destinations, during their return journey and while in transit through intervening territories. Migration from the countries of Northern Central America (NCA), comprising El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, is shaped by economic factors such as wage and production gaps between countries, by natural disasters and by the first impacts of climate change, especially in rural areas. All this intersects with the insecurity and structural violence that have beset these countries for years.
Accordingly, the major —and recently increasing— migration flows in NCA countries are the result of a close and complex interaction between lack of options in places of origin and the opportunities differential migrants see between these places and their intended destinations. This document is meant for decision makers, academics, civil society and the wider public with an interest in contemporary migration. It examines the main aspects and salient features of migration from NCA countries using maps, infographics and text, including some references to other countries of the subregion.
It considers the main migration destinations, the transit stage and the places from where return migration is initiated: Mexico and the United States. The work draws on a number of sources and studies, particularly those by the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre (CELADE)–Population Division of ECLAC.