The distribution of Somalis abroad is uncertain, primarily due to confusion between the number of ethnic Somalis and the number of Somalia nationals. Whereas most recent Somali migrants in the diaspora emigrated as refugees and asylum seekers, many have since obtained either permanent residence or citizenship. In total, the ethnic Somali international migrant population includes an estimated 1,010,000 individuals, with around 300,000 residents in East and South Africa, 250,000 in North America, 250,000 in Europe, 200,000 in the Middle East, and 10,000 in Oceania.
By comparison, the number of refugees from Somalia that are registered with the UNHCR is around 975,951 persons. The majority of these individuals were registered in Kenya (413,170), Yemen (253,876), and Ethiopia (250,988). According to USAID, many of the displaced persons in these adjacent territories are Bantus and other minorities. As such, these groups are outside of the scope of this article on the ethnic Somali diaspora.
While the distribution of Somalis per country in Europe is difficult to measure since the Somali expatriate community on the continent has grown so quickly in recent years, there are significant Somali communities in the United Kingdom: 114,000 (2015); Sweden: 63,853 (2016); Norway: 42,217 (2016); the Netherlands: 39,465 (2016); Germany: 33,900 (2016); Denmark: 21,050 (2016); and Finland: 19,059 (2016).
Although most Somalis in the United Kingdom are recent arrivals, the first Somalis to arrive were seamen and traders who settled in port cities in the late 19th century. By 2001, the UK census reported 43,532 Somali-born residents, making the Somali community in Britain the largest Somali expatriate population in Europe. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate of 2015 indicates that 114,000 Somalis live in the UK. There has also been some secondary migration of Somalis from mainland European countries to the United Kingdom. According to the 2011 UK Census, 71.5% of Somalia-born residents in England and Wales hold a UK passport.
Established Somali communities are found in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol, and newer ones have formed in Manchester, Sheffield and Leicester. The Somali population in London alone accounts for roughly 78% of Britain's Somali residents.