Emigration from Colombia is determined by economic, social, and security issues linked mainly to the Colombian armed conflict. Emigration from Colombia is one of the largest in volume in Latin America. According to the 2005 Colombian census or DANE, about 3,331,107 Colombian citizens currently permanently reside outside of Colombia. According the US Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey, around 801,363 persons claiming Colombian origins live in the US.
Perhaps the most well-known concentration of Colombians abroad is the Jackson Heights section of Queens, one of the five boroughs of New York City. It is sometimes called El Chapinerito or "Little Chapinero" after a middle-class section of Bogotá with similar architecture and ambiance. More recently, the area of Jackson Heights associated with Colombians has become home to Mexican and Ecuadorian immigrants. Other Queens neighborhoods with a Colombian presence are Elmhurst, Corona, and Woodside. The 2006 American Community Survey put out by the US Census Bureau reports that 80,116 persons claiming Colombian origins live in Queens, while 244,164 are spread out in the entire New York metropolitan area.
Colombian restaurants and bakeries are important institutions for the Colombian diaspora. A unique Colombian restaurant outside of Colombia is El Barco Latino, a barge on the River Thames near Waterloo Station in Central London. These eateries have popularized formerly regional dishes like the well-portioned Bandeja paisa among Colombians from all parts of the country.
Over-represented among emigrants are intellectuals, scholars, artists, and qualified professionals and technicians: a phenomenon known as “brain drain," which has helped deepen the social and economic crisis in Colombia. The current state of the economy of Colombia is heavily influenced by the remittance economy of the emigrants, whose earnings abroad often support entire families at home in Colombia. According to El Tiempo, a major broadsheet newspaper printed in Bogotá, the value of remittences from Colombians living abroad is ranked third as the main source of income in Colombia and has already surpassed the value of coffee exports.
Colombian immigrants are sometimes associated with narco-trafficking and other criminal elements. These stereotypes are considered unfair, crude, and hurtful by most Colombians. The Colombian government-funded Colombia is Passion advertisement campaign was an attempt to improve Colombia's image abroad, with mixed results.
The Colombian government has developed prevention programs against illegal groups that offer emigration help to unsuspecting people, many of whom are eventually forced into slavery, forced prostitution and human trafficking in foreign countries.