This chart shows the percentage of GDP made up by incoming remittances for the major LatAm countries (with all due respect places like Belize are left out as their tiny GDPs skew the results out of shape and don't provide a fair comparative sample). The remittances data used comes from the Interamerican Development bank and the country GDP figures are from the CIA using the purchasing power parity (PPP) figures.
Top of the pops on this poll is El Salvador, a country that relies on cash sent home for 8.35% of its country GDP; that's an enormous figure and is comparable to the direct effect copper has on the GDP of Chile. Next up are three other Central American states, Guatemala (6.15%), Nicaragua (5.76%) and the Dominican Republic (3.73%). Only then does South America appear, with Ecuador (2.64%), Bolivia (2.51%) and Paraguay (2.4%).
Mexico is next at 1.59% but deserves a special mention due to the absolute size of its remittances trade. At U$25.145Bn it is by far the largest destination for remittances (second is Brazil at U$7.2Bn) and Mexico in fact accounts for 38.44% of all remittances received in LatAm in 2008.
Finally, the trio of Costa Rica (1.25%), Peru (1.24%) and Colombia (1.19%) are the other three countries that beat the regionwide average of Remittances/GDP of 1.09%. It's safe to say that all of the above countries will feel the effects of a slowdown in remittances in 2009 and beyond, with the first tranche of Central American states, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay feeling the worst effects.