International migration, in which people cross state or country
borders, has had a significant role in the shaping of the modern
world. Migration is part of the complex pattern of adaptation,
change and assimilation from which people assemble their national,
cultural and personal identities.
People are increasingly on the move. Improved transport, increased
job and study opportunities and more flexible lifestyles have
contributed to this, along with the growing number of civil conflicts,
wars and natural disasters. Today it is estimated that 150 million
people worldwide are living as immigrants – people who
have come to and settled in a country other than the one in which
they were born.
It is thought that the first-ever human beings appeared in Africa
around five million years ago. They slowly spread out from Africa
to populate Asia, Europe, Oceania and, finally, by around 10,000BC,
the Americas. Large-scale global migrations since those far-off
times have included the 100,000 Spanish who settled in the Spanish-American
Empire in the sixteenth century, the 150,000 British convicts
transported to Australia between 1788 and 1867, the 1.4 million
Afghans who moved to Iraq after the Soviet invasion of 1979 and
the nine million citizens who migrated across the new borders
created by the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
People move for many reasons including:
||In response to seasonal changes
in the environment (eg, nomadic tribes moving their flocks
to new pastures).
||Through direct force (eg, the Transatlantic
Slave Trade, when up to 15 million Africans were shipped
to the colonies).
||As the result of a perceived physical
or human threat (eg, in post-partition India, when seven
million Muslims fled to the newly-formed state of Pakistan,
crossing paths with ten million Hindus seeking the safety
||Through free choice (eg, the 35 million
Europeans who emigrated to North America in search of a better
life between 1845 and 1914).
In this section we look at the Windrush generation
who arrived in Britain in the post-war years, other groups who
have settled in Britain and those who have left.
West Indians arriving at British railway
station, 21 June 1959 (Science and Society/NMPFT Daily Herald
Small Island display at Kingswood Library, South