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Human migration denotes any movement by humans from one locality to another, often over long distances or in large groups. Humans are known to have extensively migrated throughout history. This can be compared with the periodic migratory behaviour of groups of animals such as some birds and fishes (see migration). This article concentrates on the historical human migrations.The people who migrate are called migrants, or, more specifically, emigrants, immigrants or settlers, depending on historical setting, circumstance and perspective.Migration and population isolation is one of the four evolutionary forces (along with natural selection, genetic drift, and mutation). The study of the distribution of and change in allele (gene variations) frequencies under such influences is the discipline of Population genetics.The movement of populations in modern times has continued under the form of both voluntary migration within one's region, country, or beyond, and involuntary migration (which includes slave trade, Trafficking in human beings and ethnic cleansing). Different types of migration include:
  • Daily human commuting can be compared to the diurnal migration of organisms in the oceans.
  • Seasonal human migration is mainly related to agriculture.
  • Permanent migration, for the purposes of permanent or long-term stays.
  • Local
  • Regional
  • Rural to Urban
  • International
In December 2003 The Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM) was launched with the support of Kofi Annan and several countries, with an independent 19-member Commission, threefold mandate and a finite life-span, ending December 2005. Its report, based on regional consultation meetings with stakeholders and scientific reports from leading international migration experts, was published and presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 5 October 2005. The 90-page Report, along with supporting evidence, is available on the GCIM website [1]

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Overview of historical migrations
Earliest migrations
Spread of Agriculture
Indo-European migrations
The Great Migrations
Other Old World migrations
Polynesian migration
Migrations to the New World
World War II and post-World War II Migrations
Migrations and climate cycles
Toward an understanding of migration

Overview of historical migrations - Contents

Human migration has taken place at all times and in the greatest variety of circumstances. It has been tribal, national, class and individual. Its causes have been climatic, political, economic, religious, or mere love of adventure. Its causes and results are fundamental for the study of ethnology, of political and social history, and of political economy.In its natural origins, it includes the separate migrations first of Homo erectus then of Homo sapiens (Homo sapiens sapiens) out of Africa across Eurasia, doubtless using some of the same available land routes north of the Himalayas that were later to become the Silk Road, and across the Strait of Gibraltar. incidentally Bruce Bower suggested controversially that homo erectus may have built rafts and sailed oceans. [2]The pressures of human migrations, whether as outright conquest or by slow cultural infiltration and resettlement, have affected the grand epochs in history (e.g. the fall of the Western Roman Empire); under the form of colonization, migration has transformed the world (e.g. the prehistoric and historic settlements of Australia and the Americas). Population genetics studied in traditionally settled modern populations have opened a window into the historical patterns of migrations, a technique pioneered by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza.Forced migration (see population transfer) has been a means of social control under authoritarian regimes, yet under free initiative migration is a powerful factor in social adjustment (e.g. the growth of urban populations).

Earliest migrations - Contents

Map of early human migrations according to mitochondrial population genetics (numbers are millennia before present).
Map of early human migrations according to mitochondrial population genetics (numbers are millennia before present).
The evolution of Homo sapiens occurred in Africa, where, it seems, the first anatomically modern humans developed. Our most recent common female ancestor, whom all living human beings share, probably lived roughly 100,000 to 150,000 years ago. It is thought that a part of the Homo sapiens sapiens population then migrated into the Near East, spreading east to Australasia some 60.000 years ago, northwestwards into Europe and eastwards into Asia some 40.000 years ago, and further east to the Americas ca. 30.000 years ago. Oceania was populated some 15.000 years ago.

Spread of Agriculture - Contents

Agriculture is believed to have first been practiced some 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent (see Jericho). From there it propagated as a "wave" across Europe, a view supported by Archaeogenetics, reaching northern Europe some 5,000 years ago.

Indo-European migrations - Contents

See Proto-Indo-Europeans.The Indo-European migration had variously been dated to the end of the Neolithic ( Marija Gimbutas: Corded ware, Yamna, Kurgan), the early Neolithic ( Colin Renfrew: Starčevo-Körös, Linearbandkeramic) and the late Palaeolithic ( Marcel Otte, Paleolithic Continuity Theory).The speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language are usually believed to have originated to the North of the Black Sea, and from there they gradually migrated into, and spread their language by cultural diffusion to, Anatolia, Europe, and Central Asia and South Asia starting from around the end of the Neolithic period (see Kurgan hypothesis). Other theories, such as that of Colin Renfrew, posit their development much earlier, in Anatolia, and claim that Indo-European languages and culture spread as a result of the agricultural revolution in the early Neolithic. This view is disputed by linguistics evidence, however, such as the reconstruction of terminology relating to bronze working in Proto-Indo-European; which suggests that the language did not diverge until such technology was available.Relatively little is known about the inhabitants of pre-Indo-European " Old Europe". They are believed to have been hunter-gathers. The Basque language remains from that era, as do the indigenous languages of the Caucasus. Another remaining people from that era are the Sami who are genetically different to those of the rest of Europe. In terms of language, the Finnish and Estonian peoples also preserve languages related to that of the Sami (of the Finno-Ugric language family), but genetic studies suggest their ancestry has more in common with Indo-European speakers.

The Great Migrations - Contents

Western historians refer to the period of migrations that separated Antiquity from the Middle Ages in Europe as the Great Migrations or as the Migrations Period. This period is further divided into two phases.The first phase, from 300 to 500 AD, saw the movement of Germanic and other tribes and ended with the settlement of these peoples in the areas of the former Western Roman Empire, essentially causing its demise. (See also: Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians, Suebi, Alamanni Marcomanni).The second phase, between 500 and 900 AD, saw Slavic, Turkic and other tribes on the move, re-settling in Eastern Europe and gradually making it predominantly Slavic. Moreover, more Germanic tribes migrated within Europe during this period, including the Lombards (to Italy), and the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (to the British Isles). See also: Avars, Huns, Arabs, Vikings, Varangians. The last phase of the migrations saw the coming of the Hungarians to the Pannonian plain.German historians of the 19th century referred to these Germanic migrations as the Völkerwanderung, the migrations of the peoples.

Other Old World migrations - Contents

Other migrations that happened later in the history of Europe generally did not give rise to new states, but disrupted and, to some extent, dominated policy within Europe. Examples are the invasion of the Arabs into Spain - only as late as 1492 the Spanish completed their Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula - or the settlement of Muslims in south-eastern Europe, as a result of European armies fighting back the Turks in the Balkan, and the unsuccessful attempt to reconquer Palestine during the Crusades, despite the enormous amount of people, pilgrims and huge armies that participated in them. (At the end of the Reconquista, the King and Queen of Spain also expelled the Jews from their country, thus triggering a migration to places such as Eastern Europe and the New World.)At the end of the Middle Ages, the Roma arrived in Europe (to Iberia and the Balkans) from the Middle East, originating from the Indus river.Since the 14th century, the Serbs started leaving the areas of their medieval Kingdom and Empire that was overrun by the Turks and migrated to the north, to the lands of today's Vojvodina (northern Serbia), which was ruled by the Kingdom of Hungary in that time. The two greatest migrations took place in 1690 and 1737. That is when hundreds of thousands of Serbs left from Kosovo and Metohija, under the leadership of their patriarchs and Orthodox Church priests, and moved to Vojvodina.The Jewish diaspora across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East formed from voluntary migrations, enslavement, threats of enslavement and pogroms. After the Nazis brought the Holocaust upon Jewish people in the 1940s, there was a vast migration to Palestine, which became home to the nation of Israel as a result.Some observers note that at present migration is directed from South to North.

Polynesian migration - Contents

With the art of open-sea navigation involving the most confident and courageous use of the available technologies of boat-building, combined with the most sophisticated understanding of currents and prevailing winds, the Polynesians, starting with the Lapita culture, have proven to be the most successful in the art of navigation, if the permanent spread of culture is taken into account, for the Norse adventurers in the North Atlantic and the Arab traders in the Indian Ocean did not create permanent settlements. The Lapita people, who got their name from the archaeological site in Lapita, New Caledonia, where their characteristic pottery was first discovered, came from Austronesia, probably New Guinea. Their navigation skills took them to the Solomon Islands, around 1600 BC, and later to Fiji and Tonga. By the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, most of Polynesia was a loose web of thriving cultures who settled on the islands' coasts and lived off the sea. By 500 BC Micronesia was completely colonized.Polynesian migration patterns also have been studied by linguistic analysis, and recently by analyzing characteristic genetic alleles of today's inhabitants. Both methods resulted in supporting the original archaeological findings, while adding some new and surprising insights.

Migrations to the New World - Contents

See Models of migration to the New World.

World War II and post-World War II Migrations - Contents

See World War II evacuation and expulsion for World War II forced migrations.Provisions of the Potsdam Agreement from 1945 signed by victorious Western Allies and the Soviet Union led to one of the largest European migrations, and definitely the largest in the 20th century. It involved the migration and resettlement of close to or over 20 million people. The largest affected group were 16.5 million Germans expelled from Eastern Europe westwards. The second largest group were Poles, millions of whom were expelled westwards from eastern Kresy region and resettled in the so-called Recovered Territories (see Allies decide Polish border in the article on the Oder-Neisse line). Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and some Bielorussians were in the meantime expelled eastwards, from Poland to the Soviet Union. Finally, many of the several hundred thousands Jews remaining in the Eastern Europe after the Holocaust migrated outside Europe to Israel.

Migrations and climate cycles - Contents

The modern field of climate history suggests that the successive waves of Eurasian nomadic movement throughout history have had their origins in climatic cycles, which have expanded or contracted pastureland in Central Asia, especially Mongolia and the Altai. People were displaced from their home ground by other tribes trying to find land that could be grazed by essential flocks, each group pushing the next further to the south and west, into the highlands of Anatolia, the plains of Hungary, into Mesopotamia or southwards, into the rich pastures of China.

Toward an understanding of migration - Contents

Types of Migrations
  • The cyclic movement which involves commuting, a seasonal movement, and nomadism.
  • The periodic movement which consists of migrant labor, military services, and pastoral farming Transhumance.
  • The migratory movement that moves from the eastern part of the United States to the western part. It also moves from China to southeast Asia, from Europe to North America, and from South America to the middle part of the Americas.

Laws of Migration
Certain laws of social science have been proposed to describe human migration. The following was a standard list after Ravenstein's proposals during the time frame of 1834 to 1913. The laws are as follows:
  • Most migrants only go a short distance at one time.
  • Long distance migrations are for those who come from large cities.
  • Most migration is from rural areas to urban areas.
  • Most international migrants consist of young males between the ages of 20 and 45.
  • Most migrations proceed in step-by-step processes.
  • Each migration flow produces at least one counterflow.
  • Females remain more migratory than the males within their country.
  • Migration increases in volume as industries develop and transportation improves.
  • Major causes of migration are for economic reasons.

Causes of Migrations
  • Push Factors which are economic, political, cultural, and environmentally based.
  • Pull Factors which are economic, political, cultural, and environmentally based.
  • Barriers/Obstacles which is an example of Nigeria in the 1970's and 1980's.
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