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Unit 2

2.11 Forced vs. Voluntary Migration

3 min readapril 30, 2020

Edmund Scanlan


AP Human Geography 🚜

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Immigration is incredibly common in today's world, but not everyone leaves their home and country voluntarily. Keep reading to find out the different kinds of migrations.
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Forced Migration

Slavery is probably the best example of forced migration. During the 17th and 18th centuries, hundreds of thousands of Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas in the Triangle Trade. 
Forced migrations produce different types of migrants according to the UNHCR:
  1. Refugees are people that are forced to migrate because of a threat to their life and cannot return for fear of persecution. An example would be people who have fled Syria, because of the ongoing civil war.
  2. Internally Displaced Persons are similar to refugees, but they have not migrated internationally. In 2012, Colombia had around five million IDPs, because of the rampant drug cartels throughout the country.
  3. Asylum Seekers are migrants to another country that are hoping to be recognized as refugees. An example of this is the migrant caravan that was traveling to the United States in 2018 from Central America. The migrants claimed they fled because of persecution in their home countries.

Voluntary Migrations

Voluntary migrations can also happen for a number of reasons:
  1. Economic reasons are definitely the main reason people migrate from one country, region, or area to another.
  2. Transnational migration is the moving from one coast of a county to another. During the California Gold Rush a number of people migrated out west in hopes of striking it rich!
  3. Transhumance is a seasonal migration that herders make with their livestock to allow them to graze. They change elevations depending on the seasons. This is still done today in Mongolia today, but has largely died out.
  4. Internal Migration is migration within a country. During the first half of the 20th century a number of African Americans moved from the south to the north where a number of factory jobs opened up. Chain Migration happens when one family member migrates to another place. Once he is established with a job and a home he will start to bring his family to the new home. Some of the Lost Boys of Sudan migrated to the United States and after getting established, they brought their mothers, siblings, wives over as well. Step Migration happens when someone is traveling to a distant location. They might move from a rural area to a nearby village. Then they move to a town and finally to a city.
  5. Guest Workers are immigrants who have traveled to a country on a work visa. Sometimes it is short term and sometimes it becomes permanent. Germany has a number of Turks that live there today.  In the 1960s and early 1970s they came as cheap labor and a number ended up staying. Today there are over two million people of Turkish ancestry that live in Germany.  Rural-to-Urban Migration is when people from farming areas move to cities. This happens frequently in developing countries. In China, almost a hundred million people have moved from the rural interior to the east coast where factory jobs are prevalent.
🎥 Watch: AP HUG - Causes of Migration

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