When a large group of people moves from one geographical location to another, the world faces a phenomenon of mass migration. Mass migrations were not rare events in 15th, 16th, 19th and early 20th centuries. However, even nowadays citizens of countries have to flee from their motherlands because of wars, political regimes, economic conditions, and so on.
Let's take a look at the 10 Biggest Human Migrations in History:
1. From Rural China to Urban Centers
Estimated Migrants to date about 160 Million. Grinding poverty was always a problem for rural China, and since the death of Mao in 1976, the relaxation of migration rules have given immense impetus to this rural-urban migration. These migrant workers have transformed the economy of China providing much needed cheap labor to fuel the export-led boom of the mighty Chinese economy. Currently, migrant workers make up to 12% of the countries population, the Government's planning commission expects another 100 million people to move to cities by 2020.
2. India to Pakistan
Following the partition of British India into Pakistan and India, some 15 million people found themselves stranded in the 'wrong' part of the land, Hindus in Pakistani territory and Muslims in Indian territory. Thus began the greatest international migration in history with Muslims migrating towards eastern and western wings of the newly formed state of Pakistan and Hindus crossing over to India. Emotions ran high and terrible atrocities were committed on both sides ranging from damage to property, arson, killing and mob violence. Ordinary peace loving Hindus and Muslims became so enraged with each other that they committed such atrocities they would never have considered themselves capable off. In some places, even the state troops joined violence. On 9th August 1947 a train carrying Muslim officers from Delhi to Karachi was intercepted and four senior plus 150 other officers were massacred. Soon trains of migrants began to arrive at their destination filled with dead bodies and their caravans intercepted and looted. Today, however, these migrants have fully blended into the Pakistani society and live as a respectable middle-class community.
3. Resettlement of Europe after Soviet Domination
Estimated Population displaced about 12 Million Germans. At the end of World War II changes in the map of Europe meant that many people found themselves living in hostile territory and so millions, primarily Germans were expelled, evacuated or fled from Central and Eastern Europe to the new Germany, making this the largest single instance of ethnic cleansing in recorded history.
4. Europe and rest of the World to Israel
Estimated Migrants to Date about 3.6 Million. Traditionally referred to as the 'Aliyah' in Hebrew, migration to the holy land of Israel has been the aspiration of many Jews and is also one of the cardinal doctrine of the Zionist ideology. The main aim of the Zionist movement was to establish the state of Israel, an independent homeland for Jews. It encouraged Jews from all over the world to migrate to Israel but Ottoman rule checked their numbers in Palestine area. Then World War I changed the scenario and emigrants streamed freely into the British mandated Palestine, some were motivated by their religious cause while others escaped antisemitic movements such as the Holocaust. The British had already promised the state of Israel for Jews in the Balfour Declaration in 1917. From 1919-1948 there were 493,149 emigrants then after the declaration of the state of Israel this number increased to 687,624 (1948-1951) and since then, Jews continue to trickle to their holy land.
5. Afghanistan to Pakistan
Estimated Migrants about 2.58 Million. The state of Afghanistan was thrown into instability when the Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979. Unable to defeat the local Mujaheddin resistance backed by a coalition of American CIA and Pakistan, Soviets were forced to retreat in 1988 after a bloody war. A civil war ensued between local warlords after the withdrawal of USSR and severe droughts for several years added to the misery of the local population which was already torn with a decade of war. As a result of the terrible state of the country millions of Afghans were compelled to seek refugee in neighboring Iran and Pakistan. To date Pakistan remains the largest host to international refugees, the figure being estimated at 1.6 Million and majority of them are Afghans.
6. China to Taiwan and rest of the World
Estimated Migrants about 2 Million. When the communists under Mao Zedong defeated the nationalists and set up a communist state, many millions especially the Nationalist army fled to Taiwan, which they declared a separate country, claiming it as the real China. Industry quickly developed there and the state became rich and prosperous. Other Chinese fled all over the world and because of their dedicated and hardworking altitude they have prospered.
7. Vietnam to rest of the World
Estimated Migrants about 1-2 Million. Millions of people fled from Vietnam when it was taken over by the communists in their war with the USA in 1975. Some did not want to live in the communist society, others had helped the Americans. They fled mainly by sea in any sort of vessel they could get. Hundreds and thousands were drowned in their tiny boats in which they had to face deadly storms, hunger and had to elude the pirates but many struggled through. Some of them have become quite prosperous in the developed countries particularly the United States. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, between 200,000 and 400,000 boat people died at sea.
8. California Gold Rush
The period between 1848 and 1855 is known in the U.S. as California Gold Rush. The rush started when James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Mill in California. When people in neighboring areas heard the news, they rushed to California in search for gold. The amount of those “gold-seekers” soon reached 300,000 of Americans, Europeans, Australians, Asians and Latin Americans.
9. Atlantic Slave Trade
During the period between 15th and 19th centuries, traders were transporting slaves from West Africa to the New World and Americas. The slaves had to work on coffee, cocoa, sugar, cotton and tobacco plantations, constructions, silver and gold mines, fields, and in the homes or rich people as servants. Slave trade was one of the biggest migrations in history, where humans were transported to foreign lands and sold on local markets to become someone’s property.
10. The Huns’ Barbarous Invasions
The nomadic tribe of the Huns lived in a region near the Caspian Sea. The tribe’s name remained in the history because of their barbarous attacks on the regions surrounding the Roman Empire, which triggered the Great Migration, or “Wandering of the Nations” between 376 and 476 AD. The Great Migration involved Goths, Vandals, and Alans, who weakened the Roman Empire.