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Migration is defined as a permanent or semi-permanent change in where someone lives. For instance, if you and your family move to Australia due to your dad getting a job out there, you have all migrated. If you all go Australia for a three week holiday, then you have not migrated.

Some people migrate only for a short period. Turkish immigrant workers to Germany may only go there for a period of months. They have made a semi-permanent move so can be classified as migrants. People working as chalet-maids in aski resort for the winter also could be classified as having made a semi-permanent migration.

Migrations fall into two groups, they can be voluntary (where the migrant decides to move) or forced (where the migrant has little choice but to move). Examples of these can be found later in this section.

Migration is the permanent or semi-permanent movement from one place to another. This can be within the same country, or be between countries.

The country or place from which the migrant begins is called the origin.

The country or place to which the migrant travels is called the destination.

In between the origin and the destination the migrant is described as being en-route.

The decision to migrate can be a very complex one, or could simply be for one reason. The migration normally involves considering the positive aspects of the move (called the pull factors) and the negative reasons for the move (called the push factors).

Push factors are the things encouraging someone to move from a place. These include losing your job, having few friends remaining in the area, the cost of living, poor resources and no employment prospects.

Pull factors are the things that entice someone to a new place. They could include such things as a warmer climate, better job prospects, a larger salary, better standard of living, more friends and family, better public services.

En-route factors, or intervening obstacles, are things that might hinder the migration. These could include transport difficulties, passport and visa requirements and a lack of sufficient money to complete the migration.

The diagram below shows how the push and pull factors work together to encourage someone to migrate:

Copyright S-cool

Example: The Kosovo Albanians: March 1999

The mass migration of a large percentage of the Albanian population of Kosovo occurred in the first half of 1999. Kosovo is part of the former country of Yugoslavia, which after many bloody civil wars during the last decade has now split into a number of countries (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia,Croatia and Yugoslavia itself). Kosovo is a province in Southern Yugoslavia,which borders Albania and has a large proportion of its population who have come from that country.

Yugoslavia's main population are Serbian, and they began to persecute the Kosovo Albanians, in an attempt to try to make them leave. This exercise went unchecked until March 31st 1998, when the United Nations passed resolution 1160, which condemned the excessive force used by Serbian police against Kosovan civilians. Unfortunately the atrocities continued, with reports of "ethnic cleansing" occurring.

Ethnic cleansing

This led to the UN Security Council putting in place a military plan to force the Serbs out of Kosovo, whilst allowing the Albanians back in. As the tension rose between the Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic and the United Nations,people literally flooded out of Kosovo, fleeing from the killing and destruction brought by the Serbs.

Over 850,000 people were forced to migrate, most of them ending up in huge refugee camps in neighbouring Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. As the UN military offensive began on March 24th 1999, it was estimated that over 4,000 refugees were crossing the border from Kosovo every hour.

Although the conflicts and deep-rooted hatred have not been fully resolved, the UNHCR announced that by the middle of August 1999, 95% of the Kosovan refugees had returned to their former homes, although many had found them burned down and destroyed.

The following list includes some of the most famous forced migrations and the basic reasons for them:

- Jews forced to move from Germany, Poland and other European countries by Hitler's Nazi's before and during World War 2. (Genocide).

- Asians forced to move out of Uganda by Idi Amin in the 1970's. (Threats of genocide).

- Africans forced to travel in cramped conditions on boats across the Atlantic to the United States in the 18th and early 19th century. (The slave trade).

- Nearly 2 million Vietnamese have migrated to Hong Kong since the end if the Vietnam War in 1975. (Fear of persecution by Communist rebels).

- The population of Monserrat have been forced to move to the North of the island or migrate due to volcanic eruptions, which have now gone on for a number of years.

- Mass migrations by people in Ethiopia during the mid-1980's to look for water and food. (Drought meant that they had neither food or water).

- The original population of Australia were prisoners from the United Kingdom, who were forced to go there, and usually stayed.

The most common example of voluntary migration is the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas. This is called rural to urban migration and occurs in every country in the world, as they become more urbanised.

In MEDC's the massive movement of people from rural areas to the cities has occurred for many reasons, some of which are shown in the diagram below. This has caused rural areas to become depopulated and has led to the decline of services in these rural areas. Things like village shops and post offices have often found that they do not have enough customers to allow them to remain open.

Origin (push factors): Destination (pull factors):
Few job opportunities in the rural areas. Many job opportunities.
Few friends left as many have already moved to the cities. The chance to meet up with friends again.
Few entertainment or leisure activities available. More leisure and entertainment opportunities.
Low wages in agricultural work. Better shops and services, offering a wide range of goods.
Often difficult to get out to see friends and go to social events. The prospect of higher paid work, meaning a better standard of living. Easily accessible to friends, social events and work.

In MEDC's a counter movement has begun to occur however, with people moving out to the countryside to get away from the pollution and congestion of the city. More often than not they work in the urban areas though, commuting in every morning. This has led to rural villages changing from farming communities to commuter villages, which are also called dormitory villages.

In LEDC's the movement to urban areas is even greater than in MEDC's. People move to the cities because they believe that they will be more able to get employment and have a better way of life. This is sometimes called "the bright lights syndrome". However this is not always the case as they often end up living in shanty towns and finding occasional, poorly paid work.(seethe section on Shanty Towns in the Settlement topic). Despite this the in-migration continues rapidly.