No study of migration is complete without a study of international migration, which has had an important bearing on the population growth of several countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and some countries of Latin America.

International migration is as old as human history, whether it is voluntary or forced upon people by famines, conquests and various types of persecutions. Unfortunately, because of the lack of precise information, the size and nature of such migration are not exactly known.

In present times, statistics on international migration are maintained by various countries for their own national use, and hence international comparisons based on such statistics become difficult because of lack of uniformity.

Important International Migratory Movements


It is well known that the continents of America and Australia have been peopled by European migrants. Millions of them, initially from Great Britain and later from other parts of Europe, especially Germany and Scandinavia, crossed the Atlantic in search of fortunes and settled down in the United States.

Other significant stream of European migrants, especially from Southern and Eastern Europe, settled in Latin America. Yet another important migratory movement from Europe was to Australia and New Zealand, and to South Africa. Most of the migrants to these parts were from the British Isles.

Among the Asian migrants, the Chinese and the Indians constituted the majority. The Indians, most of whom were labourers went to Burma, Ceylon, Sri Lanka, Malaya, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius and the British Guiana to work mainly on rubber, tea, coffee, and sugar plantations.

The most important and the largest migration, that is, transfer of civilian population, occurred in 1947 between India and Pakistan. It is estimated that, in this transfer, nearly 7.2 million persons migrated from India to Pakistan and about the same number was transferred to India from Pakistan.


One of the most dramatic events in the history of international migration is the founding of Israel, which is the only country in the world to collect and assimilate, within a few years, thousands of migrants originating from various countries and cultures.

From May 1948 up to December 1951, this new country added 684,000 immigrants to its existing population of about 650,000. No other country in the world has ever recorded such a rapid immigration rate.