The international migration is quite older, and limited in volume and time.
It is caused because of a number of special conditions at the place of origin and place of destination. International migration may be short migration of small groups of people or large groups travelling long distances. Contrary to this, the transoceanic migration has been observed largely in modern times, affecting the chief centers of population in Europe, America, India, China, Japan, South-East Asia and South-West Asia. Reliable data and information on international migration are not available.
In ancient time, there had been large-scale exodus of people to Canaan where Jews immigrated. The Bactria and Sogdiana was the Promised Land for the Persians where they immigrated in large numbers. The Mongols migrated to South China and Thailand around 2000 B.C. and the people from Central Asia arrived in waves in the subcontinent of India. In India, millions of people from peninsular India migrated to the tea plantations in Assam and Bengal.
In the beginning of the 20th century, about 30 million Chinese invaded Manchuria and settled there. Similarly, people from China out migrated and settled in the different countries. From South-West Asia, people migrated towards Sudan and the Muslim Fulani moved westwards to the oases of Chad, Algeria, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Central African Republic, Mauritania, Congo basin and Cameroon. Along the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabs penetrated towards Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France.
In America, both before and since the arrival of the Europeans, there had been much migration among the Americans. Until recently, the Amerindian (Red Indian) tribes often migrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. There is much internal migration still in India, Indonesia, and Americas.
In West Indies and Brazil, the seasonal labourers go to the centers of banana production. From Mexico there is a constant stream of workers to the United States. The Negro workers migrate from southern states to the industrial centers in the north-east and the Great Lakes regions. Similarly, in India, agricultural labourers from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh seasonally migrate to Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir and western Uttar Pradesh. There had been waves of migration in Europe. In fact, European emigration is the most tremendous displacement of people ever recorded by history, especially after the 17th century. The numbers involved have never been counted.
It began well before the 19th century with the discovery of America and its colonization by Spaniards; but it has been estimated that between 1821 and 1910, at least 26 million migrants left Europe for the United States alone. According to one estimate, since the end of the 15th century at least 105 million persons left Europe for the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia. In the 16th century, 3 million Spaniards left home for America. Up to the 19th century, only the Spaniards, Portuguese, English, Scots, Irish, Greeks, German, Italian, Belgian and French nationals were out migrating. The destination of all these peoples was mainly the new countries. Up to 1914 there was a considerable flow to the United States. In 1921, the immigrants’ quotas were fixed by an Act.
The Europeans out migrated to many countries in Asia, Africa and Australia. The European emigration occurred mainly because of overpopulation and industrialization. The Europeans emigrated in two different directions: (i) They entered into the sparsely populated tropical and subtropical coastlands which were easily accessible and which possessed potential for the production of exotic crops because of their hot and humid climates. Consequently, commercial production of sugar, cotton, tobacco, coffee, tea, spices, indigo, rice, and so on flourished in the eastern coastlands of North and South Americas.
In order to cultivate these virgin lands labour had to be imported. Initially this labour was supplied by the Europeans themselves but as the demand started multiplying, it gave rise to slave trade from Africa. After slavery was abolished, the densely populated countries of Asia were exploited by the British and Dutch colonialists. Consequently, the semi-slave trade supplied labour to newly developed plantation agricultural areas of Malaya, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Hawaii, East African countries and Mauritius. (ii) Secondly, large European emigrants moved into the temperate zone of the Americas, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Although people emigrated from England, Scotland, France, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other European countries, the outmigration from Ireland was almost one of the unparallels in the human history. The great exodus was due to an extraordinary increase in the population of Ireland.
The country was overpopulated, the physiological density was very high and the people were dependent largely on potato cultivation. The failure of potato crops for successive three year (1845, 1846, and 1848) and higher prices for their meager food meant famine for the whole country. This was the start of rightful poverty and of a vast exodus, a real flood of emigrants, which in some years carried off more than a third of the population. Between 1850 and 1900, more than 40 lakh people left Ireland. The check on the movement which began in 1885 was due to depopulation of the country, to a dizzy fall in the birth rate. Emigration from the British Isles as a whole represents the greatest swarm of mankind that has ever crossed the sea.
About 17 million persons left the island between 1815 and 1926. This steady flood of emigrants has not diminished the population of Britain where an excess of births over deaths has constantly kept up the total and even increased it. The first half of the 20th century may be said as a period of great political turmoil in which the two world wars were fought. The First World War resulted into forced labour. The forced migration because of political crisis and wars resulted into great human tragedies. The significant characteristic of the forced labour is that the normal selectivity in migration by age, sex, skill and education is lacking and communities as a whole are uprooted.
Over 20 million Russians migrated within and outside Russia after the Great Revolution of 1917. In 1947, partition of the subcontinent of India resulted into the migration of about over 12 million people from one part of the subcontinent to another. At present, the number of international migrations has declined because of strict immigration policies. The migration is controlled and regulated by the policies of the governments and the international regulation. There are very few countries in the world which allow or encourage the immigration of foreigners on a permanent basis. The number of those countries which still attract a sizeable immigrants is small, which include USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Germany, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Central Africa and Israel. During the last three decades, South-West Asia has emerged as an important region which is attracting technical, skilled and unskilled labourers.
Among these countries, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen are important. There are refugees and illegal migrants also who cross the international boundaries. The emergence of Bangladesh and Bosnia as well as the Gulf War of 1991 resulted into enormous movement of refugees across the international borders.