Introduction to Human Migration (2023)

Resource Library
Activity : 50 mins

Students discuss types of migration and people who migrate. Then they brainstorm reasons for migrating.


6 - 8


Geography, Human Geography


Refugee Family

A refugee family crosses the Moei River into Thailand. They carry their belongings.

Photograph by James L. Stanfield

Introduction to Human Migration (1)

1. Build background about human migration and types of migration.
Explain to students that human migration is the movement of people from one place in the world to another. Ask: What are some different types of human movements? Then tell students that people move for many reasons, and that types of human migration include:

  • internal migration: moving within a state, country, or continent
  • external migration: moving to a different state, country, or continent
  • emigration: leaving one country to move to another
  • immigration: moving into a new country
  • return migration: moving back to where you came from
  • seasonal migration: moving with each season or in response to labor or climate conditions

2. Discuss people who migrate.
Tell students that people who migrate fall into several categories:

  • An emigrant is a person who is leaving one country to live in another.
  • An immigrant is a person who is entering a country from another to make a new home.
  • A refugee is a person who has moved to a new country because of a problem in their former home.

Have students provide specific examples of each to demonstrate understanding of the differences between the three terms.

3. Brainstorm reasons for migrating.
Ask: Why do people move? What forces do you think drive human migration? Then explain to students that people move for many reasons and that those reasons are called push factors and pull factors. Tell students that push factors include leaving a place because of a problem, such as a food shortage, war, or flood. Tell students that pull factors include moving to a place because of something good, such as a nicer climate, more job opportunities, or a better food supply. Ask: What effect does a region’s economy, climate, politics, and culture have on migration to and from the area? Have students brainstorm additional reasons for migrating, such as displacement by a natural disaster, lack of natural resources, the state of an economy, and more.

Informal Assessment

Check students’ comprehension. Make sure they understand the difference between emigrants, immigrants, and refugees.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • list and explain main types of migration
  • describe categories of people who migrate
  • list reasons for migrating

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Discussions

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

(Video) Home Planet - Human Migration

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

  • Theme 3: People, Places, and Environments

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

Background Information

Human migration is the movement of people from one place in the world to another. Human patterns of movement reflect the conditions of a changing world and impact the cultural landscapes of both the places people leave and the places they settle.




person who moves from their existing country or region to a new country or region.



process of leaving one country or region to live in another.

external migration


the movement of people to another nation or country.

human migration


the movement of people from one place to another.

(Video) Where and Why Do People Move? Crash Course Geography #32



person who moves to a new country or region.



process of moving to a new country or region with the intention of staying and living there.

internal migration


the movement of people from one area in a country or nation to another.

push factor


force that drives people away from a place.


person who flees their home, usually due to natural disaster or political upheaval.

return migration


the return of immigrants to their home country.

seasonal migration

(Video) Map Shows How Humans Migrated Across The Globe


movement of animals or other organisms determined by the changing weather or seasons, or in response to labor or climate conditions. For animals, seasonal migration usually refers to movement to a warmer climate during the winter and a cooler climate during the summer. For humans, seasonal migration may happen because of drivers such as crop and livestock management or tourism.


  • Credits

    Media Credits

    The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.


    Nancee Hunter


    Christina Riska Simmons

    Expert Reviewer

    Andrew C. Clarke, University of Otago, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, Dunedin, New Zealand


    adapted from National Geographic Xpeditions lesson “Human Migration: The Story of the Cultural Landscape”

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Related Resources

Related Resources


What is human migration short answer? ›

Human migration is the movement of people from one place in the world to another. Human patterns of movement reflect the conditions of a changing world and impact the cultural landscapes of both the places people leave and the places they settle.

What is the introduction of migration? ›

Migration is the movement of people and has occurred as long as mankind has existed. It is linked with global issues including economic growth, poverty and human rights. Migration can have many social and economic benefits but also presents challenges.

What is the answer of migration? ›

Migration is defined as movement from one country, place or locality to another in search of better opportunities to settle. When people move from one place to another, the place they move from is called the Place of Origin and the place they move to is called the Place of Destination.

What was the main reason for the human migration? ›

Some people move in search of work or economic opportunities, to join family, or to study. Others move to escape conflict, persecution, terrorism, or human rights violations. Still others move in response to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters, or other environmental factors.

What are 3 effects of human migration? ›

Migrants eventually induce social, economic, and political problems in receiving countries, including 1) increases in the population, with adverse effects on existing social institutions; 2) increases in demand for goods and services; 3) displacement of nationals from occupations in the countryside and in the cities; 4 ...

What are the impact of human migration? ›

Positive impacts of migration on migrants

The opportunity to get a better job. Improved quality of life. Safety from conflict. The opportunity for a better education.

What are 4 types of migration? ›

What are the types of migration?
  • Internal migration: moving within a state, country, or continent.
  • External migration: moving to a different state, country, or continent.
  • Emigration: leaving one place to move to another.
  • Immigration: moving into a new place.
  • Return migration: moving back to where you came from.

What is an example of human migration? ›

The Great Migration, the flight of over a million African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North following the outbreak of World War I, is an example of a human migration that occurred within the same country.

What is the biggest human migration? ›

Chongqing- Chunyun, also known as the Chinese New Year Migration, Spring Festival Travel Rush, is the largest human migration on earth annually. Millions of people working or studying out of their hometowns will be hurrying home to reunite with families at this time.

What is migration and its causes? ›

Migration is the movement of people from one place to another with the intent to settle. Causes: In preindustrial societies, environmental factors, such as the need for resources due to overpopulation, were often the cause of migration.

What happens during a migration? ›

Migration is a pattern of behavior in which animals travel from one habitat to another in search of food, better conditions, or reproductive needs.

What are the 3 main causes of migration? ›

People migrate for many reasons , ranging from security, demography and human rights to poverty and climate change.

What factors influence migration? ›

Demographic factors such as age, education, marital status, and language impact one's willingness to migrate. Worsening political and environmental conditions abroad and/or improving conditions at home can lead to less migration.

What social factors cause migration? ›

The social factors influencing push migration include lack of healthcare and lack of religious tolerance, among other social factors. Political push factors influencing migration also include aspects of war and terrorism, unfair legal systems and lack of governmental tolerance.

What is the biggest impact of migration? ›

Migration increased the slum areas in cities which increase many problems such as unhygienic conditions, crime, pollution etc. Sometimes migrants are exploited. Migration is one of the main causes of increasing nuclear family where children grow up without a wider family circle.

What are two factors that caused humans to migrate? ›

Among the 'macro-factors', the inadequate human and economic development of the origin country, demographic increase and urbanization, wars and dictatorships, social factors and environmental changes are the major contributors to migration. These are the main drivers of forced migration, both international or internal.

What is the importance of migration? ›

Differences in opportunities

The most important reasons for international migration are differences in income and economic opportunities between countries, varying levels of social and human security as well as existing ethnic and diaspora networks (i.e. other migrants from the same origin country).

What are the challenges of human migration? ›

In cases of distress migration and migration into urban slums, the migrants become more vulnerable due to lack of negotiating power with the potential employers, lack of social capital or lack of political organization and clout.

What is the conclusion of migration? ›

Migration is defined as the regular movement of animals each year between separate breeding and wintering grounds. There are many different types of migratory behaviour, ranging from completely sedentary populations to populations that are completely migratory (obligate migrants).

How has migration affected society? ›

Migration can also have an impact on larger social phenomenon, such as democratic institutions, environmental degradation and gender norms, either through the transmission of values and knowledge or through the resources provided by remittances.

What are the 5 stages of migration? ›

There are five common migration approaches: Retire, Replace, Rehost, Rearchitect, and Retain.

Where do most people migrate to? ›

United States of America

The United States is far and away the most popular destination for the world's immigrants. With more than 51 million foreign-born residents living in the U.S., the country has nearly four times as many immigrants as any other nation in the world.

What is the theory of human migration? ›

Functionalist migration theories generally see migration as a positive phenomenon contributing to productivity, prosperity and, eventually, greater equality in origin and destination societies through bidirectional flows of resources such as money, goods and knowledge.

What is human migration called? ›

Migration is the physical movement of people from one place to another; it may be over long distances, such as moving from one country to another, and can occur as individuals, family units, or large groups. When referring to international movement, migration is called immigration.

Where did human migration begin? ›

Groups of modern humans—Homo sapiens—began their migration out of Africa some 60,000 years ago. Some of our early ancestors kept exploring until they spread to all corners of Earth. How far and fast they went depended on climate, the pressures of population, and the invention of boats and other technologies.

How common is human migration? ›

Even today, 3 percent of the world's population—at least 258 million people—live outside of their country of origin. Whether voluntary or forced, migration has profoundly shaped our world.

When did migration begin? ›

Studies show that the pre-modern migration of human populations begins with the movement of Homo erectus out of Africa across Eurasia about 1.75 million years ago.

How do people migrate? ›

People may migrate as individuals, in family units or in large groups. There are four major forms of migration: invasion, conquest, colonization and emigration/immigration.

What is migration explain in 50 words? ›

migration, n.

a. The movement of a person or people from one country, locality, place of residence, etc., to settle in another; an instance of this. Migration is, first and foremost, a normal human activity. Human beings have always moved from 'one country, locality, [and] place of residence to settle in another'.

What are the 7 types of migration? ›

There are different types of migration such as counter-urbanization, emigration, immigration, internal migration, international migration and rural-urban migration. What are their definitions?

What is positive impact of migration? ›

It lowers the unemployment rate, which reduces job rivalry. It creates less demand on natural resources and services such as food, water, education, and healthcare. In addition, the countries of origin benefit from the migrants who return home after they have acquired new skills and knowledge in the host country.

What are the four challenges to migration? ›

When they reach their destination they often face difficulties in accessing health care, housing, education or employment. They may become easy targets for abuse, extortion and exploitation due to a lack of a protective family network, a lack of information or missing documents.

What were the 4 main reasons for this migration? ›

Why people migrate: 11 surprising reasons
  • To escape past or future persecution based on race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. ...
  • To escape conflict or violence. ...
  • To find refuge after being displaced due to environmental factors. ...
  • To seek superior healthcare.
Dec 4, 2014

How does environment affect migration? ›

Comparing a range of environmental drivers, our findings suggest that increasing temperatures and temperature extremes, followed by rapid-onset events (e.g. hurricanes or tsunamis) and precipitation anomalies (e.g. changes in rainfall variability and patterns) have the strongest impacts on migration.

What are the positive and negative effects of migration? ›

Migration may be positive for host countries as they increase their young working population and cultural diversity. For origin countries, they may benefit from remittances. Migration may be negative for origin countries due to Brain Drain, and the loss of young people.

Is the most common cause of migration? ›

War & conflict

The most common factor for forced migration around the world is conflict.

What is human migration for kids? ›

The English word migration derives from the Latin verb migrare, meaning “to move from one place to another.” By the broadest definition, human migration refers to any movement of people, either temporary or permanent, from one place to another.

What is simple migration? ›

Simple. Migrations uses a table inside your database to track which version the database is at. Since difference databases (SQLite, PostgreSQL, etc) will need different commands to create and modify that table, Simple. Migrations uses a database provider to provide that ability.

What is human migration example? ›

Forced migrations usually involve people who have been expelled by governments during war or other political upheavals or who have been forcibly transported as slaves or prisoners. Intermediate between these two categories are the voluntary migrations of refugees fleeing war, famine, or natural disasters.

What are the 2 main types of migration? ›

Internal migration: moving within a state, country, or continent. External migration: moving to a different state, country, or continent.

What are some examples 3 of human migration in history? ›

Indentured labour (1834-1917) Migration to the New World (1800s-1930) Post WWII migration (late 1940s to 1960s)

What is migration and why is it important? ›

Migration is a way to move from one place to another in order to live and work. Movement of people from their home to another city, state or country for a job, shelter or some other reasons is called migration. Migration from rural areas to urban areas has increased in past few years in India.

What are three general causes of migration? ›

What are the three general causes of migration? environmental causes, economic causes, political causes.

What is the summary of migrations? ›

Migrations is a stunningly beautiful novel about a woman who has always been running—from her childhood, her mistakes, her memories—and this time, she's traveling from Greenland to Antarctica, following the world's last flock of Arctic terns on their final migration.


1. Human Origins 101 | National Geographic
(National Geographic)
2. Where Did We All Come From? Tracing Human Migration Using Genetic Markers
3. June 2019 From Shore to Sea Lecture: Earliest Human Migrations to North America
4. Human migration: sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific | World History | Khan Academy
(Khan Academy)
5. Introduction to Migration 101 with Hein de Haas
(Migration Matters)
6. BP Immigration
(Sarah Black)
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