Geographic Influences on Migration Patterns in South Asia

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  • 0:00 What Is Migration?
  • 1:04 India & Nepal
  • 2:13 Pakistan & Afghanistan
  • 3:52 Sri Lanka & the Maldives
  • 4:55 Bhutan
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you should be able to describe the migration patterns in South Asia - both internally within the countries of the region and externally. A short quiz follows.

What is Migration?

People like to move around. And they do so for lots of different reasons. Human migration is the seasonal or long-term movement of humans from one area of the Earth to another. This might happen when someone moves for a new job, or flees persecution in their home country, or escapes from the path of a gigantic erupting volcano. Whatever the reason, when people move, that's human migration.

In today's lesson, we're going to look at the migration patterns in each of the countries of South Asia. South Asia is the area usually considered to include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. There are a lot of people in South Asia: A staggering 1.6 billion in total, 1.2 billion of whom are squashed into India. And where there are a lot of people, there's a lot of movement. Let's start with India and Nepal.

Migration Patterns of India & Nepal

Within the borders of India and Nepal, there is a lot of migration. In India, the most common reason people move is marriage. This is especially true of women - when a woman in India marries, she is expected to move in with or near to her husband's family. In fact, over 50% of internal migration in India is for this reason. People also move within the country for better employment, or educational opportunities, or to avoid turmoil. For example, many people have left Jammu, Kashmir, and Assam in recent years due to the conflicts there.

In Nepal, the biggest flow of internal migration is from the northern, mountainous areas, into either cities or the southern, fertile farmland. The mountains have become too densely populated, and land is expensive. People are moving south to seek new opportunities.

In 2001, only 2% of migrations in India were from outside the country. Far more people leave the country and emigrate to developed ones, such as the United States and countries in Europe. Getting acceptance into these countries can take many years, but it provides a better life for a lot of people.

Migration Patterns of Pakistan & Afghanistan

When the British left India, they carved up the country into what we know today as India and Pakistan. The idea was that Hindu believers would be most at home in India, and Muslims could find their way to Pakistan. And this is exactly what happened: a surge of migration out of India into the new country of Pakistan.

Later, internal migration within Pakistan occurred mostly from rural areas to city areas, by people in search of jobs or better opportunities. This continues to this day, as urban areas grow more each year. Sometimes this migration is permanent, but sometimes the men of a family go into the city and send money that they make back home to their families in the country. They might even return to the villages during agricultural harvests. This time away from their families is a huge sacrifice, but it can be the only way to escape poverty.

When it comes to external migration, a lot of people in Pakistan have been moving to the Middle East to take advantage of the huge oil reserves there. They see this as a way to get rich.

Afghan migration data is hard to come by. Since governments have been anything from informal to downright abusive, there often was little or no data gathered about how people moved. We do know that people seasonally migrate to Iran and Pakistan for work and send money back to their families in Afghanistan. We also know that people leave the country to escape persecution and are granted asylum in Europe, the U.S., and other countries. And during the many times of war, there is often heavy migration out of the country to escape the fighting.

Migration Patterns of Sri Lanka & the Maldives

Sri Lanka and the Maldives see a lot of migration. Since both countries are so small, opportunities can be limited, causing people to move to other places to work. They then send the money home to their families. Many people go to the Middle East for jobs in the oil industry, but South Korea and Singapore are also major destinations.

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