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Social sciences: geography

Grade 7

Population growth and changes

Module 8

The long term effects of migration on the population

Activity 1:

To illustrate the long term effect of migration on population structures

[lo 3.3]

1. How has the demography of the world been influenced by long term migration?

1.1 Colonisation and slavery played an important role to give the world population its present features.

Slavery can be regarded as a form of forced migration , to put it mildly. Although slavery was already known in Biblical times, the four centuries between 1450 and 1850 were notorious for large scale slavery in the previous millennium. The Arabs, British, Dutch, Portuguese, Spaniards, French and Danish bought slaves, mostly in Africa, but also in the East, and sold some of them in Europe, but they were mostly intended for the new colonies occupied by European countries.

These colonies refer to newly discovered (for Europeans) territories that fell into the hands of European nations between 1500 and 1900, by means of treaties, annexation or war. The fact that European languages such as Spanish and English, and to a lesser degree French, are spoken all over the world today, is a result of colonisation. North America, South America, Africa, extensive parts of Asia, Australia and New Zealand were “divided” among the European nations.

The results of the practice of colonialism and slavery is not difficult to see today.

  • Athletes taking part in the finals of the 100 m at the Olympic Games are often black and English-speaking, but they seldom represent an African state. They usually represent the USA, Canada, the island states known as the West Indian Islands, and so forth. These athletes’ forbears were in most cases taken as slaves and transported to the country which they now represent.
  • Citizens of colonies that gained their independence could quite easily emigrate to the “motherland” (where the colonial powers came from). This is how many people from e.g. India, Africa and the West Indian Islands ended up in Great Britain and other European states.
  • In our own country the legacy of slavery and colonialism is evident from the composition of our population.

2.2 Contemporary migration patterns

You have already learnt that many Western nations, such as Germany and the Scandinavian countries, have “old” or “ageing” populations. These countries often have problems getting enough workers (on all levels). Also countries with a particularly high economic growth sometimes need skilled and unskilled labour to maintain this growth. On the other hand, people from rapidly growing populations with a “dead” economy, pursue success in other countries. Contemporary migration patterns are therefore mostly determined by economic considerations.

Apart from the fact that not many German youths are presently joining the labour force, Germans have for the past few decades not been particularly fond of manual labour. To address the shortage of workers, thousands of people from “poor” countries were allowed to take on jobs in Germany. In due course they were joined by their families, so that Turkish descendants today make up a considerable percentage of the German population. Apart from the German language, Turkish is the language spoken most by Germany’s permanent citizens.

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Source:  OpenStax, Geography grade 7. OpenStax CNX. Sep 09, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11021/1.1
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