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2.4: European Migration

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    The Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions shaped both migration and immigration patterns to the region. Migration refers to a move from one place to another intended to be permanent. When considering migration, geographers look at both intraregional migration, movement within a particular region, and interregional migration, such as migration from Europe to North America.

    Geographers who study migration also investigate push and pull factors that influence people to move. Push factors are those that compel you to move from your current location. A lack of job opportunities, environmental dangers, or political turmoil would all be considered push factors. Pull factors, on the other hand, are those that entice you to move to a new place, and might include ample jobs, freedom from political or religious persecution, or simply the availability of desirable amenities. Historically, most intraregional migration in Europe was rural to urban, as people moved from farms to cities to find work. Cities grew rapidly in the region as centers of trade and industry.

    Before the industrial revolution, migration to the region was usually in the form of invasions, such as with the Roman Empire, the Islamic Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. One notable, historical migration that did not represent an invading empire was the Jewish Diaspora following the conquest of Judea, the region now known as Israel and Palestine, by a number of groups including the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Romans. A diaspora refers to a group of people living outside of their ancestral homeland and many Jewish people moved to Europe to escape violence and persecution, particularly after the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.

    Jews migrating to Europe were often met with anti-Semitism. During the Middle Ages, European Jews were routinely attacked and were expelled from several countries including England and France. Jewish communities were destroyed during the mid-14th century as the Black Death swept across Europe and thousands of Jews were murdered, accused of poisoning the water and orchestrating the epidemic. In actuality, the disease was likely spread by rats, and worsened by the superstitious killing of cats in the same time period.

    European Jews were often forced to live in distinct neighborhoods, also known as ghettos. In fact, this requirement to live in specific areas was required in Italy under areas ruled by the Pope until 1870. These distinctive communities were often met with suspicion by European Christians, many of whom continued to foster the same anti-Semitic sentiment that had been prevalent during the Middle Ages.

    This anti-Semitic fervor and persecution of Jews reached its height at the time of the Nazi Party’s rule in Germany. Prior to World War II, close to 9 million Jews lived in Europe; 6 million of them were killed in the Holocaust, the European genocide that targeted Jews, Poles, Soviets, communists, homosexuals, the disabled, and numerous other groups viewed as undesirable by the Nazi regime. Following the war, many surviving Jews emigrated back to the newly created state of Israel. Around 2.4 million Jews live in Europe today.

    There was another shift in population after the signing of the Schengen Agreement in 1995, with large numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe migrated to the western European countries in the core. Citizens of European Union countries are permitted to live and work in any country in the EU, and countries like the United Kingdom and Spain contain large numbers of Eastern European immigrants. Around half of all European migrants are from other countries within Europe.

    Economic and political inequalities have driven much of the interregional migration to Europe since the 1980s. Immigrants from North Africa and Southwest Asia, driven by limited employment opportunities and political conflict, have migrated to Europe in large numbers and now represent approximately 12 percent of all European migrants.


    a move from one place to another intended to be permanent

    2.4: European Migration is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.