15 Internal Migration Examples (Interregional and Intraregional)

internal migration examples types and definition

Internal migration is the process of people migrating within their own country or region. Internal migration examples include the 1930s dustbowl exodus and seasonal migration for work.

In human geography, internal migration is often split up into two types: intraregional (movement within a region) and interregional (movement across regions of the same country).

  • Intraregional migration generally involves the migration of people from rural and satellite areas near a city into the urban areas.
  • Interregional migration generally involves migration across states or provinces.

In both cases, internal migration usually happens when there is not enough jobs or resources in certain areas of a country and people are forced to move to a new area in search of better opportunities. Internal migration can also be caused by natural disasters or political unrest.

Internal Migration Examples

1. Rural to Urban Migration

Type: Intraregional migration

This is the most common type of internal migration and usually happens when people move to cities in search of better opportunities.

For example, young adults often move into cities to go to prestigious city universities, then stay there to pursue careers in inner-city companies.

Similarly, many people move to big cities in search of better-paying jobs, especially as rural towns start to enter into periods of decline following the exodus of extraction industries that have completed the extraction of localized resources.

We call this process “urbanization.”

2. Urban to Rural Migration

Type: Intraregional migration

This occurs when people who live in cities move to rural areas in search of a better quality of life.

For example, many recently married couples move to rural areas to start families, since there is more space, cheaper housing, a slower pace of life.

During the 2019-2022 pandemic, where people were forced to work online, there was increasing interest in urban to rural migration. The decoupling of ‘where you live’ from ‘where you work’ allowed people to think about where they wanted to set up their lives for the best quality of life.

3. Seasonal Migration

Type: Interregional migration

Seasonal migration occurs when people migrate to different parts of the country based on the season. For example, they may move to the coast during the summer and to the mountains during the winter.

For example, there is a cohort of American and Canadian retirees called Snowbirds who have two residences: one in the south and one in the north. Many of them head south to escape harsh winters and north to escape harsh summers.

4. Internally Displaced Persons

Type: Usually, interregional migration

This occurs when people are forced to flee their homes due to conflict or natural disasters. They may become refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs).

For example, during Hurricane Katrina, many people were displaced from their homes in New Orleans and had to move to other parts of the United States.

Similarly, during the Russia-Ukraine war of 2022, many Ukrainian refugees fled the east of the country to take refuge in the relatively safe city of Lviv near the Polish border.

5. Circular Migration

Type: Usually, interregional migration

Circular migration is a type of migration in which people or animals move around in a circle, returning to their original location after a certain amount of time.

Circular migration can be used for a variety of reasons, including seasonal work, escaping danger, or maintaining cultural traditions. It is particularly common among pastoralists, who move their herds of animals around in search of better pastures.

For example, the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania are well-known for their annual cattle migration, which takes them from the lowlands to the highlands and back again each year. This allows them to take advantage of different resources depending on the season.

Real-Life Examples of Intraregional Migration

6. Dust Bowl Exodus

Type: Interregional migration

The dust bowl exodus happened in the 1930s, when tens of thousands of people left the Great Plains states in search of better opportunities. The drought and soil erosion of the 1930s caused a massive Dust Bowl, which made it nearly impossible to farm or live in the region.

As a result, many people left for California and other parts of the West Coast in search of jobs and a better life. When they arrived, they faced discrimination and poor working conditions, which formed the setting of John Steinbeck’s great American novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

7. The Great Migration

Type: Interregional migration

The Great Migration was a period of mass migration of African Americans from the South to the North, Midwest, and West Coast of the United States between 1916 and 1970. This was a response to racial violence, segregation, and poverty in the South.

African Americans moved to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and New York City in search of better opportunities. The Great Migration was a major contributor to the growth of African American communities in these cities. To this day, there are many descendants of African American migrants that moved north during this time.

8. Migration during Italy’s Economic Miracle

Type: Interregional migration

Migration during Italy’s Economic Miracle refers to the period of mass migration from rural to urban areas in Italy between the end of World War II and the early 1970s. This was a result of the economic boom that Italy experienced after the war.

People moved to cities such as Milan, Rome, and Turin in search of jobs and a better life. The migration caused a major population increase in these cities, and it led to the development of new urban areas. Today, many of these migrants’ descendants still live in these cities.

9. Roma Migration around Europe

Type: Interregional migration

Roma are a migratory and semi-nomadic ethnic group that have lived in Europe for centuries. They are often called Gypsies, and they are one of the largest minority groups in Europe.

Roma migration has often been a response to discrimination and poverty. They move around Europe in search of better opportunities, but they often face racism and violence from locals.

In recent years, there has been a large wave of Roma migration from Central and Eastern Europe to Western Europe. This has caused tensions between Roma and the host population in many countries.

Some families may move every few months in order to find better work or living conditions, while others may only move a couple of times a year. In general, however, Roma tend to migrate more frequently than non-Roma Europeans.

10. Irish Travelers

Type: Interregional migration

The Irish Travelers are a nomadic ethnic group who have lived in Ireland for centuries.

Irish Travelers have a tradition of traveling around Ireland in search of work. They often do seasonal work, such as fruit picking or construction. They also travel to other parts of Europe in search of work.

Irish travelers are a famously colorful and vibrant bunch. They are known for their flamboyany dress, boisterous behavior, and love of singing and storytelling. They are one of the oldest continuous traveling groups in the world. They began traveling in the 18th century, and they are still traveling today.

Like Roma, Irish Travelers often face discrimination and racism from locals.

11. The Bedouin People

Type: Interregional migration

The Bedouin are a nomadic ethnic group who live in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East.

Bedouin migration has often been a response to drought and poverty. They move around the desert in search of better opportunities, including jobs and water resources.

The Bedouin are a famously hardy people. They are used to living in harsh conditions, and they have a strong tradition of hospitality. They are also known for their skill in desert survival.

Bedouin traditions include camel riding, poetry, and music. They have a strong oral tradition, and much of their culture is passed down through storytelling.

12. American Snowbirds

Type: Interregional migration

Snowbirds are a term used to describe Americans who migrate to warmer climates in the winter.

Most snowbirds head to places like Florida, Arizona, and California during the winter months.

According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, nearly 1.5 million snowbirds travel to Arizona each year to escape the cold winters in their home states. Many of these visitors stay in the Phoenix area, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Snowbirds typically have retired or semi-retired from their regular jobs. They have the time and money to travel.

The term “snowbird” is also used to describe Canadians who migrate to the U.S.

13. The Maasai People

Type: Interregional migration

The Maasai are a nomadic ethnic group who live in Kenya and Tanzania.

Maasai migration has often been a response to drought and poverty. They move around the African savannah throughout the year in a process of cyclical internal migration.

Maasai tend to work in cattle herding and they move around the landscape to pursue greener pastures for their cattle. Their movements do, however, cause difficulties for healthcare authorities to provide them with the care and check-ups they need.

You may recognize Maasai for their ‘jumping dance’, a traditional dance that involves jumping very high into the air.

14. Hurricane Katrina

Type: Interregional migration

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region of the United States.

The hurricane led to the internal displacement of over 1 million people, many of whom were forced to migrate to other parts of the country.

Most eventually returned to New Oreleans, although it’s estimated that 200,000 people left permanently.

Many Katrina refugees settled in Houston, Texas. Katrina led to a number of changes in Houston, including an increase in crime and a decline in housing prices. It also gave rise to a new wave of hip-hop music known as ‘Houston rap’.

15. Syrian Civil War

Type: Interregional migration

Since 2011, the Syrian Civil War has displaced over 11 million people.

Over 6 million people have fled Syria altogether, making it one of the largest forced migrations in world history. Another 6.7 million were internally displaced people within Syria. These are the interregional migrants from the war.

The Syrian Civil War was caused by the uprising of the Syrian people against the Bashar al-Assad regime. The war has since become a proxy war between regional powers, with Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah supporting Assad, and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey supporting the rebels.

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Migration is a widespread phenomenon that affects millions of people every year. There are many reasons why people migrate, including poverty, war, and climate change.

Internal migration is a type of migration where people move from one part of their country to another. These internally displaced people often stay within their own country for cultural and social reasons, or, because they are not welcomed elsewhere.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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This article was co-authored by Kamalpreet Gill Singh, PhD. Dr. Gill has a PhD in Sociology and has published academic articles in reputed international peer-reviewed journals. He holds a Master’s degree in Politics and International Relations and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science.

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