Syrian and Iraqi refugees arrive from Turkey to Skala Sykamias, Lesbos island, Greece. Volunteers (life rescue team - with yellow-red clothes) from the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms help the refugees. Photo: Ggia


Human migration is the movement of people from one place to another. Their intention is settling, permanently or temporarily at a new location or geographic region. We know two types of movement; the first is movement over long distance and from one country to another. The second movement is internal migration (within a single country). Migration is often associated with better human capital at both individual and household level, and with better access to migration networks. People could migrate as individuals, with family or in large groups. Migration is divided into emigration and immigration; such movements can be internal or international. In Slovenia, during the period of the former Yugoslavia, internal migration was more prevalent, as migrants came mainly from the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

People who migrate:

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

Theoretical discussions on the causes of migration are most often based on push-pull theory, although these factors cannot explain why some individuals move away from a given environment and others do not. The subjective factors can be divided into rational and emotional factors, and the psychological personality traits of individuals can also be the reasons behind moving.

We can divide the causes or motives of migration into three broad groups. First group are economic and demographic causes, by which it means saving livelihoods, improving the economic situation, and overcrowding. There are often political and military reasons, mainly in terms of forced migration, and the last of these, personal and family reasons, which are the most diverse (for example, the possibility of obtaining an education).

More recent international recommendations for migration statistics, such as the United Nations Recommendation, typically provide a typology of reasons for migration based on education or training (studying in the country, training for a job), employment (temporary or seasonal, in international organisations), family reunification or formation (close relatives of the migrant already residing in the country; spouse, children, partner), settlement allowed within the quotas allowed by each country , authorised settlements under inter-state agreements and for humanitarian reasons. 

Persons moving from their home due to forced movement (such as a natural disaster or civil disturbance) may be described as displaced persons or internally displaced person if remaining in the home country. A person who seeks refuge in another country can make a formal application if the reason for leaving the home country is political, religious, or another form of persecution to that country where refuge is sought and is then usually described as an asylum seeker.

The United Nations defines a migrant as “any person who changes his or her normal country of residence”, either permanently or temporarily. Tourists and business travellers are not included in international migration statistics. Different countries use different criteria to define migrants. The immigrant population can be simply equated to the number of foreigners, by country of birth or nationality. The criterion for defining immigrants is more often based on the country of birth, as you can change your nationality but not your place of birth.

Photo by Fred Csasznik

All types of migration:

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

Largest migration in history:

The largest migration in history was the Great Atlantic Migration from Europe to North America. The first major wave began in the 1840s with mass movements from Ireland and Germany. In the 1880s a second and larger wave developed from eastern and southern Europe; between 1880 and 1910 some 17 million Europeans entered the United States. The total number of Europeans reaching the United States amounted to 37 million between 1820 and 1980.

This video was prepared by Mojca Krajnc & Manca Sverc in the frame of the “The Heart of a City” project funded by ACF Slovenia. Read more about the project.



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Written by Pia Šimić

Last Names in Slovenia

Migrations to Slovenia