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Originally produced in: Italy
Also available in: en

1. Man on the move today

Geomagazine LIVE. Geografia per l’attualità Click image to enlarge
Source: C. Tincati – M. Dell’Acqua, Geomagazine LIVE. Geografia per l’attualità, Bruno Mondadori, Milano 2009, pp. 136-137; graphic reworking by Cartographic Laboratory of Verona University.


This thematic map highlights the extent and complexity of migrations in the contemporary world by using different colours for different features. It does not display inner quantitative elements, but a chart containing the main migration figures (source: ONU, Trends in total migrant stock) sorted by reception and shelter areas. There are different colours for different displacement directions and different destination areas, with their own different specificities.

Beside “migrants”, the heading displays a word such as “refugees” , as to point out to specific cathegories of individuals utterly bound to move from their own land, in order to escape military and ethnic wars or to survive to dictatures and calamities.


  1. What kind of map is this?
  2. What do different colours stand for?
  3. What does the top-right chart include and what is the source for that?
  4. The heading refers to different kinds of population on the move: which are they and how are they like?

Display teacher's view to find the answers.

Description and Analysis

This is a thematic map, which means it is a particular cartographic representation based on simplified geographic core ( that’s the case of a grey plan sphere which has been marked with political boundaries. ), on which qualitative and quantitative phenomenon have been marked, with a specific symbology.

It does not display inner quantitative elements, but a chart (containing the main migration figures up to date to 2006 (source Onu, Trends in total migrant stock)and sorted by reception and shelter areas . the highest migration rates are, respectively, towards Europe and North America.

The map highlights the migrations complexity by using different colours.

The green areas show the two main zones for international migrations: Europe and North America. (cfr. scale is showed in the chart above , source ONU).

The pink areas show three centres of attraction for the Asian World constituted by Hong Kong, Japan and the Persian Gulf States.

In both cases , it is all about regions with a well developed economic system and with no need to hire foreign labour wheras, for specific fields and activities, local labour is not to be found. These countries great appeal is with no doubt a strong point on which international migrations are based on. This effect gets even stronger when it comes on the gap between rich and poor countries.

Economical reasons are often linked with to birth rates in rich countries and to high birthrates in poor countries.

The blue and orange areas on the map have a lot to do with poor and developing areas, with a high population increase, as South America and Central/South Africa.

We can see how most migrations beginning here are then absorbed within their own continent, which means a lesser uprooting. Besides, it is possible, also for the poorest, to move without travelling for too long or without losing strong connections as religious or linguistic ones. We can see, then, how the total migrations volume is lower . it did not produce a mass migration toward the great industrialized areas , but it just settled down within the continent.

Gray zones are to highlight the main movement directors of illegal migrants and are manly oriented toward Mediterranean Sea and Caribbean Sea. At the end of 20th Century huge waves of immigration toward Europe and North America, indeed, led many countries to give a restricted welcome, because of illegal entries. These were often made through a extremely long, expensive and unsafe journey, run by criminal enterprises. Human beings trade today comes in the third place after International illegal trade and weapons and drugs trade.

Oceania and its surrounding area are marked in violet showing how this land has become nowadays a great destination of neighbouring migrations from East and Southeast Asia, whereas these lands have been for so long a destination for Europeans, and after discovering gold in Austrialia ,in particular, in late 19 th Century.

Yellow arrows, at last, are to show a new and constantly increasing phenomenon: the migration of individuals with specific skills or education. They are often student or graduates moving abroad to improve their education and their professional skills or just to find better or high-level job opportunities which cannot be found in their home countries.

Beside the word “migrants”, the heading displays an other word with a double meaning. Each of them is connected to people who are today on the move across our planet, for different reasons.

Right 15, among more than 190 millions migrants are refugees: individuals bound to get away from their home countries to escape military and ethnic wars or to survive to dictatures and calamities. This is all about forced and group migrations, not individual ones, usually going towards neighbouring countries and very often involving the weakest part of a population as women, children and minorities.

Sometimes they are told “refugees” with a slightly different meaning : when they go looking for shelter to a foreign country where they asked for refuge.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) i san International organisation providing , since 1951, protection and recovery to refugees, like ONU. After the Second World War , its original mission was bound to a three-year only program, but such a persistent and serious problem has made a permanent thing out of it.

Lexical Index

(definitions taken from G. Devoto – G.C. Oli, Vocabolario della lingua italiana, Le Monnier, 2009)

MIGRANT = A person moving in search for better life conditions.

ILLEGAL = A person who illegally entered a country and who is living there without id documents or permission.

REFUGEE (1) = A person bound to leave his country, land, or state because of war events, persecuions or calamities.

REFUGEE (2) = A person who has obtained political asylum in a foreign country, as a consequence of serious events happened in his home country.