End lines: The map - World in motion

Why is Chinese food so good in Peru? And how did Uruguay get so skilful at football? David Goldblatt charts some strange migrations. Illustration by Joe Magee

For a few petrodollars more Nearly a quarter of all imports to Bangladesh are funded by foreign currency remittances from migrant communities. Alongside the migrations to the UK, Bangladesh's most important offshore earners are in the Middle East. With the oil-price hike of 1974, the sparsely populated but incredibly wealthy micro-states and sheikhdoms of the Arabian peninsula acquired an appetite for migrant unskilled labour - particularly of Muslim origin. Overwhelmingly from the desperately poor region of Chittagong, hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis have filled the lowest rungs of the Middle Eastern labour market.

From rice paddy to coffee field With the abolition of slavery in 1850, Brazilian coffee plantation owners found themselves short of ultra-cheap labour and so turned to the harsh system of "colono", a form of indentured labour. Desperately poor labourers were brought from Europe and Asia to work the plantations, paying off the huge debts incurred to fund their sea passage. In the early 20th century, as Japanese agriculture became modernised, landless peasants were shipped to Brazil. By 1936, 180,000 Japanese people had made the crossing. Among the poorest and most insular of Brazil's modern immigrants, the Brazillo-Japanese have steadily improved their economic standing, but with only 18 per cent marrying out they remain socially apart from the Brazilian mainstream.

La trata amirilla One of the earliest records of Chinese immigration in the Americas was a petition to the governor of Mexico City, written by the city's barbers in 1653, protesting against Chinese barbers undercutting their rates. In the mid-19th century, as slavery was abolished, the so- called la trata amirilla (the yellow trade) started up. Chinese peasants sold themselves into the debt of indentured labour to escape the grinding poverty of Qing China. By 1875 nearly a quarter of a million had made the crossing to Peru and Cuba. Over the 20th century this substantial and often persecuted minority has moved up the social scale and into the cities. Lima now boasts a barrio chino and Chinese cafes, or chifas, are present in every town.

Hard labour in paradise Between 1836 and 1916, driven by poverty at home and the Empire's insatiable demand for cheap labour, over a million Indians migrated to distant British colonial outposts and plantations in Natal, Mauritius, the Caribbean and Fiji in the South Pacific. Between 1879 and the First World War, the Australian Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which owned most of Fiji's fertile land, imported 70,000 indentured Indians into one of the harshest plantation regimes in the world. The Fijian Indian population equalled that of indigenous islanders, and the post-colonial history of the island has been marked by bitter conflict, coup and counter-coup between these ethnic groups.

Naples on the River Plate Why is it that a tiny Latin American nation - Uruguay - should have won the World Cup twice? A bit of migration history may be revealing. Uruguay began life as the desolate southern tip of the Portuguese Empire in Latin America. Its separation from Brazil and its emergence as an independent state was largely the result of British diplomacy seeking to put a buffer state between Brazil and Argentina in the 1820s. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, southern Italian migrants began to stream to Uruguay's capital Montevideo. Inland, Uruguay's soil was unproductive, so these migrants remained in the city where they formed the urban majority, and pursued the game which was to become a national obsession, just like back home.

Ancient and modern The largest Greek-speaking urban population outside of Athens and Thessaloniki is Melbourne. Greeks make up a significant part of Australia's 20th-century migrations and helped save the country's diet from the baleful impact of Anglo-Celtic dominance. Greeks began going down under in the early 20th century. Together with Italian immigrants they dominated the catering business. While never on the receiving end of racism as virulent as that which has been directed at Aboriginal Australians, the "anti-dago" riots of the Depression years saw Greek communities attacked and Greek- owned properties burnt.

Back to Mother Russia Since the 15th-century creation of the Moscovy Empire, Russians have been migrating from the core territories. In the 18th and 19th centuries they poured into the Steppes and Siberia, the Ukraine and the imperial offices of the Baltic. In the 20th century, Russian migration intensified: communist technocrats, bureaucrats and Red Army officers were implanted across Central Asia and the Caucuses. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a reverse migration is gathering pace: local nationalisms and ancient discontents have made life uncomfortable for Russians in Central Asia and the Caucuses, while new language and citizenship policies are actively excluding them in the Baltic.

Land and freedom Liberia, or what is left of it, is a unique state. It was the first African Republic, founded in 1847. But unlike the European-dominated states of southern Africa, Liberia was settled by a black African-American elite. Freed slaves from North America made the return journey to the philanthropically established capital of Freetown. This urban immigrant core established dominance over the 95 per cent of the Liberian population who were indigenous Africans. Americo-Liberian dominance was shattered by popular riots and a military take-over in the Eighties which descended into bitter civil war and the displacement of Liberians and their war into Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

    £12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

    Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders