This map is part of a series of 19 animated maps showing the history of Europe's colonial expansion, 1820-1939.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Europe had a population of nearly a billion people, about 20% of the world population at the time. Faced with a demographic revolution which economic growth had not yet managed to stabilize, more and more Europeans were travelling overseas, thanks to the expansion of transoceanic navigation.
The United States, a young and progressive nation experiencing its first period of growth, remained throughout the century the principal destination for Europeans: English and German migrants were followed by the Irish from the 1850s onwards, and then by Scandinavians. By 1914, immigrants were arriving from Southern, Central and Eastern Europe in search of a better life in America.
In Latin America, Argentina attracted more than 3 million Europeans between 1870 and 1913. Most were Italian or Spanish, but also French, English and German migrants, making Buenos Aires the continent’s most European city. Brazil was ranked the third most attractive destination, with most migrants settling in the State of Sao Paulo.
In fourth place on the American destinations was Canada, where the immigration of pioneers went hand in hand with European investment and economic growth.
The British mostly moved to the so-called “white” colonies: Australia, New Zealand and the Cape, all of which became dominions by 1914.
In Algeria, French immigration and the naturalization of migrants from other Mediterranean countries caused the European population to double during the forty years prior to the Great War.
In the colonies of Africa and Asia, European migratory flows remained low, compared to native populations.
With the gradual phasing out of the slave trade, the Empires’ commercial development led to increasing flows of workers.
Throughout the 19th century, European emigration continued to the new territories.
This allowed Europe to expand its political and cultural influence, accelerate the rate of urbanization and shape the division of labour at the international level and its integration into the world in which it saw itself at the centre.