History KS3 / GCSE: How did the British Empire affect migration?

In East Africa, the British built the Lunatic Line to transport good from the interior of the continent and raw materials to ports on the coast.

Through the history of the British Empire, millions of people travelled huge distances across the world, some forced, and others looking for new opportunities.

One key factor in this mobility was the British obsession with building a railway.

In East Africa, the British built the Lunatic Line to transport good from the interior of the continent and raw materials to ports on the coast.

They poured vast amounts of money and brought in over 30,000 craftsmen, labourers and engineers from India.

The British repeated this process many times, shifting workers to where they were needed.

African slaves were transported to the Caribbean.

In the 19th century, Tamils from Sri Lanka were transported to rubber plantations in Malaya.

These migrations define the character of many parts of the world today as the migrants made homes in the new lands.

This clip is from the series Empire.

Teacher Notes

On a blank world map, students could label the Empire countries mentioned, then add different coloured arrows with labels to show all the population movements.

Thinking purely about migration, does the legacy of the British Empire appear to be good, bad or indifferent?

Students could write a paragraph summarising the advantages and problems caused by shifting people about.

Finally, looking at the map, to what extent does this legacy of Empire explain the mixed populations of most countries in the world today?

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching History. This topic appears in KS3, KS4 and GCSE in England and Northern Ireland. Also KS3 in Wales and National 4 and National 5 in Scotland.

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