How did the British Empire affect migration?

Duration 07:50

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:
Empire - Learning Zone
First broadcast:
20 April 2012

This clip could be used as part of a study into the effects of the British Empire. Railways are usually cited as one of the advantages brought by the Empire. Pupils could annotate an A4 picture of the 'Lunatic Line' with all the points they can remember from the clip about the impact of the railway. Prompts, if needed, might include: the way it opened up Africa, the import and export of goods, new land and new people, costs in money and lives, and expansion of engineering skills. Comments could be colour coded to show good and bad, with thought given to who, if anyone, benefited.