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Arctic migrations

Migration A–Z


  1. Timothy Heleniak

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm035

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Heleniak, T. 2013. Arctic migrations. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


The cold, remote, sparsely populated Arctic and northern regions of the world do not figure prominently in discussions of migration. However, there are considerable migration movements into and within the Arctic which have a considerable impact on the settlements and populations in the region. Arctic migration includes the earliest human expansions into North America. People have been moving into, within, and out of the Arctic for millennia for many of the same reasons they move elsewhere in the world and the laws that govern human migration elsewhere apply to population movements in the Arctic regions. However, two factors distinguish population movements in the Arctic from elsewhere. The first is the obvious cold climatic conditions which make travel and movement difficult. It was the development of modern modes of transportation, especially air travel, that allowed migration in the Arctic to increase significantly. The second is the remoteness between population settlements in the circumpolar North and more densely populated urban agglomerations outside the Arctic and the long distances between settlements within the Arctic. According to one definition of the Arctic, there are four million people living in this region, a combination of both indigenous people carrying on traditional livelihoods and migrant newcomers who come to exploit the natural resources of the region.


  • demography and population studies;
  • indigenous peoples;
  • imperialism;
  • geopolitics;
  • poverty;
  • sustainable development