The Great Human Migration Begins

Posted By Peter Smerud
January 14, 2020

To all readers, this was a post by Pete on January 14, before the coronavirus had exploded throughout the country and world. The great human migration has been massively altered this year with very limited movement due to the virus.


Busy street scene in Shenzhen

The Great Human Migration is underway in China. This is a country in which hundreds of millions of people have moved from rural areas to cities in the past several decades. Chinese New Year (a lunar new year) begins on January 25, and everyone goes home. The country practically shuts down. This is called the Great Migration and is touted as the largest movement of humanity that exists. China’s population is 1.4. billion. About three hundred million of those will travel home to visit family.


Shenzhen is an unusually extreme example as almost no one is from here as the city is just 30 years old. According to the evening news, this city of 20 million will soon be about down to about 1 million.


The same phenomenon exists all over China. The beginning of the migration as I witnessed it is shown in these photos. While locals described it to be very mellow and low key thus far, it sure seems busy to me!


Red lanterns are appearing everywhere, adding a beautiful and festive feel to the city. It was wonderful to learn about this amazing cultural phenomenon as 2008-9 Wolf Ridge Student Naturalist YanZhu (JoJo) showed me around these last few days.


Happy Year of the Rat!


More posts about Wolf Ridge and China

Listen to a Radio Story About the Wolf Ridge trip to China


In this blog series, Wolf Ridge Executive Director Peter Smerud talks about his recent trip to southern China. Wolf Ridge was selected as the model to follow as China builds out its environmental infrastructure. Pete was sent by The National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. The trip was funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through their Professional Fellows Program. The Mangrove Conservation Foundation hosted the trip on the China side of the ocean.

“The National Committee on US-China Relations believes that people to people communication and exchange is always important, and particularly when challenges exist in bilateral relations.  Particularly on the subject of the environment and climate change, the US and China need to work together.  Environmental education is critically important to address these issues.” – Margot Landman, The National Committee on U.S. – China Relations