After my girlfriend and I ran into a guy on the streets who was asking for clothes and something to eat (not that uncommon here in Bogotá), we came to talking about why and how he moved to the capital. Although not admitting this at first, he told us that he used to work as a coca leaf harvester in a small town in the southwest of Colombia, but that he was looking for better job opportunities which he was sure would be available in the capital. It's the typical story of an internal migrant looking for better opportunities, but it left me wondering about how many like him there are in this city.

The Distance Travelled

So, after some looking around on the web I found that the national statistics agency of Colombia (DANE) had published the data of a multi-purpose survey from 2014 in which there was information about internal migration. The first thing, I wanted to know is where most migrants came from. So, I started off with a simple diagram (constructed with d3.js) that shows the distance that most internal migrants travel to get to Bogotá. Not without suprise, most migrants come from relatively nearby departments. Now, as an interesting twist, if you click on the diagram you can see the direction that most migrants come from. In this case, most migrants are from the north of the country, and hardly any are from the southeast.

A view of the Departments

After the general view, I had a look at the specific departments that internal migrants move from. Based on a map created by John Alexis Guerra Gómez, you can see that most migrants hail from nearby departments. The notable exceptions are the departments in the coffee zone (Quindio and Risaralda). Finally, you can also see that while the eastern part of the country is underrepresented, the western departments are not. In that sense Jesús, the guy we met on the street, is definitely not an exception in Bogotá.

As a sidenote, hovering over or clicking on the departments didn't only tell me something about internal migration, but also helped me to learn the names and locations of the different departments in Colombia.

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In search of...

Now that I understood where most migrants came from, I wanted to know why they came to Bogotá. The data represented in the Sankey chart shown below shows where migrants came from, why they came to Bogotá and in which neighborhood they ended up living. Again, Jesús is no exception, about 1 million out of the give-or-take 1.9 million internal migrants come to Bogotá in search of a job.

Given that this is data of all migrants that moved to Bogotá over the last 50 years and still live there, my gut tells me that the number of people that moved to Bogotá because of the armed conflict seems somewhat small (118,000). Especially as there are reportedly 5.3 million forcibly displaced people living inside of Colombia, most of which tend to go to the big cities like Bogotá, Medellín (Antioquia) or Cali (Valle del Cauca). This is still something, I would like to have a better look at, though specific data is hard to find.

To be continued...