University of Minnesota
Center for Austrian Studies

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Central European Population Patterns

Migration from the Balkans to Austria
Lesson Ideas
Sharon Shelerud
Teacher consultant
Burnsville School District and MAGE Steering Committee

Minnesota State High School Human Geography Standard 2: The student will understand the regional distribution of the human population at local to global scales and its patterns of change.
Benchmark 3: Students will use population pyramids and birth and death rates to compare and contrast the characteristics of regional populations at various scales.
Benchmark 4: Students will use the concepts of push and pull factors to explain the general patterns of human movement in the modern era, including international migration, migration within the United States and major migrations of the world.

Before having students read “Migration from the Balkans to Austria” (PDF), have them create flow maps and graphs from the data inserts that are in the article. This will help students to better understand the concepts and ideas of the article by providing them with visuals regarding the location of the countries discussed and the relationship they have with one another in regards to migration patterns.

Lesson Idea 1

  1. Begin by having students look at the maps on page 49 of the article “Migration from the Balkans to Austria”. These two maps will help students to understand where the Balkan region is located, their relative location in Europe, and to Austria and other selected European countries. Have students label the countries of South Central Europe on a political map.
  2. Using map 2 on page 49, ask students to identify what migration patterns they observe and hypothesize as to why these patterns exist.
  3. Using the chart on page 47, have students create four flow maps, one for migration to Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Each map should have all the countries labeled that are found in each column. Using an atlas and/or Google Earth, student should also identify physical barriers and access routes migrants would take in order to reach each country. Once the maps are completed, ask students to use Distance Decay Theory (the farther away the less interaction) to explain the patterns found on these maps.
  4. Provide students with population pyramids from the selected countries. How could the population make up of these countries be used to help explain current and future migration patterns?
  5. Create a class list of possible push and pull factors regarding these migration patterns. This list could be generic and then be used to help them find the answers in the reading. You could also have students research the question and come back with 5 -7 push and pull factors to share with the class. Each student or group of students could be given one map to become the “expert’ for the class. Cultural reasons that could be used to explain these map patterns should also be discussed in general form or by the research method suggested. Students should then be asked to hypothesize as to why Austria has the highest percent of Balkan migrants. This should be used as the essential question to be answered after students have completed all graphic organizers for this lesson and read the article. Students should be asked to either prepare a short speech or write a paper answering this question for their formal assessment.

Lesson idea 2

  1. Using the chart found on page 50 of the article, students will create a bar graph to show immigration patterns to Austria over time.
  2. Give each student four years (I would suggest doing every other one) and have them create a bar graph(s) showing migration from the eight countries listed for each year.
  3. Pair students up with someone who did the opposite years, so each person will be able to look at graphs for the years 1998 – 2005. Have students describe the patterns they see. They need to be specific for each country.

Students should read “Migration from the Balkans to Austria” in order to give specific reasons why these migration patterns exist.


“Migration from the Balkans to Austria” (PDF) Geographische Rundschau – International Edition. Vol. 3 No. 3/2007.
CIA Worldfactbook

Google Earth
Population pyramids from nation (PPT)
Political outline map of South Central Europe

Lesson idea 3

  • As migration patterns continue to increase from Eastern Europe to Western Europe will nations feel the need to have their own state or will the blending of nations decrease the desire for nations to have their own state?
  • As states become more multi – national, can democracies be successful? Will states need to develop more unitary governments in order to keep the “peace”?
  • How will the EU affect migration patterns?
  • Will this affect have any impact on the political boundaries of European states and the ethnic make up within these boundaries?

These questions are important ones to have students think about. Using the maps from “The Changing Face of Europe” lessons will provide excellent visuals so that students could make some predictions on what they believe Europe will look like in 50 - 100 years.


“Human Geography in Action” 4th edition. Kuby, Harner and Gober. Wiley publisher.
Excellent chapter on the break up of Yugoslavia entitled “Breaking up is Hard to Do”.

The European Union and Border Conflicts: The Impact of Integration and Association

“The Incongruent Culture? Nationalist-Populism and Democratization of Post –Communist Central Europe” by Tomas Strazay

“National Minorities in East Central Europe and the Balkans in Historical Perspective” by
Richard L. Rudolph


European Ethnic Maps (PPT)