The World’s Greatest Human Migration is Happening Right Now


Chunyun, the Chinese spring travel season, begins weeks prior to the Chinese New Year, and lasts for about a month. The number of annual trips equals the combined population of the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. (Gong hey fat choi!) (CNN)

Learn more about the People of China with this classic Nat Geo map.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

baidu map
Click on the map to see an interactive, real-time map of the largest annual human migration.

Discussion Ideas


  • Take a look at the Baidu map and the super-short CNN article. Why do you think most Chunyun-period traffic is from big cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing, to rural western provinces?
    • Big cities attract large populations of migrant workers, and most people are going home for the holidays. One Chinese-American describes Chunyun: “It literally means ‘Spring Run,’ like salmon going upstream.”


  • How does the Baidu map work? What methods of transportation does it track?
    • The Baidu map is based on use of its mobile app for smartphones and tablets. (Baidu is sometimes nicknamed the “Chinese Google”.) For instance, “If someone uses a Baidu app in Beijing in the morning, then pings from the southwestern city of Kunming in the evening, a new trip will be registered and a straight line added from Beijing to Kunming.”
    • The Baidu map also includes information on busy airports and train stations.


  • Can you think of a way the Baidu map is limited in its description of Chunyun-period travel?
    • Not everyone who travels has the Baidu app, so the map doesn’t track all movement. (The app has about 350 million users, but even that is just a fraction of China’s population of 1.4 billion people.)
    • Not everyone who travels during the 40-day Chunyun period is traveling home. Many urban professionals are traveling for work.





CNN: What does the biggest human migration on earth look like on a map?

Nat Geo: Peoples of China map

Baidu: Migration interactive map

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