Moving from Portugal to Angola

The recession in Portugal is pushing people to migrate to the nation's old colonial holdings

A boy dives into a waterfall on the outskirt of Lubango, Angola
Wouldn't you want to move there? A boy dives into a waterfall on the outskirt of Lubango, Angola. Photograph: Getty Images

Weird effects of a first-world depression: Portugese are moving in ever-greater numbers to the country's former colonies, Angola and Mozambique, and sending increasing amounts of money back home in the form of remittances.

Tanja Goodwin of the NYU development research institute writes:

Angola has again become Portugal’s El Dorado as unprecedented numbers of Portuguese workers have flocked to the former colony: from 2006 to 2009 alone the number of visas issued for Portuguese increased from 156 to 23,000. Some already complain about difficulties in obtaining legal permissions to stay in Angola. The number of Portuguese workers settling in Mozambique has increased by more than 30 percent over the past two years. . .

At least African countries don’t have to fear that Portuguese will be living off their welfare programs. Portuguese seem to find well-paying jobs: Remittances sent from Angola to Portugal have increased more than seven-fold. In 2009, they even surpassed remittances sent from the UK.

In 2011, Portugese people in the UK sent €105m back home, while €147m was sent from Angola. Whether or not the southern African nations start to think of the migration as a problem, as Goodwin suggests, will be interesting to watch – especially given how loosely immigration rhetoric hews to the facts in the UK.