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An émigré is a person who has emigrated, often with a connotation of political or social self-exile. The word is the past participle of the French émigrer, "to emigrate".

Whereas emigrants have likely chosen to leave one place and become immigrants in a different clime, not usually expecting to return, émigrés see exile as a temporary expedient forced on them by political circumstances[original research?]. Émigré circles often arouse suspicion as breeding-grounds for plots and counter-revolution[need quotation to verify].

French Huguenots

French Huguenots were forced to leave France following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

The American Revolution

Many loyalists that made up large portions of Colonial America, particularly in the South, fled America during and after the American revolution. Common destinations were other parts of the British Empire such as Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, Great Britain, Jamaica, and the British West Indies. The lands left by the fleeing Tories were often awarded by the new government to Patriot soldiers by way of land grants.[1][2]

The French Revolution

Although the French Revolution began in 1789 as a peaceful, bourgeois-led effort for increased political equality for the Third Estate, it soon turned into a violent, popular rebellion. To escape political tensions and save their lives, a number of individuals emigrated from France and settled in the neighboring countries (chiefly Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and Prussia), however quite a few also went to the United States.[3]

The Russian Revolution

White Russian émigrés or other opponents of the regime, who fled the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath.[4]

Marx and Engels, in setting out the strategy for future revolutions in The Communist Manifesto, included the provision that the property of émigrés should be confiscated and used to finance the revolution — a recommendation followed by the Bolsheviks 70 years later.

The October Revolution caused more than 20,000 Russian emigrants to go to Finland, as well as to Yugoslavia (such as Pyotr Wrangel). Many of these however moved on to France, Paris being the favourite destination for Russian émigrés.

Twentieth century émigrés

European aristocrats were forced to leave their native countries due to political upheavals from the beginning of the 20th century to the end of World War II.


During 2014, 3415 citizens (who had previously physically left USA) relinquished their US citizenship.[5] This is most often attributed to increasingly hostile treatment of US diaspora with extraterritorial laws upon US citizens such as FATCA (2014 HIRE Act)[need quotation to verify]. (In comparison, there were only 235 expatriations in year 2008).

South Africa

After the historical electoral victory in South Africa by the ANC (African National Congress) and SACP (South African Communist Party) in 1994, a large number of Afrikaners emigrated to other countries,[6] citing discrimination in employment and social violence as reasons.

According to the 2011 Australian census there are 145,683 South African émigrés, born in South Africa, in Australia, of whom 30,291 reside in the city of Perth or greater Perth area.[7]


Unlike émigré, the term exile remains politically neutral and includes people from whatever side of the political spectrum who had to leave their homeland, often for political reasons, and who wish to return[need quotation to verify].


  1. U.S. Department of State. http://countrystudies.us/united-states/history-33.htm. External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Carole Watterson Troxler. Loyalists http://ncpedia.org/loyalists-part-4-loyalist-fate-wars. External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "French Emigration (1789–1815)". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Kåre Johan Mjør (6 May 2011). Reformulating Russia: The Cultural and Intellectual Historiography of Russian First-Wave Émigré Writers. BRILL. pp. 30–. ISBN 90-04-19286-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Renunciation of citizenship#United States
  6. Peet van Aardt (24 September 2006). "Million whites leave SA - study". 24.com. Archived from the original on April 16, 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  7. Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/quickstat/5GPER?opendocument&navpos=220

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