It is believed that modern humans migrated out of Africa some 60,000 years ago. Starting with a group of 1000 to 50,000 people, armed with their two feet and a will to survive, they ventured into the unknown, road-tripping their way across the globe. It took 50,000 years or so for their descendants to reach South America on the other side of the world.
Today, as their descendants, we continue to migrate. Over a billion of us will visit a different country each year. Since World War I, countries have generally adopted the use of passports to identify their nationals and issued visas for visitors. So, unlike our ancestors’ journey, our world has walls of regulations and borders of passport controls.
So, let us imagine if our ancestors had had to face border protection agents in their road-trip. What visas would they have needed for their border crossings based on the current border control policy of the countries through which they passed? For this exercise, we will assume that our ancestors take on the nationality of the country from which they are arriving. The yellow arrows indicate where they were from, to where they were going.
Arriving from present-day Sudan to present day Israel, our ancestors will definitely need a visa. It is very likely they will be denied a visa if they have the purpose of settlement without Jewish lineage. Similarly, from present day Ethiopia to Yemen, a visa is required, whether for visiting or for settlement.
From Saudi Arabia going to Yemen, a visa is required. The likelihood of our Saudi Arabian ancestors getting a visa to Yemen may be slim, given the current war that Yemen has accused Saudi Arabia of instigating. On the other hand, our ancestors from Syria going to Serbia may claim asylum based on the Syrian war.
Whether our ancestors are arriving from Iraq or Oman to Iran, a visa is required. However, they may get a visa online or at the border, and it may be more difficult for those from Iraq than those Oman, due to the tension between the U.S. and Iran. And Iraq is a U.S. base.
For our ancestors from Germany going to the Netherlands, a visa will not be required, due to the European Union’s open border policy, to which both Germany and the Netherlands belong. This also applies to those coming from Slovenia to Spain—both countries also belong to the European Union.
From Iraq to Iran, and from Afghanistan to India, our ancestors will need a visa. These countries do not have agreements in place to exempt nomadic groups like our ancestors to visit visa-free, much less to settle and spread their genes.
Our ancestors moving from the central region of Russia to the outskirts of Russia will not need a visa, since it is an intra-country trip. However, those coming from Turkmenistan going to Russia will need a visa, particularly they will need to justify why they need to visit the less-inhabited outer regions of Siberia.
Our ancestors from India do not enjoy the benefit of visa-exemption or visa-on-arrival when coming to Thailand, like most of their western counterparts. Then again, those from Thailand coming to Indonesia will need to have a visa for entry as well. Proximity does not translate to easier visa requirements.
Our ancestors may have had to travel many islands over a large geographic area, but they all belong to Indonesia. As such, intra-country travels do not raise any visa requirements. However, those heading further south from Indonesia to Australia will require a visa.
For our ancestors who did not head south but instead north, they will enter present-day China from Vietnam. Even though both China and Vietnam share similar political systems, they do not have mutual visa exemptions. This also applies to those coming from Russia to China, where a visa is required.
Those of our ancestors traveling from the outer to inner regions of China will not require a visa, since they are visiting the same parts of the country. However, for those heading east to Japan, a visa is required prior to their arrival.
Our ancestors arriving from Siberian Russia, passing through Canada, and into Greenland will need to seek a visa from Denmark and a transit visa through Canada. Greenland is managed by Denmark and was formerly part of the Danish empire. Similarly, those who chose to stop in Canada will require a visa prior to arrival.
Visas are not required for our ancestors passing through one region of Canada to another. Neither are they required for those in Canada to visit the United States, so long as they completed the online ETA visa waiver form prior to arrival.
Our ancestors going from Mexico to USA will need a visa. Those with certain skills may be able to get a NAFTA work visa at the border or a border crossing card. Those going from Mexico to Nicaragua will not need a visa. Latin America generally has fluid border policies with its neighbors.
In the last leg of their migration, coming from El Salvador to Brazil, our ancestors will not need to have a visa. And it appears they will not need one for the rest of their journey through Brazil.
At the conclusion of their journey, our ancestors were able to cross without much hindrance throughout Latin America. However, had our ancestors maintained their Ethiopian or Sudanese nationalities for the entirety of their migration, they would have met with more stringent visa requirements at every stop in the present-day legal borders at the over 220 countries and territories that exist in our world today.