To be in exile means to be away from one's home (i.e. city, state, or country), while either being explicitly refused permission to return or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return. It can be a form of punishment and solitude. It is common to distinguish between "internal exile", i.e., forced resettlement within the country of residence, and "external exile", which is deportation outside the country of residence. Although most commonly used to describe an individual situation, the term is also used for groups (especially ethnic or national groups), or for an entire government. Terms such as "diaspora" and "refugee" describe group exile, both voluntary and forced, and "government in exile" describes a government of a country that has been forced to relocate and argue its legitimacy from outside that country. Exile can also be a self-imposed departure from one's homeland. Self-exile is often depicted as a form of protest by the person who claims it, to avoid persecution or legal matters (such as tax or criminal allegations), an act of shame or repentance, or isolating oneself to be able to devote time to a particular pursuit. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."
Exiled heads of state
In some cases the deposed head of state is allowed to go into exile following a coup or other change of government, allowing a more peaceful transition to take place or to escape justice.
Avoiding tax or legal matters
A wealthy citizen who departs from a former abode for a lower tax jurisdiction (a "tax haven") in order to reduce his/her tax burden is termed a "tax exile". Creative people such as authors and musicians who achieve sudden wealth sometimes find themselves among this group. Examples include the British-Canadian writer Arthur Hailey, who moved to the Bahamas to avoid taxes following the runaway success of his novels Hotel and Airport, and the English rock band the Rolling Stones who, in the spring of 1971, owed more in taxes than they could pay and left Britain before the government could seize their assets. Members of the band all moved to France for a period of time where they recorded music for the album that came to be called Exile on Main Street, the Main Street of the title referring to the French Riviera. In 2012, Eduardo Saverin, one of the founders of Facebook, made headlines by renouncing his U.S. citizenship before his company's IPO. The dual Brazilian/U.S. citizen's decision to move to Singapore and renounce his citizenship spurred a bill in the U.S. Senate, the Ex-PATRIOT Act, which would have forced such wealthy "tax exiles" to pay a special tax in order to re-enter the United States.
In some cases a person voluntarily lives in exile to avoid legal issues, such as litigation or criminal prosecution. An example of this is Asil Nadir, who fled to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for 17 years rather than face prosecution in connection with the failed £1.7 bn company Polly Peck in the United Kingdom.
Avoiding violence or persecution, or in the aftermath of war
Nation in exile
When a large group, or occasionally a whole people or nation is exiled, it can be said that this nation is in exile, or "diaspora". Nations that have been in exile for substantial periods include the Jews, who were deported by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC and again following the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. Many Jewish prayers include a yearning to return to Jerusalem and the Jewish homeland.
After the partitions of Poland in the late 18th century, and following the uprisings (like Kościuszko Uprising, November Uprising and January Uprising) against the partitioning powers (Russian Empire, Prussia and Austro-Hungary), many Poles have chosen – or been forced – to go into exile, forming large diasporas (known as Polonia), especially in France and the United States. The entire population of Crimean Tatars (200,000) that remained in their homeland Crimea was exiled on 18 May 1944 to Central Asia as a form of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment on false accusations. At Diego Garcia, between 1967 and 1973 the British Government forcibly removed some 2,000 Chagossian resident islanders to make way for a military base today jointly operated by the US and UK.
Since the Cuban Revolution over one million Cubans have left Cuba. Most of these self-identify as exiles as their motivation for leaving the island is political in nature. It is to be noted that at the time of the Cuban Revolution, Cuba only had a population of 6.5 million, and was not a country that had a history of significant emigration, it being the sixth largest recipient of immigrants in the world as of 1958. Most of the exiles' children also consider themselves to be Cuban exiles. It is to be noted that under Cuban law, children of Cubans born abroad are considered Cuban citizens.
Government in exile
During a foreign occupation or after a coup d'état, a government in exile of a such afflicted country may be established abroad. One of the most well-known instances of this is the Polish government-in-exile, a government in exile that commanded Polish armed forces operating outside Poland after German occupation during World War II. Other examples include the Free French Forces government of Charles de Gaulle of the same time, and the Central Tibetan Administration, commonly known as the Tibetan government-in-exile, and headed by the 14th Dalai Lama.
Exile is an early motif in ancient Greek tragedy. In the ancient Greek world, this was seen as a fate worse than death. The motif reaches its peak on the play Medea, written by Euripides in the fifth century BC, and rooted in the very old oral traditions of Greek mythology. Euripides’ Medea has remained the most frequently performed Greek tragedy through the 20th century.
After Medea was abandoned by Jason and had become a murderer out of revenge, she fled to Athens and married king Aigeus there, and became the stepmother of the hero Theseus. Due to a conflict with him, she must leave the Polis and go away into exile. John William Waterhouse (1849–1917), the English Pre-Raphaelite painter’s famous picture Jason and Medea shows a key moment before, when Medea tries to poison Theseus.
In ancient Rome, the Roman Senate had the power to declare the exile to individuals, families or even entire regions. One of the Roman victims was the poet Ovid, who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was forced to leave Rome and move away to the city of Tomis on the Black Sea, now Constanta. There he wrote his famous work Tristia (Sorrows) about his bitter feelings in exile. Another, at least in a temporary exile, was Dante.
The German language writer of novels, Franz Kafka, called "the Dante of the twentieth century" by the poet W. H. Auden, describes the exile of Karl Rossmann in the posthumously published novel Amerika.
During the period of National Socialism in the first few years after 1933, many Jews, as well as a significant part of German artists and intellectuals fled into exile, such as the authors Klaus Mann and Anna Seghers. So Germany’s own exile literature emerged and received worldwide credit. Klaus Mann finished his novel Der Vulkan (The Volcano. A Novel Among Emigrants) in 1939 describing the German exile scene, "to bring the rich, scattered and murky experience of exile into epic form",as he wrote in his literary balance sheet. At the same place and in the same year, Anna Seghers published her famous novel Das siebte Kreuz (The Seventh Cross, published in the United States in 1942). Her painful story was produced as a movie in 1944 by MGM starring Spencer Tracy. The Seventh Cross is one of the very few depictions of Nazi concentration camps, in either literature or cinema.