Between 1850 and 1914, over 13,000 Valaisans went abroad in search of better living conditions. This estimate was advanced by Antoine and Christophe Carron on the basis of the register of emigrants, harbour registers, documents from emigration agencies and private and official correspondence. According to these authors, this number of emigrants is much too low, and they believe that some 18,000 people left the Valais during this period.
Thus it is a fact that emigration constituted a major aspect of the history of the Valais in the 19th century. The Valais, however, was not alone, for hundreds of thousands of Swiss and millions of Europeans went the same route during this period. The difference is that the emigration from the Valais had its own cycles and specific destinations. While the great majority of Swiss emigrants settled in the United States, most of the emigrants from the Valais chose South America as their destination, in particular Argentina.