Exile means to be away from one's home (i.e. city, state or country) while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened by prison or death upon return. It can be a form of punishment.
It is common to distinguish between internal exile, i.e., forced resettlement within the country of residence, and external exile, deportation outside the country of residence.
Exile can also be a self-imposed departure from one's homeland. Self-exile is often practiced as form of protest or to avoid persecution.
Exile was used particularly for political opponents of those in power. The use of exile for political purposes can sometimes be useful for the government because it prevents the exilee from organizing in their native land or from becoming a martyr. People feared exile and banishment so much because it effectively meant that they were going to die. In European history, at a time prior to Roman invasion, people lived completely co-dependently in farm towns where everyone had a function. Exile represented a severe punishment, particularly for those, like Ovid or Du Fu, exiled to strange or backward regions, cut off from all of the possibilities of life as well as their families and associates. Dante describes the pain of exile in The Divine Comedy:
Exile has been softened, to some extent, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as exiles have received welcome in other countries and have either created new communities within those countries or, less frequently, returned to their homelands following the demise of the regime that exiled them.
During a foreign occupation or after a coup d'etat, a government in exile of a such afflicted country may be established abroad. One of the most well-known instances of this is the Central Tibetan Administration, a government in exile led by the Dalai Lama in India, who claims to be the legitimate ruler of the historical Tibet.
When large groups, 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 Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 597 BC and again in the years following the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem in the year AD 70. 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.