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White Jamaicans

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White Jamaicans are Jamaicans whose ancestry lies within the continent of Europe and the Middle East[citation needed], most notably England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland,[2] Spain, Germany[3] and Portugal.[4] The 2011 national census recorded a white population of 4,365 people, equating to 0.16% of the overall population. Historically White Jamaicans made up a much larger percentage of the population, forming a majority for most of the 17th century.[1]

White Jamaicans
Total population
4,365 (0.16%), according to the 2011 census[1]
Regions with significant populations


A number of Jamaicans have light skin, European features, and majority European ancestry. In colonial times it was common for such people to identify simply as "white", but since independence it has been more common for them to identify as "brown" or "mulatto". In modern Jamaica the category "white" is applied. For instance, four of the first six Jamaican heads of government (Norman Manley, Alexander Bustamante, Edward Seaga, and Michael Manley) had a European appearance and majority European ancestry, but were not generally considered "white" within Jamaica. Foreign writers applying their own countries' racial standards would sometimes identify them as white – writing for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof observed that a "95 per cent black population elected a white man – Edward Seaga – as its prime minister". Seaga was born to a Lebanese father and a mixed-race mother.[5]


The proportion of white people among the overall population in Jamaica has varied considerably since the establishment of a permanent Spanish settlement in 1509 by Juan de Esquivel. The native Taíno people were virtually extinct by 1600 and the island's population of about 3,000 was then overwhelmingly European. However, over the next century a significant numbers of African slaves were brought to the island. Jamaica became a colony of England in 1655 and a census in 1662 recorded 3,653 whites (87% of the population) and 552 blacks (13% of the population). However, by 1673 there were 7,768 whites (45% of the population) and 9,504 blacks (55% of the population). By the end of the century only about 7,000 out of a total population of 47,000 (or 15%) were white. Most white immigrants were British, many coming voluntarily from other North American colonies or as refugees from colonies like Montserrat and Suriname which were captured by other European powers. There were also thousands of Irish people sent to Jamaica involuntarily in the early years of the colony.[6]

By 1734, the proportion of white people had decrease to below 10% of the overall population of Jamaica.[6] In 1774, Edward Long estimated that a third of Jamaica's white population were Scottish, mostly concentrated in Westmoreland Parish.[7] In 1787, there were only 12,737 whites out of a total population of 209,617.[6] There was a flow of French refugees to Jamaica after the Haitian Revolution, though not all remained in the country. In the 1830s, over 1,000 Germans immigrated to Jamaica to work on Lord Seaford's estate. The 1844 census showed a white population of 15,776 out of a total population of 377,433 (around 4%).[6] According to the 1871 census, at least 25% of the population was coloured (having mixed black and white ancestry).[8]

The 1960 census recorded a white population of 0.77 percent, which decreased to 0.66 in 1970, 0.18 in 2001, and 0.16 in 2011.[9] As with most Anglo-Caribbean countries, most Jamaicans who are of mixed ancestry self-report as 'black'.[10][11] In 2011, the CIA World Factbook estimated that the population of Jamaicans who are of mixed European and African ancestry is at about 96%.[12]

Notable White JamaicansEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b 2011 census report
  2. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Irish". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The GERMANS". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures: The People Who Came The Jews In Jamaica". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Not completely black and white". Jamaica Gleaner. 4 October 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Historial Background, Jamaican Family Search.
  7. ^ "Jamaica In Britain: Mulatto Abolitionist". Jamaica Gleaner. 3 December 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  8. ^ Handbook of Jamaica. Google Books: Jamaica Government. 1908. p. 37.
  9. ^ Race and Ethnicity Matter in Jamaica? Category Labels versus Personal Self- descriptions of Identity, ResearchGate, 2007
  10. ^ "5 Reasons Many Jamaicans Don't Understand Racism". Jamaicans Magazine. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Out of Many One People, We Are A Race Apart". Jamaicans Magazine. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Jamaica - CIA World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 5 March 2018.