Jamaican diaspora

Diaspora means the scattering of people from their ethnic roots. Thus the Jamaican diaspora refers to Jamaicans who have left their traditional homelands, the dispersal of such Jamaicans, and the ensuing developments in their culture. Jamaicans can be found in the far corners of the world, but the largest pools of Jamaicans, outside of Jamaica itself, exist in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, other Caribbean islands, and all across the Caribbean Coast of Central America, namely Panama, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

Reasons for emigration

Reasons for emigration from Jamaica during the major periods of Jamaican diaspora were job opportunities aimed at Jamaicans in Britain in post-war reconstruction in the 1940s, rising crime following the country's independence in 1962 and slow economic growth. Ample immigration opportunities in Canada, the USA and Britain also helped, providing Jamaicans with a thriving community of their kinsmen to join.

Emigration patterns

Over the past several decades, close to a million[citation needed] Jamaicans have emigrated, especially to the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Though this emigration appears to have been tapering off somewhat in recent years, the great number of Jamaicans living abroad has become known as the "Jamaican diaspora". Most Jamaican emigrants have followed a path first to the UK. Many who do not remain in the UK move on to other Commonwealth countries such as Canada. Jamaican emigrants also migrate directly to the United States, Canada, other Caribbean nations, Central & South America (mainly in Panama and Colombia),[1] and even Africa (most notably Sierra Leone and Ethiopia). There has also been emigration of Jamaicans to Cuba[2] and to Nicaragua.[3]

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, and in particular London and Birmingham, have a strong Jamaican diaspora. An estimated 4% of Londoners and 3.5% of Brummies are of wholly or partly Jamaican heritage. Many are now at least second, if not third or fourth-generation Black British Caribbeans. Currently the fastest growing ethnic minority group in Britain is the mixed race category, with the mixed black & white Caribbean category (many of whom are half Jamaicans) being the single largest mixed ethnic minority.

One of the largest and most famous Jamaican expatriate communities is in Brixton, South London. More large Jamaican communities in London are Tottenham in North London, Hackney in East London, Harlesden in North-West London and both Croydon & Lewisham in South London. The highest concentration of Jamaicans are more precisely in the South London boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham & Croydon.

On the last bank holiday of the year during late August the Annual Notting Hill Carnival takes place in west London which is the second biggest street party in the world after Rio Carnival. It spans areas of west London such as Shepherd's Bush, Ladbroke Grove, White City and of course Notting Hill. Many other Caribbean nations have large communities in this part of London such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Antigua. The Caribbean community including many Jamaicans are involved in the Carnival which starts on Saturday and finishes late on Monday. Jamaicans have many food stalls, soundsystems and floats involved in the procession. Well over a million Londoners come to Notting Hill on the Monday. There is also a much smaller carnival called the Tottenham Carnival which takes place in Tottenham during June, approximately 40,000 people attend. Other Jamaican communities include the areas of St Pauls in Bristol, Chapeltown in Leeds, Moss Side, Longsight and Hulme in Manchester, Toxteth in Liverpool, Burngreave in Sheffield, Handsworth, Ladywood, Lozells, and Aston in Birmingham, and St Ann's, Top Valley, and Basford in Nottingham.

United States

Concentrations of expatriate Jamaicans are large in a number of cities in the United States, including New York City, Buffalo, the Miami metro area and Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Houston, Philadelphia, Hartford, Providence, Boston and Los Angeles.

New York City is home to a large Jamaican diaspora community, with communities along Flatbush, Nostrand and Utica Avenues in Brooklyn—centred on the neighbourhoods of Prospect Heights, Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Canarsie, and Flatlands. The Bronx, neighbourhoods and towns such as Wakefield, Eastchester, Baychester, Queens, Westchester County and nearby Stamford, Connecticut also have significant Jamaican ex-pat communities. Flatbush, Nostrand, and Utica Avenues feature miles of Jamaican cuisine, food markets and other businesses, nightlife and residential enclaves.


In Toronto, the Jamaican community is also large, with a metropolitan population of approximately 177,305 (3.2%). Jamaican populated areas of the city are located in the neighbourhoods of Rexdale in Etobicoke, Jane and Finch and Lawrence Heights in North York, Malvern and West Hill in Scarborough, and sections of Downtown Toronto and York, which also includes a Little Jamaica district that is identifiable along Eglinton Avenue West. In recent years, many Jamaicans have been moving out to suburbs such as Mississauga, Brampton and Ajax. The Jamaican community has had an influence on Toronto's culture. Caribana (the celebration of Caribbean culture) is an annual event in the city. The parade is held downtown on the first Saturday of August, shutting down a portion of Lake Shore Boulevard. Jamaica Day is in July, and the Jesus in the City parade attracts many Jamaican Christians. Reggae and dancehall are popular among Toronto's youth, of various ethnic backgrounds.

Outside the Greater Toronto Area, cities such as Montreal, Ottawa, and Hamilton also have sizable Jamaican communities.

Other locations

More recently many resort- and wild-life-management-skilled Jamaicans have been trending emigration toward such far-flung nations as Australia, New Zealand (Especially in Wellington and, to a lesser extent, Auckland) the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. The nation continues to have a severe problem with barrel children—those left on their own by parents seeking a better life abroad.


United Kingdom

Around 800,000 Britons of Jamaican origin.[4] Located especially in London, Birmingham, Luton, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Slough.

United States

Around 740,000,[5] especially in New York City (416,000), Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, South Florida and elsewhere.

Legal immigration statistics:[6]
1986–1990: 113,245
1991–1995: 90,731
1996–2000: 82,682
2001–2005: 76,280
2006–2010: 104,436
Total 1986–2010: 467,374


Around 257,000,[7] especially in the Toronto metropolitan area (around 177,000),[7] other parts of Southern Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta.


  1. ^ Joshua Project. "Jamaicans". joshuaproject.net. 
  2. ^ "Cuba". Microsoft Encarta. Archived from the original on 1 November 2009. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  3. ^ "Nicaragua". Microsoft Encarta. Archived from the original on 1 November 2009. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  4. ^ "Jamaica Mapping Exercise" (PDF). International Organization for Migration. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 2010-04-06. 
  5. ^ "Census 2000 Detailed Tables: Ancestry". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  6. ^ "Immigration Statistics". dhs.gov. 
  7. ^ a b "Ethnological Portrait of Canada, 2006 Census". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2008-08-31.