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Is Jamaica An African Country?


Source: Statistical Institute Of Jamaica

Is Jamaica An African Country?

RESPONSE: by Wellesley

Lol. Very interesting question!

No, Jamaica is not, geographically and politically, an African country. Jamaica is actually an idependent country situated in the Caribbean (considered part of the North American Continent) sea.

The island of 2,726,667 persons (at 2018 Statin population estimates) lies between 17.5 and 18.5 degrees north (latitude) and between 76 and 76 degrees west (longitude), about 90 miles south of Cuba (712 miles southward of Florida in the USA)

Jamaica gained political independence from the British in 1962.

The Other Perspective

However, this question, depending on who you ask, could easily be answered YES as well.

Why so?

That's because over 90% of Jamaicans are of African heritage!

In fact, according to the latest information available from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin), 91.6% of Jamaicans are black! (See image above)

The African Roots

If you know anything about this history of Jamaica, you'll note that Jamaica shares an 'umbilical' relationship with the continent of Africa.

Most of blacks in Jamaica has ancestral roots in Africa, particularly from the West Coast. Africans first arrived in Jamaica in 1513, been forcibly captured in their homelands and sold as slaves to the Spanish settlers here.

They served as body servants, cowboys, hunter and herders of wild horse, pigs and cattle then.

The knowledge they gained of Jamaica's interior became invaluable as when the English took the island from the Spanish in 1655, many escaped in the mountains to be later called maroons.

When the expanded sugar plantation system required more labour, millions of Africans were later forcibly taken to the so called New World, which included Jamaica, North America and the Caribbean.

Estimates suggested that between the years 1650 and 1807 when Slavery was abolished, between 750,000 and 1,000,000 were taken to Jamaica, after millions more died on the journey!

Indentured Africans

Note also that between 1837 and 1867, following emancipation, another estimated 11,000 Africans arrived in Jamaica to work as indentured laborers on the sugar estates.

These Africans, it is said, arrived from Central Africa, from the Yoruba and Dahomey coasts and the Niger Delta.

Many settled in Westmoreland, Hanover and St. Thomas. Some returned home but some remained and became a part of mainstream Jamaican life.

The Legacy

As you can imagine, not only does the African culture influenced the Jamaican culture, it dominates it!

Most of what we do, belief, eat and even how we talk, have roots in Africa, and with still over 90% of the population black, many Jamaicans consider themselves Africans.

The Bond Continues

Today Jamaica maintains strong diplomatic and political relationship with many African countries, including the 'twinning' of cities in Jamaica with others of countries in Africa, eg. Windhoek, Namibia.

Reggae music, which originated in Jamaica, came out of the inspiration of Jamaica's African origins.

I hope this helps.

You may also be interested in learning about the important events in Jamaica's history.

As usual, I welcome your comments.



  • "Information From Past Censuses",
  • Team Jamaica Handbook, 5th Edition
  • Senior, Olive, Encyopedia of Jamaican Heritage, 2003.

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