More than 90 percent of Jamaicans are wholly or partly descended from Africans who European colonizers brought into the country from the 16th century onwards. Population growth is relatively low. This is partly due to the fact that fewer children are born per woman and partly due to extensive emigration to mainly the US, Canada and the UK.
About as many Jamaicans live abroad as in their home country. An estimated four-fifths of them live abroad.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Jamaica, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
The population is relatively young, over half of the population is younger than 30 years. At the same time, declining birth rates since the end of the 1990s and increased welfare mean that the population pyramid is rapidly changing: the age group 0-15 is declining, relatively speaking, while the proportion over 65 is increasing.
The indigenous peoples who lived in Jamaica when European explorer Christofer Columbus arrived in the island in the late 15th century were soon obliterated and slaves began to be taken from Africa (see Ancient History).
Since slavery was abolished in 1834, some Indians were recruited to the island as contract workers. After World War I, Chinese, Lebanese and Syrians also immigrated. A special group of blacks are the maroons. They are descendants of slaves who escaped into the mountains after rebelling against the British colonialists in the 17th century.
English is an official language, but the majority of the population speaks a mixed language (Creole language), which is based on English but contains West African, Spanish and French words. Jamaicans call their Creole language patois (patwa, patwah).
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
persons of African origin 92%, persons of mixed origin 6%, persons with European, Indian or Chinese roots including 2% (Census 2011)
Number of residents
2 890 299 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
55.4 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
16.6 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
7.0 per 1000 residents (2016)
0.3 percent (2017)
2.0 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
50.2 percent (2017)
76 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
78 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
74 years (2016)
English is officially language 1
- Most speak a mixed language based on English