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Total population
(28 million +)
Regions with significant populations
 Haiti 8.9M
 Dominican Republic 8.1M
 Cuba 4.9M
 Jamaica 2.5M
 Puerto Rico 1.7M
 Trinidad and Tobago 700,000
 Guadeloupe 403,750
 Martinique 390,000
 Bahamas 290,000
 Guyana 290,000
 Barbados 253,771
 Saint Lucia 173,765
 French Guiana 131,676
 Curaçao 152,000
 Suriname 202,500
 Grenada 101,309
 Belize 93,394
 U.S. Virgin Islands 79,000
 Dominica 72,660
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 38,827
Predominantly: Minority:
Related ethnic groups
Afro-South Americans, Liberian, Afro-Central American, Americo-Liberian

Afro-Caribbeans are Caribbean people who trace their heritage to Sub-Saharan Africa in the period since Christopher Columbus's arrival in the region in 1492. Other names for the group include African-Caribbean (especially in the UK branch of the diaspora), Afro-Antillean or Afro-West Indian. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, European-led triangular trade brought African people to work as slaves in the Caribbean on various plantations. Many Afro-Caribbeans also have non-African ancestry, such as European, South Asian, East Asian, Middle Eastern and Native American, as there has been intermarriage over the centuries.

Although most Afro-Caribbean people today live in Spanish, French, and English-speaking Caribbean nations, there are also significant diaspora populations throughout the Western world – especially in Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada. Both the home and diaspora populations have produced a number of individuals who have had a notable influence on modern Western, Caribbean and African societies; they include political activists such as Marcus Garvey and C.L.R. James, to writer and theorists such as Aime Cesaire and Frantz Fanon, to US military leader and statesman Colin Powell whose parents were immigrants, and Jamaican musician Bob Marley.

History of the African-Caribbean peoples

16th–18th centuries

During the post-Columbian era, the archipelagos and islands of the Caribbean were the first sites of African Diaspora dispersal in the western Atlantic. Specifically, in 1492, Pedro Alonso Niño, an African-Spanish seafarer, was recorded as piloting one of Columbus's ships. He returned in 1499, but did not settle. In the early 16th century, more Africans began to enter the population of the Spanish Caribbean colonies, sometimes as free men or indentured servants, but increasingly as enslaved workers and servants. This increasing demand for African labour in the Caribbean was in part the result of massive depopulation of the native Taino and other indigenous peoples caused by the new infectious diseases, harsh conditions and warfare brought by European colonists. By the mid-16th century, the slave trade from Africa to the Caribbean was so profitable that Francis Drake and John Hawkins were prepared to engage in piracy as well as break Spanish colonial laws, in order to forcibly transport approximately 1500 enslaved people from Sierra Leone to San Domingo (modern day Haiti and Dominican Republic).[1]

During the 17th and 18th centuries, European colonial development in the Caribbean became increasingly reliant on plantation slavery to cultivate and process the lucrative commodity crop of sugar cane. By the end of the 18th century, on many islands, enslaved (and free) Afro-Caribbeans greatly outnumbered their European masters.[2] On Saint-Domingue, free people of color and slaves rebelled against harsh conditions, and constant inter-imperial warfare. Inspired by French revolutionary sentiments that at one point freed the slaves, Toussaint L'Ouverture and Jean Jacques Dessalines led the Haitian Revolution that gained the independence of Haiti in 1804, the first Afro-Caribbean republic in the western hemisphere.

19th–21st centuries

In 1804, Haiti, with its overwhelmingly black population and leadership, became the second nation in the Americas to win independence from a European state. During the 19th century, continuous waves of rebellion, such as the Baptist War, led by Sam Sharpe in Jamaica, created the conditions for the incremental abolition of slavery in the region by various colonial powers. Cuba was the last island to be emancipated when Spain abolished slavery in its colonies.

During the 20th century, Afro-Caribbean people, who were a majority in many Caribbean societies, began to assert their cultural, economic and political rights with more vigor on the world stage. Marcus Garvey was among many influential immigrants to the US from Jamaica, expanding his UNIA movement in New York City and the U.S.[3] Afro-Caribbeans were influential in the Harlem Renaissance as artists and writers. Aimé Césaire developed a negritude movement.

From the 1960s, the West Indian territories began to win their independence from British colonial rule. They were pre-eminent in creating new cultural forms such as reggae music, calypso and rastafarianism within the Caribbean. Beyond the region, a developing Afro-Caribbean diaspora, including such figures as Stokely Carmichael and DJ Kool Herc, was influential in the development of the Black Power and hip-hop movements in the US of the late 1960s and following years. They also contributed to cultural developments in Europe, as evidenced by influential theorists such as Frantz Fanon[4] and Stuart Hall.[5]

List of notable African-Caribbean figures


Science and philosophy
Arts, sports and culture

Main groups


See also


  1. Some Historical Account of Guinea: With an Inquiry into the Rise and Progress of the Slave Trade, p. 48, at Google Books
  2. Stephen D. Behrendt, David Richardson, and David Eltis, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research, Harvard University. Based on "records for 27,233 voyages that set out to obtain slaves for the Americas". Stephen Behrendt (1999). "Transatlantic Slave Trade". Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 0-465-00071-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Martin, Tony. Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggle of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976.
  4. Nigel C. Gibson, Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003: Oxford, Polity Press)
  5. Chen, Kuan-Hsing. "The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual: An interview with Stuart Hall," collected in David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen (eds), Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, New York: Routledge, 1996.

External links