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In July 2017, the population of Jamaica was 2,990,561. The population density at that time was approximately 270 inhabitants per km2. The coastal plains, the areas of Central Range and the Blue Mountains and the agglomeration of Kingston-St Andrew have the largest population concentrations. More than half of the inhabitants live in the cities and the migration to those cities is still increasing. The capital Kingston is very densely populated with more than 590,000 inhabitants.

More than 90% of the population are people of pure African descent. The number of mulattoes is limited, unlike most Caribbean islands. Several descend from the Maroons, slaves who escaped into the mountains at the time. The remaining 10% of the population consists of British and Americans (together about 1%), Indians and Chinese (about 4%) and some Lebanese and Syrians.

There are no longer direct descendants of the Arawak Indians; the Arawak Indians were completely exterminated by the Spaniards in the 16th and 17th centuries.

School kids JamaicaSchool kids JamaicaPhoto: Ralf Steinberger CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Large-scale family planning programs have reduced the population growth (almost 2% per annum in the period 1972-1974) to 0.9% (1982-1991) and 0.68% in 2017. Birth and death rate (2017) are respectively. 17.9 ‰ and 6.8 ‰. Life expectancy at birth is 72.1 years for men and 75.4 years for women.

Jamaica has a fairly young population. 27.2% of the population is under 14 years of age, 64.8% is between 15-64 years of age and 8% of the population is over 65 years of age.

Emigration, which took place on a large scale to Great Britain and the United States, especially before independence in 1962, declined and increased again from the end of the 1970s. Still, over two million Jamaicans have emigrated over time. For example, it is estimated that there are approximately 400,000 residents of Jamaican descent in the eastern United States.


Baker, C. / Jamaica
Lonely Planet

Baker, C. / Jamaica

Bayer, M. / Jamaica
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen/Novib

Helm, R. van der / Jamaica


Wilkins, F./ Jamaica
Chelsea House Publishers

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated April 2024
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