The Caribbean region is mainly a chain of islands surrounding the Caribbean Sea. To the north is the Caribbean Sea bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida, and the Northern Atlantic Ocean which lies to the East and Northeast; the coastline of the continent of South America lies to the south.
Politically, “Caribbean” may be centered around socio-economic groupings found in the region. For example the bloc known as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) contains both the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Suriname found in South America, along with Belize in Central America as full members. Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands which are found in the Atlantic Ocean are Associate members of the Caribbean Community, and the same goes for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas which is a full member of the Caribbean Community.’
The population of the Caribbean is estimated at some 40 million people. The nations that are largely considered part of the Caribbean region are:
Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bahamas, Haiti, Grenada, Belize, Bermuda, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Netherland Antilles, Martinique, St. Maarten, Cayman Islands, Aruba, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Saint Barth, USVI, BVI, Suriname, Turks & Caicos.
Immigrants from the Caribbean represent a growing segment of Blacks and `Asians` in The U.S. who can easily be reached with marketing initiatives focused and targeted to them that use their own media – Caribbean Communications Study for AT&T – 1996.
- Caribbean Blacks are differentiated from African Americans by cultural values/customs, languages and ethnicity for some. More than 22 million people of Caribbean heritage live in the US. (Strategy Research Corporation). However, based on what advocates say is an undercount of the population based on the fact that they are lumped into, in 2000, of the 31.1 million foreign born in the United States, about 2,953,066 (9.5 percent) counted by the U.S. Census were born in Caribbean countries. Their numbers increased 22.0% from 1999 to 2000 and 12.9% from 2000 to 2001. (US CENSUS 2000)
- Almost all (92.9%) are from 5 countries: Cuba (33.8%), the Dominican Republic (24.6%), Jamaica (14.6%), Haiti (13.7%), and Trinidad and Tobago (6.2%). (US CENSUS 2000)
- Almost half; 45.7%) are Black while 45.9% are male; 54.1% are female. (US CENSUS 2000)
- They are educated: 68.1% of those aged 25+ have completed high school or more versus 78.4% of African Americans. 13.0% have Bachelors and 6.4% have advanced degrees, comparable to African Americans. (Migration Policy Center) and Black Diversity Study, August 2003)
About 46 percent of Caribbean-born householders owned their own home. In 2000, 45.7 percent of Caribbean-born householders owned their homes, compared with 49.8 percent of all foreign-born householders. The Caribbean-born householders most likely to own their homes were from the Cayman Islands (63.3 percent), Aruba (60.1 percent), and Cuba (58.2 percent). The Caribbean-born householders least likely to own their homes were from the Dominican Republic (20.0 percent), St. Lucia (37.6 percent), and Guadeloupe (37.7 percent). (University at Albany, State University of New York Black Diversity Study August 2003)
- People of Caribbean heritage are credited with contributing approximately $8 billion in remittances to economies in the Caribbean region each year. ((Inter-American Development Bank 2007 Study)
- Caribbean nationals responded at a rate of 72 percent when communicated to as a `Caribbean person` than an African American, according to an AT&T study of 1996. A large percentage, about 73-75 percent, were found to spend a significant amount of time reading Caribbean newspapers, listening to independent Caribbean radio and watching Caribbean television programs.
CARIBBEAN IMMIGRANTS IN THE UK
In the UK, Caribbean immigrants Number a Conservative 566,000 but many first generation immigrants and their descendants are a very large part of the political structure of government and make up a significant part of the intellectual class – writer, university professors, teachers, professionals.
The British Caribbean community are residents of the United Kingdom who are of West Indian background and whose ancestors were primarily indigenous to Africa. As migration to the United Kingdom from Africa increased in the 1990s, the term has been used to include UK residents solely of African origin, or as a term to define all Black British residents, though this is usually denoted by “African and Caribbean.” The most common and traditional use of the term Afro-Caribbean community is in reference to groups of residents’ continuing aspects of Caribbean culture, customs and traditions in the United Kingdom.
The largest proportion of the Caribbean population in the UK are of Jamaican origin; others trace origins to nations such as Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana, which though located on the South American mainland, is very culturally similar to the Caribbean, and was historically considered to be part of the British West Indies, and Belize (formerly British Honduras), in Central America, which culturally is more akin to the English-speaking Caribbean than to Latin America, due to its colonial and still-extant economic ties to the UK.
African and Caribbean communities exist throughout the United Kingdom, though by far the largest concentrations are in London and Birmingham. Significant communities also exist in other population centers, notably Manchester, Nottingham, Coventry, Luton, Leicester, Bristol, Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield, Liverpool and Cardiff. In these cities, the community is traditionally associated with a particular area, such as, Brixton, Harlesden, Stonebridge, Lewisham, Tottenham, Dalston and Peckham in London, Chapeltown in Leeds, St. Pauls in Bristol, Handsworth in Birmingham or Moss Side In Manchester.
CARIBBEAN NATIONALS IN CANADA
In Canada, Caribbean immigrants are put conservatively at 500,000. As with their US counterparts, Caribbean immigrants in Canada account for a substantial percentage of the financial flows to their home nations in the Caribbean.
Personal remittances to relatives and for payments of mortgages, purchase of land and other obligations, are important sources of national income. They are often the only source of income and means of survival of parents and children left behind. These remittances go into construction of homes, purchase of consumer durables, payment for education and health services, and so on. In the re-flows they support employment, productivity and economic growth.
Caribbean immigrants have especially settled in the Toronto region where today, CARIBANA is a major city-wide celebration of their culture. In 2001, there were 150,840 Jamaicans living in Toronto and another 30,000 living in Ontario in cities such as Ottawa and Kitchener. An additional 30,000 Jamaicans were scattered throughout the rest of Canada.
Although many have been migrating to Canada for hundreds of years, they have not migrated to all parts of Canada in equal numbers. The earliest immigrants arrived in the Maritimes and subsequently moved to Québec and Ontario where more recent migration has been concentrated.
Québec has seen large numbers of Haitian immigrants because of their fluency in French. As such, Canada now has its first Haitian-born governor general.
Ontario has received the largest number of other Caribbean nationals: they settled there first. The local population grew through two ways: families migrating to Canada would join their already established relatives in the Toronto area.
Still, many other Caribbean nationals have moved to Alberta, and most have settled in urban centers such as Calgary and Edmonton in search of work. In 2001, there were 31,390 black people living in Alberta — a little less than 5 percent of the national total. In Edmonton, there is an annual celebration of Caribbean culture, the Cariwest Festival.