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Guyanese Americans
Total population
231,651 (2019) [1]
Regions with significant populations
New York · New Jersey · Florida · Georgia ·   California ·   Texas ·   Pennsylvania ·   Maryland
English · Guyanese Creole · Guyanese Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) · Portuguese · Chinese · Akawaio · Macushi · Waiwai · Arawak · Patamona · Warrau · Carib · Wapishana · Arekuna
Christianity · Hinduism · Islam
Related ethnic groups
Trinidadian and Tobagonian Americans · Surinamese Americans · Caribbean Americans · Indo-Caribbean Americans · African Americans · Chinese Americans · Portuguese Americans

Guyanese Americans are an ethnic group of Americans who can trace their ancestry back to Guyana. As of 2019, there are 231,649 Guyanese Americans currently living in the United States. The majority of Guyanese live in New York City – some 140,000 – making them the fifth-largest foreign-born population in the city. [2]


After the independence of Guyana from the United Kingdom, in 1966, Guyanese immigration to the United States increased dramatically. Political and economic uncertainty, and the internal strife two years earlier as well as a radical change in US immigration policy opening up opportunities to non-Europeans prompted many Guyanese who could make the move to seek opportunities abroad. An average of 6,080 people a year emigrated from Guyana between 1969 and 1976, increasing to an average of 14,400 between 1976 and 1981. [3] [4]

Many of the first Guyanese immigrants to the United States were of African descent. They were women who were recruited as domestic workers or nursing assistants. [5] Prior to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 Guyanese of Asian descent faced immigration restrictions by the Asiatic Barred Zone. However, many Guyanese who had studied in the US in the mid 20th century or earlier stayed on in the US; although some like Cheddi Jagan returned to Guyana. Shirley Chisholm's father represents one of the earliest of Guyanese immigrants to the US during the 20th century; emigration from Guyana at that time was mostly to Caribbean or Commonwealth countries. [6]

Many Indo-Guyanese immigrants emigrated to New York City during the upheavals of the 1970s and 1980s, a group descended from the original Indian indentured servants that arrived to Guyana in the early 1800s after the abolishing of slavery by the British Empire. [7] [8]


The New York City Metropolitan Area is home to the largest Guyanese population in the United States. [9]

The United States has the highest number of Guyanese people outside of Guyana. The Guyanese-American community mostly consists of people of African and East Indian origins. [10]

As of 1990, 80 percent of Guyanese Americans lived in the northeastern United States, especially around New York City, which is home to over 140,000 people of Guyanese descent. In Queens, 82,000 Guyanese represent the second largest foreign-born population in the borough. [2]

Many Indo-Guyanese immigrants emigrated to New York City during the upheavals of the 1970s and 1980s and settled in South Richmond Hill. The 2000 census identified 24,662 people in Richmond Hill who were born in Guyana, the majority of whom were of Indian descent. [7] The large concentration of Indo-Guyanese residents in Richmond Hill and the neighboring Ozone Park, has led the area along Liberty Avenue to be referred to as 'Little Guyana.' [11] The majority of NYC's Afro-Guyanese population lives in Brooklyn's West Indian neighborhoods, most notably Flatbush and Canarsie. [7]

Other areas in the U.S. with significant Guyanese populations include the northern New Jersey cities of Irvington, South Plainfield, Orange and East Orange; and parts of southern and central Florida ( Orlo Vista, Oakland, and Verona Walk). Smaller populations can also be found in Rockland County, New York; Schenectady, New York; Emerald Lakes, Pennsylvania; Olanta; Lincoln Park, Georgia; and Bladensburg, Maryland. [6]

Indo-Guyanese are mostly Hindu, but some are Christians or Muslims. [12] [8]


The Guyanese have formed their own businesses in the United States, including many businesses along Little Guyana's Liberty Avenue that sell traditional Guyanese cuisine, jewelry, Bollywood videos and Sari clothing. [10] [13] [14] [15] [16]


Guyanese have organized many of the U.S. Caribbean organizations. There are many associations of nurses and police from Guyana. Although the group has not made a collective impact on U.S. national policy, they have organized, through their churches, with other ethnic groups to promote knowledge about and find solutions for the problems in their neighborhoods and have entered local politics. [6] Despite being the 5th largest immigrant group in NYC, there are no council members of Guyanese descent. [17]

Shirley Chisholm was the only Congresswoman of Guyanese descent in American history, as well as the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress.


Some of the associations are the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Indo-Caribbean Alliance, The Indo-Caribbean Federation of North America, and the Association of Guyanese-Americans. [10] [18] [19] Around springtime, the Indo-Guyanese population in Richmond Hill, Queens traditionally hold a Phagwah Holi Festival & Celebration. [20]

Relations with Guyana

The Guyanese-American community has close ties with Guyana and sends financial aid back to family members. There are large ongoing academic exchanges between Guyana and the United States. [6] The Journal of the Caribbean is a Caribbean newspaper important to inform the Indo-Guyanese and other Caribbean groups of their achievements and inform them about the events in Guyana. This newspaper is published weekly and distributed throughout North America. The publications of these papers are written in English. However, there are also publications in other languages. Newspapers offer services to help people. In the newspaper there is tax air tickets and visa forms, applications and service support for the elderly, advertisements for charities for children in Guyana and India. [10]

Notable people









Pop culture

See also


  1. ^ "American Community Survey 2019 - 1-Year Estimates - Table B04006". U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. ^ a b "Population Analysis of Guyanese and Trinidadians in NYC". Indo-Caribbean Alliance. Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b NewsAmericas (2016-05-09). "10 Fast Facts About Guyanese Immigrants In The US You Should Know". Caribbean and Latin America Daily News. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  4. ^ CHOWTHI, NATASSAJA. "Changing Places and Questions of Identity: The Fluid Lives of First Generation Indo-Guyanese" (PDF). University of North Carolina at Greensboro Master's Thesis.
  5. ^ a b c d Brooklyn, Downtown (2020-05-24). "Brooklyn's Guyana". Downtown Brooklyn. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  6. ^ a b c d Countries and Their Cultures-Guyanese American. Posted by Jacqueline A. McLeod. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c Berger, Joseph (2004-12-17). "Indian, Twice Removed". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  8. ^ a b "Schlep in the City: Little Guyana". The Gotham Center for New York City History. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  9. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  10. ^ a b c d Voices of new York. Posted by Brenda Mangru and Madhu Pillai. Retrieved June 25, 2011
  11. ^ Cavanaugh, Ray (9 October 2014). "Little Guyana, an Indo-Guyanese enclave in Queens". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  12. ^ Academy, Himalayan. "Far from their Grandfather's India, a Determined Community". Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  13. ^ "Richmond Hill Guyanese Business Listings".
  14. ^ Haller, Vera (2013-01-11). "Indo-Caribbean Content, Victorian Style". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  15. ^ "Little Guyana welcomes Indo-Caribbean to NYC". Culinary Backstreets. 2019-05-06. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  16. ^ Chun, Christine (2018-10-02). "Guyanese food in NYC blends cultures to offer 'something for everyone'". amNewYork. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  17. ^ Wang, Vivian (2017-08-11). "In Little Guyana, Proposed Cuts to Family Immigration Weigh Heavily". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  18. ^ "Guyana Cultural Association of NY Inc".
  19. ^ Sooppersaud, Sam (18 October 2013). "The Indo-Caribbean Federation – Part One". Guyana Times International. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  20. ^ Semple, Kirk (2015-04-02). "A Traditional Hindu Spring Parade in Queens Is Canceled as Organizers Feud". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  21. ^ a b c "Stars you didn't know had Guyanese heritage". Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  22. ^ a b Robbins, Liz (2017-10-20). "Power, Corruption and Murder Roil Little Guyana". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  23. ^ "born in Puerto Rico, but her parents are from Guyana."
  24. ^ Guyana’s most decorated and successful bodybuilder
  25. ^ "From: Gayana, South America"
  26. ^ "My dad's dad grew up in British Guiana"
  27. ^ "Aminta Kilawan is an Indo-Caribbean American lawyer, activist, and writer." [1] [2] [3]

Further reading

  • Dindayal, Vidur. Guyanese Achievers USA & Canada: A Celebration (New York: Trafford, 2011).
  • McLeod, Jacqueline A. "Guyanese Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 2, Gale, 2014), pp. 293–303. online
  • Palmer, Ransford W. In Search of a Better Life: Perspectives on Migration from the Caribbean (Praeger, 1990).
  • Ramsaroop, Yuvraj. Realizing the American Dream: The Personal Triumph of a Guyanese Immigrant (2010).

External links