Guyanese Americans

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Guyanese Americans
Flag of Guyana.svg Flag of the United States.svg
Total population
208,899 (±11,894) [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 American · Surinamese Americans · Caribbean Americans · Indo-Caribbean Americans · African Americans · Chinese Americans · Portuguese Americans

Guyanese Americans are Americans who can trace their ancestry back to Guyana. As of 2011, there are 208,899 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.

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. Prior to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 Guyanese of Asian descent faced immigration restrictions because of existence of Asiatic Barred Zone. However, many Guyanese who had studied in the US in the mid 20th century or earlier stayed on in the US; 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. [3]


The New York City Metropolitan Area is home to the largest Guyanese population in the United States. [4]

The United States has the highest number of Guyanese people outside of Guyana. The Guyanese-American community mostly consists of people of Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese origins. [5]

As of 1990, 80 percent of Guyanese Americans lived in the Northeast, especially around New York City, which is home to 140,000. In Queens, 82,000 Guyanese represent second largest foreign-born population in that borough, trailing only the Chinese. [6] A large concentration can be found in the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, forming the only Little Guyana in the United States centered along Liberty Avenue. [7]

Other Guyanese populated areas include parts of Brooklyn, (especially Flatbush, Canarsie and East Flatbush); 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. [3]

The Guyanese Americans students vary their English accent, depending on whether they are at home or at school. In schools, Guyanese-American students learn to speak American English. Hindu Indo-Guyanese have religious ceremonies at their houses and they attend various mandirs (temples). The Indo-Guyanese who are Christian attend a local church but there are a lot more Hindus than Christians. [5]


The Guyanese have formed their own businesses in the United States; many of which are shops, restaurants of traditional Guyanese cuisine, grocery stores, and jewelry stores. There are also many shops of clothing belonging to Guyanese that sell clothing Indian (due to the many Guyanese of Indian origin). In addition to these stores, there are also video playback stores specializing in Bollywood films with English subtitles for those who do not understand Hindi. [5]


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. [3]

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


Some of the associations are the Indo-Caribbean American Cultural and Arts Association, The Indo-Caribbean Federation of North America, and the Association of Guyanese-Americans. A major part of the shows the various Indo-Guyanese Associations put together is the songs and dances.The Indo-Guyanese organizations teach the youth about their cultural origins and let them show it off on stage by performing dances, songs, and plays. The development of the cultural groups in the area had made a necessity for announcements of community news. [5]

Relations with Guyana

The Guyanese-American community has close ties with Guyana and sends financial aid back to family members. There is are large ongoing academic exchanges between Guyana and the United States in the form of academic conferences. [3] 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. [5]

Notable people

Pop culture






  1. ^ Table B04006, People Reporting Ancestry, 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, United States Census Bureau
  2. ^ "Population Analysis of Guyanese and Trinidadians in NYC". Indo-Caribbean Alliance. Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Countries and Their Cultures-Guyanese American. Posted by Jacqueline A. McLeod. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  4. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  5. ^ a b c d e Voices of new York. Posted by Brenda Mangru and Madhu Pillai. Retrieved June 25, 2011
  6. ^ "Population Analysis of Guyanese and Trinidadians in NYC". Indo-Caribbean Alliance. Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  7. ^ Cavanaugh, Ray (9 October 2014). [Little Guyana, an Indo-Guyanese enclave in Queens "Little Guyana, an Indo-Guyanese enclave in Queens"] Check |url= value ( help). Washington Post. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Aminta Kilawan is an Indo-Caribbean American lawyer, activist, and writer." [1] [2] [3]
  9. ^ "Flora Cheong-Leen, aka Flora Zeta Zhang Elizabeth Tian Ai Cheong-Leen, is a Chinese-Guyanese fashion designer"
  10. ^ "born in Puerto Rico, but her parents are from Guyana."
  11. ^ Guyana’s most decorated and successful bodybuilder
  12. ^ "From: Gayana, South America"
  13. ^ "My dad's dad grew up in British Guiana"

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