Chinese Guyanese

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Chinese Guyanese
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Georgetown · Enterprise
English (Guyanese Creole)
Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism
Related ethnic groups
Chinese Caribbean

The Chinese community of Guyana consists mainly of descendants of Chinese laborers who were taken to British Guiana in the 19th century.


Between 1853 and 1879, 14,000 Chinese laborers mostly Cantonese arrived to the British Caribbean as part of a larger system of contract labor bound for the sugar plantations. Most of the laborers were destined for British Guiana (Guyana), taken from the Dutch in the Napoleonic Wars, and Trinidad, captured from Spain in 1797.[1] In British Guiana, they stayed on the plantations much longer compared to other British colonies in the Caribbean because other occupational outlets such as retail trade and market gardening were monopolized by the Portuguese and were thus closed to Chinese. [2] Because almost all of the Chinese indentured immigrants were men, they tended to intermarry with both East Indians and Africans, and thus the Chinese of Guyana did not remain as physically distinct as other groups. [3] Most of the Chinese laborers initially went to British Guiana; however, importation ended in 1879, and the population declined steadily. [4] In the 1960s the Chinese comprised 0.6 percent (i.e., about 4,800) of the Guyanese population of 800,000.

In a document detailing instructions for the Dutch Postholder in Cuyuni, it was mentioned that Indians (Guyanese Amerindians) trading in Chinese slaves to sell to people who lived along the Essequibo River were to be allowed to conduct their business.[5][6]

Culture and religion[edit]

The Chinese in Guyana have been described as "scarcely Chinese" in matters of culture. In the realm of kinship, for instance, although a broad range of kin ties was recognized and kin were scattered throughout the colony in separate households, there were no clans, no attempt to trace lineages or to keep genealogies, no ancestral tablets or ancestor worship, and no common burial ground. There was no Chinese newspaper, nor were there Chinese schools to teach Chinese language and culture or to provide other features of a formal Chinese education. There was no Chinatown nor a concentration of Chinese businesses.[7]

The Chinese, including those born in China, were quick to convert to Christianity. By 1891, a majority had become Anglican, and many had become Catholic, the two major denominations, whereas a few became Presbyterians, Methodists, and so on.[8]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Hall, Laura Jane (1995), The Chinese in Guyana: the making of a Creole community, Ph.D. dissertation, Berkeley: University of California, OCLC 34438537 
  • Moore, Brian L. (1988), "The settlement of Chinese in Guyana in the Nineteenth Century", in Johnson, Howard, After the crossing: immigrants and minorities in Caribbean Creole society, Routledge, pp. 41–56, ISBN 978-0-7146-3357-2