Demographics of Bermuda
This article is about the demographic features of the population of Bermuda, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
Demographics is a thorny subject, in Bermuda, the legacy of a long history of racism. From settlement until the 19th century, the largest demographic group remained White Anglo-Saxons. The reason Black slaves did not quickly come to outnumber Whites was that Bermuda's 17th-century agricultural industry continued to rely on indentured servants, mostly from England, until 1684, thanks to it remaining a company colony. Spanish-speaking Blacks began to immigrate in numbers from the West Indies as indentured servants in the mid-17th century, but White fears at their growing numbers led to their terms of indenture being raised from seven years, as with Whites, to ninety-nine years. Throughout the next two centuries, frequent efforts were made to lower the Black population.
Free Blacks, who were the majority of Black Bermudians in the 17th century, were threatened with enslavement as an attempt to encourage their emigration, and slave owners were encouraged to export enslaved Blacks (with all slaves seen, like horses on an archipelago with dense forests and few roads, as a status symbol) whenever a war loomed, as they were portrayed as unnecessary bellies to feed during times of shortage (even before abandoning agriculture for maritime activities in 1684, Bermuda had become reliant on food imports).
In addition to free and enslaved Blacks, 17th-century Bermuda had large minorities of Irish and Native American slaves, as well as smaller number of Scots, all ethnically-cleansed from their homelands and sold in Bermuda.
The Irish and Scots were ostracised by the Anglo-Saxon population, who were particularly fearful of the Irish, who plotted rebellions with Black slaves, and intermarried with the Blacks and Native Americans.
Some islanders, especially in St David's, trace their ancestry to Native Americans, and many more are ignorant of such ancestry. Hundreds were shipped to Bermuda, possibly from as far as Mexico. The best known examples were the Algonquian peoples, who were exiled from the New England colonies and sold into slavery in the 17th century, notably in the aftermaths of the Pequot War and King Philip's War, but some are have believed to come from as far away as Mexico.
During the course of the 18th century, Bermuda's population was boiled down to two demographic groups: White and Coloured.
Anyone who was of wholly European ancestry (at least Northern European) was defined as white. Everyone else was defined as coloured. This included the multi-racial descendants of the previous minority demographic groups (Black, Irish and Native American), as well as the occasional Jew, Persian, East Asian or other non-White and non-Black Bermudian.
It was largely by this method (mixed-race Bermudians being added to the number of Blacks, rather than added to the number of Whites or being defined as a separate demographic group) that Coloured (subsequently redefined in the twentieth century as Black) Bermudians came to outnumber White Bermudians by the end of the 19th century, despite starting off at a numerical disadvantage, and despite low Black immigration prior to the latter 19th century (other contributing factors included the scale of White relative to Black emigration in the 17th and 18th centuries, the greater mortality of Whites from disease in the late 17th century, and large-scale West Indian immigration, which began, like Portuguese immigration, in the 19th century to provide labourers for the new export agriculture industry and expansion of the Royal Naval Dockyard. The Black West Indians, unlike the Portuguese, were British citizens, and not obliged to leave Bermuda, as many Portuguese were, at the end of a contracted period.
In the twentieth century, those with any degree of sub-Saharan African ancestry (which was virtually everyone who had been defined as coloured) were redefined as Black, with Asian and other non-White Bermudians defined by separate racial groups (although it also, in that century, ceased to be the practice to record race on birth or other records). On Census returns, only in recent years have Bermudians been given the option to define themselves by more than one race, although there was considerable opposition to this from many Black leaders who discouraged Black Bermudians from doing so.
In the US, there is similar resistance from minority groups to defining themselves by more than one race on census returns, or as multi-racial, as it is feared that this will fragment demographic groups, and lower the percentage of the population recorded as belonging to a particular race, with possible negative affects on government policies aimed at addressing the concerns of disdvantaged minority groups. As Bermuda's Blacks (whether perceived as a diverse, multi-racial group, or as homogenously Black African) have been in the majority for more than a century, but are still comparatively less well-off than White Bermudians, this fear may presumably also be the cause for the opposition to census reform in Bermuda. Large-scale West Indian immigration over the last century has also decreased the number of Black Bermudians who are multi-racial, and hardened attitudes. Most academic books on the subject emphasise the characteristic multi-racialism of Bermuda's Black population  (at least those who might be defined as ethnically-Bermudian, as opposed to those resulting from recent immigration), and it has been pointed out in other publications  that, if those Black Bermudians who have White ancestry were numbered instead with the White population, the Black population of Bermuda would be negligible.
This overlooks the resentment felt by most Black Bermudians over a history of racial repression, segregation, discrimination, and marginalisation that continued long after slavery, and that did not distinguish between black and bi/multi-racial Bermudians. With the increasingly racially-divisive politics that have followed the election of the PLP government, as well as the decades of increasing costs-of-living, the exclusion of unskilled workers from jobs in the white collar international business sector that has come to dominate Bermuda's economy, and the global economic downturn, all of which many Black Bermudians perceive as hitting them hardest, there is little sentiment today amongst people who have long been obliged to think of themselves as Black, in opposition to being White, to identify even partly with their European ancestry. Additionally, most multi-racial Bermudians do not today result from having parents of different races, but inherit diverse ancestry via many generations of mixed-race forebears, all of whom may be assumed to have been themselves entirely of Black African ancestry.
Despite these concerns, small numbers of Black Bermudians have chosen to describe themselves on census returns as mixed-racial, and the Native American demographic, which had disappeared for centuries, is slowly re-emerging, as more Bermudians - especially on St. David's Island - choose to identify to some degree, if not exclusively, with their Native American ancestry (although many may feel that, in an increasingly polarised climate, this is a safer option than identifying themselves as in any way White, or European).
Nonetheless, any assumption of Bermudian demographics that is based on census returns, or other sources derived from them, suffers from anecdotal evidence being the basis of all of the data, in asking Bermudians to self-identify, without resorting to any documentary evidence or genetic studies being used to confirm their ancestry, if not their identification. There is similar pressure on Black Bermudians (most of whom are multi-racial) not to self-identify as mixed race as there is in Blacks in the USA, where President Barack Obama, raised by his single, white mother, sparked debate when he identified himself on the census as black, rather than mixed race, and in the UK, in both of which countries greater flexibility is also now allowed for people to describe themselves racially.
Portuguese immigration, from Atlantic islands including the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde Islands, began in the 19th century to provide labour for the nascent agricultural industry. From the beginning, Portuguese labourers, who have immigrated under special agreements, have not been allowed to do so on the basis of permanent immigration. They were expected to return to their homelands after a fixed period. Some were able to stay, however, and by the 1940s there was a sizeable number Portuguese-Bermudians who were legally Bermudian (and British by citizenship). Until the recession of the 1990s, however, Bermuda continued to rely on large scale immigration of temporary Portuguese workers who laboured at jobs Bermudians considered unworthy (notably, anything to do with agriculture or horticulture). Many of these immigrants lived and worked in Bermuda for decades on repeatedly renewed work permits, without gaining the right to permanent residence, British citizenship, or Bermudian status. When work permits were not renewed, especially during the recession, many were forced to return to the Azores, often with full-grown children who had been born and raised in Bermuda. Although the numbers of Portuguese guest workers has not returned to its former levels, the number of Bermudians today described as Portuguese (historically considered a distinct racial group from Whites of Northern European ancestry, and stygmatised by all other Bermudians) is usually given as ten percent of the population. This number does not include many Black Bermudians with White Portuguese ancestry, and obscures also that some of the Portuguese immigrants were Blacks from the Cape Verde Islands. The actual percentage of Bermudians with Portuguese ancestry is likely far larger.
- 1 CIA World Factbook demographic statistics
- 1.1 Population
- 1.2 Age structure
- 1.3 Population growth rate
- 1.4 Birth rate
- 1.5 Death rate
- 1.6 Net migration rate
- 1.7 Urbanization
- 1.8 Sex ratio
- 1.9 Infant mortality rate
- 1.10 Life expectancy at birth
- 1.11 Total fertility rate
- 1.12 Nationality
- 1.13 Ethnic groups
- 1.14 Religions
- 1.15 Languages
- 1.16 Literacy
- 1.17 Education expenditures
- 2 References
- 3 See also
CIA World Factbook demographic statistics
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.
67,837 (July 2009 est.)
- 0-14 years: 18.9% (male 6,177; female 6,154)
- 15-64 years: 69.2% (male 22,422; female 22,828)
- 65 years and over: 11.9% (male 3,378; female 4,406) (2005 est.)
Population growth rate
- 0.647% (2009 est.)
- 11.57 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
- 7.3 deaths/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Net migration rate
- 2.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
- urban population: 100% of total population (2008)
- rate of urbanization: 0.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
- at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
- 15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate
- 2.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 80.43 years
- male: 77.2 years
- female: 83.72 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate
- 1.99 children born/woman (2009 est.)
- noun: Bermudian(s)
- adjective: Bermudian(s)
black 54.8%, white 34.1%, mixed 6.4%, other races 4.3%, unspecified 0.4% (2000 census)
English (official), Portuguese
- definition: age 15 and over can read and write
- total population: 98%
- male: 98%
- female: 99% (2005 est.)
1.2% of total GDP
- Slavery in Bermuda, by James E. Smith. Vantage Press (1976). ISBN 978-0533020430
- Tri S Ranch: The Irish Slave Trade - The Forgotten "White" Slaves.
- 19th Century Church Registers of Bermuda, indexed by A. C. Hollis Hallett. Updated by: C. F. E. Hollis Hallett. Published by Juniperhill Press and Bermuda Maritime Museum Press, 2005. ISBN 0-921992-23-8
- Slavery in Bermuda, by James E. Smith. Vantage Press (1976). ISBN 978-0533020430
- The Royal Gazette. Opinion Editorial by Sanders Frith-Brown.
- Multi-American: Black or mixed race? Obama’s census choice sparks debate over how people identify
- Intermix UK: To Be Or Not To Be Mixed-Race
- USA Today: Multiracial no longer boxed in by the Census
- The New York Times: RACE REMIXED: Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Check All that Apply: The Census and the Multiracial Population
- Bermuda Sun: Bonds, rivalries that date back centuries