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.
|Census population and average annual growth rate|
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 what in the United States is referred to as white-Anglo (or white Anglo-Saxon Protestant). 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 indentured servants and Native American slaves, as well as smaller number of Scots, all forced to leave their homelands and shipped to Bermuda. The Irish and Scots were ostracised by the English population, who were particularly fearful of the Irish, who plotted rebellions with Black slaves, and intermarried with the Blacks and Native Americans. The majority white-Anglo population, or at least its elites, became alarmed very early at the increasing numbers of Irish and non-whites, most of whom were presumed to be clinging to Catholicism (recusancy was a crime in Bermuda, as it was in England).
Despite the banning of the importation of any more Irish after they were perceived to be the leaders of a foiled 1661 uprising intended to be carried out in concert with black slaves, the passing of a law against miscegenation in 1663, the first of a succession of attempts to force free blacks to emigrate in 1656 (in response to an uprising by enslaved blacks), and frequent encouragement of the owners of black slaves to export them, by the Eighteenth Century the merging of the various minority groups, along with some of the white-Anglos, had resulted in a new demographic group, "coloured" (which term, in Bermuda, referred to anyone not wholly of European ancestry) Bermudians, gaining a slight majority.
Some islanders, especially in St David's, still trace their ancestry to Native Americans, and many more are ignorant of having such ancestry. Hundreds of Native Americans were shipped to Bermuda. 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 believed to have been brought 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. The population of Bermuda on the 17th April, 1721, was listed as 8,364, composed of: "Totals:—Men on the Muster roll, 1,078; men otherwise, 91; Women, 1,596; boys, 1,072; girls, 1,013. Blacks; Men, 817, women 965; boys 880; girls, 852." 
The Population of Bermuda in 1727 included 4,470 whites (910 men; 1,261 boys; 1,168 women; 1,131 girls) and 3,877 coloured (787 men; 1,158 boys; 945 women; 987 girls).
By 1871 the permanent population (not including the thousands of sailors and soldiers stationed in the colony) included 4,725 whites (2,118 males; 2,607 females) and 7,376 coloured (3,284 males and 4,112 females).
The term coloured was generally used in preference to black as anyone who was of wholly European ancestry (at least Northern European) was defined as white, leaving everyone else 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 after the Second World War 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 20th 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 U.S., 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 effects on government policies aimed at addressing the concerns of disadvantaged 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 ratio 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, most of whom may have assumed themselves to have been entirely of Black African ancestry, and certainly were generally characterised as such by whites (and hence by the mainstream culture). The Progressive Labour Party, the first party formed in 1963 before party politics was legalised, quickly came to be dominated by West Indians and West Indian Bermudians such as Lois Browne-Evans, and is still derided by many white and blacks Bermudians as promoting racially divisive, black nationalist "plantation politics" (a term with double meaning in traditionally sea-faring Bermuda where there remains a strong stigma against agricultural work). Bermudian blacks were generally antagonistic to West Indian, who, like the early Portuguese immigrants, were perceived as driving down the cost of labour, primarily to the disadvantage of Bermudian blacks. Bermudian blacks described black West Indians disparagingly as "Jump-ups", and were in turn perceived by many West Indian blacks as what in the United States are described as Uncle Toms, although more derogatory terms have been used for Bermudian blacks who oppose the party's agenda, especially on independence from the United Kingdom. Consequently, the party long struggled to unite Bermudian blacks with West Indian Bermudians under a banner of racial solidarity against white Bermudians to whom Bermudian blacks were tied by common heritage and blood, and did not win an election until 1998, after the United Bermuda Party (which PLP politicians characterised as the party for whites) was split by internal conflict following Premier John W. Swan's forcing an unpopular referendum on independence in 1995. The desire amongst black nationalists, and especially those of West Indian stock, to obscure the distinction between Bermudian blacks and West Indians by stressing black African heritage has also contributed to intolerance of Bermudian blacks identifying with their non-African, especially their white, 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 the Cape Verde Islands, began in the 19th century to provide labour for the nascent agricultural industry. From the beginning, Portuguese labourers, who have emigrated 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 brought up in Bermuda. Although the numbers of Portuguese guest workers has not returned to its former levels, the number of Bermudians today described as Portuguese (often considered a distinct racial group from Whites of Northern European ancestry, and historically stigmatised 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.
Noting that Bermudians of Portuguese heritage have made considerable contributions to the Island – from politics and public service, to sport, entertainment and industry - Premier Edward David Burt announced that November 4, 2019 "will be declared a public holiday to mark the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the first Portuguese immigrants in Bermuda. Those first immigrants arrived from Madeira aboard the vessel the Golden Rule on 4th November 1849."
|Years resident in Bermuda|
|0-4||5-9||10-14||15-19||20-24||25-29||30-34||35-39||40 and over||Not stated||Total|
Source Populations and Genetic research
In the British West Indian islands (and also in the southern continental colonies that were to become states of the United States of America), the majority of enslaved blacks brought across the Atlantic came from West Africa (roughly between modern Senegal and Ghana). Very little of Bermuda's original black emigration came (directly or indirectly) from this area. The first blacks to arrive in Bermuda in any numbers were free blacks who came in the mid-Seventeenth Century from Spanish-speaking areas of the West Indies, and most of the remainder were recently enslaved Africans captured from the Spanish and Portuguese. As Spain and Portugal sourced most of their slaves from South-West Africa (the Portuguese through ports in modern-day Angola; the Spanish purchased most of their African slaves from Portuguese traders, and from Arabs whose slave trading was centred in Zanzibar).
This history has been well understood from the written record, was confirmed in 2009 by the only genetic survey of Bermuda, which looked exclusively at the black population of St. David's Island (as the purpose of the study was to seek Native American haplogroups, which could be assumed to be absent from the white population) consequently showed that the African ancestry of black Bermudians (other than those resulting from recent immigration from the British West Indian islands) is largely from a band across southern Africa, from Angola to Mozambique, which is similar to what is revealed in Latin America, but distinctly different from the blacks of the British West Indies and the United States.
68% of the mtDNA (maternal) lineages of the black islanders were found to be African, with the two most common being L0a and L3e, which are sourced from populations spread from Central-West to South-East Africa. These lineages represent less than 5% of the mtDNA lineages of blacks in the United States and the English-speaking West Indies. They are, however, common in Brazil and the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America. L3e, by example, is typical of !Kung speaking populations of the Kalahari, as well as of parts of Mozambique and Nigeria. The modern nation where it represents the highest percentage of the population is actually Brazil, where it represents 21% of mtDNA lineages. 31% of the mtDNA lineages of blacks in Bermuda are West Eurasian (European), with J1c being the most common. 1% were Native American. For NRY (paternal) haplogroups among black Bermudians, the study found about a third were made up of three African ones (of which E1b1a, the most common NRY haplogroup in West and Central African populations, "accounted for the vast majority of the African NRY samples (83%)" ), with the remainder (about 64.79%) being West Eurasian excepting one individual (1.88%) with a Native American NRY haplogroup Q1a3a. Of the individuals with European NRY haplogroups, more than half had R1b1b2, which is common in Europe and is found at frequencies over 75% in England and Wales. It should be noted that none of these percentages can be taken as equivalent to the percentage of ancestry in the black population from the specific regions as genetic drift tends to erase minority haplogroups over generations. This explains the near absence of Native American haplogroups despite the hundreds of Native Americans known to have been involuntarily brought to Bermuda in the Seventeenth Century.
According to the 2010 census the de jure population was 64,319 on 20 May 2010, compared to 62,098 in 2000 and 58,460 in 1991.
The estimated mid-year population of 2016 is 61,666 (medium fertility scenario of the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects).
The predominant language on Bermuda is Bermudian English. It exhibits characteristics of British, West Indian, and American English. Perhaps most interesting is its closeness to acrolectal English compared to varieties in the West Indies.
|Average population (x 1000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1000)||Crude death rate (per 1000)||Natural change (per 1000)||TFR|
Structure of the population
Structure of the population (20 May 2010) (Census):
|Total||30 858||33 379||64 237||100|
The 2010 Census results reported 92% of the population selecting only one racial group which remained constant with the 2000 Census. The largest group reported Black alone, which decreased slightly from 55% in 2000 to 54% in 2010. Similarly, the White alone population reduced its representation from 34% in 2000 to 31% of the total population in 2010. The remaining 8% of the 2010 population who reported one race consisted of persons reporting Asian only (4%), and only some reporting other race (4%). The proportions of these respective racial groups each doubled from 2% in 2000 to 4% in 2010.
More than one race
Eight percent of the population reported belonging to more than one race in 2010, up from 7% in 2000. The black and white category was the most common, representing 47% of the number reporting multi-racial groups. During the intercensal period, the black and white population increased its proportion from 3% in 2000 to 4% in 2010. In contrast, the proportion of black and other, and white and other populations remained unchanged at 2%. The changing racial composition of Bermuda’s population is a reflection of the Island’s diversity due to immigration and an increase of persons choosing mixed racial heritage.
During the intercensal period, the distribution of persons across the various religious affiliations shifted but remained generally widespread. All religious groups experienced declines in their followings with the exception of Roman Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists and non-denominational groups. Nearly one fifth or 20% of the population claimed no religious affiliation in 2010 compared with a 14% share in 2000. Although the number of Roman Catholics increased to 9,340 persons, its share remained constant at 15% compared to 2000. Over the ten-year period, nondenominational congregations increased a strong 33% while the Seventh-Day Adventist following rose 6%.
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-  Archived 10 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
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