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People, Languages & Religions in Guyana


The present population of Guyana is racially and ethnically heterogeneous, composed chiefly of the descendants of immigrants who came to the country either as enslaved or indentured labourers. The population therefore comprises groups of persons with nationality backgrounds from India, Africa, China, Europe (especially the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Portugal), with several Aboriginal groups as the indigenous population. These groups of diverse nationality backgrounds have been fused together by a common language, i.e, English and Creole. There has been racial tension between the Indo-Caribbean people and the African-Caribbean.

The largest ethnic sub-group is that of the descendants of immigrants from India also known as East Indians (Indo-Guyanese), comprising 43.5% of the population in 2002. Most Indo-Guyanese are descended from Bhojpuri-speaking Bihari migrants. They are followed by people of African heritage (Afro-Guyanese) (30.2%). The third in number are those of mixed heritage (16.7%), while Aboriginals (Arawak, Wai Wai, Carib, Akawaio, Arecuna, Patamona, Wapixana, Macushi and Warao) are fourth making up close to 10% of the population. The smallest groups are European, including Portuguese who number at 1,500 individuals and the Chinese who number at 1,400 persons, and Middle Easterners of Arabic and Jewish extraction. A small group (112 persons) did not identify their racial and ethnic background.


English is the official language of Guyana and used, for example, in its schools. In addition, Cariban languages (Akawaio, Wai-Wai, Arawak and Macushi) are spoken by a small minority, while Guyanese Creole, an English-based creole with African syntax whose grammar is not standardised, is widely spoken. Also spoken are Chinese, Portuguese, Hindi and Urdu.


According to the 2002 Census, Guyana's religions breakdown is 57% Christian (of which 16.9% Pentecostal, 8.1% Roman Catholic, 6.9% Anglican, 5% Seventh-day Adventist and 20% other Christian denominations), 23.4% Hindu, 7.3% Muslim, 0.5% Rastafarian, 0.1% Bahá'í, 2.2% other faiths including Judaism, and 4.3% no religion.

Most Guyanese Christians are either Protestants or Roman Catholics and include a mix of all races. Hinduism is dominated by the Indians who came to the country in the early 19th century, while Islam varies between the Afro-Guyanese and Indian-Guyanese.





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