The population of Jamaica is 2,950,210. This makes Jamaica the fourth largest country in the Caribbean by population (after Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti), the 13th largest country in North America and the 138th largest country in the world.
Despite its small population, Jamaica is a formidable competitor at the Olympics. Its sprinters have won 23 medals (10 gold medals, 7 silver and 6 bronze) at the last two Olympics (London and Beijing). As a result, Jamaica ranked second on our table of London 2012 Olympic medals per capita.
This year Usain Bolt is one of the favourites to win the Rio 2016 Olympic 100m and 200m titles. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is also a strong challenger for the women’s 100m title. Others in the hunt for medals are Omar McLeod and Hansle Parchment (110m hurdles). Jamaica is also expected to feature strongly in the sprint relay races.
Table of Contents
How many people live in Jamaica today?
Unfortunately, no official estimates of the population of Jamaica in 2016 are available yet. The latest estimate (2,950,210) is for mid-2015 and is provided by the CIA Factbook.
The most recent official population estimate comes from the Government of Jamaica, who reported that at the end of 2014 Jamaica’s population was 2,720,554.
The population at the time of the last Jamaican census (2011) was 2,697,983. To see the Jamaica population increase over time, refer to the table at the end of this article.
Largest cities in Jamaica
Kingston is both the capital city of Jamaica and the largest city in Jamaica, with a population of 584,627 (2011 census).
The population of Kingston has increased by 5% since the previous census in 2001, which reported a population of 993,581.
There are two other cities in Jamaica with a population of more than 100,000 people – Spanish Town (147,512) and Montego Bay (110,115).
Here is a table listing the largest cities in Jamaica.
Ethnic groups in Jamaica
Most Jamaicans are descended from African slaves brought to the island to work on British sugar plantations in the 18th century. There is also a significant number of Jamaicans who are descended from East Indians and Chinese workers brought to the islands after the abolition of slavery.
More than 92% of Jamaicans identified as Black in the 2011 census. A further 6.1% identified as Mixed.
Jamaican diaspora – Jamaicans Abroad
Over the last 50 years around a million Jamaicans have emigrated to other countries – mostly the UK, Canada and the USA.
The USA Jamaican population is the largest in the world. In 2013 the US Census bureau reported that there were 1,091,482 Jamaican Americans in the US. It is thought that around 60% were born in Jamaica, the rest are descended from earlier immigrants. More than half of Jamaican Americans live in New York State and Florida.
The UK’s Jamaican population is the second largest in the world. Around 150,000 people born in Jamaica live in the UK, but the total number of people who are Jamaican British (either born in Jamaica or of Jamaican descent) is estimated to be approximately 800,000 people. The majority live in British cities, primarily London and Birmingham.
Religion in Jamaica
Protestant Christians are the largest religious group in Jamaica, although they are broken into a number of different denominations.
In total, 64.8% of Jamaicans are estimated to be Protestant. Other major groups are Roman Catholic (2.2%), Jehova’s Witness (1.9%) and Rastafarian (1.1%). Just over a fifth of Jamaicans (21.3%) reported that they had no religion.
Languages in Jamaica
There are two languages in common use in Jamaica – Jamaican Standard English and Jamaican Patois.
Jamaican Standard English is the language used in formal communications, the media and education. Jamaican Patois is a creole language derived from English and is more commonly used in spoken conversation.
Detailed statistics about usage are not available, although a 2007 survey indicated that 46.4% of Jamaicans were effectively bilingual. The remainder could speak only one language – either Jamaican Standard English (17.1%) or Jamaican Patois (36.5%).
Population density in Jamaica
The total area of Jamaica is 10,991 square km or 4,244 square miles.
If we take the 2015 population estimate (2,950,210) and divide it by the area we can work out that Jamaica’s population density is 268 people per square km or 695 people per square mile.
Jamaican Literacy Rate
The literacy rate in Jamaica is estimated to be 88% (2013, World Bank).
Jamaican Life expectancy
Life expectancy at birth in Jamaica is 73.55 years. Female life expectancy is 75.24 years and male life expectancy is 71.93 years.
Jamaica population pyramid
Jamaica population by year table
Note: this table details the end of the year population figures provided by the Jamaican Government, via the Statistics Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).