(1853 to 2003)
|Articles about the Chinese in Guyana
The Hopetown Chinese Settlement
|January 12, 2003 is the
150th Anniversary of the arrival in 1853 of the first Chinese in Guyana.
The Chinese came in two distinct periods. First, they came to work as indentured
labourers on the sugar plantations (in 1853, 1859-1866, 1874 and 1879)
since there was an acute shortage of labour caused by the departure of
the ex-slaves after the abolition of slavery in 1834 and the ending of
apprenticeship in 1838. Only 13,533 came in 39 ships during this period
and many died or migrated to Suriname, Trinidad, St. Lucia and Jamaica.
Second, they came as free, voluntary migrants in individual and small group movements from the 1890s to the present day.
Most of the Chinese who migrated to Guyana are basically "Cantonese" in origin and came from a small region in southern Kwangtung (Guangdong) province, a 7,000 square mile cluster of districts within a semi-circle around the triangle of cities on the Pearl River delta: Macao, Canton and Hong Kong. The rest came from Fukien (Fujian) province and from districts just across the Fukien-Kwangtung border, mainly from Amoy and Swatow.
Many Chinese in both periods remained and became Guyanese citizens and worked as shopkeepers, owners of laundries, restaurants and supermarkets, and merchants in the import and export business. Many of their children became civil servants and professionals.
During the exodus of Guyanese after the 1962-63 social upheavals many Guyanese Chinese left Guyana and continued to do so in the '70s and '80s so that at present there are less than 2000 Chinese in Guyana, many being Chinese nationals who, especially since 1980, came to Guyana to seek permanent residence, open restaurants and send for other family members to work when their businesses prospered while they themselves would leave for the UK, USA and Canada.
Prepared for The Chinese Association of Guyana,
Lot 3 Brickdam, Georgetown, Guyana, telephone 592-226-4879
by Mrs. Marlene Kwok Crawford, telephone 592-226-3895, email: marlene.j.crawford at gmail dot com
and Ms. Rosemarie Choo-Shee-Nam, telephone 592-226-5749, email: rosemariecsn at hotmail dot .com.