A news report (Nov 13) carries caption “Guyana has world’s biggest diaspora – Forbes report”. It is indeed the largest size in terms of percentage of a nation!s population that migrated outward but it is inaccurate, a gross underestimation of the Guyanese population abroad. Over one million born Guyanese live abroad as compared with 750K who live in Guyana.
The report states that some 36.4% of the population born in Guyana live abroad. It is unknown how the study arrived at that figure. The year or period is not given.
One would interpret the number as saying that the size of the diaspora is 36.4% of the population of Guyana. That would be incorrect. It is my considered view and that of several other researchers who study the Guyanese diaspora or those who seek to estimate or model its size that such a figure grossly underestimates and underreports the size of the diaspora in terms of its proportion of born Guyanese.
It may well be that Forbes used official numbers as provided by some government agency, but even so they would not be accurate. Does it include those who went backtrack and didn’t return, those who went as tourists and don’t return, those who crossed over into Brazil, Venezuela, and French Guiana during the 1980s thru 2000s?
One can examine the numbers provided by the US and Canada Immigrant Departments on the number of Guyanese who entered legally and conclude that the Forbes Magazine report as being grossly inaccurate.
Let us examine some numbers. During the 1960s, a few hundred Guyanese left annually for the USA as visitors and students; few returned home. During the 70s, especially late ‘70s, some 10K left annually to USA alone. During the 1980s and ‘90s, some 20K left annually. And during the 2000s, except for 2020 to 2022, some 10K left annually. For the USA alone, some 700K arrived legally from Guyana. Tens Thousands more came illegally annually thru backtrack and acquired ‘rights’. Guyanese were using any means to leave the country to get to North America. Those who came illegally would easily exceed 50K. There is still an estimated 20K undocumented Guyanese today awaiting amnesty or family sponsorship. So Guyanese in USA alone would exceed the size of the population of Guyana of 750K. That is more than 100% of born Guyanese living in USA alone m.
Thousands of born Guyanese left annually to Canada during the 1970s thru 2020. There was an average if 5000 annually with some years exceeding 5,000 annually over a fifty year period. The number of born Guyanese in Canada would be a minimum 250K, making Guyanese born Canadians a third of the size of the Guyana population. This does not include back trackers who would be in the thousands and or Canadians whose parents or grandparents are Guyanese born.
Thousands of born Guyanese migrated annually between 1980 and 2020 to English, French, Dutch Caribbean islands. Trinidad alone has over 30K with over 20K each in Antigua and Barbados. St Martin and St Lucia has an estimated 10K each. Aruba, Curaçao, Turks, Grenada, etc has thousands each. The number of Guyanese in the islands could be an estimated 100K or some 13% of Guyana’s born population.
Tens of thousands of Guyanese migrated to Suriname. Thousands went to French Guiana. Tens of thousands went to Venezuela and thousands to Brazil. The total is estimated at over 100K in South American countries; thousands of Guyanese remigrated from Venezuela. Still the proportion of born Guyanese in South America would be no less than 10% of the population.
Hundreds of Guyanese left annually for England during the 1950s. Thousands more left annually for UK during the 1960s thru 2000. The numbers eased off thereafter. The number of born Guyanese in UK over a 60 years period could easily top 50K. And there are Guyanese I met in Australia, Holland, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, even Fiji and Mauritus, among other countries. There are thousands of Guyanese who traveled to USA and Canada during the 1970s to 2020 as tourists and students and who don’t return home.
If all of the numbers are added up, it would exceed 1.2M of born Guyanese abroad which would be about 1.6 times (or 160% of) the population of Guyana of 750K. This percentage is not even remotely close to the 36.4% estimated by the report in Forbes.