The first Africans arrived in Jamaica in 1513 as servants to the Spanish settlers. These Africans were freed by the Spanish
when the English captured the island in 1655. They immediately fled to the mountains where they fought to retain their
freedom and became the first Maroons.
The East Indians are the largest ethnic minority in Jamaica. They arrived as indentured labourers between 1845 and 1917.
The Indians came to Jamaica to earn a "fortune" for starting a better life back in India.
The Chinese represent a very small proportion of the Jamaican population, nevertheless, their impact has been great
particularly in the area of commerce. The first Chinese arrived in 1849. The Chinese were brought as indentured labourers
to work on the sugar estates following the the emancipation of the slaves.
The Germans came as indentured labourers. After emancipation, the Colonial Government of Jamaica adopted a programme of
settling European peasants in the island. It was hoped that they would create a thriving settlement and act as a model
for the ex-slaves.
The first Jews came to the island during the Spanish occupation of the island, 1494-1655. These Jews came from Spain
and Portugal. They fled because of the Spanish inquisition. To conceal their identity they referred to themselves as
"Portuguese" and practiced their religion secretly.
In the last decade of the nineteenth century, immigrants from the Middle East began arriving in Jamaica. The majority
came from Lebanon, the others were from Damascus in Syria and from Bethlehem in Palestine. It is important to note that
at the time of the first immigration to Jamaica, the Middle East area was known as Syria and Mount Lebanon was a part
of Syria. Later when the countries were divided, the people from Mount Lebanon became known as Lebanese.