Jamaican People

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  "Out of Many, One People"

When describing the people of Jamaica, the term "diverse" is the most applicable one. Jamaica's culture is extremely diverse and this in direct correlation to Jamaica's history. The people of Jamaica are descendants of the Spaniards, French, Scotch, Chinese, Africans, Irish, Welsh, English, Germans, Jews, East Indians and Portuguese. The majority of black Jamaicans are descendants of slaves imported by the British. They came from the West Coast of Africa. After the emancipation of the slaves, two groups of indentured servants were brought in: thirty-six thousand East Indians and several thousand Chinese. Both these groups resisted returning home and after several years began to mix with the blacks of Jamaica to create the multiracial society that Jamaica is now made up of.

English is the official language spoken in Jamaica, but Patois (pronounced PAT-twa) is a dialect that is spoken most often by the nation's citizens. It is also called Jamaican Creole and originated during the days of slavery when Africans were first being brought into Jamaica by the English. Patois began as an assimilation process of the slaves to learn the English language their masters spoke. The slaves were able to learn some terms, but some words were taken from other African languages when the equivalent English word could not be arrived at.