From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Jamaican Americans are Americans of Jamaican heritage or Jamaican-born people who live in the United States of America. American citizenship is not a prerequisite of being a Jamaican American as permanent residents are also given this title. The largest proportion of Jamaicans live in New York City which has various of other Caribbean cultural elements such as food and music. There is also a community of Jamaican Americans residing in South Florida and Connecticut.
After 1838, European colonies in the Caribbean with expanding sugar industries imported large numbers of immigrants to meet their acute labor shortage. Large numbers of Jamaicans were recruited to work in Panama and Costa Rica in the 1850s. After slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865, American planters imported temporary workers, called "swallow migrants," to harvest crops on an annual basis. These workers, many of them Jamaicans, returned to their countries after harvest. Between 1881 and the beginning of World War I, the United States recruited over 250,000 workers from the Caribbean, 90,000 of whom were Jamaicans, to work on the Panama Canal. During both world wars, the United States again recruited Jamaican men for service on various American bases in the region. In comparison, the Jamaican American population is larger than the Jamaican Canadian and Jamaican British populations, however Canada and the UK have larger percentages of Jamaican people than the USA.