Portuguese Guyanese people
Guianense português, Luso-guianense
Regions with significant populations
Georgetown, New Amsterdam
English (Guyanese)  · Portuguese
(Roman Catholicism · Presbyterianism)
Related ethnic groups
Portuguese Trinidadian and Tobagonian · Portuguese Surinamese · Portuguese diaspora

A Portuguese Guyanese is a Guyanese whose ancestors came from Portugal or a Portuguese who has Guyanese citizenship. About 1,910 people identified as Portuguese Guyanese according to 2012 census[1]


People of Portuguese descent were mainly introduced to Guyana as indentured laborers to make up for the exodus of former slaves who left the sugar plantations upon emancipation. The first groups arrived in 1835 until 1882, most having arrived by the 1860s. Most Portuguese trace their ancestry to the North Atlantic island of Madeira,[2] which already had a long history of sugar production, but was beset with economic depression and political issues.[3]

Those who stayed on after their indenture made up a Guyanese middle class, and were an important part of the commercial sector.[2] The rum industry was predominantly owned by Portuguese Guyanese.[3]

Portuguese of Guyana support Roman Catholic churches, schools, and maintain their language through periodicals such as A Voz do Português,[4] A Liberdade, O Lusitano, Chronica Semanal and The Watchman.[3]

In 1906, the first Portuguese Guyanese ran for public office. There is a 'Portuguese Arrival Day' on May 3 to mark the first arrival to Guyana.[5]

Some have advanced the idea that the Portuguese presence in the Guianas predates 1834. Portuguese Sephardic Jews had settled in neighbouring Dutch Guiana in the 17th century before the Dutch arrived. Portuguese Jewish communities also exist in Aruba, Barbados, and Curaçao. Some of the Portuguese in Guyana may have their origins in these Dutch-speaking Portuguese groups. They were known as the "Curaçao Portuguese" within the larger Portuguese community.

The number of Portuguese Guyanese (4.3% of the population in 1891) has been declining constantly over the decades.[6] Many Portuguese Guyanese have since emigrated onward[3] and now live in London, Toronto, other parts of the Caribbean and the United States.

The general success of this group also led to animosity such as the 1856 ‘Angel Gabriel’ Riots in which Portuguese shops were looted and damaged.[7] Even though being of European ancestry, they are viewed as a distinct from British Europeans for their language, religion, and former-indentured status.[3]

Notable Portuguese Guyanese

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ "The Portuguese presence". Guyana Chronicle. Retrieved 2023-05-14.
  2. ^ a b "Guyana - Portuguese and Chinese". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  3. ^ a b c d e "A brief history of the Portuguese in Guyana". Stabroek News. 2013-06-02. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  4. ^ "The Voice od the Portuguese - A Voz do Português magazine" (PDF). Guyanese on line. 2012. Retrieved 2023-08-23.
  5. ^ "Portuguese Arrival Day celebrates the plurality of society -President". Stabroek News. 2018-05-05. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  6. ^ "Portuguese emigration from Madeira to British Guiana"
  7. ^ "Those who arrived and their contributions to culture". Stabroek News. 2018-05-06. Retrieved 2021-02-09.