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Large numbers of Jamaican households have one or more members abroad in North America or the United Kingdom, while many others contain returned migrants.

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It includes work conducted by ippr (the Institute for Public Policy Research) and the University of the West Indies as a part of the Development on the Move project of ippr and the Global Development Network (GDN).Historical Background The Spanish settled on the island in the early 16th century and brought over African slaves.The island's original inhabitants, the Taino Indians, were eventually wiped out due to Spanish exploitation and their lack of resistance to European diseases.The Caribbean has a long history as a migration hub, with many of its inhabitants having sought employment opportunities by moving either within the region or to a number of key receiving countries, including the United States, Canada, and former colonial powers such as the United Kingdom and France.Patchy data complicates efforts to draw an accurate picture of regional migration trends, but available evidence suggests that while absolute numbers of emigrants coming from the Caribbean are low compared to other developing regions, this is a result of the small populations in Caribbean countries, rather than low levels of migration.

Indeed, some Caribbean countries have relatively high proportions of their populations living abroad.These include the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Anguilla, the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba, and the U. Virgin Islands, according to the United Nations Population Division.Jamaica, Guyana, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic have the lowest shares of their citizens abroad.However, given Jamaica's size — about 2.8 million in 2009 — it remains one of the most significant origin countries in the region.Although many destination countries have limited labor migration, particularly in the context of the global economic downturn, migration remains important in Jamaican society.Despite its political stability, Jamaica is a poor country dependent on services, tourism, and remittances, with high unemployment generally — estimated at 14.5 percent in 2009 — and limited employment opportunities for its most skilled citizens.