Ethnic diversity is one of the most significant characteristics of the Guyanese population. As of 1980, Guyanese of East Indian descent (Indo-Guyanese) constituted 51 percent of the total population. Guyanese wholly of African descent made up 31 percent of the population. Those listed as of mixed ancestry constituted 12 percent. Since the mixed-ancestry category comprised individuals of partial African ancestry who were usually included in the Afro-Guyanese community, the Afro-Guyanese population in effect constituted 42 percent of the total population. The remainder of the population was composed of Amerindians (4 percent) individuals of European or Asian descent (3 percent).
A higher growth rate for the Indo-Guyanese population in the post-World War II period resulted in a change in the ethnic composition of Guyanese society. The Indo-Guyanese population grew from 43 percent of the total in 1946 to a majority--51 percent--in 1980. During the same period, the Afro-Guyanese proportion of the population decreased from 49 percent to 42 percent. Although the small European (mostly Portuguese) and Asian (almost entirely Chinese) sectors continued to grow in absolute numbers after World War II, they represented a decreasing proportion of the population.
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