Much of the in-migration to the great state of Florida comes from outside of the United States. More than thirty percent of the state’s booming population growth comes from the Caribbean and Central America. It has been estimated that there are more than 135,000 Caribbean or Caribbean American persons living in Central Florida today.
Caribbean population groups are as diverse as the City Beautiful itself and involve many sub groups with different lines of ancestry and races. These include African, East Indian, Carib-Indian, Arawak- Indian, Chinese, and European among others. While the entire Caribbean diaspora in Orlando accounts for about 40 percent of Orlando’s current population, African-Caribbeans account for about 40 percent of the total number of Caribbean Americans now residing in Orlando.
Anguilla, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bahamas, Cuba, Martinique, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago, U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Belize, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Aruba, Guadeloupe, St. Barthelemy (commonly known as St. Barts), St. Martin, St. Vincent, Netherlands Antilles and Panama are all Caribbean countries. Orlando International Airport operates flights and connections to and from most of these countries. Seafarers can catch a cruise ship from ports located in Cocoa, Cape Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale or Miami to most of these exotic destinations.
Natives of the Caribbean collectively and continually make outstanding contributions to the quality of life in Central Florida. Remaining true to their respective cultures, they provide innumerable opportunities for non-natives to share in their experiences. Businesses and supporters connect through the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce. The Caribbean Passport News Magazine is the go-to purveyor of information regarding all things Caribbean in Central Florida and beyond. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort does an excellent job of capturing the Caribbean flair of five distinct islands (Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad and Aruba) while local restaurants and venues like Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, Willie’s Pinchos, Kreyol Kafe, Bahama Breeze and Mangos ‘take us there’ with authentic cuisines, lavish décor and world-class entertainment. The annual Orlando Carnival Downtown brings together the entire community for a weekend of pageantry, high-octane soca music, and non-stop celebration of Caribbean culture that shouldn’t be missed.
While the Caribbean community enjoys a growing presence, native residents of Orlando should take full advantage of its glowing influence and join the “lime”.