Infobox Country
conventional_long_name =Jamaica
common_name = Jamaica

national_motto = "Out of many, one people"
national_anthem = "Jamaica, Land We Love"
royal_anthem = "God Save the Queen"
official_languages = English
regional_languages = Jamaican Patois
chad demonym = Jamaican
ethnic_groups = 91.2% Afro-Caribbean
6.2% Multiracial
3.2% East Indian
2.5% Chinese
1.2% White
0.3% Latin American
capital = Kingston
Religion = 65.3%
4.0% Roman Catholic
35.0% Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Rastafarians,
latd=17 |latm=59 |latNS=N |longd=76 |longm=48 |longEW=W
largest_city = capital
government_type = Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy
leader_title1 = Monarch
leader_name1 = Elizabeth II
leader_title2 = Governor-General
leader_name2 = Kenneth Hall
leader_title3 = Prime Minister
leader_name3 = Bruce Golding
sovereignty_type = Independence
established_event1 = from the United Kingdom
established_date1 = 6 August 1962
area_rank = 166th
area_magnitude = 1 E10
area_km2 = 10,991
area_sq_mi = 4,244 )
percent_water = 1.5
population_estimate = 2,804,332
population_estimate_rank = 137th
population_estimate_year = July 2008
population_census =
population_census_year =
population_density_km2 = 252
population_density_sq_mi = 653
population_density_rank = 49th
GDP_PPP = $20 Billion
GDP_PPP_rank = 113st
GDP_PPP_per_capita = $7,697
GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 85th
GDP_nominal_year = 2007
HDI = increase 0.736
HDI_rank = 101st
HDI_year = 2005
HDI_category = medium
Gini = 37.9
Gini_year = 2000
Gini_category = medium
currency = Jamaican dollar
currency_code = JMD
country_code =
time_zone =
utc_offset = -5
time_zone_DST =
utc_offset_DST =
cctld = .jm
calling_code = 1 876

Jamaica (pronEng|ˈdʒəˈmeɪkə} is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, convert|234|km|mi|abbr=off in length and as much as convert|80|km|mi|abbr=off in width situated in the Caribbean Sea. It is about convert|145|km|mi|abbr=off south of Cuba, and convert|190|km|mi|abbr=off west of the island of Hispaniola, on which Haiti and the Dominican Republic are situated. Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island "Xaymaca", meaning the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs".Cite web|url=http://www.uctp.org/VocesIndigena.html |title= Taíno Dictionary |author=The United Confederation of Taíno People |accessdate=2007-10-18|language=Spanish] Formerly a Spanish possession known as " _es. Santiago", it later became the British West Indies Crown colony of Jamaica. It is the third most populous anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada.


The Arawak and Taino indigenous people originating from South America settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BCFact|date=September 2008. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494 there was already an established governmentFact|date=September 2008 with a Cacique or chief as the headFact|date=September 2008 who was supported by a group of noblesFact|date=September 2008. In addition the island was divided into districtsFact|date=September 2008 and regional chiefdoms.Fact|date=September 2008 The Taino population was largely increasing when the Spanish arrivedFact|date=September 2008. Although some claimFact|date=September 2008 they became virtually extinct following contact with Europeans, others claimFact|date=September 2008 that they survived for a while.Fact|date=September 2008 It has been proposed whom that the Taino bloodline has been absorbed into the population.Fact|date=September 2008.The Jamaican National Heritage Trust is attempting to locate and document any evidence of the Taino/Arawaks. [ [http://www.jnht.com/archaeology/barbican_rescue.php Jamaican National Heritage Trust] ]

Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain after landing there in 1494.Columbus' probable landing point was Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. St. Ann's Bay was the "Saint Gloria" of Columbus who first sighted Jamaica at this point. One mile west of St. Ann's Bay is the site of the first Spanish settlement on the island, Sevilla, which was abandoned in 1554 because of numerous pirate raids.

The capital was moved to Spanish Town, now located in the parish of St. Catherine, as early as 1534. It was then called "Santiago de la Vega". Spanish Town has the oldest Cathedral in the British colonies. The Spanish were forcibly evicted by the English at Ocho Rios in St. Ann. However, it was not until 1655 that, at Tower Isle, the English took over the last Spanish fort in Jamaica. The Spaniard Don Arnoldo de Yassi kept Tower Hill (the site of Tower Isle) from the English for five years, before escaping to Cuba. The site of his departure was fittingly called "Runaway Bay", which is also in St. Ann. The name of Montego Bay, the capital of the parish of St. James, was derived from the Spanish name " _es. manteca bahía" (or Bay of Lard) for the large quantity of boar used for the lard-making industry. [ [http://www.mobay.com/town4.htm Town of Montego Bay info] ]

The English Admiral William Penn (father of William Penn of Pennsylvania) and General Robert Venables seized the island in 1655. During its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar-exporting, slave-dependent nations, producing more than 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820 and 1824. After the abolition of the slave trade (but not slavery itself) in 1807, the British imported Indian and Chinese workers as indentured servants to supplement the labour pool. Descendants of indentured servants of Asian and Chinese origin continue to reside in Jamaica today.

By the beginning of the 19th century, Jamaica's heavy reliance on slavery resulted in blacks (Africans) outnumbering whites (Europeans) by a ratio of almost 20 to 1. Even though England had outlawed the importation of slaves, some were still smuggled into the colonies. The British government drew-up laws regimenting the abolition of slavery, but they also included instructions for the improvement of the slaves' way of life. These instructions included a ban of the use of whips in the field, a ban on the flogging of women, notification that slaves were to be allowed religious instruction, a requirement that slaves be given an extra free day during the week when they could sell their produce as well as a ban of Sunday markets.

In Jamaica, however, these measures were resisted by the House of Assembly. The Assembly claimed that the slaves were content and objected to Parliament's interference in island affairs, although many slave owners feared possible revolts. Following a series of rebellions and changing attitudes in Great Britain, the nation formally abolished slavery in 1834, with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in 1838.

In the 1800s, the British established a number of botanical gardens. These included the Castleton Garden, set up in 1862 to replace the Bath Garden (created in 1779) which was subject to flooding. Bath Garden was the site for planting breadfruit brought to Jamaica from the Pacific by Captain William Bligh. Other gardens were the Cinchona Plantation founded in 1868 and the Hope Garden founded in 1874. In 1872, Kingston became the island's capital.

In 1945, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice and Keeper of the Records in Jamaica. He headed the Supreme Court, Kingston between 1945 and 1950/1951. He then moved to Kenya where he was appointed Chief Justice.

Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom and in 1958, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies, a federation among the British West Indies. Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.Strong economic growth, averaging about six percent per annum, marked the first ten years of independence under conservative governments which were led successively by Prime Ministers Alexander Bustamante, Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer. The growth was fueled by strong investments in bauxite/alumina, tourism, manufacturing industry and, to a lesser extent, the agricultural sector. However, the optimism of the first decade was accompanied by a growing sense of inequality, and a sense that the benefits of growth were not being experienced by the urban poor. This, combined with the effects of a slowdown in the global economy in 1970, prompted the electorate to change the government, electing the PNP (People's National Party) in 1972. However, despite efforts to create more socially equitable policies in education and health, Jamaica continued to lag economically, with its gross national product having fallen in 1980 to some twenty-five percent below the 1972 level. Rising foreign and local debt, accompanied by large fiscal deficits, resulted in the invitation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) financing from the USA and others, and the imposition of IMF austerity measures (with a greater than 25% interest rate per year).

Economic deterioration continued into the mid-1980s, exacerbated by a number of factors; The first and third largest alumina producers, Alpart and Alcoa, closed and there was a significant reduction in production by the second largest producer, Alcan. In addition, tourism decreased and Reynolds Jamaica Mines, Ltd. left the Jamaican industry. By the 1980s, Jamaica was still a prosperous country, although increases in crime and petty theft began to weigh heavily.

Government and politics

Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy with the monarch being represented by a Governor-General. [cite web|url =http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page4923.asp|title= The Monarchy Today: Queen and Commonwealth|accessdate=2007-06-25] The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who officially uses the title "Queen of Jamaica" when she visits the country or performs duties overseas on Jamaica's behalf. See Jamaican Royal Family. The Governor-General is nominated by the Prime Minister and the entire Cabinet and appointed by the monarch. All the members of the Cabinet are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The monarch and the Governor-General serve largely ceremonial roles, apart from their potent reserve power to dismiss the Prime Minister or Parliament.

Jamaica's current Constitution was drafted in 1962 by a bipartisan joint committee of the Jamaican legislature. It came into force with the Jamaica Independence Act, 1962 of the United Kingdom Parliament, which gave Jamaica political independence. This was followed by a reformation of the island's flag.

The Parliament of Jamaica is bicameral, consisting of the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House). Members of the House (known as Members of Parliament or "MPs") are directly elected, and the member of the House of Representatives who, in the Governor-General's best judgement, is best able to command the confidence of a majority of the members of that House, is appointed by the Governor-General to be the Prime Minister. Senators are appointed jointly by the Prime Minister and the parliamentary Leader of the Opposition.

In February 2006, Portia Simpson-Miller was elected by delegates of the ruling People's National Party (PNP) to replace P. J. Patterson as President of the Party. At the end of March 2006 when Patterson demitted office, Simpson-Miller became the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica. Former Prime Minister Patterson had held office since the 1992 resignation of Michael Manley. Patterson was re-elected three times, the last being in 2002.

On 3 September 2007, Bruce Golding of the Jamaica Labour Party was voted in as Prime Minister-Designate after achieving a 33 - 27 seat victory over Portia Simpson-Miller and the PNP in the 2007 Jamaican general election. Portia Simpson-Miller conceded defeat on 5 September 2007. [cite web|url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6984105.stm|title= BBC News: Jamaica confirms opposition win|accessdate=2007-09-09] On 11 September 2007, after being sworn in by Governor-General Kenneth Hall, The Hon. Bruce Golding assumed office as Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Jamaica has traditionally had a two-party system, with power often alternating between the People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). However, over the past decade a new political party called the National Democratic Movement (NDM) emerged in an attempt to challenge the two-party system though it has become largely irrelevant in the two party system as it garnered only 540 votes of the over 800,000 votes cast in the 3 September elections. Jamaica is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).


Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes, which are grouped into three historic counties that have no administrative relevance.


Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean, and the most populous English-speaking island in that region. The island of Jamaica is home to the Blue Mountains inland, and is surrounded by a narrow coastal plain. Most major towns and cities are located on the coast. Chief towns and cities include the capital Kingston, Portmore, Spanish Town, Mandeville, Ocho Ríos, Port Antonio, and Montego Bay.

The climate in Jamaica is tropical, with hot and humid weather, although higher inland regions have a more temperate climate. Some regions on the south coast, such as the Liguanea Plain and the Pedro Plains are relatively dry rain-shadow areas. Jamaica lies in the hurricane belt of the Atlantic Ocean; as a result, the island sometimes experiences significant storm damage. Hurricanes Charlie and Gilbert hit Jamaica directly in 1951 and 1988, respectively, causing major damage, destruction, and many deaths. In the 2000s, hurricanes Ivan, Dean, and Gustav also brought severe weather to the island.


Ethnic origins

Jamaica's population consists mainly of people of African descent, comprising over 90% of the demographics. There are 90,000 East Indians who make up 3.2% of the population. Over 33,000 White people (mostly composed of 26,000 British, Portuguese, and German Jamaicans) make up 1.2% of the population. 70,000 Chinese make up 2.5% of the population, and over 20,000 Lebanese make up 0.7% of the population. Multiracial Jamaicans make up 6.2% of the population. Immigration has been rising from Cuba, Colombia, and other Latin American countries; 8,000 Latin Americans currently reside in Jamaica. 7,000 Americans also reside in Jamaica, most of whom are part of the White demographics. [http://www.joshuaproject.net/peopctry.php] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/brits_abroad/html/caribbean.stm] [ [http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~portwestind/diaspora/waves_of_migration.htm The Portuguese of the West Indies] ]


The official language of Jamaica is English. Informally Jamaican Patois (pronEng|pætwɑː) is more commonly spoken by a majority of the population. Although British English or "The Queen's English" is the most obvious influence on patois, it includes words and syntax from various African languages (namely Akan, Igbo, Wolof and Twi); [http://www.jamaicans.com/speakja/patoisarticle/notpatoisbutjamic.shtml] other European languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and French); Pre-Columbian Caribbean languages (Arawakan); and Asian languages (Hindi, Hakka and Cantonese) which is evidence of the long standing mixing of the people. In general, patois differs from English in pronunciation, grammar, nominal orthography and syntax, having many intonations to indicate meaning and mood. The language's characteristics include pronouncing IPA|/θ/ as IPA| [t] and IPA|/ð/ as IPA| [d] , and omitting some initial consonant sounds, principally IPA|/h/. For example, the word "there" is pronounced|ˈdɪeɹ. A number of linguists classify Jamaican Patois as a separate language, while others consider it to be a dialect of English.


Over the past several decades,When? close to a millionFact|date=September 2007 Jamaicans have emigrated, especially to the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, though this emigration appears to have been tapering off somewhat in recent years.When? The great number of Jamaicans living abroad has become known as the "Jamaican diaspora". There has also been emigration of Jamaicans to Cuba. [ [http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761569844_2/Cuba.html Jamaicans to Cuba] ]

Concentrations of expatriate Jamaicans are large in a number of cities in the United States, including New York City, Buffalo, the Miami metro area, Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Washington, D.C, Philadelphia, Hartford and Los Angeles. In Canada, the Jamaican population is centred in Toronto, and there are smaller communities in cities such as Hamilton, Montreal and Ottawa. In the United Kingdom, Jamaican communities exist in most large cities where they make up the larger part of the British-Caribbean community.


Christians make up 65.3% of Jamaica's population, with the majority being Protestant, [cite web|url=http://jamaica-guide.info/past.and.present/religion/|title=Jamaican Census Figures|accessdate=2007-06-03] partly due to the influence of the Christian leadership in the British Anti-Slavery Society, [cite web|url=http://www.moec.gov.jm/heroes/sharpe.htm|title=Samuel Sharpe, Jamaica National hero|accessdate=2007-12-22] and the later influence of abolitionist denominations from the U.S. In spite of resistance by the slave owners, [cite web | url=http://cghs.dadeschools.net/slavery/antebellum_slavery/plantation_slave_life/diet_religion/religion.htm |title= Antebellum Slavery: Plantation Slave Life |accessdate=2007-06-22] the Christian faith spread rapidly as British Christian abolitionists and educated former slaves [ cite web | url=http://www.victorianweb.org/history/antislavery.html | title= Antislavery Campaign in Britain | accessdate=2007-12-22] joined local Jamaican Christian leaders [cite web|url=http://www.moec.gov.jm/heroes/gordon.htm |title=Paul Bogle, Jamaica National hero|accessdate=2007-06-22] [cite web|url=http://www.moec.gov.jm/heroes/gordon.htm |title=George William Gordon, Jamaica National hero|accessdate=2007-06-22] [cite web|url=http://www.moec.gov.jm/heroes/sharpe.htm |title=Samual Sharpe, Jamaica National hero|accessdate=2007-06-22] in the struggle against slavery. Today, the five largest denominations in Jamaica are: Church of God, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Pentecostal and Anglican. [cite web|url=http://jamaica-guide.info/past.and.present/religion/|title=Jamaican Census Figures|accessdate=2007-06-03]

The Rastafari movement was founded in Jamaica. This Back to Africa movement believes that Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was God incarnate, the returned black messiah, come to take the lost Twelve Tribes of Israel back to live with him in Holy Mount Zion in a world of perfect peace, love and harmony. Bob Marley, a convert to the faith, spread the message of Rastafari to the world. There are now estimated to be more than a million Rastafarians throughout the world.

Other non-Christian religions in Jamaica include Bahá'í, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism. [ [http://www.religiousintelligence.co.uk/country/?CountryID=55 religiousintelligence.co.uk] , [http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/nationprofiles/Jamaica/rbodies.html religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu] ] There is also a small population of Jews, about 200, who describe themselves as Liberal-Conservative. [ [http://www.haruth.com/JewsJamaica.html Jamaican Jews] ] The first Jews in Jamaica trace their roots back to early 15th century Spain and Portugal. [cite web | first=Mark | last=Dawes | title=Jews hold firm Life goes on in Old Synagogue | url=http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20030610/mind/mind2.html/ publisher=Gleaner Co. | date=2003-06-10 | accessdate=2007-12-15 ]


Though a small nation, Jamaica is rich in culture, and has a strong global presence. The musical genres reggae, ska, mento, rocksteady, dub, and, more recently, dancehall and ragga all originated in the island's vibrant, popular urban recording industry. Jamaica also played an important role in the development of punk rock, through reggae and ska. Reggae has also influenced American rap music, as they both share their roots as rhythmic, African styles of music. Some rappers, such as the Notorious B.I.G., were of Jamaican descent. Internationally known reggae musician Bob Marley was born in Jamaica and is very respected there. Many other internationally known artists were born in Jamaica including Rebelution Lee "Scratch" Perry, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Big Youth, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Desmond Dekker, Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Shaggy, Grace Jones, Shabba Ranks, Supercat, Buju Banton, Sean Paul, I Wayne, Capleton, Bounty Killer and many others. Famous band artist groups that came from Jamaica include Black Uhuru, Third World Band, Inner Circle, Chalice Reggae Band, Culture, Fab Five, and Morgan Heritage. The genre jungle emerged from London's Jamaican diaspora. The birth of hip-hop in New York also owed much to the city's Jamaican community.

Ian Fleming, who lived in Jamaica, repeatedly used the island as a setting in the James Bond novels, including "Live and Let Die", "Doctor No", "For Your Eyes Only", "The Man with the Golden Gun" and "Octopussy". In addition, James Bond uses a Jamaica-based cover in "Casino Royale". So far, the only Bond film to have been set in Jamaica is "Doctor No". However, filming for the fictional island of San Monique in "Live and Let Die" took place in Jamaica.

The American film "Cocktail", starring Tom Cruise, is one of the most popular films to depict Jamaica. A look at delinquent youth in Jamaica is presented in the 1970s cops-and-robbers musical film "The Harder They Come", starring Jimmy Cliff as a frustrated (and psychopathic) reggae musician who descends into a murderous crime spree.

Errol Flynn lived with his third wife Patrice Wymore in Port Antonio in the 1950s. He was responsible for developing tourism to this area, popularising raft trips down rivers on bamboo rafts. [Dr. Rebecca Tortello [http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0033.html The History of Jamaica - Captivated by Jamaica] ]

National symbols

* National Bird — Doctor Bird (Green-and-black Streamertail, "Trochilus polytmus")
* National Flower — Lignum Vitae ("Guaiacum officinale")
* National Tree — Blue Mahoe ("Hibiscus elatus")
* National Dish — Ackee and Saltfish (dried salted Cod)
* National Motto — "Out of Many, One People." (Unity among many cultures and races.)


Jamaicans, in general, have a large interest in sports. Cricket, Football (soccer), athletics and horse-racing are several popular sports. The Jamaican national cricket team competes regionally, and also provides players for the West Indies. The national football team qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Jamaican athletics have been well represented at the Olympics, World Championships and other major athletics events over the years with leading athletes obtaining medals. Usain Bolt, world record holder in the 100m for men at 9.69s, and 200m for men at 19.30s is among a rich heritage of Jamaican sprinters to compete on the world stage. They have also boasted athletes such as Delloreen Ennis-London, Veronica Campbell, Brigitte Foster-Hylton and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell. The Jamaica national bobsled team was once a serious contender in the Winter Olympics, beating many well-established teams.

There is a notable amount of golf in Jamaica, but it appears to be focused on the international tourism market.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Usain Bolt of Jamaica won three gold medals and broke the World Records for the 100 and 200 meters sprint races respectively. 400 m hurdler Melaine Walker, won a gold medal and broke the Olympic record time in her event. Veronica Campbell-Brown successfully defended her 200 m title when she claimed gold. Shelly-Ann Fraser won gold in the women's 100 m sprint, with her team mates Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson coming in joint second for two silver medals. The Jamaican men's 4 x 100 metres relay team consisting of Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, Michael Frater and Nesta Carter passed the finishing line in a World Record time of 37.10 seconds. This was 0.3 seconds quicker than the previous record set by the American relay team in 1992 and 1993, the margin is equivalent to three metres. Overall, the Jamaican 2008 Olympics team finished with a rank of 13 out of 204 competing nations. The 11 medals consisted of 6 golds, 3 silvers and 2 bronze.


The emancipation of the slaves heralded in the establishment of the Jamaican education system for the masses. Prior to emancipation there were few schools for educating locals. Many sent their children off to England to access quality education.

After emancipation the West Indian Commission granted a sum of money to establish Elementary Schools, now known as "All Age Schools". Most of these schools were established by the churches. [ cite web | url=http://www.jis.gov.jm/education/html/20041212T090000-0500_4438_JIS_MORAVIAN_CHURCH_CONTRIBUTING_MUCH_TO_EDUCATION.asp | title=Moravian Church Contribution to Education in Jamaica |accessdate=2007-12-22 ] This was the genesis of the modern Jamaican school system:

Presently the following categories of schools exist:
* Early childhood – Basic, Infant and privately operated pre- school. Age cohort – 1 – 5 years.
* Primary – Publicly and privately owned (Privately owned being called Preparatory Schools). Ages 5 – 10 years.
* Secondary – Publicly and privately owned. Ages 10 – 18 years. The high schools in Jamaica may be either single-sex or co-educational institutions, and many schools follow the traditional English grammar school model used throughout the British West Indies.
* Tertiary - Community Colleges, Teachers’ Colleges, Vocational Training Centres, Colleges and Universities - Publicly and privately owned. There are five local universities namely: The University of the West Indies (Mona Campus); the University of Technology, Jamaica formerly The College of Art Science and Technology (CAST); the Northern Caribbean University; the University College of The Caribbean and the International University of the Caribbean. Additionally there are many teacher training and who is community colleges.

Although there is no free education in Jamaica above the primary level, there are opportunities for those who cannot afford further education in the vocational arena through the Human Employment and Resource Training-National Training Agency (HEART Trust-NTA) programme [cite web| url=http://www.moec.gov.jm/news/speeches/ict2003.htm | title=Transforming the Jamaican Education System | accessdate=2007-12-22 ] and through an extensive scholarship network for the various universities.


Jamaica is a mixed economy with state enterprises as well as private sector businesses. Major sectors of the Jamaican economy include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism and financial and insurance services. Tourism and mining are the leading foreign exchange earners.

Supported by multilateral financial institutions, Jamaica has, since the early 1980s, sought to implement structural reforms aimed at fostering private sector activity and increasing the role of market forces in resource allocation. Since 1991, the Government has followed a programme of economic liberalization and stabilization by removing exchange controls, floating the exchange rate, cutting tariffs, stabilising the Jamaican currency, reducing inflation and removing restrictions on foreign investment. Emphasis has been placed on maintaining strict fiscal discipline, greater openness to trade and financial flows, market liberalisation and reduction in the size of government. During this period, a large share of the economy was returned to private sector ownership through divestment and privatisation programmes.

The macroeconomic stabilisation programme introduced in 1991, which focused on tight fiscal and monetary policies, has contributed to a controlled reduction in the rate of inflation. The annual inflation rate has decreased from a high of 80.2% in 1991 to 7.9% in 1998. inflation for FY1998/99 was 6.2% compared to 7.2% in the corresponding period in CUU1997/98. The Government of Jamaica remains committed to lowering inflation, with a long-term objective of bringing it in line with that of its major trading partners.

After a period of steady growth from 1985 to 1995, real GDP decreased by 1.8% and 2.4% in 1996 and 1997, respectively. The decrease in GDP in 1996 and 1997 was largely due to significant problems in the financial sector and, in 1997, a severe island-wide drought (the worst in 70 years) that drastically reduced agricultural production. In 1997, nominal GDP was approximately J$220,556.2 million (US$6,198.9 million based on the average annual exchange rate of the period).

The economy in 1997 was marked by low levels of import growth, high levels of private capital inflows and relative stability in the foreign exchange market.

Recent economic performance shows the Jamaican economy is recovering. Agricultural production, an important engine of growth increased 15.3% in third quarter of 1998 compared to the corresponding period in 1997, signaling the first positive growth rate in the sector since January 1997. Bauxite and alumina production increased 5.5% from January to December, 1998 compared to the corresponding period in 1997. January's bauxite production recorded a 7.1% increase relative to January 1998 and continued expansion of alumina production through 2009 is planned by Alcoa. [ [http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/Business/html/20070428T200000-0500_122373_OBS_NO_GAS_FROM_TRINIDAD__VENEZUELA_BY_____.asp No gas from Trinidad, Venezuela by 2009 - JAMAICAOBSERVER.COM ] at www.jamaicaobserver.com] Tourism, which is the largest foreign exchange earner, showed improvement as well. In the third quarter of 1998, growth in tourist arrivals accelerated with an overall increase of 8.5% in tourism earnings in 1998 when compared to the corresponding period in 1997. Jamaica's agricultural exports are sugar, bananas, coffee, rum,and yams.

Jamaica has a wide variety of industrial and commercial activities. The aviation industry is able to perform most routine aircraft maintenance, except for heavy structural repairs. There is a considerable amount of technical support for transport and agricultural aviation. Jamaica has a considerable amount of industrial engineering, light manufacturing, including metal fabrication, metal roofing, and furniture manufacturing. Food and beverage processing, glassware manufacturing, computer software and data processing, printing and publishing, insurance underwriting, music and recording, and advanced education activities can be found in the larger urban areas. The Jamaican construction industry is entirely self-sufficient, with professional technical standards and guidance. [ [http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0070.htm History of Aviation in Jamaica: Part I] ]

Since the first quarter of 2006, the economy of Jamaica has undergone a period of staunch growth. With inflation for the 2006 calendar year down to 6.0% and unemployment down to 8.9%, the nominal GDP grew by an unprecedented 2.9%. [ [http://www.statinja.com/ Statistical Institute of Jamaica ] at www.statinja.com] An investment programme in island transportation and utility infrastructure and gains in the tourism, mining, and service sectors all contributed this figure. All projections for 2007 show an even higher potential for economic growth with all estimates over 3.0% and hampered only by urban crime and public policies.

In 2006, Jamaica became part of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as one of the pioneering members.

International trade

Exports: (1999) 1,238 billion $ (Natural resources: 55.7%, Food 19.1%, Bananas 4%, Chemicals 3.6%, Machinery 2.2%). The main export countries: USA 33.4% , United Kingdom 13.4%, France 5%, Germany 4%, Canada 14.1%, Netherlands 10.2%, Norway 5.8%, Japan 2.3%.

Imports: (1999) 2,89 billion $ (Energy 50.5%, Machinery and Equipment 7.6%, Consumer goods 33.2%). The main import countries: USA 48.1%, Trinidad and Tobago 7.8%, Japan 6.9%, United Kingdom 3.7%, France 5%, Canada 3%.

Exports and Imports for January 2007 -

Exports: (January 2007) Total Goods Exports 166,495 (US$000) (General Merchandise Exports 93.4%, Freezone Exports 2.6%, Goods Procured in Ports 4.0%).

Imports: (January 2007) : Total Goods Import 511,015 (US$000); General Merchandise Imports 97.8%, Freezone Imports 0.3%, Goods Procured in Ports 1.8%).



The transport infrastructure in Jamaica consists of roadways, railways, ship and air transport, with roadways forming the backbone of the island's internal transport system.

RoadwaysThe Jamaican road network consists of almost 21,000 kilometres of roads, of which over 15,000 kilometres is paved. [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/jm.html The CIA World Factbook - Jamaica] Retrieved 27 June 2007.] The Jamaican Government has, since the late 1990s and in cooperation with private investors, embarked on a campaign of infrastructural improvement projects, one of which includes the creation of a system of freeways, the first such access-controlled roadways of their kind on the island, connecting the main population centers of the island. This project has so far seen the completion of 33 kilometres of freeway.

RailwaysRailways in Jamaica, as in many other countries, no longer enjoy the prominent position they once did, having been largely replaced by roadways as the primary means of transport. Of the 272 kilometres of railway found in Jamaica, only 57 kilometres remain in operation, currently used to transport bauxite.

Air transport

There are two international airports in Jamaica with modern terminals, long runways, and the navigational equipment required to accommodate the large jet aircraft used in modern air travel: Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Sangster International Airport in the resort town of Montego Bay. Both airports are home to the country's national airline, Air Jamaica. In addition there are local commuter airports at Tinson Pen (Kingston), Port Antonio, Ocho Ríos, Mandeville, and Negril which cater to internal flights only. Many other small, rural centers are served by private fields on sugar estates or bauxite mines.

Ports, shipping and lighthouses

Owing to its location in the Caribbean Sea in the shipping lane to the Panama Canal and relative proximity to large markets in North America and emerging markets in Latin America, Jamaica receives high container traffic. The container terminal at the Port of Kingston has undergone large expansion in capacity in recent years to handle growth both already realised as well as that which is projected in coming years. [http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/html/20051117T220000-0500_92733_OBS_PORT_AUTHORITY__MAERSK_IN_MAJOR_DEAL.asp The Jamaica Observer] Retrieved 27 June 2007.] Montego Freeport in Montego Bay also handles a variety of cargo like(though more limited than) the Port of Kingston, mainly agricultural products.

There are several other ports positioned around the island, including Port Esquivel in St. Catherine (WINDALCO), Rocky Point in Clarendon, Port Kaiser in St. Elizabeth, Port Rhoades in Discovery Bay, Reynolds Pier in Ocho Rios, and Boundbrook Port in Port Antonio.

To aid the navigation of shipping, Jamaica operates nine lighthouses. "For more information see Lighthouses in Jamaica".


Jamaica depends on petroleum imports to satisfy its national energy needs. [cite web |url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/jm.html |title=Jamaica |accessdate=2007-08-19 |date=2007-08-16 |work=The World Factbook |publisher=CIA |quote=Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2004 est.) Oil - consumption: 72,080 bbl/day (2004 est.)] Many test sites have been explored for oil, but no commercially viable quantities have been found. [cite web |url=http://www.pcj.com/industry_stat.htm |title=Petroleum Corp of Jamaica, Petroleum Industry Statistics |accessdate=2007-07-21] The most convenient sources of imported oil and motor fuels (diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel) are from Mexico and Venezuela.

Jamaica's electrical power is produced by diesel (bunker oil) generators located in Old Harbour. Other smaller power stations (most owned by the Jamaica Public Service Company - the island's electricity provider) support the island's electrical grid including the Hunts Bay Power Station, the Bogue Power Station, the Rockfort Power Station and small hydroelectric plants on the White River, Rio Bueno, Morant River, Black River (Maggotty) and Roaring River. [cite web |url=http://www.jpsco.com/site.nsf/web/powerPlants.htm |title=JPS - JPS' Power Plants |accessdate=2008-03-25] A wind farm, owned by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, was established at Wigton, Manchester. [cite web |url=http://www.wwfja.com |title=Wigton Wind Farm Company |accessdate=2008-03-25 ]

Jamaica imports approximately 80,000 barrels of oil energy products per day, [cite web |url=http://www.pcj.com/industry_stat.htm |title=Petroleum Corp of Jamaica, Petroleum Industry Statistics |accessdate=2007-07-21] including asphalt and lubrication products. Just 20% of imported fuels are used for road transportation, the rest being used by the bauxite industry, electricity generation, and aviation.

Jamaica produces enormous quantities of hydrous ethanol (5% water content), most of which appears to be consumed as beverages, and none of it used as motor fuel. Facilities exist to refine hydrous ethanol feedstock into anhydrous ethanol (0% water content), but the process appears to be uneconomic at this time and the facility remains idle. [cite web |url=http://www.pcj.com/petrojam/associate_text.htm |title=Petroleum Corp of Jamaica, Petrojam Ethanol |accessdate=2007-07-21]


Jamaica has a fully digital telephone communication system with a mobile penetration of over 95%. [http://globaltechforum.eiu.com/index.asp?layout=newdebi&country_id=JM&country=Jamaica&title=Doing+eBusiness+in+Jamaica&channelid=6 Doing eBusiness in Jamaica] , The Economist Intelligence Unit.]

The country’s three mobile operators - Cable and Wireless (marketed as "b"mobile), Digicel, and Oceanic Digital (operating as MiPhone) - have spent millions in network upgrade and expansion. The Irish-owned Digicel has become a generic term for mobile phones in Jamaica. Both Digicel and Oceanic Digital were granted licences in 2001 to operate mobile services in the newly liberalised telecom market that had once been the sole domain of the incumbent Cable and Wireless monopoly. Digicel opted for the more widely used GSM wireless system, while Oceanic opted for the CDMA standard. Cable and Wireless, which had begun with TDMA standard, subsequently upgraded to GSM, and currently utilises both standards on its network.

With wireless usage increasing, land lines supplied by Cable and Wireless have declined from just over half a million to roughly about three hundred thousand as of 2006. In a bid to grab more market share, Cable and Wireless recently launched a new land line service called HomeFone Prepaid that would allow customers to pay for minutes they use rather than pay a set monthly fee for service, much like prepaid wireless service.

A new entrant to the Jamaican communications market, Flow Jamaica, recently laid a new submarine cable connecting Jamaica to the United States. This new cable increases the total number of submarine cables connecting Jamaica to the rest of the world to four.

Two more licences were auctioned by the Jamaican government to provide mobile services on the island, including one that was previously owned by AT&T Wireless but never utilised, and one new licence. Industry analystswho argue that with a near market saturation, there is very little room for new operators.cn


The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is the small but professional military force of Jamaica. The JDF is based upon the British military model with organisation, training, weapons and traditions closely aligned with Commonwealth realms. Once chosen, officer candidates are sent to one of several British or Canadian basic officer courses depending upon which arm of service they are selected for. Enlisted soldiers are given basic training at JDF Training Depot, Newcastle or Up Park Camp, both in St. Andrew. As on the British model, NCOs are given several levels of professional training as they rise up the ranks. Additional military schools are available for speciality training in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The JDF is directly descended from the British West Indies Regiment formed during the colonial era. The West Indies Regiment was used extensively by the British Empire in policing the empire from 1795 to 1926. Other units in the JDF heritage include the early colonial Jamaica Militia, the Kingston Infantry Volunteers of WWI and reorganised into the Jamaican Infantry Volunteers in World War II. The West Indies Regiment was reformed in 1958 as part of the West Indies Federation. The dissolution of the Federation resulted in the establishment of the JDF.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) comprises an infantry Regiment and Reserve Corps, an Air Wing, a Coast Guard fleet and a supporting Engineering Unit. The infantry regiment contains the 1st, 2nd and 3rd (National Reserve) battalions. The JDF Air Wing is divided into three flight units, a training unit, a support unit and the JDF Air Wing (National Reserve). The Coast Guard is divided between seagoing crews and support crews. It conducts maritime safety and maritime law enforcement as well as defence-related operations. The support battalion contains a Military Police platoon as well as vehicle, armourers and supply units. The 1st Engineer Regiment provides military engineering support to the JDF. The Headquarters JDF contains the JDF Commander, Command Staff as well as Intelligence, Judge Advocate office, Administrative and Procurement sections.

In recent years the JDF has been called upon to assist the nation's police, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in fighting drug smuggling and a rising crime rate which includes one of the highest murder rates in the world. JDF units actively conduct armed patrols with the JCF in high-crime areas and known gang neighbourhoods. There has been vocal controversy as well as support of this JDF role. In early 2005, an Opposition leader, Edward Seaga, called for the merger of the JDF and JCF. This has not garnered support in either organisation nor among the majority of citizens.


:"See also: Prisons in Jamaica"Some areas of Jamaica experience high levels of violent crime. Jamaica has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for many years according to UN estimates. [ [http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita Nationmaster Crime Stats] ] Jamaica's former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson described the situation as "a national challenge of unprecedented proportions". [ [http://www.nisat.org/murder%20madness%20in%20jamaica.htm Washington Post Foreign Service] ] In 2005, Jamaica had 1,674 murders for a murder rate of 64.10 per 100,000 people; that year Jamaica had the highest murder rate in the world. [ [http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita Nationmaster Crime Stats] ]

ee also

* States headed by Elizabeth II
* List of wettest known tropical cyclones in Jamaica


Further reading

* Chapman, V.J. 1961. "The Marine Algae of Jamaica. Part 1. Myxophyceae and Chlorophyceae." Institute of Jamaica.
* Chapman, V.J. 1963. "The Marine Algae of Jamaica. Part 2. Phaeophyceas and Rhodophyceae." Institute of Jamaica.

External links

* [http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page4923.asp Official website of Queen Elizabeth as Queen of Jamaica]
* [http://jis.gov.jm Official website of the Jamaica Information Service]
* [http://www.cabinet.gov.jm/ The Cabinet Office of the Government of Jamaica]
* [http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/ufdc/?h=nlj&n=dloc&l=fr National Library of Jamaica] materials in the [http://www.dloc.com Digital Library of the Caribbean]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=18.033360,-76.804379&spn=1.696014,3.689484&t=k&hl=en detailed Satellite maps on Google]

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