Jamaica

Introduction The island - discovered by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1494 - was settled by the Spanish early in the 16th century. The native Taino Indians, who had inhabited Jamaica for centuries, were gradually exterminated and replaced by African slaves. England seized the island in 1655 and established a plantation economy based on sugar, cocoa, and coffee. The abolition of slavery in 1834 freed a quarter million slaves, many of whom became small farmers. Jamaica gradually obtained increasing independence from Britain, and in 1958 it joined other British Caribbean colonies in forming the Federation of the West Indies. Jamaica gained full independence when it withdrew from the Federation in 1962. Deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s led to recurrent violence as rival gangs affiliated with the major political parties evolved into powerful organized crime networks involved in international drug smuggling and money laundering. Violent crime, drug trafficking, and poverty pose significant challenges to the government today. Nonetheless, many rural and resort areas remain relatively safe and contribute substantially to the economy.
History

The original Arawak or possibly Taino people from South America first settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC. Although some claim they became virtually extinct following contact with Europeans, others claim that some survived for a while. There is very little trace of the Arawak culture, and the Jamaican National Heritage Trust is attempting to locate and document any evidence of the Arawaks.[2]

Jamaica was claimed for Spain after Christopher Columbus first landed there in 1494. 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 English (then British) rule, post Spanish rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar exporting nations and produced over 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820 and 1824, which was achieved through the massive use of imported African slave labour. After the abolition of the slave trade the British imported Indian and Chinese indentured servants in the early 1800s as more cheap labour. The descendants of the Chinese and Indian indentured servants continue to reside in Jamaica today.

By the beginning of the 19th century, the United Kingdom's heavy reliance on slavery resulted in blacks (Africans) outnumbering whites (Europeans) by a ratio of almost 20 to 1, leading to constant opportunities for revolt. Following a series of rebellions, slavery was formally abolished in 1834, with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in 1838.

During the 1800’s a number of botanical gardens were established. These included the Castleton Garden in 1862 (set up to replace the Bath Garden which was established during the late 1770s and where breadfruit brought to Jamaica by Captain William Bligh was planted but which was subject to flooding), the Cinchona Plantation in 1868 and the Hope Garden during 1874.

In 1945, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice and Keeper of the Records in Jamaica and sat in the Supreme Court, Kingston between 1945 and 1950/1951 before going on to become Chief Justice in Kenya.

Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom. In 1958, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies, a federation among all of the British West Indies. Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.

Strong economic growth averaging about six percent per annum marked its first ten years of independence under conservative governments 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 initial 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 slow-down 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 the closure of the first (Alpart) and third (Alcoa) largest alumina producers, significant reduction in production by the second largest (Alcan), the exit of Reynolds Jamaica Mines Ltd from the Jamaican industry and reduced flows from tourism. During the 1980s Jamaica was still a prosperous country though increases in crime and petty theft began to weigh on the island.

The early capital of Jamaica was Spanish Town in the parish of St. Catherine, the site of the old Spanish colonial capital. The Spanish named the town Santiago de la Vega. In 1655 when the English captured the island, much of the old Spanish capital was burned by the invading troops. The town was rebuilt by the English and renamed Spanish Town. It remained the capital until 1872, when the city of Kingston was named the capital.

Geography Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba
Geographic coordinates: 18 15 N, 77 30 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 10,991 sq km
land: 10,831 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,022 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior
Terrain: mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Blue Mountain Peak 2,256 m
Natural resources: bauxite, gypsum, limestone
Land use: arable land: 15.83%
permanent crops: 10.01%
other: 74.16% (2005)
Irrigated land: 250 sq km (2002)
Total renewable water resources: 9.4 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.41 cu km/yr (34%/17%/49%)
per capita: 155 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: hurricanes (especially July to November)
Environment - current issues: heavy rates of deforestation; coastal waters polluted by industrial waste, sewage, and oil spills; damage to coral reefs; air pollution in Kingston results from vehicle emissions
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for the Panama Canal
Politics

Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy with the monarch being represented by a Governor-General.[3] 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.

Inside the Jamaican Parliament

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 the 5 September 2007.[4] 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. Unfortunately, the NDM has almost become irrelevant in the two party system as it garnered only 540 votes of the over 800,000 votes cast in the September 3 elections. Jamaica is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

People Population: 2,780,132 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.5% (male 459,968/female 444,963)
15-64 years: 60.1% (male 822,486/female 848,310)
65 years and over: 7.4% (male 91,856/female 112,549) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 23.2 years
male: 22.6 years
female: 23.7 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.777% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 20.44 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 6.59 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -6.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.034 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.816 male(s)/female
total population: 0.978 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 15.73 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 73.12 years
male: 71.43 years
female: 74.9 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.36 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 22,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 900 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Jamaican(s)
adjective: Jamaican
Ethnic groups: black 91.2%, mixed 6.2%, other or unknown 2.6% (2001 census)
Religions: Protestant 62.5% (Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, Pentecostal 9.5%, Other Church of God 8.3%, Baptist 7.2%, New Testament Church of God 6.3%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%, Anglican 3.6%, other Christian 7.7%), Roman Catholic 2.6%, other or unspecified 14.2%, none 20.9%, (2001 census)
Languages: English, English patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 87.9%
male: 84.1%
female: 91.6% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jamaica
Government type: constitutional parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Kingston
geographic coordinates: 18 00 N, 76 48 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 14 parishes; Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, Manchester, Portland, Saint Andrew, Saint Ann, Saint Catherine, Saint Elizabeth, Saint James, Saint Mary, Saint Thomas, Trelawny, Westmoreland
note: for local government purposes, Kingston and Saint Andrew were amalgamated in 1923 into the present single corporate body known as the Kingston and Saint Andrew Corporation
Independence: 6 August 1962 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 6 August (1962)
Constitution: 6 August 1962
Legal system: based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Kenneth O. HALL (since 15 February 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Bruce GOLDING (since 11 September 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Representatives is appointed prime minister by the governor general; the deputy prime minister is recommended by the prime minister
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (a 21-member body appointed by the governor general on the recommendations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; ruling party is allocated 13 seats, and the opposition is allocated 8 seats) and the House of Representatives (60 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 3 September 2007 (next to be held no later than October 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - JLP 50.1%, PNP 49.8%; seats by party - JLP 33, PNP 27
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders: Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Bruce GOLDING]; People's National Party or PNP [Portia SIMPSON-MILLER]; National Democratic Movement or NDM [Michael WILLIAMS]
Political pressure groups and leaders: New Beginnings Movement or NBM; Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists)
International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-15, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Gordon SHIRLEY
chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660
FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Brenda LaGrange JOHNSON
embassy: 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6
mailing address: P.O. Box 541, Kingston 5
telephone: [1] (876) 702-6000
FAX: [1] (876) 702-6348
Flag description: diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side)
Culture

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. 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 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, 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.

Economy Economy - overview: The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for more than 60% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Remittances account for nearly 20% of GDP and are equivalent to tourism revenues. Jamaica's economy, already saddled with a record of sluggish growth, will suffer an economic setback from damages caused by Hurricane Dean in August 2007. The economy faces serious long-term problems: high but declining interest rates, increased foreign competition, exchange rate instability, a sizable merchandise trade deficit, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 135%. Jamaica's onerous debt burden - the fourth highest per capita - is the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably the financial sector in the mid-to-late 1990s. Inflation also has declined, standing at about 7% at the end of 2007. High unemployment exacerbates the serious crime problem, including gang violence that is fueled by the drug trade. The GOLDING administration faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $13.47 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $8.905 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $4,800 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5%
industry: 34%
services: 61% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 1.255 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 17%
industry: 19%
services: 64% (2006)
Unemployment rate: 10.2% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 14.8% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 35.8% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 45.5 (2004)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7.1% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 34.1% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $3.441 billion
expenditures: $3.905 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 134.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, ackees, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk; crustaceans, mollusks
Industries: tourism, bauxite/alumina, agro processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products, telecommunications
Industrial production growth rate: 2% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 6.985 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 96.8%
hydro: 1.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.4% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 6.131 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 72,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 1,531 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 71,420 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$1.573 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $2.229 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, wearing apparel, mineral fuels
Exports - partners: US 30.2%, Canada 15.6%, China 15.2%, UK 10.3%, Netherlands 7%, Norway 4.6% (2006)
Imports: $5.709 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: food and other consumer goods, industrial supplies, fuel, parts and accessories of capital goods, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials
Imports - partners: US 39.3%, Trinidad and Tobago 13.6%, Venezuela 9.5% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $35.74 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $1.95 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $7.138 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $12.28 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Jamaican dollar (JMD)
Currency code: JMD
Exchange rates: Jamaican dollars per US dollar - 69.034 (2007), 65.768 (2006), 62.51 (2005), 61.197 (2004), 57.741 (2003)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 319,000 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 2.804 million (2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: fully automatic domestic telephone network
domestic: the 1999 agreement to open the market for telecommunications services resulted in rapid growth in mobile-cellular telephone usage; mobile-cellular teledensity now exceeds 100 per 100 persons; the number of fixed-lines in use has been declining
international: country code - 1-876; the Fibralink submarine cable network provides enhanced delivery of business and broadband traffic and is linked to the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) submarine cable in the Dominican Republic; the link to ARCOS-1 provides seamless connectivity to US, parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 10, FM 13, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 1.215 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 7 (1997)
Televisions: 460,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .jm
Internet hosts: 1,213 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 21 (2000)
Internet users: 1.232 million (2005)
Transportation Airports: 34 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 5 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 21 (2007)
Roadways: total: 20,996 km
paved: 15,386 km (includes 33 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,610 km (2004)
Merchant marine: total: 13 ships (1000 GRT or over) 161,700 GRT/241,663 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 6, cargo 2, carrier 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 12 (Denmark 1, Germany 1, Greece 8, Latvia 2)
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Kingston, Port Esquivel, Port Kaiser, Port Rhoades, Rocky Point
Military Military branches: Jamaica Defense Force: Ground Forces, Coast Guard, Air Wing (2007)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; younger recruits may be conscripted with parental consent (2001)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 592,018
females age 18-49: 616,500 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 478,761
females age 18-49: 504,541 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 27,923
females age 18-49: 27,889 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.6% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for cocaine from South America to North America and Europe; illicit cultivation and consumption of cannabis; government has an active manual cannabis eradication program; corruption is a major concern; substantial money-laundering activity; Colombian narcotics traffickers favor Jamaica for illicit financial transactions