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|Motto: "Out of Many, One People"|
|Anthem: "Jamaica, Land We Love"
Royal anthem: "God Save the Queen"
and largest city
|Recognised regional languages||Jamaican Patois|
|Ethnic groups||97% Black or Mixed, 1.3% Indian, 0.2 Chinese, 0.2 % White, 0.6% Other|
|Government||Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy|
|-||Prime Minister||Portia Simpson-Miller|
|-||from the United Kingdom||6 August 1962|
|-||Total||10,991 km2 (168th)
4,244 sq mi
|-||2013 estimate||2,909,714 (139th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2013 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2013 estimate|
|HDI (2013)|| 0.715
high · 96th
|Currency||Jamaican dollar (
|Drives on the||left|
Jamaica is an island country in the Caribbean; it is part of the Greater Antilles. The island, 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola. Its capital is Kingston; other towns include Montego Bay, St. Ann's Bay and Spanish Town.
Jamaica is the third-largest island country in the Greater Antilles. Its Taíno name was Xaymaca, meaning "Land of Springs". The island is known for the Rastafarian movement, as well as reggae artist Bob Marley. The popular sprinter Usain Bolt is also an asset from the country.
The Taino indigenous people, originating in South America, settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494, there were more than 200 villages ruled by caciques (chiefs of villages). The south coast of Jamaica was the most populated, especially around the area now known as Old Harbour.
Christopher Columbus, during his second voyage to the Americas, claimed Jamaica for Spain after landing there on 5 May 1494 and his probable landing point was Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. There is some debate as to whether he landed in St. Ann's Bay or in Discovery Bay. St. Ann's Bay was named "Saint Gloria" by Columbus, as the first sighting of the land.
In 1509, the new Governor of the Hispaniola, Diego Columbus, sent Juan de Esquivel, a Conquistador born in Seville, Spain, with 70 men to Jamaica to complete the conquest of that island. They first lived in the St. Ann's Bay area and soon Esquivel founded a town, Sevilla La Nueva (in English, "The New Seville") on the north coast, one mile to the west of St. Ann's Bay.
In 1654 Oliver Cromwell decided to break the Spanish control of the West Indies and he sent a fleet in an expedition) led by William Penn and General Robert Venables. The fleet arrived to the Santo Domingo island on 13 April 1655 but the British lost in two battles on 17 and 25 April and they decided to move to Jamaica.
On 10 May 1655, Penn and Venables led a successful attack on Jamaica. The Spanish surrendered to the English, freed their slaves and then fled to Cuba. It was this set of freed slaves and their descendants living in the Jamaican mountains who became known as the Maroons.
After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica gained a degree of local political control in the late 1930s, and held its first election under full universal adult suffrage in 1944. Jamaica joined nine other U.K. territories in the West Indies Federation in 1958 but withdrew after Jamaican voters rejected membership in 1961. Jamaica got its independence in 1962, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.
Government and politics
Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II serving as the monarch. However, as Elizabeth II is shared as head of state of fifteen other countries (the Commonwealth realm) in addition to the United Kingdom and resides mostly in the United Kingdom, she is thus often represented as Queen of Jamaica in Jamaica and abroad by the Governor-General of Jamaica. The governor-general is nominated by the Prime Minister of Jamaica 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.
The Parliament of Jamaica is bicameral. This means that it consists of two Houses, the Senate, also called the Upper House, and the House of Representatives, also known as the Lower House. The members of the House (known as Members of Parliament or MPs) are elected by the people of Jamaica. The leader of the political party with most members in the House of Representatives is appointed by the governor-general to be the prime minister. Senators are nominated jointly by the prime minister and the parliamentary leader of the opposition and are then appointed by the governor-general.
Jamaica has traditionally had a system of two parties, with power often alternating between the People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). The party with current administrative and legislative power is the People's National Party, with a two-thirds Parliamentary majority as of 2012.
|Cornwall County||Capital||km2||Middlesex County||Capital||km2||Surrey County||Capital||km2|
|2||Saint Elizabeth||Black River||1,212||7||Manchester||Mandeville||830||12||Portland||Port Antonio||814|
|3||Saint James||Montego Bay||595||8||Saint Ann||St. Ann's Bay||1,213||13||Saint Andrew||Half Way Tree||453|
|4||Trelawny||Falmouth||879||9||Saint Catherine||Spanish Town||1,192||19||Saint Thomas||Morant Bay||743|
|5||Westmoreland||Savanna-la-Mar||807||10||Saint Mary||Port Maria||611|
In 2011 (last national census), there were 2,697,983 people living in Jamaica: 1,334,533 men and 1,363,450 women. There were 1,453,438 (53.9%) living in towns and cities. The population density was 245.5 persons/km².
The following table shows the parishes with their populations in the 2011 census.
The people of Jamaica is 62.5% Protestant (10.8% Seventh-day Adventist Church, 9.5% Pentecostal, 8.3 Other Church of God, 7.2% Baptist, 6.3% New Testament Church of God, 4.8% Church of God in Jamaica, 4.3% Church of God of Prophecy, 3.6% Anglicans, 7.7% other Christian), 2.6% Catholics, 14.2% other or unspecified, 20.9% none.
Jamaica is between latitudes 17° 42"N and 18° 31"N and longitudes 78° 22"W and 76° 11", that is between the equator and the Tropic of Cancer. It has an area of 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi).
Jamaica is the third-largest island country in the Greater Antilles, after Cuba and the Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic); it is larger than Puerto Rico. The island is 235 kilometres (146 mi) from east to west; the width, from north to south, varies between 35 kilometres (22 mi) to 82 kilometres (51 mi). The country is composed mainly of the mainland, but near the coast there are a few isolated small islands.
The Rio Minho is the longest river in Jamaica at 92.8 kilometres (57.7 mi). It rises close to the island's geographic centre, flows generally south-southwest and reaches the Caribbean Sea at Carlisle Bay in the central south coast, to the west of the island's southernmost point, Portland Point.
The Black River is one of the longest rivers in Jamaica. At a length of 53.4 km (33.2 mi), it was believed to be the longest until it was discovered that the Rio Minho was longer. It was originally called Rio Caobana.
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- Geography Caribbean Islands: A Country Study. Library of Congress, 1987
- Jamaica National Heritage Trust – Black River