/jeuh may"keuh/, n.
1. an island in the West Indies, S of Cuba. 4413 sq. mi. (11,430 sq. km).
2. a republic coextensive with this island: formerly a British colony; became independent in 1962, retaining membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. 2,615,582. Cap.: Kingston.

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Introduction Jamaica
Background: Jamaica gained full independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962. Deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s led to recurrent violence and a dropoff in tourism. Elections in 1980 saw the democratic socialists voted out of office. Subsequent governments have been open market oriented. Political violence marred elections during the 1990s. Geography Jamaica -
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 baselines exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM continental shelf: 200 NM or to edge of the continental margin contiguous zone: 24 NM
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: 16.07% permanent crops: 9.23% other: 74.7% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 250 sq km (1998 est.)
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 party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, 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 People Jamaica
Population: 2,680,029 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29.1% (male 399,249; female 380,864) 15-64 years: 64.1% (male 858,433; female 859,174) 65 years and over: 6.8% (male 81,321; female 100,988) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.56% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 17.74 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 5.45 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -6.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/ female total population: 1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 13.71 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.64 years female: 77.73 years (2002 est.) male: 73.65 years
Total fertility rate: 2.05 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.71% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 9,900 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 650 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Jamaican(s) adjective: Jamaican
Ethnic groups: black 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, white 0.2%, Chinese 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%
Religions: Protestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Baptist 8.8%, Anglican 5.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Brethren 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other, including some spiritual cults 34.7%
Languages: English, patois English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school total population: 85% male: 80.8% female: 89.1% (1995 est.) Government Jamaica
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Jamaica
Government type: constitutional parliamentary democracy
Capital: Kingston 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
Independence: 6 August 1962 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, first Monday in 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 Sir Howard Felix COOKE (since 1 August 1991) head of government: Prime Minister Percival James PATTERSON (since 30 March 1992) and Deputy Prime Minister Seymour MULLINGS (since NA 1993) 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; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general
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 eight seats) and the House of Representatives (60 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: last held 18 December 1997 (next to be held by March 2002) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PNP 50, JLP 10
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 [Edward SEAGA]; National Democratic Movement or NDM [Bruce GOLDING]; People's National Party or PNP [Percival James PATTERSON] Political pressure groups and New Beginnings Movement or NBM;
leaders: Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists) International organization ACP, C, Caricom, CCC, CDB, ECLAC,
participation: FAO, G-15, G-19, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Seymour MULLINGS consulate(s) general: Miami and New York FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081 telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660 chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Sue
US: McCourt COBB embassy: Jamaica Mutual Life Center, 2 Oxford Road, 3rd floor, Kingston 5 mailing address: use embassy street address telephone: [1] (876) 929-4850 through 4859 FAX: [1] (876) 926-6743
Flag description: diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side) Economy Jamaica -
Economy - overview: The economy, which depends heavily on tourism and bauxite, has been stagnant since 1995. After five years of recession, the economy grew 0.8% in 2000 and 1.1% in 2001, but the global economic slowdown, particularly in the United States after the 11 September terrorist attacks, has stunted the economic recovery. Serious problems include: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a widening merchandise trade deficit; and a growing internal debt, the result of government bailouts to various ailing sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector. Depressed economic conditions have led to increased civil unrest, including a mounting crime rate. Jamaica's medium-term prospects will depend upon encouraging investment, maintaining a competitive exchange rate, selling off reacquired firms, and implementing proper fiscal and monetary policies.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $9.8 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,700 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 7% industry: 28% services: 65% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 34.2% (1992 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 2.9%
percentage share: highest 10%: 28.9% (1996) Distribution of family income - Gini 36.4 (1996)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.9% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 1.13 million (1998) Labor force - by occupation: services 60%, agriculture 21%, industry 19% (1998)
Unemployment rate: 16% (2000 est.)
Budget: revenues: $2.23 billion expenditures: $2.56 billion, including capital expenditures of $232.5 million (FY99/00 est.)
Industries: tourism, bauxite, textiles, food processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products Industrial production growth rate: -2% (2000 est.) Electricity - production: 6.74 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 89.44% hydro: 3.22% other: 7.34% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 6.27 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, potatoes, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk
Exports: $1.6 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: alumina, bauxite; sugar, bananas, rum
Exports - partners: US 35.7%, EU (excluding UK) 15.9%, UK 13%, Canada 10.5% (1999)
Imports: $3.1 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, fuel, food, chemicals, fertilizers
Imports - partners: US 47.8%, Caricom countries 12.4%, Latin America 7.2%, EU (excluding UK) 4.7% (1999)
Debt - external: $5.2 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $102.7 million (1995)
Currency: Jamaican dollar (JMD)
Currency code: JMD
Exchange rates: Jamaican dollars per US dollar - 47.277 (December 2001), 45.996 (2001), 42.701 (2000), 39.044 (1999), 36.550 (1998), 35.404 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Jamaica Telephones - main lines in use: 353,000 (1996) Telephones - mobile cellular: 54,640 (1996)
Telephone system: general assessment: fully automatic domestic telephone network domestic: NA international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); 3 coaxial submarine cables 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 Service Providers (ISPs): 21 (2000)
Internet users: 60,000 (2000) Transportation Jamaica
Railways: total: 272 km standard gauge: 272 km 1.435- m gauge; note - 207 km, belonging to the Jamaica Railway Corporation, were in common carrier service but are no longer operational; the remaining track is privately owned and used to transport bauxite (2000)
Highways: total: 19,000 km paved: 13,433 km unpaved: 5,567 km (1997)
Waterways: none
Pipelines: petroleum products 10 km
Ports and harbors: Alligator Pond, Discovery Bay, Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Rocky Point, Port Esquivel (Longswharf)
Merchant marine: total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 21,954 GRT/25,250 DWT ships by type: petroleum tanker 1, includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Latvia 2, United States 2 (2002 est.)
Airports: 35 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 11 2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 3 under 914 m: 5 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 24 914 to 1,523 m: 2 under 914 m: 22 (2001) Military Jamaica
Military branches: Jamaica Defense Force (including Ground Forces, Coast Guard, and Air Wing), Jamaica Constabulary Force Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 747,043 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 523,550 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 27,729 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $30 million (FY95/96 est.)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of NA%
GDP: Transnational Issues Jamaica Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: major transshipment point for cocaine from South America to North America and Europe; illicit cultivation of cannabis; government has an active manual cannabis eradication program; corruption is a major concern

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Island country, West Indies.

Located south of Cuba, it is 146 mi (235 km) long and 35 mi (56 km) wide, the third largest island in the Caribbean. Area: 4,244 sq mi (10,991 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 2,630,000. Capital: Kingston. The population consists mostly of descendents of African slaves. Languages: English (official), creole. Religions: Christianity; spiritual sects, Rastafarian movement. Currency: Jamaica dollar. Jamaica has three major regions: the coastal lowlands, which encircle the island and are heavily cultivated; a limestone plateau, which covers half the island; and the interior highlands, with forested mountain ranges, including the Blue Mountains. Agriculture employs one-fourth of the workforce, and the major agricultural export is raw sugar, with molasses and rum as by-products. Industry focuses on the production of bauxite and alumina and on the garment industry. Tourism is very important, and half of the population is employed in services. Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy with two legislative houses. Its chief of state is the British monarch, represented by the governor-general, and its head of government is the prime minister. The island was settled by Arawak Indians с AD 600. It was sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1494; Spain colonized it in the early 16th century but neglected it because it lacked gold reserves. Britain gained control in 1655, and by the end of the 18th century it had become a prized colonial possession due to the volume of sugar produced by slave labourers. Slavery was abolished in the late 1830s, and the plantation system collapsed. Jamaica gained full internal self-government in 1959 and became an independent country within the British Commonwealth in 1962. In the late 20th century the government, led by Michael Manley, nationalized many businesses.

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▪ 2009

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 2,688,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Kenneth Hall
Head of government:
Prime Minister Bruce Golding

      The new Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government announced in January 2008 that it would proceed with the decision of its predecessor, the People's National Party (PNP), to adopt liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the preferred fuel diversification option for the country. Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that discussions on LNG supplies were “under way” with unnamed countries; these talks occurred following the inability of either Trinidad and Tobago or Venezuela to provide promised LNG within an acceptable time frame.

      The Office of Utilities Regulation in April began soliciting proposals for the provision of 73 MW of renewable energy such as wind, biomass, solar, and hydrogen. The takeover by Brazil's Infinity Bio-Energy of Jamaica's five sugar factories was confirmed in July, with the company stressing its intention to use sugar as the basis of a significant ethanol industry in the country.

      Prime Minister Golding in May called on the U.S. to lift its decades-old economic embargo on Cuba and for both countries to undertake “constructive engagement” to resolve differences. He suggested making efforts similar to those that the U.S. had adopted in reestablishing ties with China, Vietnam, and North Korea.

      Former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller defeated rival Peter Phillips for the leadership of the PNP in party elections held in September. After her reelection Miller insisted that she would work harder to restore the PNP to power in Jamaica.

David Renwick

▪ 2008

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 2,680,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Kenneth Hall
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Portia Simpson Miller and, from September 11, Bruce Golding

      The 2007 Cricket World Cup tournament, the biggest sporting event ever held in the Caribbean, suffered a setback on the Jamaica leg in March when the coach of the Pakistan team, Englishman Bob Woolmer (Woolmer, Bob ), was found dead in his hotel room in Kingston. Local investigators pursued the case as a murder inquiry for months until pathologists definitively confirmed that Woolmer had, in fact, died from a sudden heart attack.

      It appeared very unlikely that Jamaica would have a land-based regasification terminal for the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the near future. Thus, the government in May turned to the option of ship-based regasification and opened a bidding process for such a facility. Nine firms had responded to the invitation by June. Where the LNG would come from, however, remained an open question, since neither Trinidad and Tobago (the preferred supplier) nor Venezuela (which had offered gas supplies) were currently in a position to provide LNG, though they had different reasons.

 The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), led by economist Bruce Golding, succeeded in defeating the People's National Party (PNP) in the September 3 general election, after the latter had enjoyed four straight terms (18 years) in office. The JLP won 33 of the 60 seats in the House of Representatives, with the PNP retaining the other 27. The PNP's failure to hold on to the reins of power came as a bitter blow to its first female leader, Portia Simpson Miller, who had headed the party since February 2006. Golding was sworn in as prime minister on September 11.

David Renwick

▪ 2007

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 2,667,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governors-General Sir Howard Cooke and, from February 15, Kenneth Hall
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Percival J. Patterson and, from March 30, Portia Simpson Miller

 Jamaica acquired a new prime minister in March 2006. Portia Simpson Miller—>, a longtime People's National Party member and minister in various PNP governments over the years, narrowly defeated her main rival, Peter Phillips, and was elected the new leader of the party, thus automatically assuming the duties of prime minister. Simpson Miller took over from the well-respected Percival J. Patterson, who had headed the party since 1992. The PNP was into its third successive term in office, with general elections due in 2007.

      Jamaica made a major move to expand its renewable energy program in July when independent power producers were allowed to bid for power contracts with the national grid, using nonhydrocarbon forms of energy, such as wind and hydropower. The government set a goal of 15% of the country's electricity to be drawn from renewable energy sources by 2020. In the meantime, the Jamaica Public Service Co. (JPSCo), which already ran the transmission and distribution system, announced a new 150-MW power plant of its own, to be fired by coal. JPSCo also agreed to buy power from the first gas-fired generation unit, to be installed by alumina company Jamalco by 2009. Jamaica's electricity capacity, 817 MW in 2006, was expected to grow to 1,052 MW by 2012.

David Renwick

▪ 2006

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 2,736,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke
Head of government:
Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      Experienced Jamaican politician Bruce Golding in February 2005 assumed the leadership of the official opposition Jamaica Labour Party, replacing longtime JLP leader and former prime minister Edward Seaga. In April Golding also took over Seaga's West Kingston seat in a by- election and thus consolidated his hold on the party by taking charge of the JLP MPs in Parliament.

      In April Jamaica began considering whether its age-old sugar industry had a future exporting against the background of analysts' predictions that as many as 40,000 jobs could be lost owing to changes in the EU preferential price-quota system. Another option was to use raw sugar to feed into value-added products, such as ethanol, rather than exporting it directly.

      The two main political parties, the governing People's National Party (PNP) and the JLP, decided in May to require their elected members publicly to disavow ties to criminal gangs operating in the country. This followed a demand by business groups that MPs no longer be seen to be giving “comfort” to gang leaders, a longtime practice by both parties.

      In another attempt to kick-start so-far-unsuccessful efforts to find oil in Jamaica, the government offered 24 offshore and onshore blocks to international companies in an auction that closed in July. The outcome was considered a disappointment, however; only three companies showed interest. Jamaica's oil-import bill was expected to top $1.2 billion in 2005. In September the JLP led protests against government-imposed price increases for water, electricity, and public transport.

David Renwick

▪ 2005

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 2,649,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke
Head of government:
Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      In March 2004 the U.S. Department of State (DOS), in its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, gave Jamaica credit for its efforts against drug smuggling and drug-related crime but claimed that corruption continued to undermine law enforcement. That same month Amnesty International accused Jamaican authorities of lacking the political will to end extrajudicial killings by the police. This criticism came in the wake of the collapse of a trial of a police officer charged with the murder of a 13-year-old girl. Amnesty observed that Jamaica had the dubious distinction of having one of the world's highest rates of killings by police.

      Following an $80 million security upgrade, in April Jamaica's ports—the DOS focus of the drug-running business—became the first in the Caribbean to be certified under the International Maritime Organization's International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, which was designed to strengthen defenses against terrorism in port or at sea.

      Finance Minister Omar Davies announced in April that 5,000 new hotel rooms would be built over the next five years to support Jamaica's burgeoning tourist industry. In September Hurricane Ivan killed at least 18 people and caused damages totaling $90 million; the estimated losses included 60% of the coffee crop, 30% of the citrus crop, 15% of the sugar-cane crop, and 20% of poultry production. In addition, 75% of the homes in one district were damaged.

David Renwick

▪ 2004

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 2,644,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke
Head of government:
Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      The UN Commission on Human Rights took Jamaica to task in February 2003 for what was described as “too many questionable police shootings.” A commission official stressed that there were “strong indications” that allegations of police contract killings “might be accurate.” In 2002, 133 people in Jamaica had died after being shot by police. Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department were also continuous critics of police killings in the Caribbean island nation.

      The People's National Party's run of electoral successes—it had won its fourth straight general election in 2002—was abruptly halted in June when the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) captured 12 out of 13 parish councils in the local government elections. Notwithstanding a low voter turnout (37%), the JLP took 126 out of 227 seats at stake, bolstering its chances of a possible comeback in the next general election, due in 2007.

      Jamaica confirmed its position as one of the Caribbean's top cruise ship destinations in 2003 by attracting more than one million cruise visitors for the first time, despite the economic problems in the U.S., the main source of cruise visitors. Cruise ship visitor growth was 20% over the previous year.

      In September Prime Minister Percival Patterson said that he wanted Jamaica to adopt a republican form of government by 2007. The JLP, however, declared that it might not support the government in the required constitutional amendments.

David Renwick

▪ 2003

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 2,630,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke
Head of government:
Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      In March 2002 the Jamaican government announced that it would join the growing list of countries opting for liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the preferred fuel for power generation. Japanese and South Korean investors indicated an interest in funding LNG-importation facilities, and the Japanese government was approached to support a feasibility study.

      The leaders of the two main political parties—Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson of the People's National Party (PNP) and opposition leader Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)—signed a political code of conduct in June, pledging to discourage their followers from resorting to violence during the election campaign. Nonetheless, about 60 persons were killed in political violence. In the general election held on October 16, the PNP won 34 seats in the 60-seat House of Representatives, and the JLP captured 26. As a result, the PNP clinched its fourth successive term in office, and Patterson would remain in office for a record third consecutive term.

      Despite strenuous efforts by international human rights bodies, particularly Amnesty International, to persuade the government to abandon the death penalty for the crime of murder, the government responded that it was considering a constitutional change that would make it easier to enforce the death penalty, including eliminating the right of final appeal to the judges of the Privy Council in London, a holdover from Jamaica's colonial days.

David Renwick

▪ 2002

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 2,624,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke
Head of government:
Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      Tourism was dealt a severe blow when in March and April 2001 four cruise lines dropped Jamaica from their itineraries following complaints about visitor harassment. The reduction in tourist revenue was expected to amount to as much as J$1 billion (about $21.9 million). In May the government unveiled a $2 billion “master plan” for the future development of the tourist industry.

      The electricity problems plaguing Jamaica and hampering development seemed on their way to being rectified in March when the government sold 80% of the Jamaica Public Service Co., the country's power generator and transmitter, to the American company Mirant, which promised to add another 385 MW of power to the existing 660 MW.

      In a report issued in April by London-based Amnesty International, Jamaica's police service was sharply criticized for its violations of human rights. The report said that the police had unlawfully killed 140 people in 2000—a rate of about 5.4 per 100,000 persons, which, Amnesty said, was one of the highest in the world. The government described the report as “one-sided, false, and misleading.”

      Jamaica was bedeviled by spasmodic gang violence during much of the year, particularly in the West Kingston area, where in July at least 25 persons were killed in street violence. The government set up a commission of inquiry in September, which it hoped would recommend measures for dealing with inner-city gang warfare, especially perceived links with the drug trade and organized crime.

David Renwick

▪ 2001

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 2,619,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke
Head of government:
Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      Prime Minister Percival Patterson informed Jamaicans in April 2000 that the country would not enter into another borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The government did, however, ask the IMF to “monitor” its economic and financial policies for the next two fiscal years, a service the fund performed for many of its members.

      Jamaica's key commodity, sugar, made a production comeback during the year, with 216,282 metric tons harvested by the time the crop closed in July. The total for the previous year was 204,188 metric tons.

      The government responded to public concern over an increase in crime by establishing a specialized police unit in September; it was expected to target gang leaders and armed criminals as a first priority. At least 677 people had been murdered in Jamaica during the year. Businessmen, in particular, were vociferous in their demands for firm action. Multimillionaire hotel owner Gordon Stewart, probably the country's best-known businessman internationally, even called on the government to resign if it could not handle the situation.

      The government announced in September that it would set up a national commission to review whether the use of marijuana should be decriminalized under certain conditions. Jamaica was a major Caribbean grower and exporter of the drug, which also contributed to the local crime problem.

      Jamaicans were excited over the performance of their athletes in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Lorraine Graham claimed two silver medals, finishing second in the women's 400-m dash and 4 × 400-m relay. Tanya Lawrence edged out fellow Jamaican Merlene Ottey to win the bronze medal in the women's 100-m dash. Ottey, who had competed in five previous Olympics, added to her medal total as a member of Jamaica's silver-medal-winning 4 × 100-m relay team.

David Renwick

▪ 2000

10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 2,592,000
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke
Head of government:
Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      Jamaica's debt situation worsened considerably during 1999, with the budget estimates presented in March showing loan repayments and interest preempting an extraordinary 62%, or J$99 billion, of total estimated current and capital expenditure of J$160.1 billion for fiscal 1999–2000 (J$1 = about U.S. $0.03). This reflected the high cost of funding the Financial Sector Adjustment Co. (Finsac), the government vehicle for rescuing financial institutions that had collapsed over the last two and a half years. Partly as a result of the huge debt burden, Finance Minister Omar Davies was obliged to find new sources of revenue and decided to increase gasoline and diesel fuel prices by 30%, a move that brought protesters pouring into the streets in April. At least six people were killed and many others were arrested, and the tourist sector lost approximately J$100 million in income. The government was eventually obliged to reduce the increase by 50%.

      The first step toward revival of the once-vibrant Jamaica railway system was taken in April when an understanding was reached with an Indian government agent to help restore passenger and freight traffic. Soldiers were put on the streets of Kingston in July to assist the police following an upsurge in serious crime, as reflected in an average of four murders a day in June–July. Much of the crime was the work of Jamaican criminals deported from the U.S.

David Renwick

▪ 1999

      Area: 10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 2,554,000

      Capital: Kingston

      Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke

      Head of government: Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      The opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) failed to make an impression on the voters in local government elections in 1998. The People's National Party, which already controlled the central government on the basis of its victory in the December 1997 general election, won all 13 of Jamaica's parishes in the September 10 poll, as well as the main municipal body, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corp.

      The JLP, headed by Edward Seaga, had initially decided to boycott the local election because of Seaga's continuing dissatisfaction with the country's electoral system. The party changed its mind, however, after Prime Minister Percival Patterson agreed to speed up electoral reform, which had begun in the 1997 general election when voter identification cards with photographs were used for the first time.

      At least eight more financial institutions had to be taken over by the government's Financial Sector Adjustment Co. (Finsac) during 1998 as banks, insurance companies, and building societies collapsed owing to a decline in asset values. By late 1998 Finsac had spent about J$100,000,000,000 (U.S. $2,750,000,000) to support failed financial institutions.


▪ 1998

      Area: 10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 2,536,000

      Capital: Kingston

      Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke

      Head of government: Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

      The government of Jamaica moved to salvage the nation's beleaguered garment industry, one of the country's largest employers, when it allocated J$200 million in January 1997 to subsidize 5% of the operating costs of 180 factories. This was meant to help maintain the industry's competitive edge in the U.S. market, where exporters had been losing ground to Mexican garments, which had faced no import restrictions since Mexico's accession to the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992. Later in the year, in August, another J$160 million was added to the rescue package.

      In May the Jamaican parliament ratified the "Shiprider Agreement" with the U.S. after amendments were made that satisfied Jamaica's desire to preserve sovereignty over its territorial waters. The agreement committed both nations to cooperating closely in the war against drug trafficking in the Caribbean.

      In June two of the country's leading bauxite and alumina firms, Alpart and Jamalco, announced they would merge in January 1998 in a move designed to strengthen the industry. Alpart, partly owned by Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. of the U.S., was Jamaica's largest alumina refiner.

      In March Michael Manley, prime minister of Jamaica in 1972-80 and 1989-92, died. (See OBITUARIES.) (Manley, Michael Norman ) In parliamentary elections in December, the ruling People's National Party was returned to power.

      This article updates Jamaica.

▪ 1997

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Jamaica occupies an island in the Caribbean Sea. Area: 10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 2,505,000. Cap.: Kingston. Monetary unit: Jamaica dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of J$34 to U.S. $1 (J$53.56 = £1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1996, Sir Howard Cooke; prime minister, Percival J. Patterson.

      Jamaica's "Cuban problem" continued to occupy the attention of the authorities in 1996. Following an announcement that 57 Cuban refugees would be repatriated, 43 disappeared, some reportedly making their way to Puerto Rico. Of the rest, 13 were subsequently deported, Cuba having assured the Jamaican authorities that it would not punish them.

      Jamaica's crime problem continued during the year, and the government was obliged to appoint a committee representing political parties, churches, and community groups to try to find a way to end the violence. The perceived failure of police commissioner Col. Trevor Macmillan to stem the crime wave led to his departure in September after he engaged in an acrimonious exchange with the prime minister.


      This article updates Jamaica.

▪ 1996

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Jamaica occupies an island in the Caribbean Sea. Area: 10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 2,520,000. Cap.: Kingston. Monetary unit: Jamaica dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of J$35.75 to U.S. $1 (J$56.52 = £1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1995, Howard Cooke; prime minister, Percival J. Patterson.

      Prime Minister Percival Patterson began the year by reducing the size of his Cabinet from 17 to 15 members. The changes were designed to strengthen the People's National Party government as it prepared for the next general election. In March former prime minister Edward Seaga, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), survived an attempt by party dissidents to have him step down and make way for someone who, they felt, would increase their chance of regaining control of the government. In a special poll Seaga won 78.8% of the votes cast by representatives of JLP party groups. Seaga had said that he would relinquish the party leadership if his support fell below 70%. He had been at the helm of the JLP since 1974.

      The two main political parties agreed in principle in August to a new voter-registration system recommended by the Electoral Advisory Committee.

      A third political party, the National Democratic Movement, was formed on October 29 by Bruce Golding, who had resigned as JLP chairman in February so that he could align himself with the anti-Seaga forces. Opinion polls suggest that a third party could seriously challenge the JLP in the next election.

      In a bid to maintain investor confidence in the country's financial system, one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, the government agreed in June to bail out depositors of the failed Blaise Building Society and merchant banking group. Following a slip in the value of the Jamaica dollar to J$41 = U.S. $1 in November, Patterson announced stabilization measures, including intervention by the Bank of Jamaica. (DAVID RENWICK)

      This updates the article Jamaica.

▪ 1995

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Jamaica occupies an island in the Caribbean Sea. Area: 10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 2,497,000. Cap.: Kingston. Monetary unit: Jamaica dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of J$32.53 to U.S. $1 (J$51.74 = £1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1994, Howard Cooke; prime minister, Percival J. Patterson.

      The continuing refusal of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to participate in elections enabled the governing People's National Party to retain its hold on both the East Central St. Andrew and South St. Catherine constituencies during April and August 1994, respectively. Following its defeat in the 1993 general election, the JLP said that it would take no further part in elections of any kind until the polling process had been "reformed."

      The JLP expected the electoral system to be improved in time for the 1998 general election, which probably explained why its 64-year-old leader, Edward Seaga, was showing no sign of wanting to retire. He said in April that he had no "immediate plans" to step down from the leadership position that he gained in 1974.

      Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson signaled his belief during the year that the troubled Jamaican economy may finally have begun to recover. He said in May that the current Extended Fund Facility, which was to end in 1995, would be the last such arrangement with the International Monetary Fund. Jamaica had been dependent on IMF financing since 1977. The economy received an unexpected setback in June, however, when an explosion at the main power station destroyed 20% of Jamaica's generating capacity.


      This updates the article Jamaica.

▪ 1994

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Jamaica occupies an island in the Caribbean Sea. Area: 10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 2,472,000. Cap.: Kingston. Monetary unit: Jamaica dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of J$27.15 to U.S. $1 (J$41.13 = £1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1993, Howard Cooke; prime minister, Percival J. Patterson.

      The Jamaican electorate gave Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson and his People's National Party a convincing mandate in March 1993, with a 52-8 seat victory in the general election. Patterson was facing the polls for the first time as party leader, having succeeded the veteran Michael Manley in March 1992. The defeated Jamaica Labour Party promptly said that it would boycott Parliament in protest against the "fraudulent" conduct of the election, including the "partisan" role of the police. Party leader Edward Seaga called off the boycott in July after a new police chief had been appointed and the government promised to strengthen the electoral system.

      In June the government presented its first budget, amounting to J$40.2 billion. The budget contained a large new tax package, including an increase in the general consumption tax from 10 to 12.5%. It also provided J$4 billion for funding foreign exchange transactions undertaken by the Bank of Jamaica. Bank officials had earlier been dismissed for mismanagement of foreign exchange operations, and the bank governor himself subsequently resigned, as did Finance Minister Hugh Small.

      Heavy rain in May severely affected the agricultural sector, particularly sugar. In July it was announced that on the basis of the findings of three foreign prospecting companies, Jamaica stood a good chance of becoming a gold producer.


      This updates the article Jamaica.

* * *

Jamaica, flag of  island nation of the West Indies. It is the third largest island in the Caribbean Sea, after Cuba and Hispaniola. Jamaica is about 146 miles (235 km) long and varies from 22 to 51 miles (35 to 82 km) wide. It is situated some 100 miles (160 km) west of Haiti, 90 miles (150 km) south of Cuba, and 390 miles (630 km) northeast of Cape Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua, the nearest point on the mainland. The national capital is Kingston.

      Christopher Columbus, who first sighted the island in 1494, called it Santiago, but the original indigenous name of Jamaica, or Xaymaca, has persisted. Columbus considered it to be “the fairest isle that eyes have beheld,” and many travelers still regard it as one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. The island's various Spanish, French, and English place-names are remnants of its colonial history; the great majority of its people are of African ancestry, the descendants of slaves brought in by European colonists. Jamaica became independent from the United Kingdom in 1962 but remains a member of the Commonwealth.

The land

 Interior mountains and plateaus cover much of Jamaica's (Jamaica) length, and nearly half of the island's surface is more than 1,000 feet (300 metres) above sea level. The most rugged topography and highest elevations are in the east, where the Blue Mountains rise to 7,402 feet (2,256 metres) at Blue Mountain Peak, the island's highest point. Karst (limestone) landscapes with ridges, depressions, and sinkholes (“cockpits”) characterize the hills and plateaus of the John Crow Mountains, the Dry Harbour Mountains, and Cockpit Country, a region covering 500 square miles (1,300 square km) in western Jamaica. The Don Figuerero, Santa Cruz, and May Day mountains are major landforms in the southwest. Coastal plains largely encircle the island, and the largest alluvial plains are located in the south.

Drainage and soils
      Numerous rivers and streams issue from the central highlands, but many disappear intermittently into karst sinkholes and caves. Few rivers are navigable for any great distance, because of their rapid descent from the mountains. The Rio Minho in central Jamaica is the longest river, flowing for some 58 miles (93 km) from the Dry Harbour Mountains to Carlisle Bay. The Black River in the west and the Rio Cobre near Kingston are each longer than 30 miles (50 km).

      More than half of the island's surface is covered with white limestone, beneath which are yellow limestone, older metamorphic rocks (compact rocks formed by heat and pressure), and igneous rocks (formed by the cooling of molten material). The shallow soils of many upland areas are particularly susceptible to erosion. Alluvial soils on the coastal plains chiefly consist of deep loam and clay, and residual clays cover the valley floors.

      The tropical climate is influenced by the sea and the northeast trade winds, which are dominant throughout the year. Coastal breezes blow onshore by day and offshore at night. During the winter months, from December to March, colder winds known locally as “northers” reach the island from the North American mainland.

      The mountains cause variations in temperature according to elevation, but there is little change from season to season. Temperatures on the coasts can reach about 90 °F (32 °C), and low temperatures of some 40 °F (4 °C) have been recorded on the high peaks. Average diurnal temperatures at Kingston, at sea level, range between 88 °F (31 °C) and 71 °F (22 °C). At Stony Hill, 1,400 feet (427 metres) above sea level, the maximum and minimum means are only a few degrees cooler.

      Rains are seasonal, falling chiefly in October and May, although thunderstorms can bring heavy showers in the summer months, from June to September. The average annual rainfall for the entire island is 82 inches (2,100 mm), but regional variations are considerable. The mountains force the trade winds to deposit more than 130 inches (3,300 mm) per year on the eastern parish of Portland, while little precipitation occurs on the hot, dry savannas of the south and southwest. Jamaica has occasionally been struck by hurricanes during the summer, including those in 1951, 1980, and 1988. Earthquakes have caused serious damage only twice—in 1692 and 1907.

Plant and animal life
      The island is renowned for its diverse ecosystems, including stunted, elfin forests on the highest peaks, rainforests in the valleys, savannas, and dry, sandy areas supporting only cacti and other xerophytic plants. Jamaica's plant life has changed considerably through the centuries. The island was completely forested in the 15th century, except for small agricultural clearings, but European settlers cut down the great timber trees for building purposes and cleared the plains, savannas, and mountain slopes for cultivation. They also introduced many new plants, including sugarcane, bananas, and citrus trees.

      Jamaica has few indigenous mammals. Coneys (a type of rodent) were numerous and prized as food in pre-Columbian times but have since been reduced by hunting and habitat destruction. The native crocodile may also be threatened with extinction. Bat species are the most numerous of the mammals. Mongooses, which feed on rats and snakes, have become widespread since they were introduced in 1872. The mountain mullet is the most prevalent freshwater fish, and there are four species of crayfish. More than 200 bird species have been recorded, including migratory birds and some two dozen endemic species, such as the streamertail hummingbird, which is the national bird.

      Among the island's protected areas are the Cockpit Country, Hellshire (Healthshire) Hills, and Litchfield forest reserves. Jamaica's first marine park, covering nearly 6 square miles (15 square km), was established in Montego Bay in 1992. The following year Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park was created on roughly 300 square miles (780 square km) of wilderness that supports thousands of tree and fern species, rare animals, and insects, such as the Homerus swallowtail, the Western Hemisphere's largest butterfly.

Settlement patterns
      During the colonial era some of the island's African slaves escaped from large coastal plantations and established independent communities farther inland. The remaining slaves were emancipated in 1838, at which time many also left the plantations for the interior—often with the aid of Nonconformist (non-Anglican) missionaries. Several of those early communities grew into permanent towns.

      Most of the urban centres are located on the coastal plains, where the main commercial crops are grown. Kingston, the national capital, is located on the Liguanea Plain on the southeastern coast, between the sea and the St. Andrew Mountains, which form part of the ranges of the parish of St. Andrew. Kingston is the commercial, administrative, and cultural centre of the island and the focus of its transportation services. Other southern coastal towns include Savanna-la-Mar (in the southwest), Portmore (just west of Kingston), and Morant Bay (east). Important centres in the interior are Spanish Town, which is the old capital 13 miles (21 km) west of Kingston, May Pen, and Mandeville, high in the Manchester Highlands. Montego Bay is the largest city on the northern coast; smaller northern towns include St. Ann's Bay, Port Maria, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio. Their fine white-sand beaches and exquisite mountain scenery make them popular tourist resorts; Ocho Rios developed particularly rapidly in the late 20th century as a centre for hotels and cruise ship stopovers.

The people (Jamaica)

Ethnicity and language
      Spanish colonists had exterminated the aboriginal Arawak Indians by the time the English invaded the island in 1655. The Spaniards themselves escaped the island or were expelled shortly afterward. The population of English settlers remained small, but they brought in vast numbers of African slaves to work the sugar estates. Today the population consists predominantly of the black and mulatto descendants of those slaves, with small groups who trace their ancestry to the United Kingdom, India, China, Syria, Portugal, and Germany.

      English, the official language, is commonly used in towns and among the more privileged social classes. Jamaican Creole (creole languages) is also widely spoken. Its vocabulary and grammar are based in English, but its various dialects derive vocabulary and phrasing from West African languages, Spanish, and, to a lesser degree, French. The language's characteristics include pronouncing the letter combination th as if it were a d or t and omitting some initial consonant sounds, principally the h; moreover, its lyrical cadences, intonations, and pronunciations may be unintelligible for some English-speaking visitors. The Creole languages of Belize, Grenada, and St. Vincent are similar to that of Jamaica.

      Freedom of worship is guaranteed by Jamaica's constitution. No single religious group has a majority of adherents, but the majority of Jamaicans are at least nominally Christian, including roughly two-fifths in Protestant denominations and one-tenth in the Roman Catholic church. Evangelical Christian churches have increased in size from the late 20th century. About one-tenth of the population are Pentecostals (mainly of the Church of God), and there are lesser numbers of Seventh-day Adventists and Baptists. Only a small percentage of the total attends the Anglican church, which, as the Church of England, was the island's only established church until 1870. Smaller Protestant denominations include the Moravians, Disciples of Christ, Society of Friends (Quakers), and United Church of Christ.

      The Jewish community is one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Jamaica also has a small Hindu population, a Muslim mosque, and a branch of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. Some syncretic religious movements base their beliefs on Christianity and West African traditions. The central feature of the Pocomania sect, for example, is spirit possession; the Cumina sect has rituals characterized by drumming, dancing, and spirit possession. Rastafarianism (Rastafari) has been an important religious and cultural movement in Jamaica since the 1950s and has attracted adherents from the island's poorest communities, although it represents only a small proportion of the total population. Rastafarians believe in the divinity of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia and in the eventual return of his exiled followers to Africa. Rastafarianism has become internationally known through its associations with reggae music and some of Jamaica's most successful musical stars.

Demographic trends
      The population of Jamaica has grown steadily through the centuries, despite considerable emigration, and in the 1950s and '60s a peak in the birth rate created a baby boom generation. Birth and death rates have both declined since the 1970s, and by the mid-1990s the fertility rate averaged about 3 children per woman of childbearing age.

      Jamaican workers emigrated to Panama in successive waves: in the 1850s to help build a trans-isthmian railway, in the late 19th century during the failed French-led effort to build a canal, and in 1904–14 during the successful U.S.-led effort. The nascent banana industry in Central America drew still more Jamaicans, as did the need for workers in the sugar and coffee plantations of Cuba. Great numbers have migrated to Canada and United Kingdom, which registered some 200,000 Jamaicans during the period 1950–60. The United States attracted more Jamaicans than all other nations combined during the 19th and 20th centuries, and the United States and Canada continue to be the primary destination of Jamaican migrants.

      Internal migration has also been pronounced, owing to growth in bauxite mining, the manufacturing sector, and tourism. Between 1969 and 1974, for instance, more than one-fourth of the population changed their parish of residence. Job opportunities in tourist resorts on the northern coast and in the Kingston region have attracted many migrants from rural communities. At the turn of the 21st century, nearly one-third of the island's population lived in the Kingston metropolitan area, and about half lived in urban areas. Jamaica's population density is about average for the West Indies.

The economy
      Jamaica's economy is mixed but increasingly based on services, notably tourism and finance. Since independence in 1962, Jamaica has developed markedly but unevenly. The government controls some key industries, but there are many foreign-owned companies, especially those controlling exports (bauxite and aluminum) and tourism, which are Jamaica's main sources of foreign exchange. Mining and manufacturing became increasingly important to the economy in the latter part of the 20th century; however, the mining sector has been highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the world market for aluminum. The island experienced a protracted recession in the 1990s after aluminum prices declined and many U.S. manufacturers relocated off the island.

      Large deposits of bauxite (the ore of aluminum) are found in central Jamaica. Iron ore, gypsum, and marble are in eastern Jamaica, and clays occur in the west. Silica sand and limestone are found throughout the island. Other mineral resources include peat, gravel, and smaller quantities of lignite, copper, lead, zinc, and phosphates; Jamaica's black sands contain some titanium.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Agriculture continues to be one of the bases of the island's economy, accounting for about one-tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) and one-fifth of the workforce. The two major crops are sugar—with its byproducts molasses and rum—and bananas. Also important are citrus fruits, yams, coffee, allspice (pimento), cacao, tobacco, and ginger. Blue Mountain Coffee, a renowned gourmet brand, is grown on slopes just below 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) and is processed by a select group of Jamaican companies; other types of coffee are grown in the lowlands. Marijuana (ganja) is illegally grown in many areas; however, U.S.-supported antidrug programs have curtailed its export to North America and Europe.

      Timber production does not meet the country's needs, and most of the wood, cork, and paper consumed is imported. The government encourages afforestation. Fishing is a major enterprise supporting tens of thousands of people. Pedro Bank, part of the island shelf about 60 miles (100 km) southwest of Jamaica, is the main fishing area, but some fishers venture out as far as 300 miles (500 km); trawling has increasingly damaged Jamaica's coral reefs.

      Mining accounts for less than one-tenth of the GDP and only a tiny fraction of employment, although Jamaica is one of the world's main producers of bauxite and aluminum. Silica sand is exploited and used locally to make glass containers, while most of Jamaica's gypsum is mined for export. Cement is used largely in local construction.

      Manufacturing accounts for roughly one-sixth of the GDP and less than one-tenth of the labour force. The main products are processed foods (including sugar, rum, and molasses), textiles, and metal products. Printing, chemicals, and cement and clay products are also notable.

      Jamaica imports petroleum for nearly all of its energy needs, including electric power generation. Hydroelectric resources and the burning of bagasse (sugarcane residue) generate smaller amounts of electricity. State-owned generators supply most of the electric power, and privately owned facilities provide for the major industries.

      Finance, tourism, and other services are huge components of the island's economy, providing about one-fourth of both the GDP and employment. Jamaica has attempted to increase its share of the Caribbean region's burgeoning service sector by promoting information technologies and data processing, principally for North American and European companies.

      Banking and finance account for nearly half of Jamaica's service-related earnings. Commercial banks, some of which are subsidiaries of Canadian, British, and U.S. banks, dominate the financial sector. Life insurance companies, building societies, and credit unions also offer savings and credit services. The central bank is the Bank of Jamaica (founded 1960); it issues currency (the Jamaican dollar) and credit and promotes economic development. Several banks and special funding institutions provide loans for industry, housing, tourism, and agriculture.

      Jamaica's government is burdened by a large foreign debt. The Jamaican dollar had a relatively stable exchange rate relative to the U.S. dollar until 1990, when it was floated and radically devalued. In the late 1990s a crisis in the financial sector obliged the government to intervene in the operations of several banks and insurance companies.

      Trade constitutes about one-fourth of the GDP and employs one-sixth of the labour force. The principal exports are aluminum and bauxite, which account for roughly half of export earnings; sugar, bananas, coffee, and other agricultural products, beverages and tobacco, and chemicals constitute most of the remainder. The United States is, by far, Jamaica's main trading partner. The United Kingdom, Canada, France, Norway, Germany, and Japan are also important. Jamaica is a participatory member of several trade organizations, including the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom (Caribbean Community and Common Market)).

      Jamaica's economy relies heavily on tourism, which has become the country's largest source of foreign exchange. Most tourists remain on the island for several days or weeks, although increasing numbers disembark only briefly from cruise ships at Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. These and other towns on the northern coast, as well as Kingston, are the tourist sector's main bases of activity. Jamaica is famous for its pleasant climate, fine beaches, and superb scenery, including the waters of Montego Bay and the majestic Blue Mountains.

      Jamaica's main roads encircle the island, loop into the valleys, and traverse the mountains via three major north-south routes, and the Kingston metropolitan area has a major public bus system. In 1988 Hurricane Gilbert severely damaged Jamaica's railway network, contributing to the suspension of passenger services in the 1990s. Four railways transport bauxite from highland mines to coastal refineries and ports.

      There are two international airports—Norman Manley, on the Palisadoes in Kingston, and Donald Sangster at Montego Bay—both of which are named for former prime ministers. These airports, together with Tinson Pen in Kingston, also handle domestic flights. Port Antonio, Ocho Rios, and Negril have major public airstrips, and there are privately owned airstrips throughout the island. Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio are the principal seaports, handling freighters and large cruise liners.

Administration and social conditions

      Under the Jamaica (Constitution) Order in Council of 1962, by which the island achieved independence, Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Citizens at least 18 years of age are eligible to vote. Jamaica has had universal suffrage since 1944.

      The prime minister, who is head of government, is appointed by the leading political party from its parliamentary members. The monarch of the United Kingdom, who is titular head of state, follows the prime minister's recommendation in appointing a Jamaican governor-general who has largely ceremonial powers. The principal policy-making body is the cabinet, which consists of the prime minister and at least 11 other ministers.

      The bicameral parliament consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 60 members, who are directly elected. The speaker and deputy speaker are elected by the House from its members. The Senate has 21 members, who are appointed by the governor-general—13 in accordance with the advice of the prime minister and eight on the advice of the leader of the opposition party. Senators are appointed for the duration of a single parliamentary term. The president and deputy president of the Senate are elected by its members. General elections must be held at least once every five years, and the governing party may choose to hold early elections.

      The legal system is based on English common law. The highest court in the Jamaican legal system is the Court of Appeals. It hears appeals from the Resident Magistrates' Court, which includes the Family Courts, the Kingston Traffic Court, Juvenile Courts, and a division of the Gun Court; the Court of Appeals also handles appeals from the Supreme Court, the nation's highest trial court. The governor-general, on the advice of a Jamaican Privy Council, may grant clemency in cases involving the death penalty; occasionally such cases are referred to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. According to human rights organizations, the judicial system is overburdened, with long delays before trials and with prison conditions characterized by overcrowding, insufficient food supplies and funding, and occasional brutality.

      The island is divided into 14 parishes, two of which are amalgamated as the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation, generally corresponding to the Kingston metropolitan area. Parish councils, whose members are directly elected, administer the other parishes. The capitals of some parishes have elected mayors. Jamaica is also traditionally divided into three counties—Cornwall, Middlesex, and Surrey.

      The two main political parties are the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP). A third party, the National Democratic Movement, was founded in 1995 but did not win any legislative seats in its first contested election (1997). The largest trade unions are the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (affiliated with the JLP) and the National Workers' Union (affiliated with the PNP). There are also employers' associations.

Armed forces and security
      Violent crime is a major problem on the island, particularly in poor urban areas. Violence and fraud have also marred many national and local elections; however, political violence seemed to diminish in the late 20th century. The Jamaica Constabulary Force is primarily responsible for internal security; it is supplemented by the Island Special Constabulary Force (a unit of police reserves) and, in the event of major disturbances or natural disasters, by the Jamaica Defense Force. Special police units have occasionally been formed in attempts to reduce corruption and to control organized crime. The Jamaican police have been criticized for a high rate of extrajudicial killings, averaging between 100 and 200 annually in the 1980s and '90s. Jamaica has a death penalty, but no hangings have taken place since 1988, owing to protracted appeals to the Privy Council.

      Jamaica's military services (army, coast guard, and air force) enlist only a few thousand personnel and absorb a small percentage of the GDP; recruitment is voluntary. The main concern for the armed forces, besides political and social unrest, is drug trafficking. In 1998 the Jamaican government signed an agreement allowing U.S. antinarcotics agents to pursue suspected drug smugglers into Jamaican territorial waters.

      Roughly nine-tenths of women and four-fifths of men are literate. Primary education is free and, in some areas, compulsory between the ages of 6 and 11. A substantial part of the country's annual budget supports the Ministry of Education; however, the island also has private schools, some of which are run by religious bodies. There has been increasing emphasis on publicly funded vocational training. Institutions of higher learning include the College of Agriculture, the University of Technology (formerly the College of Arts, Science, and Technology), the University of the West Indies (the main campus of which is at Mona, a northeastern section of Kingston), and teacher-training colleges.

Health and welfare
      There are several public hospitals, including a university hospital, and various health centres and clinics. Jamaica also has a few private hospitals. Malaria was historically a major health problem, but the government has succeeded in eradicating many of the mosquitoes that carry the disease. Immunization programs have further lowered rates of mortality and morbidity. Major causes of death include circulatory diseases and cancer.

      The government operates a compulsory insurance program that provides retirement and other benefits. Government-funded and private organizations assist children, youths, and women with vocational training and job placement.

      The government has promoted large housing developments in both urban and rural areas, especially in the impoverished suburbs of St. Andrew and Kingston, which have large migrant populations. Ghettoes such as Trench Town (in Kingston) are notorious for their high levels of poverty and crime; however, they have also become known for the development of reggae music and other performing arts.

Cultural life
      Jamaica's cultural development has been deeply influenced by British traditions and a search for roots in folk forms, which are based chiefly on the colourful, rhythmic intensity of an African heritage.

Daily life
      Family life is central to most Jamaicans, although formal marriages are less prevalent there than in most other countries. It is common for three generations to share a home. Many women earn wages, particularly in households where men are absent, and grandmothers normally take charge of preschool children. Wealthier Jamaican families usually employ at least one domestic helper.

      The main meal is almost always in the evening, because most people do not have time to prepare a midday meal and children normally eat at school. Some families eat together, but television has increasingly replaced conversation at the dinner table. The exception to this rule is Sunday, when tradition dictates that even poor families enjoy a large and sociable brunch or lunch, usually including chicken, fish, yams, fried plantains, and the ubiquitous rice and peas (rice with black-eyed peas). One of Jamaica's most popular foods is jerk (spiced and grilled) meat.

      Clothing styles vary. Rastafarians, who account for a tiny part of the population, typically wear loose-fitting clothing and long dreadlocks, a hairstyle associated with the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I in the early 20th century.

Sports and recreation
       cricket, Jamaica's most popular sport, is played throughout the island, including at Kingston's Sabina Park and on makeshift pitches (fields) in vacant lots and beaches. Jamaica has produced many players for the regional West Indies team, notably the Panamanian-born George Alphonso Headley (b. May 30, 1909, Colón, Panama—d. November 30, 1983, Kingston, Jamaica).

      Football (soccer), which ranks second in popularity, briefly eclipsed cricket in 1998 when Jamaica's national team, the Reggae Boyz, qualified for the World Cup finals in France. Basketball is probably the fastest-growing sport in schools and colleges, owing to television coverage of professional teams from the United States. Other sports, such as golf, tennis, and diving, have developed in tandem with the tourism industry but are beyond the financial reach of most Jamaicans. The island has a distinguished Olympic record in track and field (athletics), beginning in 1948 with a gold and two silver medals in London. In Atlanta in 1996 the hurdler Deon Hemmings won Jamaica's first gold medal in a women's event. The island's heroic, if unsuccessful, national bobsledding team was wildly popular at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary; the team's unorthodox ways were later depicted in the film Cool Runnings (1993).

      Jamaican independence from Great Britain (August 6, 1962) is commemorated annually on the first Monday in August. The government sponsors Festival as part of the independence celebrations. Although it has much in common with the region's pre-Lenten Carnivals, Festival is much wider in scope, including street dancing and parades, arts and crafts exhibitions, and literary, theatrical, and musical competitions. More recently Jamaicans also began celebrating Carnival, typically with costumed parades, bands, and dancing.

The arts
      The Institute of Jamaica, an early patron and promoter of the arts, sponsors exhibitions and awards. It administers the Cultural Training Centre, which includes schools of art, dance, drama, and music, as well as the National Library, the National Gallery, and a publishing company. The institute is also the country's museums authority. The Jamaica Library Service, Jamaica Archives, National Library, and University of the West Indies contribute to the promotion of the arts and culture, as do numerous commercial art galleries.

      Local art shows are common, and the visual arts are a vigorous and productive part of Jamaican life. Several artists, including the painters Albert Huie and Barrington Watson and the sculptor Edna Manley, are known internationally.

      The poets Claude McKay (McKay, Claude) and Louis Simpson (Simpson, Louis) were born in Jamaica, and the Nobel Prize-winning author Dereck Walcott (Walcott, Derek) attended college there. Jamaican Creole faced decades of disapproval from critics and academics who favoured standard English, but the Panamanian-born author Andrew Salkey (Salkey, Andrew) and poets such as Louise Bennett and Michael Smith have made the language an intrinsic part of the island's literary culture, emphasizing the oral and rhythmic nature of the language.

      Jamaican theatre and musical groups are highly active. The National Dance Company, formed in 1962, has earned international recognition. Much of the country's artistic expression finds an outlet in the annual Festival.In the 1950s and '60s Ernie Ranglin, Don Drummond, and other Jamaican musicians developed the ska style, based in part on a Jamaican dance music called mento. Reggae, in turn, arose from ska, and from the 1970s such renowned performers as Bob Marley (Marley, Bob), Peter Tosh (Tosh, Peter), and Lee Perry (Perry, Lee) made it one of the island's most celebrated international exports. dancehall music, which focuses on a rapping, or “toasting,” deejay, also became popular in the late 20th century. Jamaican musicians release hundreds of new recordings every year, and huge crowds of enthusiasts gather at the annual Reggae Sunsplash festival in February.

Press and broadcasting
      The Jamaican constitution guarantees freedom of the press. All four of the island's daily newspapers—the Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Herald, Jamaica Observer, and Daily Star—are published in Kingston. Numerous U.S. and other foreign newspapers and magazines are also readily available. The publicly owned Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation is the chief radio and television system. KLAS and Radio Jamaica Limited provide additional radio programming.

Clinton V. Black James A. Ferguson

      The following history of Jamaica focuses on events from the time of European contact. For treatments of the island in its regional context, see West Indies, history of (West Indies), and Latin America, history of.

Early period
      The first inhabitants of Jamaica probably came from islands to the east about 5000 BC or earlier. The Arawak arrived about AD 600 and eventually settled throughout the island. Their economy, based on fishing and the production of corn (maize) and cassava, sustained as many as 60,000 people in villages led by caciques (chieftains).

      Columbus reached the island in 1494 and spent a year shipwrecked there in 1503–04. The Spanish crown granted the island to the Columbus family, but for decades it was something of a backwater, valued chiefly as a supply base for food and animal hides. In 1509 Juan de Esquivel founded the first permanent European settlement, the town of Sevilla la Nueva (New Seville), on the north coast. In 1534 the capital was moved to Villa de la Vega (later Santiago de la Vega), known today as Spanish Town. The Spanish enslaved many Arawak people and forced them to labour in the gold mines and plantations of nearby islands; most died from European diseases and overwork. By the early 17th century, when virtually no Arawak remained in the region, the settlers on the island numbered about 3,000, including a small number of African slaves.

British rule
Planters, buccaneers, and slaves
      In 1655 a British expedition under Admiral William Penn (Penn, Sir William) and General Robert Venables captured Jamaica and began expelling the Spanish, a task that was accomplished within five years. However, many of the Spaniards' escaped slaves had formed communities in the highlands, and increasing numbers also escaped from British plantations. The former slaves were called Maroons, a name probably derived from the Spanish word cimarrón, meaning “wild” or “untamed.” The Maroons adapted to life in the wilderness by establishing remote, defensible settlements, cultivating scattered plots of land (notably with plantains and yams), hunting, and developing herbal medicines; some also intermarried with the few remaining Arawak.

      A slave's life on Jamaica was brutal and short, owing to high incidences of tropical and imported diseases and harsh working conditions; the number of slave deaths was consistently larger than the number of births. Europeans fared much better but were also susceptible to tropical diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria. Despite those conditions, slave traffic and European immigration increased, and the island's population grew from a few thousand in the mid-17th century to about 18,000 in the 1680s, with slaves accounting for more than half of the total.

      The British military governor, concerned about the possibility of Spanish assaults, urged buccaneers (buccaneer) to move to Jamaica, and the island's ports soon became their safe havens; Port Royal, in particular, gained notoriety for its great wealth and lawlessness. The buccaneers relentlessly attacked Spanish Caribbean cities and commerce, thereby strategically aiding Britain by diverting Spain's military resources and threatening its lucrative gold and silver trade. Some of the buccaneers held royal commissions as privateers (privateer) but were still largely pirates; nevertheless, many became part-time merchants or planters.

      After the Spanish recognized British claims to Jamaica in the Treaty of Madrid (1670), British authorities began to suppress the buccaneers; in 1672 they arrested Sir Henry Morgan (Morgan, Sir Henry) following his successful (though unsanctioned) assault on Panama. However, two years later the crown appointed him deputy governor of Jamaica, and many of his former comrades submitted to his authority.

      The Royal African Company was formed in 1672 with a monopoly of the British slave trade, and from that time Jamaica became one of the world's busiest slave markets, with a thriving smuggling trade to Spanish America. African slaves soon outnumbered Europeans 5 to 1. Jamaica also became one of Britain's most valuable colonies in terms of agricultural production, with dozens of processing centres for sugar, indigo, and cacao, although a plant disease destroyed much of the cacao crop in 1670–71.

      European colonists formed a local legislature as an early step toward self-government, although its members represented only a small fraction of the wealthy elite. From 1678 the British-appointed governor instituted a controversial plan to impose taxes and abolish the assembly, but the legislature was restored in 1682. The following year the assembly acquiesced in passing a revenue act. In 1692 an earthquake devastated the town of Port Royal, destroying and inundating most of its buildings; survivors of the disaster established Kingston across the bay.

Exports and internal strife
      Jamaican sugar production reached its apogee in the 18th century, dominating the local economy and depending increasingly on the slave trade as a source of cheap labour. Several of the major plantation owners lived in England and entrusted their operations to majordomos, whereas small landowners struggled to make profits in the face of higher production costs. Many of the latter group diversified into coffee, cotton, and indigo production, and by the late 18th century coffee rivaled sugar as an export crop. Meanwhile Jamaica's slave population swelled to 300,000, despite mounting civil unrest, the menace of invasion from France and Spain, and unstable food supplies—notably during the period 1780–87, when about 15,000 slaves starved to death.

      Maroons intermittently used guerrilla tactics against Jamaican militia and British troops, who had destroyed many Maroon settlements in 1686. Two of the bloodiest periods in the 18th century became known as the Maroon Wars. Following the first such conflict (1725–39), the island's governor granted freedom to the followers of the Maroon warrior Cudjoe and relinquished control over part of the interior. British forces decisively won the second war (1795–97), which they waged relentlessly, burning towns and destroying field crops in their wake. After the fighting ceased, the government deported some 600 Maroons to Nova Scotia. In addition, slave revolts occurred in the 18th and early 19th centuries, particularly in 1831–32, when black leaders such as the Reverend Samuel Sharpe stirred up thousands of followers; however, British troops quickly put down the rebellion and executed its organizers. Whites generally blamed missionaries for inciting the revolt, and, in the weeks that followed, mobs burned several Baptist and Methodist chapels.

      Jamaica's internal strife was accompanied by external threats. A large French fleet, with Spanish support, planned to invade Jamaica in 1782, but the British admirals George Rodney (Rodney, George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron) and Samuel Hood (Hood, Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount) thwarted the plan at the Battle of the Saintes (Saintes, Battle of the) off Dominica. In 1806 Admiral Sir John Duckworth defeated the last French invasion force to threaten the island.

      The British Parliament abolished the transatlantic slave trade in 1807, which increased planters' costs in Jamaica at a time when the price of sugar was already dropping. Parliament subsequently approved an emancipatory act that freed all slaves by 1837. Many former slaves left the plantations and moved to the nearby hills, where their descendants still farm small landholdings. The planters received some compensation (£19 per slave) but generally saw their financial resources and labour forces dwindle. Parliament removed protective tariffs in 1846, further reducing the price of Jamaican sugar.

      The royal governor, the Jamaican legislature, and Parliament had many bitter disagreements regarding taxation and government expenditures. In the late 1830s and '40s the governors Sir Charles Metcalfe (Metcalfe (of Fern Hill), Charles T(heophilus) Metcalfe, Baron, 2nd Baronet) and James Bruce, 8th earl of Elgin (Elgin, James Bruce, 8th earl of), attempted to improve the economy by bringing in thousands of plantation workers from India (rather than paying higher wages to former slaves) and creating the island's first railway. In spite of those programs, the plantation system collapsed, leading to widespread poverty and unemployment. In 1865 impoverished former slaves rioted in the parish of Morant Bay, killing the chief magistrate and 18 others of European ancestry. The Jamaican assembly, dismayed, ceded its power to Governor Edward John Eyre (Eyre, Edward John), who declared martial law, suppressed the rioters, and hanged the principal instigator, G.W. Gordon. Many West Indians applauded Eyre's actions, but he was recalled to Britain amid public outcries there.

The crown colony
      The Jamaican assembly had effectively voted its own extinction by yielding power to Eyre, and in 1866 Parliament declared the island a crown colony. Its newly appointed governor, Sir John Peter Grant, wielded the only real executive or legislative power. He completely reorganized the colony, establishing a police force, a reformed judicial system, medical service, a public works department, and a government savings bank. He also appointed local magistrates, improved the schools, and irrigated the fertile but drought-stricken plain between Spanish Town and Kingston. The British restored representative government by degrees, allowing 9 elected legislators in 1884 and 14 in 1895.

      The economy no longer depended on sugar exports by the latter part of the 19th century, when Captain A.W. Baker, founder of the organization that later became the United Fruit Company (Chiquita Brands International, Inc.), started a lucrative banana trade in Jamaica. Bananas soon became a principal export crop for small farmers as well as for large estates.

      In 1907 a violent earthquake and accompanying fire struck Kingston and Port Royal, destroying or seriously damaging almost all of their buildings and killing about 800 people. Kingston's layout and architecture were subsequently altered, and Sir Sydney Olivier (later Lord Olivier) rebuilt its public offices on the finest street of the city. The economy recovered slowly from the disaster, and unemployment remained a problem. In the early 20th century thousands of Jamaicans migrated to help build the Panama Canal or to work on Cuban sugar plantations.

      Jamaicans proposed further government reforms from the 1920s. Dissatisfaction with the crown colony system, sharpened by the hardships of the Great Depression of the 1930s, erupted in widespread rioting in 1938. Jamaicans responded to the crisis by establishing their first labour unions, linking them to political parties, and increasingly demanding self-determination.

      The constitution of 1944 established a House of Representatives, whose members were elected by universal suffrage; it also called for a nominated Legislative Council as an upper house (with limited powers) and an Executive Council. A two-party pattern soon emerged, and the constitution was modified in 1953 to allow for elected government ministers. In 1957 the Executive Council was transformed into a cabinet under the chairmanship of a premier. Jamaica obtained full internal self-government two years later.

      Jamaica was little affected by World Wars I and II, though many of its people served overseas in the British armed forces. After World War II the island profited greatly from the Colonial Development and Welfare Act and from outside investment. Colonial Development grants financed the building of the Jamaican branch of the University of the West Indies (established 1947), which became an important factor in the preparation for independence. A sugar refinery, citrus processing plants, a cement factory, and other industrial projects were started. A severe hurricane in August 1951 temporarily stalled development by devastating crops and killing about 150 people. The development of the tourist trade and bauxite (aluminum ore) mining helped increase employment opportunities on the island.

      In 1958 Jamaica became a founding member of the West Indies Federation, a group of Caribbean islands that formed a unit within the Commonwealth. Norman Manley, leader of the People's National Party (PNP), became premier after the elections of July 1959, but in 1960 the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) under Sir Alexander Bustamante pressed for secession from the federation. A referendum in 1961 supported their views. The JLP was the overall winner of elections in April 1962, and Bustamante became premier. In May the federation was dissolved.

The independent nation
      On August 6, 1962, Jamaica became independent with full dominion status within the Commonwealth, and Bustamante assumed the title of prime minister. The following year it joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and in 1966 Elizabeth II, as queen of Jamaica, paid a state visit to the nation. During most of 1965 and 1966 Bustamante was ill, and Donald Sangster acted as prime minister; however, Jamaica continued to advance on several diplomatic fronts, and in June 1969 it became the 24th member of the Organization of American States (American States, Organization of).

      The first general election since independence was held in February 1967, but it was marred by considerable violence between members of the opposing political parties. The JLP won 33 seats, and the PNP 20. Sangster was made prime minister, but he died shortly after taking office. Hugh Lawson Shearer, leader of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, was then chosen prime minister. In the 1972 election the PNP obtained its first major victory, and it chose Michael Manley (Manley, Michael), the charismatic son of Norman Manley, as prime minister.

      Manley had based his winning campaign on the “politics of participation” and social justice. Once in office he embarked on a number of social reforms, eliminating censorship and restrictions on civil liberties. His government also pursued a largely successful program to reduce illiteracy. Economic problems undermined most of Manley's social programs, and Jamaica's impoverished masses soon overwhelmed the government with strikes and protests.

      During the crucial elections of 1976, the PNP and the opposition JLP engaged in virtual warfare. After the PNP won heavily, Manley attempted to strengthen ties with Cuba, perhaps because he lacked confidence in economic partnerships with the United States. In 1977 the government assumed majority ownership of the bauxite mines, which up to then had been foreign-owned.

      The continuing economic misery of much of the population and increasing political violence led to Manley's defeat in the 1980 election. The new prime minister, Edward Seaga of the JLP, in one of his first acts in office contended with the widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Allen that year. Although Seaga had disapproved of the PNP's close ties with Cuba, he initially maintained a cordial, albeit aloof, relationship with Fidel Castro. However, in December 1981 Seaga severed diplomatic ties with Cuba. Concurrently, relations with the United States improved, and Jamaica became a major recipient of U.S. aid in the West Indies. The economy performed well at first but quickly worsened and continued in a downward trend, despite the boost it received from low prices on oil imports. In 1986 the PNP won most local elections, perhaps signaling that the electorate disapproved of Seaga's policies. In September 1988 Hurricane Gilbert struck the island, wiping out any progress toward economic recovery. The PNP won decisive victories in the elections of February 1989, unseating Seaga and restoring Manley as prime minister.

David J. Buisseret James A. Ferguson
      Manley endorsed more conservative policies during his second term. He cooperated closely with the IMF, deregulated the financial sector, and floated the Jamaican dollar. He retired in March 1992 and was replaced by Percival J. Patterson, who stabilized the economy through austerity measures. During the 1990s the PNP retained power, even during an economic recession, partly because the JLP split in 1995 (creating a third party, the National Democratic Movement). The PNP's electoral victories in 1997 and 2002 marked the first time that a Jamaican party won four consecutive terms. In March 2006 Patterson appointed PNP member Portia Simpson Miller prime minister, making her the first woman to serve in the country's top post. The PNP's 18-year control of government ended, however, when the JLP won a narrow victory in the 2007 general elections, and Bruce Golding took over the premiership, replacing Simpson Miller. In general, interparty violence continued to decline during electoral campaigns, at least partly because of the involvement of international organizations that support free and fair elections.

      Although Jamaica's economy improved in the early 2000s, it was hampered by the government's high indebtedness to local financial institutions, which limited the loans available to the private sector. The country also suffered from high crime rates. However, the tourism industry continued to grow, particularly in northern towns such as Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

David J. Buisseret James A. Ferguson Ed.

Additional Reading

General introductions to Jamaica's physical features and society include Irving Kaplan et al., Area Handbook for Jamaica (1976); Rex A. Hudson and Daniel J. Seyler, “Jamaica,” in Islands of the Commonwealth Caribbean: A Regional Study (1989); Mike Morrissey, Our Island, Jamaica (1983, reissued 1989); and Barry Floyd, Jamaica: An Island Microcosm (1979, reissued 1981). R.M. Bent and Enid L. Bent-Golding, A Complete Geography of Jamaica (1966), is an illustrated survey of physical geography. Also of interest are Colin G. Clarke and Alan G. Hodgkiss, Jamaica in Maps: Graphic Perspectives of a Developing Country (1974); and Alan Fincham et al., Jamaica Underground: The Caves, Sinkholes, and Underground Rivers of the Island (1997).Mervyn C. Alleyne, Roots of Jamaican Culture (1988), focuses on African influences in Jamaican culture. Mervyn Morris, Is English We Speaking and Other Essays (1999), explores Jamaica's literary and linguistic dimensions. Kevin O'Brien Chang and Wayne Chen, Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican Music (1998), traces the development of popular music in the country from the 1940s to the late 20th century.

Clinton V. Black, The History of Jamaica, new ed. (1983, reissued 1988), offers a general outline. Jamaica's history is traced in a regional context in James Ferguson, A Traveller's History of the Caribbean (1999). The opening chapters of Francis J. Osborne, History of the Catholic Church in Jamaica (1977, reissued 1988), survey most of the scholarly publications on the Jamaican Arawak. Francisco Morales Padrón, Jamaica española (1952), remains the most substantial work on the Spanish period. S.A.G. Taylor, The Western Design: An Account of Cromwell's Expedition to the Caribbean, 2nd ed. (1969), discusses the English invasion and early settlement. The plantation as an institution is explored in Michael Craton and Garry Greenland, Searching for the Invisible Man: Slaves and Plantation Life in Jamaica (1978). Mavis C. Campbell, The Maroons of Jamaica, 1655–1796: A History of Resistance, Collaboration & Betrayal (1988, reissued 1990), focuses on activities and communities in the 18th century.Later colonial periods are covered in Kamau Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770–1820 (1971, reissued 1978); B.W. Higman, Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica, 1807–1834 (1976, reissued 1995); Douglas Hall, Free Jamaica, 1838–1865: An Economic History (1959, reissued 1969); Philip D. Curtin, Two Jamaicas (1955, reissued 1975); Mavis Christine Campbell, The Dynamics of Change in a Slave Society (1976); and Gad J. Heuman, Between Black and White: Race, Politics, and the Free Coloreds in Jamaica, 1792–1865 (1981), the last two focusing on the transition from slavery to emancipation. Lord Olivier (Sydney H. Olivier), Jamaica: The Blessed Island (1936, reissued 1971), provides a view of the penultimate stage of British colonial rule.Sociopolitical and economic changes of the 20th century are analyzed in Evelyne Huber Stephens and John D. Stephens, Democratic Socialism in Jamaica: The Political Movement and Social Transformation in Dependent Capitalism (1986); and Anthony J. Payne, Politics in Jamaica, rev. ed. (1994). The impacts of debt and economic reform on ordinary Jamaicans are explored in Claremont Kirton and James Ferguson, Jamaica: Debt and Poverty (1992).James A. Ferguson

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Universalium. 2010.

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