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Introduction - Jamaica:




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

Location - Jamaica:


Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba

Geographic coordinates

18 15 N, 77 30 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 10,991 sq km
land: 10,831 sq km
water: 160 sq km

Area comparative

slightly smaller than Connecticut

Land boundaries

0 km


1,022 km

Maritime claims

measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin


tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior


mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain

Elevation extremes

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Blue Mountain Peak 2,256 m

Natural resources

bauxite, gypsum, limestone

Land use

arable land: 15.83%
permanent crops: 10.01%
other: 74.16% (2005)

Irrigated land

250 sq km (2002)

Natural hazards

hurricanes (especially July to November)

Environment current issues

heavy rates of deforestation; coastal waters polluted by industrial waste, sewage, and oil spills; damage to coral reefs; air pollution in Kingston results from vehicle emissions

Environment international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography note

strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for the Panama Canal

People - Jamaica:


2,780,132 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 32.5% (male 459,968/female 444,963)
15-64 years: 60.1% (male 822,486/female 848,310)
65 years and over: 7.4% (male 91,856/female 112,549) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 23.2 years
male: 22.6 years
female: 23.7 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

0.777% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

20.44 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

6.59 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

-6.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.034 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.816 male(s)/female
total population: 0.978 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 15.73 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.12 years
male: 71.43 years
female: 74.9 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.36 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate

1.2% (2003 est.)

Hiv aids people living with hiv aids

22,000 (2003 est.)

Hiv aids deaths

900 (2003 est.)


noun: Jamaican(s)
adjective: Jamaican

Ethnic groups

black 91.2%, mixed 6.2%, other or unknown 2.6% (2001 census)


Protestant 62.5% (Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, Pentecostal 9.5%, Other Church of God 8.3%, Baptist 7.2%, New Testament Church of God 6.3%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%, Anglican 3.6%, other Christian 7.7%), Roman Catholic 2.6%, other or unspecified 14.2%, none 20.9%, (2001 census)


English, English patois


definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 87.9%
male: 84.1%
female: 91.6% (2003 est.)

Government - Jamaica:

Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jamaica

Government type

constitutional parliamentary democracy


name: Kingston
geographic coordinates: 18 00 N, 76 48 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

14 parishes; Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, Manchester, Portland, Saint Andrew, Saint Ann, Saint Catherine, Saint Elizabeth, Saint James, Saint Mary, Saint Thomas, Trelawny, Westmoreland
note: for local government purposes, Kingston and Saint Andrew were amalgamated in 1923 into the present single corporate body known as the Kingston and Saint Andrew Corporation


6 August 1962 (from UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 6 August (1962)


6 August 1962

Legal system

based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Kenneth O. HALL (since 15 February 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Portia SIMPSON-MILLER (since 30 March 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Representatives is appointed prime minister by the governor general; the deputy prime minister is recommended by the prime minister

Legislative branch

bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (a 21-member body appointed by the governor general on the recommendations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; ruling party is allocated 13 seats, and the opposition is allocated 8 seats) and the House of Representatives (60 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 3 September 2007 (next to be held no later than October 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - JLP 50.1%, PNP 49.8%; seats by party - JLP 32, PNP 28

Judicial branch

Supreme Court (judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders

Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Bruce GOLDING]; Peoples National Party or PNP [Portia SIMPSON-MILLER]; National Democratic Movement or NDM [Michael WILLIAMS]

Political pressure groups and leaders

New Beginnings Movement or NBM; Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists)

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Gordon SHIRLEY
chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660
FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York

Diplomatic representation from the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Brenda LaGrange JOHNSON
embassy: 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6
mailing address: P.O. Box 541, Kingston 5
telephone: [1] (876) 702-6000
FAX: [1] (876) 702-6348

Flag description

diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side)

Economy - Jamaica:

Economy overview

The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for more than 60% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Jamaicas economy, already saddled with a record of sluggish growth, was hit hard by Hurricane Ivan in late 2004, but has made a gradual recovery. The economy faces serious long-term problems: high but declining interest rates, increased foreign competition, exchange rate instability, a sizable merchandise trade deficit, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a high debt burden - the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably the financial sector in the mid-to-late 1990s. Following a strategy begun in 2004, Jamaica has reduced its public debt to 133.3% of GDP. Inflation also had declined to 5.8% at the end of 2006. High unemployment exacerbates the serious crime problem, including gang violence fueled by the drug trade. The government faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth.

Gdp purchasing power parity

$12.82 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$9.23 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

2.3% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$4,600 (2006 est.)

Gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 5.2%
industry: 27.3%
services: 67.5% (2006 est.)

Labor force

1.1 million (2006 est.)

Labor force by occupation

agriculture: 18.1%
industry: 17.3%
services: 64.6% (2004)

Unemployment rate

11.3% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line

14.8% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2000)

Distribution of family income gini index

38.1 (2003)

Inflation rate consumer prices

5.8% (2006 est.)

Investment gross fixed

30.8% of GDP (2006 est.)


revenues: $2.85 billion
expenditures: $3.174 billion; including capital expenditures of $180.4 million (2006 est.)

Public debt

133.3% of GDP (2006 est.)

Agriculture products

sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, ackees, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk; crustaceans, mollusks


tourism, bauxite/alumina, agro processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products, telecommunications

Industrial production growth rate

-2% (2000 est.)

Electricity production

6.913 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption

6.429 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity exports

0 kWh (2004)

Electricity imports

0 kWh (2004)

Oil production

0 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil consumption

72,080 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports

NA bbl/day

Oil imports

NA bbl/day

Oil proved reserves

0 bbl

Natural gas production

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Current account balance

-$970 million (2006 est.)


$2.087 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Exports commodities

alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, wearing apparel, mineral fuels

Exports partners

US 23.7%, Canada 16.5%, China 15.1%, UK 10.1%, Germany 7.5%, Netherlands 6.4%, Norway 5.9% (2006)


$4.682 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Imports commodities

food and other consumer goods, industrial supplies, fuel, parts and accessories of capital goods, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials

Imports partners

US 39.4%, Trinidad and Tobago 14.4%, Venezuela 5.8% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.317 billion (2006 est.)

Debt external

$7.384 billion (2006 est.)

Economic aid recipient

$254.7 million (2004)

Currency code

Jamaican dollar (JMD)

Exchange rates

Jamaican dollars per US dollar - 65.768 (2006), 62.51 (2005), 61.197 (2004), 57.741 (2003), 48.416 (2002)

Communications - Jamaica:

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Telephones main lines in use

319,000 (2005)

Telephones mobile cellular

2.804 million (2005)

Telephone system

general assessment: fully automatic domestic telephone network
domestic: NA
international: country code - 1-876; 3 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 10, FM 13, shortwave 0 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

7 (1997)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

1,402 (2006)

Internet users

1.232 million (2005)

Transportation - Jamaica:


35 (2006)

Airports with paved runways

total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 5 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runways

total: 24
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 22 (2006)


total: 20,996 km
paved: 15,386 km (includes 33 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,610 km (2004)

Merchant marine

total: 10 ships (1000 GRT or over) 124,323 GRT/184,247 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 5, cargo 2, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 10 (Germany 3, Greece 6, Italy 1) (2006)

Ports and terminals

Kingston, Port Esquivel, Port Kaiser, Port Rhoades, Rocky Point

Military - Jamaica:

Military branches

Jamaica Defense Force: Ground Forces, Coast Guard, Air Wing (2007)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; younger recruits may be conscripted with parental consent (2001)

Manpower available for military service

males age 18-49: 592,018
females age 18-49: 616,500 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 18-49: 478,761
females age 18-49: 504,541 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually

males age 18-49: 27,923
females age 18-49: 27,889 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp

0.6% (2006 est.)

Disputes international


This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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