Your Travel Guide to Jamaica; Ancient History, Sociopolitical, and Economic Life

Map of Jamaica

Jamaica is an island country in the Caribbean Sea. Spreading 10,990 square miles (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third largest island in the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola). Jamaica lies about 145 km (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 km (119 mi) west of Hispaniola (an island that includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic).The British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands lies 215 kilometers (134 mi) northwest. The island was originally inhabited by the indigenous people of Taíno, and the island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. Many natives were killed or maimed by diseases so that they could not defend themselves, after which the Spaniards brought large numbers of African slaves to Jamaica as workers. The island remained a Spanish colony until 1655, when England (later Great Britain) conquered it and renamed it Jamaica. Under British colonial rule, Jamaica became a leading exporter of sugar, with the economy of the fields dependent on African slaves and later their descendants. The British completely liberated all slaves in 1838, and many freedmen chose to own subsistence farms rather than work in the fields. Beginning in the 1840’s, the British began using Chinese and Indian workers to work in the fields. The island gained independence from the United Kingdom on August 6, 1962.

Current Population in Jamaica

With a population of 2.9 million, Jamaica is the third most populous Anglophone country in the United States (after the United States and Canada), and the fourth most populous country in the Caribbean. Kingston is the nation’s capital and largest city. Most Jamaicans are from sub-Saharan Africa, with significant European, East Asian (especially Chinese), Indians, Lebanese, and mixed ethnic groups. Due to the high rate of migration since the 1960s, there is a large Jamaican diaspora, especially in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. The world has a global influence that reflects its small size; it was the birthplace of the Rastafari religion, reggae music (and related genres such as dub, ska, and dancehall), and it was world-renowned in sports, especially cricket, athletics, and athletics. Jamaica is a middle-income country with an economy that relies heavily on tourism; it has an average of 4.3 million visitors a year. Politically, it is the Commonwealth, with Elizabeth II as its queen. Appointed to represent his country is the Governor-General of Jamaica, an office headed by Patrick Allen since 2009. Andrew Holness has served as Prime Minister of Jamaica since March 2016. Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy with legislative power vested in the political Parliament of Jamaica, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Ancient History

The great houses of Jamaica

People have lived in Jamaica since the beginning of 4000-1000 BC. Little is known about these first humans. Another group, known as the “Redware people” after their clay, arrived about 600 AD, followed by Taíno circa 800 AD, probably from South America. They established an agricultural and fishing economy, and in their estimates it was estimated that about 60,000 people were gathered in around 200 villages led by chiefs (chiefs). The southern coast of Jamaica was densely populated, especially near what is now Old Harbor.  Although it is often thought to have ended with contact with Europeans, Taíno actually lived in Jamaica when the British took control of the island in 1655. Others fled to the interior, meeting with African Maroon communities. The Jamaican National Heritage Trust strives to locate and record any remaining evidence of Taino.

Spanish Law (1509-1655)

Christopher Columbus was the first European to see Jamaica, claiming that the island was Spain after arriving there in 1494 on his second voyage to the United States. The most likely destination was Dry Harbor, called Discovery Bay, and St Ann’s Bay was named “Saint Gloria” by Columbus, the first to see the world. He later returned in 1503. However, he was shipwrecked, and he and his crew were forced to remain in Jamaica for a year waiting to be rescued.

One and a half miles west of St. Ann’s Bay is Spain’s first island on the island, Sevilla, founded in 1509 by Juan de Esquivel but abandoned in about 1524 because it was considered unhealthy. The capital was relocated to the Spanish City, then known as St. Petersburg. Jago de la Vega, about the year 1534 (now St.), the Taínos began to die in large numbers, from both diseases that started in the immune system, and enslavement by the Spaniards. As a result, the Spaniards began to import slaves from Africa to the island. Many slaves managed to escape, building independent communities in remote and easily protected areas in central Jamaica, mixing with the rest of Taino; these communities were known as Maroons. A small number of Jews also settled on the island. By the early 17th century, it was estimated that there were no more than 2,500-3,000 people living in Jamaica.

The first British

Henry Morgan was a famous Caribbean pirate, privateer, plantation owner and slaveholder; he had first come to the West Indies as an indentured servant, like most of the early English colonists.
credit: https://wikipedia

Henry Morgan was a notorious Caribbean criminal, an independent, landowner and a slave; he had first come to the West Indies as an innocent slave, like many English colonies. The English began to take an interest in the island and, following failed attempts to conquer Santo Domingo in Hispaniola, Sir William Penn and General Robert Venables led the Jamaican invasion in 1655. The wars at Ocho Rios in 1657 and Rio Nuevo in 1658 led to the conquest of Spain; in 1660 the Maroon community under the leadership of Juan de Bolas left the Spanish side and began to support the English. With their help, the Spanish conquest was protected.  When the English conquered Jamaica, most of the Spanish colonists fled, with the exception of the Spanish Jews, who chose to remain on the island. The Spanish slave masters freed their slaves before leaving Jamaica. Many slaves scattered in the mountains, joining the already established maroon communities. During the centuries of slavery, Jamaican Maroons established free communities in central Jamaica, where they maintained their independence and independence for generations, under the leadership of Maroon leaders such as Juan de Serras. Meanwhile, the Spaniards repeatedly tried to recapture the island, prompting the British to support the pirates who attacked Spanish ships in the Caribbean; as a result of which crime is rampant in Jamaica, and the city of Port Royal is notorious for its immorality. Spain later recognized the island as English by the Treaty of Madrid (1670). As a result, the English authorities sought to curb the piracy of the pirates.

In 1660, the population of Jamaica was about 4,500 white and 1,500 black. In the early 1670’s, when the English developed the sugarcane fields that worked for a large number of slaves, black Africans made up the majority of the population. The Jamaican Irish also make up the majority of the island’s population, making up two thirds of the island’s white population in the late 17th century, twice as many as the English. They were introduced as laborers and soldiers after the conquest of 1655. Most Irish people were forcibly relocated as political prisoners of war from Ireland as a result of the ongoing three-state war. The migration of large Irish populations to the island continued in the 18th century.

Ancient 20th century

In 1907, Jamaica was hit by an earthquake – this, and the ensuing fire, caused extensive destruction in Kingston and the deaths of 800-1,000 people.

Marcus Garvey, father of the Back to Africa Movement and Jamaica's first National Hero
credit: https://wikipedia

Unemployment and poverty remain a problem for many Jamaicans. Various political movements, including the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the African Communities League, formed by Marcus Garvey in 1917, emerged. As well as seeking greater political rights and improving the working class, Garvey was also a prominent Pan-Africanist and an advocate for a movement returning to Africa. He was one of the great promoters after Rastafari, a religion founded in Jamaica in the 1930’s that combined Christianity with an Afrocentric religion centered on Haile Selassie, the ruler of Ethiopia. Despite occasional persecution, Rastafari grew up on the island and later spread abroad. The Great Depression of the 1930’s was a major blow to Jamaica. As part of the British West Indian workers’ unrest of 1934–39, Jamaica witnessed a number of strikes, culminating in a 1938 strike that turned violent. As a result, the British government established a commission to look into the causes of the disorder; their report recommends political and economic changes in the British Caribbean colonies. A new House of Representatives was established in 1944, elected by the elders. “During this time a two-party system emerged in Jamaica, with the formation of the Jamaican Labor Party (JLP) under Alexander Bustamante and the People’s National Party (PNP) under Norman Manley.

Jamaica gradually gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom. In 1958, it became a province of the Federal Republic of the West Indies, a coalition of many British colonies in the Caribbean. Federal membership seemed divisive, however, and a poll on the issue saw a minority vote in favor of leaving. After leaving the Federation, Jamaica gained full independence on August 6, 1962. The new regime retained its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations (with the Queen as head of state) and adopted a parliamentary style similar to Westminster’s style. Bustamante, aged 78, became the country’s first prime minister.

Political and Economical life

Inside the Parliament
credit: https://wikipedia

Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. The head of state is the Queen of Jamaica (now Elizabeth II),  represented by the Governor-General of Jamaica. The governor-general is nominated by the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the rest of the Cabinet and officially appointed by the monarch. All Cabinet members are appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the prime minister. The King and the emperor-general work mainly in ceremonial roles, without their preservation power to be used in certain critical constitutional situations. The monarchy has been the subject of continued conflict in Jamaica for many years; currently both major political parties are committed to the transition to a presidential republic.

A beach in Negril with a hotel and restaurant
credit: https://wikipedia

Jamaica’s current constitution was drafted in 1962 by a joint political committee of the Jamaican Legislature. It came into operation through the Jamaica Independence Act, 1962 of the United Kingdom parliament, which granted Jamaica independence. The Jamaican Parliament has two copies, consisting of the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House). The members of the House (known as Members of Parliament or Members of Parliament) are directly elected, and a member of the House of Representatives, at the discretion of the Governor-General, is better able to reject the confidence of the majority of the members of that House. The Senators are jointly elected by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and appointed by the Prime Minister.

James Bond Beach in Oracabessa
credit: https://wikipedia

The Judiciary of Jamaica operates a standard legal system based on English law and the Commonwealth of Nations examples. The Court of Appeal for the final decision was made by the Judiciary Committee of the Honorary Council, although during the 2000 parliament it sought to replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice. Jamaica is a mixed economy with both state-owned enterprises and private sector businesses. Major sectors of the Jamaican economy include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, refineries, finance and insurance. Tourism and mining are the mainstays of foreign trade. Half of the Jamaican economy depends on jobs, and half of the income comes from jobs such as tourism. An estimated 4.3 million foreign tourists visit Jamaica every year. According to the World Bank, Jamaica is a middle-income country, like its Caribbean neighbors, that is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, floods, and hurricanes. In 2018, Jamaica represented the CARICOM Caribbean Community at the G20 and G7 annual conference. In 2019, Jamaica reported its lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. With the support of various financial institutions, Jamaica, since the early 1980s, has sought to make changes in structures aimed at promoting private sector activities and increasing market share power in resource allocation and stabilizing it by removing exchange controls, floating exchange rates, price cuts, stabilizing the Jamaican dollar, reducing inflation and removing foreign investment restrictions. Emphasis is placed on maintaining sound monetary policy, greater trade openness and the flow of funds, market liberalization and lowering government size. During this time, a large portion of the economy was returned to the ownership of the private sector through shareholding and stock exchanges. Free shopping malls in Kingston, Montego Bay and Spain Town allow for tax-free entry, tax-free profits, and free refunds.

The Jamaican economy grew rapidly after the years of independence, but then came to a standstill in the 1980s, due to the sharp decline in bauxite prices and falling agricultural prices.The financial sector was in turmoil in 1994, when many banks and insurance companies suffered severe financial losses. According to the Commonwealth Secretariat, “The government established the Financial Sector Adjustment Company (Finsac) in January 1997 to assist these banks and companies, provide financing to restore equity, and secure large sums of money from banks and insurance companies and related companies, but provoked the crisis. only, and it has brought the country into deep foreign debt. Since 2001, when it returned these banks and companies to the financial system, Finsac split them. The Jamaican government remains committed to lowering inflation, with the long-term goal of reconciling it with its major trading partners.

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