Also Known as: Land of Wood and Water
Motto: Out of Many One People 


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

Location: In the Caribbean Sea, 145 km (90 miles) south of Cuba and 160 km (100 miles) west of Haiti.
Geographic coordinates: 18 15 N, 77 30 W
Area: total: 10,991 sq km
land: 10,831 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,022 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior
Terrain: mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Blue Mountain Peak 2,256 m
Natural resources: bauxite, gypsum, limestone
Land use: arable land: 15.83%
permanent crops: 10.01%
other: 74.16% (2005)
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
Geography - note: strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for the Panama Canal

Population: 2,825,928 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 31.4% (male 451,310/female 436,466)
15-64 years: 61.1% (male 851,372/female 875,132)
65 years and over: 7.5% (male 94,833/female 116,815) (2009 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.755% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 19.68 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate: 6.43 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 53% of total population (2008)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Nationality: noun: Jamaican(s)
adjective: Jamaican
Ethnic groups: black 91.2%, mixed 6.2%, other or unknown 2.6% (2001 census)
Languages: English, English patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 87.9%
male: 84.1%
female: 91.6% (2003 est.)
Religions: Protestant 62.5% (Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, Pentecostal 9.5%, Other Church of God 8.3%, Baptist 7.2%, New Testament Church of God 6.3%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%, Anglican 3.6%, other Christian 7.7%), Roman Catholic 2.6%, other or unspecified 14.2%, none 20.9%, (2001 census)

Name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jamaica
Capital: name: Kingston
geographic coordinates: 18 00 N, 76 48 W
Administrative Division: 14 parishes; Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, Manchester, Portland, Saint Andrew, Saint Ann, Saint Catherine, Saint Elizabeth, Saint James, Saint Mary, Saint Thomas, Trelawny, Westmoreland: note: for local government purposes, Kingston and Saint Andrew were amalgamated in 1923 into the present single corporate body known as the Kingston and Saint Andrew Corporation
Independence: 6 August 1962 (from the UK)
Constitution: 6 August 1962
National Holidays: New Year's Day (01 January); Ash Wednesday; Good Friday; Easter Monday; Labour Day (23 May); Emancipation Day (1 August); Independence Day (First Monday in August); National Heroes Day (third Monday in October); Christmas Day (25 December); Boxing Day (26 December)
Holidays that fall on a Sunday are observed the following Monday. In the case of Labour Day only, if this falls on a Saturday or Sunday then the Monday will be a holiday.
Legal System: based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since February 1952); represented by Governor General Dr. Patrick L. ALLEN (since 26 February 2009);

head of government: Prime Minister Bruce GOLDING (since 11 September 2007); Prime Minister GOLDING was born 5 December 1947. He received his B.Sc. (Hons) Economics in 1969. Elected to the Central Executive of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in 1969, he formed the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and remained President of that party between 1995-2001. In 2002 he rejoined the JLP, becoming Leader of the party in 2005, and Prime Minister in 2007.

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister;

elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Representatives is appointed prime minister by the governor general; the deputy prime minister is recommended by the prime minister.

Legislative branch: bicameral parliament consists of the Senate (a 21-member body appointed by the governor general on the recommendations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; ruling party is allocated 13 seats, and the opposition is allocated 8 seats) and the House of Representatives (60 seats members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); elections: last held 3 September 2007 (next to be held no later than October 2012); election results: percent of vote by party - JLP 50.1%, PNP 49.8%; seats by party - JLP 33, PNP 27
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal; Privy Council in UK; member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
Political parties and leaders: Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Bruce GOLDING]; People's National Pary or PNP [Portia SIMPSON-MILLER]; National Democratic Movement or NDM [Michael WILLIAMS]
Political pressure groups and leaders: New Beginnings Movement or NBM; Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists)
International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-15, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Anthony JOHNSON
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) 702-6001
1 August 1973
National Holidays: New Year's Day (01 January); Ash Wednesday; Good Friday; Easter Monday; Labour Day (22 May); Emancipation Day (August 1) Independence Day (August 6); National Heroes Day (16 October); Christmas Day (25 December); Boxing Day (26 December)
Flag description: diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side); green represents hope, vegetation, and agriculture, black reflects hardships overcome and to be faced, and yellow recalls golden sunshine and the island's natural resources

Overview: The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for more than 60% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina.  Remittances account for nearly 20% of GDP and are equivalent to tourism revenues. Jamaica's economy, already saddled with the lowest economic growth in Latin America, will face increasing difficulties as the global economy slows. The economy faces serious long-term problems: a sizable merchandise trade deficit, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a high debt-to-GDP ratio of almost 130%. Jamaica's onerous debt burden - the fourth highest per capita - is the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably the financial sector in the mid-to-late 1990s. It hinders government spending on infrastructure and social programs as debt servicing accounts for nearly half of government expenditures. Inflation roes sharply in 2008 as a result of high prices for imported food and oil and should fall in 2009 with the decline in international oil prices.  High unemployment exacerbates the serious crime problem, including gang violence that is fueled by the drug trade.  The GOLDING administration faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $20.91 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $14.4 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -0.6% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $7,500 (2008 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5.2%
industry: 32.6%
services: 62.2% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 1.304 million (2008 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 17%
industry: 19%
services: 64% (2006)
Unemployment rate: 11% (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $3.794 billion
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, ackees, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk; crustaceans, mollusks
Industries: tourism, bauxite/alumina, agro processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products, telecommunications
Industrial production growth rate: -0.5% (2008 est.)
Exports: $2.602 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities: alumina, bauxite, sugar, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, wearing apparel, mineral fuels
Exports - partners: US 30.8%, Canada 13.2%, Netherlands 9.8%, UK 9.2%, France 6.7%, Russia 6.6%, Germany 5.5% (2008)
Imports: $7.185 billion (2008 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 34.7%, Trinidad and Tobago 14.4%, Grenada 9.7%, Venezuela 9.5%, Brazil 4.1% (2008)
Exchange rates: Jamaican dollars (JMD) per US dollar - 72.236 (2008 est.)
Business Hours: Commercial: 09:00-17:00hrs Monday to Friday Government: 08:30-17:00 hrs Monday to Thursday; 08:30-16:00 hrs Friday

Telephones main lines (2008) 316,600 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 2.723 million (2008)
Telephone system: general assessment: fully automatic domestic telephone network
domestic: the 1999 agreement to open the market for telecommunications services resulted in rapid growth in mobile-cellular telephone usage while the number of fixed-lines in use has declined; combined mobile-cellular teledensity now exceeds 100 per 100 persons
international: country code - 1-876; the Fibralink submarine cable network provides enhanced delivery of business and broadband traffic and is linked to the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) submarine cable in the Dominican Republic; the link to ARCOS-1 provides seamless connectivity to US, parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2006)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 10, FM 13, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations: 7 (1997)
Internet country code: .jm
Internet hosts: 1,292 (2008)
Internet users: 1.5 million (2007)
Airports: 27 (2009) The two main airports are the Norman Manley International in Kingston and the Donald Sangster International in Montego Bay
Airports - with paved runways: total: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 7 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 15
under 914 m: 15 (2009)
Roadways: total: 21,552 km
paved: 15,937 km (includes 33 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,615 km (2005)
Merchant marine: total: 20
by type: bulk carrier 6, cargo 6, carrier 1, container 4, roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 17 (Denmark 2, Germany 4, Greece 6, Hong Kong 1, Latvia 1, Russia 3) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Kingston, Port Esquivel, Port Kaiser, Port Rhoades, Rocky Point

Military Jamaica Defense Force: Ground Forces, Coast Guard, Air Wing (2009)
  Main Source of Information: the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook

Items of Interest  
National Anthem: Jamaica Land We Love

Eternal Father bless our land,
Guard us with Thy Might Hand
Keep us free from evil powers,
Be our light through countless hours.
To our Leaders Great Defender,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, Land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.

Teach us true respect for all,
Stir response to duty's call,
Strengthen us the weak to cherish,
Give us vision lest we perish.
Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, Land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love

(Words by Hugh Sherlock; music by Robert Lightbourne)

Highest National Award: Order of the National Hero
Favourite Local Cuisine: Ackee and Salt Fish, Fricassee Chicken and Rice and Peas, Roast Breadfruit, Fried Plantains, Boiled Dumplings, Green Banana, Johnny Cake
Government Web Site: http://www.cabinet.gov.jm