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Jamaica ( ) is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length and as much as in width, amounting to 11,100 km2. It is situated in the Caribbean Seamarker, about south of Cubamarker, and west of Hispaniolamarker, the island harboring the nation-states Haitimarker and the Dominican Republicmarker. Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs". Formerly a Spanish possession known as , it later became the British Crown colony of Jamaica. With 2.8 million people, it is the third most populous anglophone country in North America, after the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker. It remains a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. Kingstonmarker is the largest city in Jamaica and the country's capital.

History

The Arawak and Taino indigenous people originating from South America settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494 there were over 200 villages ruled by caciques (chiefs of villages). The south coast of Jamaica was the most populated, especially around the area now known as Old Harbour. The Tainos were still inhabiting Jamaica when the British took control of the island. The Jamaican National Heritage Trust is attempting to locate and document any evidence of the Taino/Arawaks.

Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain after landing there in 1494. Columbus' probable landing point was Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Baymarker. St. Ann's Baymarker was the "Saint Gloria" of Columbus who first sighted Jamaica at this point. One mile west of St. Ann's Bay is the site of the first Spanish settlement on the island, Sevilla, which was abandoned in 1554 because of numerous pirate raids.

The capital was moved to Spanish Townmarker, now located in the parish of St. Catherine, as early as 1534. It was then called "Villa de la Vega". Spanish Town has the oldest Cathedral in the British colonies. The Spanish were forcibly evicted by the English at Ocho Rios in St. Ann. However, it was not until 1655 that, at Tower Isle, the English took over the last Spanish fort in Jamaica. The Spaniard Don Cortez Arnoldo de Yassi kept Tower Hill (the site of Tower Isle) from the English for five years, before escaping to Cuba. The site of his departure was fittingly called "Runaway Bay", which is also in St. Ann. The name of Montego Bay, the capital of the parish of St. James, was derived from the Spanish name (or Bay of Lard) for the large quantity of boar used for the lard-making industry.
The English Admiral William Penn (father of William Penn of Pennsylvania) and General Robert Venables seized the island in 1655. In 1660 the population of Jamaica was about 4,500 whites and some 1,500 blacks. As early as the 1670s, blacks formed a majority of the population. During its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar-exporting, slave-dependent nations, producing more than 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820 and 1824. After the abolition of the slave trade (but not slavery itself) in 1807, the British imported Indian and Chinese workers as indentured servants to supplement the labour pool. Descendants of indentured servants of Asian and Chinese origin continue to reside in Jamaica today.

By the beginning of the 19th century, Jamaica's heavy reliance on slavery resulted in blacks (Africans) outnumbering whites (Europeans) by a ratio of almost 20 to 1. Even though England had outlawed the importation of slaves, some were still smuggled into the colonies. The British government drew-up laws regimenting the abolition of slavery, but they also included instructions for the improvement of the slaves' way of life. These instructions included a ban of the use of whips in the field, a ban on the flogging of women, notification that slaves were to be allowed religious instruction, a requirement that slaves be given an extra free day during the week when they could sell their produce as well as a ban of Sunday markets.
Map of Jamaica
In Jamaica, however, these measures were resisted by the House of Assembly. The Assembly claimed that the slaves were content and objected to Parliament's interference in island affairs, although many slave owners feared possible revolts. Following a series of rebellions and changing attitudes in Great Britain, the nation formally abolished slavery in 1834, with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in 1838. The population in 1834 was 371,070 of whom 15,000 were white, 5,000 free black, 40,000 ‘coloured’ or mixed race, and 311,070 slaves.

In the 1800s, the British established a number of botanical gardens. These included the Castleton Garden, set up in 1862 to replace the Bath Garden (created in 1779) which was subject to flooding. Bath Garden was the site for planting breadfruit brought to Jamaica from the Pacific by Captain William Bligh. Other gardens were the Cinchona Plantation founded in 1868 and the Hope Garden founded in 1874. In 1872, Kingston became the island's capital.

In 1945, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice and Keeper of the Records in Jamaica. He headed the Supreme Court, Kingstonmarker between 1945 and 1950/1951. He then moved to Kenya where he was appointed Chief Justice.
Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom and in 1958, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies, a federation among the British West Indies. Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.

Strong economic growth, averaging approximately 6% per annum, marked the first ten years of independence under conservative governments which were led successively by Prime Ministers Alexander Bustamante, Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer. The growth was fueled by strong investments in bauxite/alumina, tourism, manufacturing industry and, to a lesser extent, the agricultural sector.

However, the optimism of the first decade was accompanied by a growing sense of inequality, and a sense that the benefits of growth were not being experienced by the urban poor. This, combined with the effects of a slowdown in the global economy in 1970, prompted the electorate to change government, electing the PNP (People's National Party) in 1972. However, despite efforts to create more socially equitable policies in education and health, Jamaica continued to lag economically, with its gross national product having fallen in 1980 to some 25% below the 1972 level. Rising foreign and local debt, accompanied by large fiscal deficits, resulted in the invitation of the International Monetary Fundmarker (IMF) financing from the United States and others, and the imposition of IMF austerity measures (with a greater than 25% interest rate per year).

Economic deterioration continued into the mid-1980s, exacerbated by a number of factors; The first and third largest alumina producers, Alpart and Alcoa, closed and there was a significant reduction in production by the second largest producer, Alcan. In addition, tourism decreased and Reynolds Jamaica Mines, Ltd. left the Jamaican industry.

Government and politics



Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with the monarch being represented by a Governor-General. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who officially uses the title "Queen of Jamaica" when she visits the country or performs duties overseas on Jamaica's behalf. The Governor General is nominated by the Prime Minister and the entire Cabinet and appointed by the monarch. All the members of the Cabinet are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The monarch and the Governor-General serve largely ceremonial roles, apart from their potent reserve power to dismiss the Prime Minister or Parliament.

Jamaica's current Constitution was drafted in 1962 by a bipartisan joint committee of the Jamaican legislature. It came into force with the Jamaica Independence Act, 1962 of the United Kingdom Parliamentmarker, which gave Jamaica political exile. This was followed by a reformation of the island's national anthem.

The Parliament of Jamaica is bicameral, consisting of the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House). Members of the House (known as Members of Parliament or MPs) are directly elected, and the member of the House of Representatives who, in the Governor-General's best judgment, is best able to command the confidence of a majority of the members of that House, is appointed by the Governor-General to be the Prime Minister. Senators are appointed jointly by the Prime Minister and the parliamentary Leader of the Opposition.
In February 2006, Portia Simpson-Miller was elected by delegates of the ruling People's National Party (PNP) to replace P. J. Patterson as President of the Party. At the end of March 2006 when Patterson demitted office, Simpson-Miller became the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica. Former Prime Minister Patterson had held office since the 1992 resignation of Michael Manley. Patterson was re-elected three times, the last being in 2002.

On 3 September 2007, Bruce Golding of the Jamaica Labour Party was voted in as Prime Minister-Designate after achieving a 33 - 27 seat victory over Portia Simpson-Miller and the PNP in the 2007 Jamaican general election. Portia Simpson-Miller conceded defeat on 5 September 2007. On 11 September 2007, after being sworn in by Governor-General Kenneth Hall, The Hon. Bruce Golding assumed office as Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Jamaica has traditionally had a two-party system, with power often alternating between the People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). However, over the past decade a new political party called the National Democratic Movement (NDM) emerged in an attempt to challenge the two-party system, though it has become largely irrelevant in this system, as it garnered only 540 votes of the over 800,000 votes cast in the 3 September elections. Jamaica is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Parishes

Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes, which are grouped into three historic counties that have no administrative relevance.

Cornwall Countymarker Middlesex Countymarker Surrey Countymarker
1 Hanovermarker 6 Clarendonmarker 11 Kingstonmarker
2 Saint Elizabethmarker 7 Manchestermarker 12 Portlandmarker
3 Saint Jamesmarker 8 Saint Annmarker 13 Saint Andrewmarker
4 Trelawnymarker 9 Saint Catherine 14 Saint Thomasmarker
5 Westmorelandmarker 10 Saint Marymarker


Geography


Jamaica is the third largest island and the fourth largest country in the Caribbeanmarker. The island is home to the Blue Mountainsmarker inland and is surrounded by a narrow coastal plain. Most major towns and cities are located on the coast. Chief towns and cities include the capital Kingstonmarker, Portmoremarker, Spanish Townmarker, Mandevillemarker, Ocho Ríosmarker, Port Antoniomarker, Negrilmarker, and Montego Baymarker. The Kingston Harbourmarker is one of the largest natural harbours in the world. There are several tourist attractions scattered across the country, including Dunn's River Fallsmarker in St. Ann, YS Falls in St. Elizabeth, the Blue Lagoon in Portland, and Port Royalmarker, which was the site of an earthquake that helped form the island's Palisadoesmarker.

The climate in Jamaica is tropical, with hot and humid weather, although higher inland regions are more temperate. Some regions on the south coast, such as the Liguanea Plain and the Pedro Plains, are relatively dry rain-shadow areas. Jamaica lies in the hurricane belt of the Atlantic Oceanmarker; as a result, the island sometimes experiences significant storm damage. Hurricanes Charlie and Gilbert hit Jamaica directly in 1951 and 1988, respectively, causing major damage and many deaths. In the 2000s, hurricanes Ivan, Dean, and Gustav also brought severe weather to the island.

Demographics

Ethnic origins

According to the 2001 census, Jamaica's population mainly consists of people of African descent (referring to those who have origins mainly from Africa), is 2.5 million. Multiracial Jamaicans make up 175 187 of the population, Indian and Chinese population is 160,0000 and Lebanese, Syrian, English, Scottish, Irish, and German Jamaicans make up around 3000-4000 of the population. Immigration has been greatly rising from Chinamarker, Haitimarker, Cubamarker, Colombiamarker, and other Latin American countries; 20,000 Latin Americans currently reside in Jamaica. 7,000 Americansmarker also reside in Jamaica.

Language

The official language of Jamaica is English. However, Jamaicans also speak an English-African creole known as Jamaican Patois.

Emigration

Jamaicans have emigrated to other countries, especially to the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada. In the case of the United States, about 20,000 Jamaicans per year are granted permanent residence. The great number of Jamaicans living abroad has become known as the "Jamaican diaspora". There has also been emigration of Jamaicans to Cubamarker. The scale of emigration has been widespread and similar to other Caribbean entities such as Puerto Rico, Guyanamarker, and Trinidad and Tobagomarker. It is estimated that up to 2.5 million Jamaicans and Jamaican descendants live abroad. An estimated 60% of the highly educated people of Jamaica now live abroad.

Concentrations of expatriate Jamaicans are large in a number of cities in the United States, including New York Citymarker, Buffalomarker, the Miamimarker metro area, Atlantamarker, Chicagomarker, Orlandomarker, Tampamarker, Washington, D.Cmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Hartfordmarker, Providencemarker and Los Angelesmarker. In Canada, the Jamaican population is centred in Torontomarker, and there are smaller communities in cities such as Hamiltonmarker, Montrealmarker, Vancouvermarker and Ottawamarker. In the United Kingdom, Jamaican communities exist in most large cities where they make up the larger part of the British-Caribbean community.

Religion

Christians make up the majority of the population, approximately 59% percent. The Christian faith spread rapidly as British Christian abolitionists joined educated former slaves in the struggle against slavery. The five largest denominations in Jamaica are: Church of God, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Pentecostal and Anglican.

Other popular religions in Jamaica include Islam, Bahá'í Faith with perhaps 8,000 Bahá'ís and 21 Local Spiritual Assemblies, Buddhism,and Hinduism. There is a small population of Jews, about 200, who describe themselves as Liberal-Conservative. The first Jews in Jamaica trace their roots back to early 15th century. Spain and Portugal. Islam in Jamaica estimate a total Muslim population of 5,000.

Culture



Though a small nation, Jamaica is rich in culture and has a strong global presence. The musical genres reggae, ska, mento, rocksteady, dub, and, more recently, dancehall and ragga all originated in the island's vibrant, popular urban recording industry. Jamaica also played an important role in the development of punk rock, through reggae and ska. Reggae has also influenced American rap music, as they both share their roots as rhythmic, African styles of music. Some rappers, such as The Notorious B.I.G. and Heavy D, are of Jamaican descent. Internationally known reggae musician Bob Marley was born in Jamaica and is very respected there. Many other internationally known artists were born in Jamaica including Lee "Scratch" Perry, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Big Youth, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Desmond Dekker, Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Shaggy, Grace Jones, Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Buju Banton, Sean Paul, I Wayne, Bounty Killer and many others. Famous band artist groups that came from Jamaica include Black Uhuru, Third World Band, Inner Circle, Chalice Reggae Band, Culture, Fab Five and Morgan Heritage. The genre jungle emerged from London's Jamaican diaspora. The birth of hip-hop in New York also owed much to the city's Jamaican community.

The Rastafari movement was founded in Jamaica. This Back to Africa movement believes that Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was God incarnate, the returned black messiah, come to take the lost Twelve Tribes of Israel back to live with him in Holy Mount Zion in a world of perfect peace, love and harmony. Bob Marley, a convert to the faith, spread the message of Rastafari to the world. There are now estimated to be more than a million Rastafarians throughout the world.

Ian Fleming, who lived in Jamaica, repeatedly used the island as a setting in the James Bond novels, including Live and Let Die, Doctor No, For Your Eyes Only, The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy. In addition, James Bond uses a Jamaica-based cover in Casino Royale. So far, the only James Bond film adaption to have been set in Jamaica is Doctor No. Filming for the fictional island of San Monique in Live and Let Die, however, took place in Jamaica.

The American film Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise, is one of the most popular films to depict Jamaica. A look at delinquent youth in Jamaica is presented in the 1970s musical crime film The Harder They Come, starring Jimmy Cliff as a frustrated (and psychopathic) reggae musician who descends into a murderous crime spree. Another popular Jamaican-based film is the 1993 comedy Cool Runnings which is loosely based on the true story of Jamaica's first bobsled team trying to make it in the Winter Olympics.

Errol Flynn lived with his third wife Patrice Wymore in Port Antoniomarker in the 1950s. He was responsible for developing tourism to this area, popularising raft trips down rivers on bamboo rafts.

The island is famous for its Jamaican jerk spice which forms a popular part of Jamaican cuisine. Jamaica is also home to the world-renowned Red Stripe Beer and Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.

National symbols

(From the Jamaica Information Service

  • National Bird — Doctor Bird (Red-billed Streamertail Hummingbird, Trochilus polytmus)
  • National Flower - Lignum Vitae (Guiacum Officinale)
  • National Tree — Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus talipariti elatum)
  • National Fruit — Ackee
  • National Motto — "Out of Many, One People."


Sport



Sport is an integral part of national life in Jamaica and the island's athletes tend to perform to a standard well above what might ordinarily be expected of such a small country. While the most popular local sport is cricket, on the international stage Jamaicans have tended to do particularly well at Track and Field.

The country was one the venues of 2007 Cricket World Cup and West Indies cricket team is one of the only 10 ICC full member teams who participate in international Test Cricket. The Jamaica national cricket team competes regionally, and also provides players for the West Indies. Sabina Parkmarker is the only test venue here and Greenfield Stadium marker is also used for cricket.

Since independence Jamaica has consistently produced world class athletes in track and field. In Jamaica involvement in athletics begins at a very young age and most high schools maintain rigorous athletics programs with their top athletes competing in national competitions (most notably the VMBS Girls and Boys Athletics Championships) and international meets (most notably the Penn Relays). In Jamaica it is not uncommon for young athletes to attain press coverage and national fame long before they arrive on the international athletics stage.

Over the past 6 decades Jamaica has produced dozens of world class sprinters including most recently Usain Bolt, world record holder in the 100m for men at 9.58s, and 200m for men at 19.19s. Other noteworthy Jamaican sprinters include Arthur Wint--the first Jamaican Olympic Gold Medalist, Donald Quarrie--Olympic Champion and former 200m world record holder, Merlene Ottey, Delloreen Ennis-London, Shelly-Ann Fraser--the current World and Olympic 100m Champion, Kerron Stewart, Aleen Bailey, Juliet Cuthbert, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Yohan Blake, Herb McKenley, George Rhoden--Olympic Gold Medalist, Deon Hemmings--Olympic Gold Medalist as well as former 100m world record holder and Olympic Gold medallist Asafa Powell.

Jamaica has also produced several world class amateur and professional boxers including Trevor Berbick and Mike McCallum. Second generation Jamaican athletes have continued to make a significant impact on the sport internationally, especially in the United Kingdom where the list of top British boxers born in Jamaica or of Jamaican parents includes Chris Eubank, Audley Harrison, David Haye, Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno.

Association football and horse-racing are other popular sports in Jamaica. The national football team qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

The Jamaica national bobsled team was once a serious contender in the Winter Olympics, beating many well-established teams. There is a notable amount of golf in Jamaica, but it appears to be focused on the international tourism market.

Chess, and Basketball are widely played in Jamaica which are supported by the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF), and the Jamaica Basketball Federation (JBF). Netball is also very popular on the island, with the National Netball Team called The Sunshine Girls consistently ranking in the top five in the world.

Education

The emancipation of the slaves heralded in the establishment of the Jamaican education system for the masses. Prior to emancipation there were few schools for educating locals. Many sent their children off to England to access quality education.

After emancipation the West Indian Commission granted a sum of money to establish Elementary Schools, now known as All Age Schools. Most of these schools were established by the churches. This was the genesis of the modern Jamaican school system:

Presently the following categories of schools exist:
  • Early childhood – Basic, Infant and privately operated pre- school. Age cohort – 1 – 5 years.
  • Primary – Publicly and privately owned (Privately owned being called Preparatory Schools). Ages 5 – 12 years.
  • Secondary – Publicly and privately owned. Ages 12 – 18 years. The high schools in Jamaica may be either single-sex or co-educational institutions, and many schools follow the traditional English grammar school model used throughout the British West Indies.
  • Tertiary - Community Colleges, Teachers’ Colleges with The Mico Teachers' College(now The MICO University College) being the oldest founded in 1836,The Shortwood Teachers' College (which was once an all female teacher training institution), Vocational Training Centres, Colleges and Universities - Publicly and privately owned. There are five local universities namely: The University of the West Indies (Mona Campus); the University of Technology, Jamaica formerly The College of Art Science and Technology (CAST); the Northern Caribbean University formerly West Indies College; the University College of The Caribbean and the International University of the Caribbean. Additionally, there are many community and teacher training colleges.


Education is free from the early childhood to secondary levels. There are also opportunities for those who cannot afford further education in the vocational arena through the Human Employment and Resource Training-National Training Agency (HEART Trust-NTA) programme and through an extensive scholarship network for the various universities.

They are taught Spanish in school from primary school, about 40-45% of Jamaican knows some form of Spanish.

Economy

Jamaica is a mixed economy with both state enterprises and private sector businesses. Major sectors of the Jamaican economy include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, and financial and insurance services. Tourism and mining are the leading earners of foreign exchange. An estimated 1.3 million foreign tourists visit Jamaica every year.

Supported by multilateral financial institutions, Jamaica has, since the early 1980s, sought to implement structural reforms aimed at fostering private sector activity and increasing the role of market forces in resource allocation. Since 1991, the government has followed a programme of economic liberalization and stabilization by removing exchange controls, floating the exchange rate, cutting tariffs, stabilising the Jamaican currency, reducing inflation and removing restrictions on foreign investment. Emphasis has been placed on maintaining strict fiscal discipline, greater openness to trade and financial flows, market liberalisation and reduction in the size of government. During this period, a large share of the economy was returned to private sector ownership through divestment and privatisation programmes.

The macroeconomic stabilisation programme introduced in 1991, which focused on tight fiscal and monetary policies, has contributed to a controlled reduction in the rate of inflation. The annual inflation rate has decreased from a high of 80.2% in 1991 to 7.9% in 1998. inflation for FY1998/99 was 6.2% compared to 7.2% in the corresponding period in CUU1997/98. The Government of Jamaica remains committed to lowering inflation, with a long-term objective of bringing it in line with that of its major trading partners.

After a period of steady growth from 1985 to 1995, real GDP decreased by 1.8% and 2.4% in 1996 and 1997, respectively. The decrease in GDP in 1996 and 1997 was largely due to significant problems in the financial sector and, in 1997, a severe island-wide drought (the worst in 70 years) that drastically reduced agricultural production. In 1997, nominal GDP was approximately J$220,556.2 million (US$6,198.9 million based on the average annual exchange rate of the period).



The economy in 1997 was marked by low levels of import growth, high levels of private capital inflows and relative stability in the foreign exchange market.

Recent economic performance shows the Jamaican economy is recovering. Agricultural production, an important engine of growth increased 15.3% in third quarter of 1998 compared to the corresponding period in 1997, signaling the first positive growth rate in the sector since January 1997. Bauxite and alumina production increased 5.5% from January to December, 1998 compared to the corresponding period in 1997. January's bauxite production recorded a 7.1% increase relative to January 1998 and continued expansion of alumina production through 2009 is planned by Alcoa. Tourism, which is the largest foreign exchange earner, showed improvement as well. In the third quarter of 1998, growth in tourist arrivals accelerated with an overall increase of 8.5% in tourism earnings in 1998 when compared to the corresponding period in 1997. Jamaica's agricultural exports are sugar, bananas, coffee, rum,and yams.

Jamaica's the number two exporter of Bauxite in the world, falling short only to the much larger Australia.

Jamaica has a wide variety of industrial and commercial activities. The aviation industry is able to perform most routine aircraft maintenance, except for heavy structural repairs. There is a considerable amount of technical support for transport and agricultural aviation. Jamaica has a considerable amount of industrial engineering, light manufacturing, including metal fabrication, metal roofing, and furniture manufacturing. Food and beverage processing, glassware manufacturing, computer software and data processing, printing and publishing, insurance underwriting, music and recording, and advanced education activities can be found in the larger urban areas. The Jamaican construction industry is entirely self-sufficient, with professional technical standards and guidance.

Since the first quarter of 2006, the economy of Jamaica has undergone a period of staunch growth. With inflation for the 2006 calendar year down to 6.0% and unemployment down to 8.9%, the nominal GDP grew by an unprecedented 2.9%. An investment programme in island transportation and utility infrastructure and gains in the tourism, mining, and service sectors all contributed this figure. All projections for 2007 show an even higher potential for economic growth with all estimates over 3.0% and hampered only by urban crime and public policies.

In 2006, Jamaica became part of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy as one of the pioneering members.

International trade

Exports: (1999) 1,238 billion $ (Natural resources: 55.7%,Pickles 20%, Food 19.1%, Bananas 4%, Chemicals 3.6%, Machinery 2.2%). The main export countries: United Statesmarker 33.4%, Canada 14.1%, United Kingdom 13.4%, Netherlandsmarker 10.2%, Norwaymarker 5.8%, France 5%, Germany 4%, and Japan 2.3%.

Imports: (1999) 2,89 billion $ (Energy 50.5%, Machinery and Equipment 7.6%, Consumer goods 33.2%). The main import countries: United Statesmarker 48.1%, Trinidad and Tobagomarker 7.8%, Japan 6.9%, France 5%, United Kingdom 3.7%, and Canada 3%.

Exports and Imports for January 2007 -

Exports: (January 2007) Total Goods Exports 166,495 (US$000) (General Merchandise Exports 93.4%, Freezone Exports 2.6%, Goods Procured in Ports 4.0%).

Imports: (January 2007) : Total Goods Import 511,015 (US$000); General Merchandise Imports 97.8%, Freezone Imports 0.3%, Goods Procured in Ports 1.8%).

Infrastructure

Transport

The transport infrastructure in Jamaica consists of roadways, railways and air transport, with roadways forming the backbone of the island's internal transport system.

Roadways

The Jamaican road network consists of almost 13 049 miles (21,000 kilometres) of roads, of which over 9 321 miles (15,000 kilometres) is paved. The Jamaican Government has, since the late 1990s and in cooperation with private investors, embarked on a campaign of infrastructural improvement projects, one of which includes the creation of a system of freeways, the first such access-controlled roadways of their kind on the island, connecting the main population centres of the island. This project has so far seen the completion of 21 miles (33 kilometres) of freeway.

Railways

Railways in Jamaica, as in many other countries, no longer enjoy the prominent position they once did, having been largely replaced by roadways as the primary means of transport. Of the 169 miles (272 kilometres) and of railway found in Jamaica, only 35 miles (57 kilometres) remain in operation, currently used to transport bauxite.

Air transport

There are two international airports in Jamaica with modern terminals, long runways, and the navigational equipment required to accommodate the large jet aircraft used in modern and air travel: Norman Manley International Airportmarker in Kingstonmarker and Sangster International Airportmarker in the resort city of Montego Baymarker. Both airports are home to the country's national airline, Air Jamaica. In addition there are local commuter airports at Tinson Pen marker, Port Antoniomarker, Ocho Ríosmarker, and Negrilmarker which cater to internal flights only. Many other small, rural centres are served by private fields on sugar estates or bauxite mines.

Ports, shipping and lighthouses

Owing to its location in the Caribbean Seamarker in the shipping lane to the Panama Canalmarker and relative proximity to large markets in North America and emerging markets in Latin America, Jamaica receives high container traffic. The container terminal at the Port of Kingston has undergone large expansion in capacity in recent years to handle growth both already realised as well as that which is projected in coming years. Montego Freeport in Montego Baymarker also handles a variety of cargo like (though more limited than) the Port of Kingston, mainly agricultural products.

There are several other ports positioned around the island, including Port Esquivel in St. Catherine (WINDALCO), Rocky Point in Clarendonmarker, Port Kaiser in St. Elizabethmarker, Port Rhoades in Discovery Bay, Reynolds Pier in Ocho Riosmarker, and Boundbrook Port in Port Antoniomarker.

To aid the navigation of shipping, Jamaica operates nine lighthouses.

Energy

Jamaica depends on petroleum imports to satisfy its national energy needs. Many test sites have been explored for oil, but no commercially viable quantities have been found. The most convenient sources of imported oil and motor fuels (diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel) are from Mexicomarker and Venezuelamarker.

Jamaica's electrical power is produced by diesel (bunker oil) generators located in Old Harbour. Other smaller power stations (most owned by the Jamaica Public Service Company - the island's electricity provider) support the island's electrical grid including the Hunts Bay Power Station, the Bogue Power Station, the Rockfort Power Station and small hydroelectric plants on the White River, Rio Bueno, Morant River, Black River (Maggotty) and Roaring River. A wind farm, owned by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, was established at Wigton, Manchester.

Jamaica imports approximately 80,000 barrels of oil energy products per day, including asphalt and lubrication products. Just 20% of imported fuels are used for road transportation, the rest being used by the bauxite industry, electricity generation, and aviation.

Jamaica produces enormous quantities of hydrous ethanol (5% water content), most of which appears to be consumed as beverages, and none of it used as motor fuel. Facilities exist to refine hydrous ethanol feedstock into anhydrous ethanol (0% water content), but the process appears to be uneconomic at this time and the facility remains idle.

Communication

Jamaica has a fully digital telephone communication system with a mobile penetration of over 95%.

The country’s three mobile operators - Cable and Wireless (marketed as LIME - Landline, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment), Digicel, and Oceanic Digital (operating as MiPhone and now known as Claro since late 2008) - have spent millions in network upgrade and expansion.Both Digicel and Oceanic Digital were granted licences in 2001 to operate mobile services in the newly liberalised telecom market that had once been the sole domain of the incumbent Cable and Wireless monopoly. Digicel opted for the more widely used GSM wireless system, while Oceanic opted for the CDMA standard. Cable and Wireless, which had begun with TDMA standard, subsequently upgraded to GSM, and currently utilises both standards on its network.

With wireless usage increasing, land lines supplied by Cable and Wireless have declined from just over half a million to roughly about three hundred thousand as of 2006. In a bid to grab more market share, Cable and Wireless recently launched a new land line service called HomeFone Prepaid that would allow customers to pay for minutes they use rather than pay a set monthly fee for service, much like prepaid wireless service.

A new entrant to the Jamaican communications market, Flow Jamaica, recently laid a new submarine cable connecting Jamaica to the United States. This new cable increases the total number of submarine cables connecting Jamaica to the rest of the world to four.

Two more licences were auctioned by the Jamaican government to provide mobile services on the island, including one that was previously owned by AT&T Wireless but never utilised, and one new licence. Industry analysts argue that with a near market saturation, there is very little room for new operators.

Military

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is the small but professional military force of Jamaica. The JDF is based on the British military model with organisation, training, weapons and traditions closely aligned with Commonwealth realms. Once chosen, officer candidates are sent to one of several British or Canadian basic officer courses depending on which arm of service they are selected for. Enlisted soldiers are given basic training at JDF Training Depot, Newcastle or Up Park Camp, both in St. Andrew. As with the British model, NCOs are given several levels of professional training as they rise up the ranks. Additional military schools are available for speciality training in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The JDF is directly descended from the British West India Regiment formed during the colonial era. The West India Regiment was used extensively by the British Empire in policing the empire from 1795 to 1926. Other units in the JDF heritage include the early colonial Jamaica Militia, the Kingston Infantry Volunteers of WWI and reorganised into the Jamaican Infantry Volunteers in World War II. The West Indies Regiment was reformed in 1958 as part of the West Indies Federation. The dissolution of the Federation resulted in the establishment of the JDF.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) comprises an infantry Regiment and Reserve Corps, an Air Wing, a Coast Guard fleet and a supporting Engineering Unit. The infantry regiment contains the 1st, 2nd and 3rd (National Reserve) battalions. The JDF Air Wing is divided into three flight units, a training unit, a support unit and the JDF Air Wing (National Reserve). The Coast Guard is divided between seagoing crews and support crews. It conducts maritime safety and maritime law enforcement as well as defence-related operations. The support battalion contains a Military Police platoon as well as vehicle, armourers and supply units. The 1st Engineer Regiment provides military engineering support to the JDF. The Headquarters JDF contains the JDF Commander, Command Staff as well as Intelligence, Judge Advocate office, Administrative and Procurement sections.

In recent years the JDF has been called on to assist the nation's police, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in fighting drug smuggling and a rising crime rate which includes one of the highest murder rates in the world. JDF units actively conduct armed patrols with the JCF in high-crime areas and known gang neighbourhoods. There has been vocal controversy as well as support of this JDF role. In early 2005, an Opposition leader, Edward Seaga, called for the merger of the JDF and JCF. This has not garnered support in either organisation nor among the majority of citizens.

Crime

See also: Prisons in Jamaica
Some areas of Jamaica, particularly cities such as Kingston, experience high levels of crime and violence. Jamaica has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for many years, according to UN estimates. Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson described the situation as "a national challenge of unprecedented proportions". In 2005, Jamaica had 1,674 murders for a murder rate of 58 per 100,000 people; that year, Jamaica had the highest murder rate in the world.In November 2008, Jamaica's parliament voted to retain the death penalty, which is performed by hanging.

The U.S. Department of State reports that brutality against homosexuals, mainly by private citizens, was widespread in 2008. Homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica, incurring a prison sentence. Many Jamaicans are hostile toward LGBT and intersex people, and several mob attacks against gay people have been reported. Attacks on gay people are even encouraged in some popular Jamaican dancehall/reggae songs that have been called murder music.However in that year of 2008 there was the murder of one homosexual, who was killed by his lover. Jamaican Star No Gay Murders>
 The country has been called "the most homophobic place on earth."


See also



References

Further reading

  • Chapman, V.J. 1961. The Marine Algae of Jamaica. Part 1. Myxophyceae and Chlorophyceae. Institute of Jamaica.
  • Chapman, V.J. 1963. The Marine Algae of Jamaica. Part 2. Phaeophyceas and Rhodophyceae. Institute of Jamaica.


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