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Saint Mary
Location latitude 18°09'N,
longitude 77°03'W
Capital City Port Mariamarker
Major towns Highgate, Oracabessa,
Richmond, Annotto Bay,
County Middlesex
Area 610 square kilometres
Rank Jamaica's fifth smallest parish
Population 113,000 in 2001
Commerce Agriculture, Manufacturing
Saint Mary is a parish located in the northeast section of Jamaicamarker. It is one of Jamaica's smallest parishes, located in the county of Middlesex. Its chief town and capital is Port Maria, located on the coast. It is also the birthplace of established dancehall reggae artists, such as Capleton, Lady Saw, Ninja Man, Sizzla and Tanya Stephens.

Brief history

There are a few traces of Taíno/Arawak presence in the parish. Saint Mary was also one of the first sections of the island to be occupied by the Spaniards. Puerto Santa Maria, later Port Maria, was the second town the Spaniards built on the island. In 1655, after the Englishmarker captured Jamaica from the Spanish, the area around the north coast town of Santa Maria became known as St. Mary, with the chief town called Port Maria.

There are indications of strong resistance to slavery in the parish. The Easter Rebellion led by Tacky in 1760 and the existence of the Maroons at Scotts Hall showed that the parish was one of the most active in the fights for freedom. Its present size was determined in 1867, when the parish of Metcalfe was merged with St Mary.

Geography

St. Mary is located at latitude 18°09'N, longitude 77°03'W. It is bordered by Portlandmarker in the east, St. Annmarker in the west, and parts of St. Catherine and St. Andrewmarker in the south.The parish covers an area of 610 km², making it Jamaica's fifth smallest parish. The terrain is mountainous, rising up to almost 4000 feet at the highest point, but there are no distinctive mountain ranges. The climate is varied, like most parishes on the island. The eastern section of the parish has shale rock and an intricate surface draining pattern, while the western section is limestone with predominantly underground rivers.

There are three main rivers in Saint Mary, the Rio Nuevomarker, Wag Water Rivermarker and White River.

Commerce

The parish has a good variety of agricultural resources. The principal products are bananas, sugar, citrus, pimento, cocoa, coconuts, coffee, vegetables, breadfruit and anatto. Pastoralism is also practised. In recent years, however, agriculture has been on the decline, which may be due to the problems that Jamaican banana export has been facing. There is also a lack of investment and praedial larceny at varying levels.

The parish, for several years, has been listed as one of the poorest in Jamaica, althouth there is potential for vast development. It boasts what is thought by some to be one of the best secondary level schools in the nation, St. Mary High, from which several outstanding people have come. They occupy several reputable positions in varying sectors both at home and overseas.

Essential services includes banking and postal service. Tourism is a relatively small sector in the parish.

References




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