Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, 240 kilometres (150 mi) in length and as much as 85 kilometres (50 mi) in width situated in the Caribbean Sea. It is 635 kilometres (391 mi) east of the Central American mainland, 150 kilometres (93 mi) south of Cuba, and 180 kilometres (112 mi) west of the island of Hispaniola, on which Haiti and the Dominican Republic are situated. 




Map of Jamaica



Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning either the "land of springs," or the "Land of wood and water." Formerly a Spanish possession known as Santiago, then the British West Indies Crown colony of Jamaica, the country's population is composed mainly of the descendants of former African slaves. It is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada.




The original Arawak or Taino people from South America first settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC. Although some claim they became virtually extinct following contact with Europeans, others claim that some survived for a while. There is very little trace of the Arawak culture, and the Jamaican National Heritage Trust is attempting to locate and document any evidence of the Arawaks.

Jamaica was claimed for Spain after Christopher Columbus first landed there in 1494. The English Admiral William Penn (father of William Penn of Pennsylvania) and General Venables seized the island in 1655. During its first 200 years of English (then British) rule, post Spanish rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar exporting nations and produced over 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820 and 1824, which was achieved through the massive use of imported African slave labour. After the abolition of the slave trade the British imported Indian and Chinese indentured servants in the early 1800s as more cheap labour. The descendants of the Chinese and Indian indentured servants continue to reside in Jamaica today.


Jamaica sea views with palm tress


Jamaican sea view and palm trees


By the beginning of the 19th century, the United Kingdom's heavy reliance on slavery resulted in blacks (Africans) outnumbering whites (Europeans) by a ratio of almost 20 to 1, leading to constant opportunities for revolt. Following a series of rebellions, slavery was formally abolished in 1834, with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in 1838.

During the 1800’s a number of botanical gardens were established. These included the Castleton Garden in 1862 (set up to replace the Bath Garden which was established during the late 1770s and where breadfruit brought to Jamaica by Captain William Bligh was planted but which was subject to flooding), the Cinchona Plantation in 1868 and the Hope Garden during 1874.

In 1945, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice and Keeper of the Records in Jamaica and sat in the Supreme Court, Kingston between 1945 and 1950/1951 before going on to become Chief Justice in Kenya.

Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom. In 1958, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies, a federation among all of the British West Indies. Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.

Strong economic growth averaging about six percent per annum marked its first ten years of independence under conservative governments 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 initial 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 slow-down in the global economy in 1970, prompted the electorate to change the 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 twenty-five percent below the 1972 level. Rising foreign and local debt accompanied by large fiscal deficits resulted in the invitation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) financing from the USA 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 the closure of the first (Alpart) and third (Alcoa) largest alumina producers, significant reduction in production by the second largest (Alcan), the exit of Reynolds Jamaica Mines Ltd from the Jamaican industry and reduced flows from tourism. During the 1980s Jamaica was still a prosperous country though increases in crime and petty theft began to weigh on the island.

The early capital of Jamaica was Spanish Town in the parish of St. Catherine, the site of the old Spanish colonial capital. The Spanish named the town Santiago de la Vega. In 1655 when the English captured the island, much of the old Spanish capital was burned by the invading troops. The town was rebuilt by the English and renamed Spanish Town. It remained the capital until 1872, when the city of Kingston was named the capital.

Jamaican golf course


Government and politics

Jamaica is a 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. See Jamaican Royal Family. 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 Parliament, which gave Jamaica political independence. This was followed by a reformation of the island's flag.

Inside the Jamaican ParliamentThe 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 judgement, 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 the 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. Unfortunately, the NDM has almost become irrelevant in the two party system as it garnered only 540 votes of the over 800,000 votes cast in the September 3 elections. Jamaica is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).


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

Surrey (county) in the east, containing the following parishes:

  • Kingston

  • Portland 

  • Saint Andrew

  • Saint Thomas


Middlesex (county) in the center, containing the following parishes: 

  • Clarendon

  • Manchester

  • Saint Ann

  • Saint Catherine

  • Saint Mary


Cornwall (county) in the west, containing the following parishes: 

  • Hanover

  • Saint Elizabeth

  • Saint James

  • Trelawny

  • Westmoreland



Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean, and the most populous English speaking island there. The island of Jamaica is home to the Blue Mountains 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 Kingston, Portmore, Spanish Town, Mandeville, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, and Montego Bay.

The climate in Jamaica is tropical, with hot and humid weather, although higher inland regions have a more temperate climate. 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 Ocean; 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, destruction, and many deaths. Hurricane Ivan tracked just off the south coast of Jamaica in 2004, close enough to cause flooding and wind damage to coastal areas.

Jamaica beach front shops


Jamaican shops



Ethnic origins

Jamaica's population consists mainly of people of West-African descent, comprising about 90.9% of the demographics. Other populations on the island are as follows: East Indian 1.3%, White 0.2%, Chinese 0.2%, Lebanese 0.1%, Multiracial 7.3%. Immigration from regions such as China, Colombia, South Asia, and other areas of the Caribbean have seen a steady rise.


The official language of Jamaica is English. Informally Jamaican Patois (pronounced patwah) is more commonly spoken by a majority of the population. Although British English or "The Queen's English" is the most obvious influence on patois, it includes words and syntax from various African languages (including Akan Ewe and Yoruba); other European languages (Spanish, Portuguese and French); Pre-Columbian Caribbean languages (Arawak); and Asian languages (Hindi and Mandarin) which is evidence of the long standing mixing of the people. In general, patois differs from English in pronunciation, grammar, nominal orthography and syntax, having many intonations to indicate meaning and mood. The language's characteristics include pronouncing /θ/ as [t] and /ð/ as [d], and omitting some initial consonant sounds, principally /h/. A number of linguists classify Jamaican Patois as a separate language, while others consider it to be a dialect of English.


Over the past several decades, close to a million[citation needed] Jamaicans have emigrated, especially to the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. This emigration appears to have been tapering off somewhat in recent years. However, the great number of Jamaicans living abroad has become known as the "Jamaican diaspora". There has also been emigration of Jamaicans to Cuba.

Concentrations of expatriate Jamaicans are large in a number of cities in the United States, including New York City, Buffalo, the Miami metro area, Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Washington, D.C, Philadelphia, Hartford and Los Angeles. In Canada, the Jamaican population is centred in Toronto, and there are smaller communities in cities such as Montreal and Ottawa. In the United Kingdom, Jamaican communities exist in most large cities where they make up the larger part of the British-Caribbean community.


Christians make up 65.3% of Jamaica's population, with the majority being Protestant,[6] partly due to the influence of the Christian leadership in the British Anti-Slavery Society, and the later influence of abolitionist denominations from the U.S. In spite of resistance by the slave owners, the Christian faith spread rapidly as British Christian abolitionists and educated former slaves[9] joined local Jamaican Christian leaders in the struggle against slavery. Today, the five largest denominations in Jamaica are: Church of God, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Pentecostal and Anglican.

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.

Non-Christian religions in Jamaica include Bahá'í[citation needed], Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism. There is also a small population of Reform Jews in Jamaica who trace their roots back to early 15th century Spain and Portugal. The West African folk cult of Obeah is found in poor urban and rural areas of Jamaica.

Miss Jamaica competition


Miss Jamaica



Further information: Music of Jamaica, Cuisine of Jamaica, and Jamaican literature 
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.


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, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Desmond Dekker, Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Shaggy, Grace Jones, Shabba Ranks, Supercat, Buju Banton, Sean Paul, I Wayne, Capleton, Bounty Killer and many others. Famous band artist groups that came from Jamaica include Black Uhuru, Third World Band, Inner Circle, Chalice Reggae Band, 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.

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 Bond film to have been set in Jamaica is Doctor No. However, filming for the fictional island of San Monique in Live and Let Die 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 cops-and-robbers musical film The Harder They Come, starring Jimmy Cliff as a frustrated (and psychopathic) reggae musician who descends into a murderous crime spree.

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

National symbols

National Bird — Doctor Bird (Green-and-black Streamertail, Trochilus polytmus) 
National Flower — Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale) 
National Tree — Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus elatus) 
National Dish — Ackee and Saltfish (dried salted Cod) 
National Motto — "Out of Many, One People." (Unity among many cultures and races.) 


Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist, London games 2012




Jamaicans, in general, have a large interest in sports. Cricket, Football (soccer), athletics and horse-racing are several popular sports. The Jamaican national cricket team competes regionally, and also provides players for the West Indies. The national football team qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Jamaican athletics have been well represented at the Olympics, World Championships and other major athletics events over the years with leading athletes obtaining medals. Asafa Powell, world record holder in the 100m for men at 9.74s is among a rich heritage of Jamaican athletes to compete on the world stage. The 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. A typical first-class golf estate is the Tryall Club near Montego Bay. Also near to Montego Bay is the White Witch course, and Cinnamon Hill. Jamaican nationals do not appear to engage with golf to any great extent.


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 – 10 years. 

Secondary – Publicly and privately owned. Ages 10 – 16 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, 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; the University College of the Caribbean and the International University of the Caribbean. Additionally there are many teacher training and community colleges. 

Although there is no free education in Jamaica above the primary level, there are opportunities for those who can't 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.

Jamaican sandy beach and fishing boats


Jamaican beach launched fishing boats



Jamaica is a mixed, free-market economy with state enterprises as well as 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 foreign exchange earners.

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 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).

Fishing boats and bauxite cargo ships share the waterways near Alligator Pond, JamaicaThe 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 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%[3]. 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 (CSME) as one of the pioneering members.

International trade

Exports: (1999) 1,238 billion $ (Natural resources: 55.7%, Food 19.1%, Bananas 4%, Chemicals 3.6%, Machinery 2.2%). The main export countries: USA 33.4% , United Kingdom 13.4%, France 5%, Germany 4%, Canada 14.1%, Netherlands 10.2%, Norway 5.8%, Japan 2.3%. Imports: (1999) 2,89 billion $ (Energy 50.5%, Machinery and Equipment 7.6%, Consumer goods 33.2%). The main import countries: USA 48.1%, Trinidad and Tobago 7.8%, Japan 6.9%, United Kingdom 3.7%, France 5%, Canada 3%. Exports and Imports (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%)

The Golden Skull adventure story by Jameson Hunter





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

The Jamaican road network is comprised of almost 21,000 kilometres of roads, of which over 15,000 kilometres is paved[18]. 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 centers of the island. This project has so far seen the completion of 33 kilometres of freeway.

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 272 kilometres of railway found in Jamaica, only 57 kilometres remain in operation, currently used to transport bauxite.

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 air travel: Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Sangster International Airport in the resort town of Montego Bay. In addition there are local commuter airports at Tinson Pen (Kingston), Port Antonio, Ocho Rios, Mandeville, and Negril for internal flights only. Many other small, rural centers are served by private fields on sugar estates or bauxite mines.

Owing to its location in the Caribbean Sea in the shipping lane to the Panama Canal 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. In addition, as the island is a large exporter of bauxite, there is considerable freighter traffic.


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 Mexico and Venezuela.

Jamaica's electrical power is produced by diesel (bunker oil) generators located in Old Harbour.

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.


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 bmobile), Digicel, and Oceanic Digital (operating as MiPhone) - have spent millions in network upgrade and expansion. The Irish owned Digicel has become a generic term for mobile phones in Jamaica. Both Digicel and Oceanic Digital were granted licenses 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 licenses 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.

Jamaican luxury Ritz Carlton hotel




The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is the small but professional military force of Jamaica. The JDF is based upon 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 upon 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 on 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 Indies Regiment formed during the colonial era. The West Indies 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 sea-going 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 upon 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.


Some areas of Jamaica experience high levels of violent crime. Jamaica has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for many years, usually ranking third after Colombia and South Africa, according to UN estimates. Jamaica's 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 64.10 per 100,000 people; that year Jamaica had the highest murder rate in the world. The spate of gangland killings in the UK in particular, can be attributed to Yardie criminals illegally entering the country as part of the international drugs trade.





Popular beaches are found near Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril, where mega-resorts draw many tourists. Get special spa treatments, such as a massage, sugar-cane body scrub, or papaya-banana facial, or get your hair braided into cornrows.


Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular water sports, and divers will especially want to explore Port Royal, the city which sank into Kingston Harbor after an earthquake in 1692. Other water activities include swimming with dolphins, sailing, windsurfing, parasailing, and fishing. On land, watch cricket and polo matches or enjoy horseback riding, downhill biking, golf, or birdwatching. Art lovers can visit Kingston's National Gallery of Jamaica or watch artists at work in Ocho Rios.



Jamaica Ritz Carlton Hotel at night


Jamaica - Carlton Ritz hotel



Ritz Carlton Hotel


This Jamaica resort offers 427 spacious guestrooms and suites in a five-story building facing the Caribbean Sea. All provide balconies or terraces with sea or garden views. Bedding includes Frette luxury linens, down pillows and comforters, extra-thick mattresses, and featherbeds. (Non-allergenic bedding available on request.) Gray-and-white marble bathrooms have glass-door stall showers, separate tubs, twin-sink vanities, phones, and plush bathrobes. Other amenities include three telephones (one cordless), 27-inch TVs, and radio/CD players. (DVD players and VCRs available for rent.) Wireless and wired high-speed Internet access are available for surcharges. Bath-butler service (surcharge) is available on request. Smoking is permitted only on balconies/terraces.

While the hotel's architecture draws inspiration from historic Rose Hall Great House, the 17th-century English-style sugar-plantation residence 2.5 km (1.5 mi) away, decor features contemporary Caribbean colors such mint-green, canary-yellow, and salmon-pink complemented in rooms and suites by multicolored area rugs on tile floors. Crown molding and mahogany furniture add colonial touches.


All guests enjoy complimentary use of windsurfers, kayaks, sailboats, and snorkeling gear, in addition to a complimentary scuba-diving lesson in the pool. Complimentary shuttles transport guests 8 km (5 mi) to the Rose Hall Beach Club, an independently owned facility offering parasailing, water skiing, banana-boating, and other water sports (surcharges). Scuba-diving and snorkeling trips, and scuba-diving instruction/certification are also available at the beach club for surcharges.

Located on a hillside 4 km (2.5 mi) away, the resort's 18-hole championship White Witch Golf Course features rolling hills and panoramic sea views. Guests receive preferred tee times and complimentary shuttle service to the course. A practice facility includes two tees, two bunkers, and a 1,022-square-meter (11,000-squae-foot) putting green. Pros are available.


Commonwealth of Jamaica


Coat of arms

Motto: Out of many, one people

Anthem: Jamaica, Land We Love
Royal anthem: God Save the Queen


17°59′N 76°48′W

Largest city


Official language(s)



Parliamentary democracy

 - Monarch

Elizabeth II

 - Governor-General

Kenneth Hall

 - Prime Minister

Portia Simpson-Miller



 - From the UK

August 6, 1962 



 - Total

10,991 km² (166th)


4,244 sq mi 

 - Water (%)




 - July 2005 est.

2,651,000 (138th)

 - Density

252/km² (49th)
653/sq mi 


2005 estimate

 - Total

$11.69 billion (131st)

 - Per capita

$4,300 (114th)

HDI (2003)

0.738 (98th) – medium


Dollar (JMD)

Time zone


Internet TLD


Calling code





Jamaica (in red) World location map


Jamaica (in red) World location map






Jamaica  - Youtube



Jamaica Jungle - Youtube



Jamaica Kingston - Youtube



Usain Bolt  - Youtube










Aden - Yemen


Africa Central - East




Antarctic - Antarctica

Arctic - North Pole






Aztecs - Mexico






Beachy Head, England




Black Rock Desert, Nevada



Bonneville, Utah - History


Brighton - West Pier

British Columbia




Canary Islands

Cape Hope

Cape York - Au

Caribbean - Central America

Cayman Islands

Chichester Harbour


China - Beijing

Columbia - S. America

Columbo - Sri Lanka

Cowes, Isle of Wight





Darwin - Australia

Daytona Beach - Florida USA



Eastbounre Pier, England


East Africa





Falkland Islands

Falmouth, Cornwall





Galapagos Islands

Geography Links

Geography Records

Geography Resources



Geography Statistics


Gibraltar - Links





Holland - Volendam

Hollywood, California, LA

Hong Kong




India - Mumbai

Indonesia Links




Isle of Man

Isle of Wight - The Needles



Jakarta - Java




Kent, England - Sandgate


Korea  Republic of (South)


Kyoto - Japan

Las Vegas



Life on Earth

London - Big Ben

London Eye - Madame Tussauds

London Houses Parliament

London - Buckingham Palace

London - Old Bailey

London - Overview

London - The City

London - Tower Bridge

London - Trafalgar Square




Maya Empire - Central America

Melbourne, Australia


Middle East




Naples- Italy

National Geographic


Nertherlands - Eindhoven 

New York

New Zealand


North Africa


Nova Scotia

Oceans and Seas



Palermo - Sicily


Palma - Malorca



Panama Canal - Links


Pendine Sands - Carmarthen




Planet Earth


Port Moresby - PNG

Port Said - Egypt


Puerto Rico



Rio de Janeiro




Salt Lake City - Utah

Saudi Arabia


Senegal West Africa



South Africa

South America


Spain - Espana

Sri Lanka - Links


Suez Canal


Surrey, England Index

Sussex, England Index



Sydney, Australia


Tahiti - Polynesia - Links



Tokyo, Japan

Tonga - Polynesia


Trinidad - Lesser Antilles


Tunbridge Wells, England



UAE - United Arab Emirates

UK Statistics


United Kingdom

United Kingdom - Gov


Vatican City






Wales - Bridgend

Washington D.C.

Wealden iron industry

Wendover, Utah

West Africa

World Peace Supporters








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