JAMAICA JEWEL OF THE CARIBBEAN
Jamaica is an independent country, approximately the size of the State of Connecticut, and is 4240 square miles in area, it is 146 miles from east to west and varies between 22 to 51 miles north to south. Jamaica is 600 miles south of Florida and is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. It is the largest English-speaking Island in the Caribbean. It has a maritime tropical climate, supplied by the northeast trade winds. There you will find rugged mountains and beautiful breath-taking sandy beaches. The people of Jamaica are descendants of African slaves, east Indians and Arawak Indians from Venezuela. The current population is approximately 2.5 million people. Jamaica has a democratic government elected by the people and governed by a prime minister.
The people elect the government in Jamaica every five years. Everyone aged 18 and over has the right to vote, this is called universal adult suffrage. The parliament is the Government of Jamaica, and consists of a senate with 21 members and a House of Representative, and leaders of The Opposition. Jamaica still retains part of its British Sovernity, the queen of England is represented by a Governor General, who is appointed by her on the recommendation of the Prime Minister . The responsibility of the Parliament is to look after the welfare of its people. The principal instrument of policy-making is the Cabinet, which is charged with the general direction and control of the government of Jamaica. There are fourteen parishes (states) in Jamaica, a Mayor runs each, these parishes are divided into constituencies that are represented in the government by a member of parliament. Jamaica maintains an embassy in all major countries and a seat at the United Nations.
The people of Jamaica are in most part very friendly and easy going. The official language of Jamaica is English, but you will hear a dialect generally spoken called patois meaning Broken English that is a mixed of English and African influences. The majority of Jamaicans are very religious; the traditional religions are Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, and Seventh Day Adventist. There are also indigenous religion that emerged, called Rastafari which is classified as a cult religion, this is derived from the acknowledgement of the then Emperor Haile Selassi of Ethopia as a direct descendant of Jesus Christ. Many of these Rastafarians are vegetarians and very artistic, they wear their hair in long dreadlocks. Many Rastafarians regard the use of marijuana as a religious sacrament and aid to meditation, but this is an illegal substance. They produce many wonderful drawings and wooden artifacts. One very famous rastafari musical genius was Bob Marley who has a star on Hollywood Boulevard for his contribution to Jamaica and the international music community for his reggae music. Jamaica has a literacy rate of 98 percent as of 1962 before this period it was 68 percent. There are 3 universities and over 30 colleges with students attending from other Caribbean countries and Africa.
Tourism is an important part of Jamaicas economy. This is considered to be the most important earner of foreign exchange for Jamaica. More than 1.5 million tourists visit Jamaica each year mainly from USA, Canada and Europe. This is mainly due to the island warm climate and year-round sunshine, its charming beaches and beautiful landscapes and its luscious rain forest. The main places of call for tourist are Montego Bay, for its night life, Ocho Rios for its beautiful Dunns River Falls, Negril for its white sandy beaches and Port Antonio for its
romantic rafting down the Rio Grande River. The tourism industry has an
effect on every sector of the Jamaican economy as it provides direct employment at specialty stores, restaurants, hotels, supports transportation and accounts for many other forms of employment locally.
Agriculture accounts for about one-twentieth of the gross national product. The island possesses a wide variety of soil and climatic conditions, that is well suited for farming as well as the mining of bauxite. Jamaica is a very mountainous country with two thirds of its land mass above 1000 ft. The value of the forest cover is extremely important in protecting the soil from damage by various elements of nature, and conserving moisture allowing for great yields when farmed correctly. The chief economic crops are sugar, bananas, citrus, cocoa, coffee, coconuts, and ackee, which is the national dish of Jamaica.
Though, none of these crops are indigenous to the island. Most of these agricultural products are farmed for export, and the remainder harvested for local consumsion. Many farmers in Jamaica lack the necessary specialized equipment needed for farming, but with the rich soil they inherit, they do get by. Coffee is a large production item in Jamaica and a special variety is grown in the Blue Mountains, which is 7404 feet above sea level. This unique elevation, and the moist climatic conditions, makes it well suited for the farming of coffee and many other crops.
With slavery abolished from Jamaica, after being controlled by the Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and lastly the British, there came an influx of Chinese, Indians, Syrians, Portuguese and many others. This produced a unique mixture of races and cultures. While most Jamaicans are of African decent, there have been much inter marriages, causing a blend of cultures.
This is reflected in the diversity and the appearances of most Jamaicans. Jamaica is a poor country with most of its people migrating to USA, Canada and United Kingdom seeking for a better life than they could obtain back in their homeland. Although the education system of the country is of a very high standard there are too many over-qualified candidates for the few jobs available in the island. Sports is an integral part of Jamaican activity, which includes soccer, cricket, basketball tennis, sport fishing, track and field and many other sports of which we compete on an international basis.
The island of Jamaica with its serenity and friendly people will always be a haven for the sun seekers and vacationers. The many who may not seek to migrate must take charge and cultivate a climate of peace and harmony. The government with its free democratic society is charged to protect the human rights of all citizens and to continue with its presence amongst the international community. With more economic opportunities and the arrival of much need technology, dependence on migration will eventually be something of the past. With the educational system firmly in place and technology and entrepreneurships available, the citizens will be more subsistence. What makes the island of Jamaica so attractive and enticing to visit and live? Then take some time out and listen to the words of the poet Robert Nesta Marley, (Bob Marley) theres a natural mystic flowing thru the air, and if you listen carefully, you will hear. And so goes the motto of Jamaica Out of many, one people.
Parkinson, R. (1999). The culinaria caribbean. France: pp. 10-28.
Geography & History of Jamaica. (n.d.) Retrieved November 14, 2001 from