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Country information - Jamaica
Country name - conventional long form : none
Country name - conventional short form : Jamaica
Government type : constitutional parliamentary democracy
Capital - name : Kingston
Capital - time difference : UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
National holiday : Independence Day, 6 August (1962)
Population : 2,804,332 (July 2008 est.)
Nationality - noun : Jamaican(s)
Nationality - adjective : Jamaican
Languages : English, English patois
Currency (code) : Jamaican dollar (JMD)
Currency code : JMD

Jamaica is located Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba. The climate is tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior. The terrain is mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain.


This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Background : 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 replaced 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 of whom became small farmers. Jamaica gradually obtained increasing independence from Britain, and 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.

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