Introduction ::Jamaica

    The island - discovered by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1494 - was settled by the Spanish early in the 16th century. The native Taino, 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 increased its independence from Britain. 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.

Geography ::Jamaica

People and Society ::Jamaica

Government ::Jamaica

    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Jamaica
    constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
    name: Kingston
    geographic coordinates: 18 00 N, 76 48 W
    time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    14 parishes; Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, Manchester, Portland, Saint Andrew, Saint Ann, Saint Catherine, Saint Elizabeth, Saint James, Saint Mary, Saint Thomas, Trelawny, Westmoreland
    note: for local government purposes, Kingston and Saint Andrew were amalgamated in 1923 into the present single corporate body known as the Kingston and Saint Andrew Corporation
    6 August 1962 (from the UK)
    Independence Day, 6 August (1962)
    6 August 1962
    common law system based on the English model
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Dr. Patrick L. ALLEN (since 26 February 2009)
    head of government: Prime Minister Portia SIMPSON-MILLER (since 5 January 2012)
    cabinet: Cabinet is appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
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    elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Representatives is appointed prime minister by the governor general
    bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (a 21-member body appointed by the governor general on the recommendations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; ruling party is allocated 13 seats, and the opposition is allocated 8 seats) and the House of Representatives (63 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
    elections: last held on 29 December 2011 (next to be held no later than December 2016)
    election results: percent of vote by party - PNP 53.3%, JLP 46.6%; seats by party - PNP 41, JLP 22
    highest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of president of the court and a minimum of 4 judges; Supreme Court (40 judges organized in specialized divisions)
    note - appeals beyond Jamicia's highest courts are submitted to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) rather than to the Caribbean Court of Justice (the appellate court implemented for member states of the Caribbean Community)
    judge selection and term of office: chief justice of the Supreme Court and president of the Court of Appeal appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the prime minister; other judges of both courts appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission; judges of both courts serve till age 70
    subordinate courts: resident magistrate courts, district courts, and petty sessions courts
    Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Andrew HOLNESS]
    People's National Party or PNP [Portia SIMPSON-MILLER]
    National Democratic Movement or NDM [Michael WILLIAMS]
    New Beginnings Movement or NBM
    Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists)
    chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen VASCIANNIE
    chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
    telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660
    FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081
    consulate(s) general: Miami, New York
    chief of mission: Ambassador Pamela E. BRIDGEWATER
    embassy: 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6
    mailing address: P.O. Box 541, Kingston 5
    telephone: [1] (876) 702-6000
    FAX: [1] (876) 702-6001
    diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side); green represents hope, vegetation, and agriculture, black reflects hardships overcome and to be faced, and yellow recalls golden sunshine and the island's natural resources
    green-and-black streamertail (bird)
    name: "Jamaica, Land We Love"

    lyrics/music: Hugh Braham SHERLOCK/Robert Charles LIGHTBOURNE
    note: adopted 1962

Economy ::Jamaica

    The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which accounted for more than 60% of GDP at the end of 2011. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Remittances account for nearly 15% of GDP and exports of bauxite and alumina make up roughly 5%. The bauxite/alumina sector was most affected by the global downturn while the tourism industry was resilient. Tourism revenues account for roughly 5% of GDP in 2011. Jamaica's economy faces many challenges to growth: high crime and corruption, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of nearly 130%. Jamaica's onerous public debt burden is the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably to the financial sector. In early 2010, the Jamaican Government created the Jamaica Debt Exchange in order to retire high-priced domestic bonds and significantly reduce annual debt servicing. Despite the improvement, debt servicing costs still hinder the government''s ability to spend on infrastructure and social programs, particularly as job losses rise in a shrinking economy. Jamaica was hard hit by the effects of the global economic crisis, experiencing economic contractions from 2008-10 and growth remains low. The SIMPSON-MILLER administration faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments, while simultaneously attacking a serious crime problem that is hampering economic growth. High unemployment exacerbates the crime problem, including gang violence that is fueled by the drug trade. As of late 2012, the SIMPSON-MILLER government was working to negotiate a new IMF Stand-by agreement to gain access to additional funds.
    $25.62 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    $25.6 billion (2011 est.)
    $25.22 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $15.25 billion (2012 est.)
    0.1% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    1.5% (2011 est.)
    -1.4% (2010 est.)
    $9,300 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    $9,300 (2011 est.)
    $9,200 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    8.4% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    7% of GDP (2011 est.)
    13.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 86.2%
    government consumption: 15.9%
    investment in fixed capital: 20.7%
    investment in inventories: 0.5%
    exports of goods and services: 33.3%
    imports of goods and services: -56.5%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 6.4%
    industry: 29.1%
    services: 64.5% (2012 est.)
    sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, ackees, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk; shellfish
    tourism, bauxite/alumina, agro-processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products, telecommunications
    -2.4% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    1.255 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 137
    agriculture: 17%
    industry: 19%
    services: 64% (2006)
    14.3% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 139
    14.1% (2011 est.)
    16.5% (2009 est.)
    lowest 10%: 2.1%
    highest 10%: 35.8% (2004)
    45.5 (2004)
    country comparison to the world: 38
    37.9 (2000)
    revenues: $3.884 billion
    expenditures: $4.499 billion (2012 est.)
    25.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 124
    -4% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    134.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 5
    131.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
    1 April - 31 March
    6.9% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    7.5% (2011 est.)
    2% (31 December 2010 est.)
    NA% (31 December 2009 est.)
    17.63% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 17
    19.51% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $1.723 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    $1.962 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $7.309 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 116
    $7.012 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
    $7.351 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 108
    $7.131 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $7.223 billion (31 December 2011)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    $6.626 billion (31 December 2010)
    $6.201 billion (31 December 2009)
    -$1.523 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    -$1.723 billion (2011 est.)
    $1.747 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    $1.666 billion (2011 est.)
    alumina, bauxite, sugar, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, wearing apparel, mineral fuels
    US 38.7%, Russia 8.1%, Canada 7.8%, Slovenia 5.6% (2012)
    $5.905 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    $5.881 billion (2011 est.)
    food and other consumer goods, industrial supplies, fuel, parts and accessories of capital goods, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials
    US 30.1%, Venezuela 14.8%, Trinidad and Tobago 14.4%, China 11.9% (2012)
    $1.981 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    $2.282 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $14 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    $14.35 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    Jamaican dollars (JMD) per US dollar -
    88.751 (2012 est.)
    85.893 (2011 est.)
    87.196 (2010 est.)
    87.89 (2009)
    72.236 (2008)

Energy ::Jamaica

Communications ::Jamaica

    272,100 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    2.975 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 128
    general assessment: fully automatic domestic telephone network
    domestic: the 1999 agreement to open the market for telecommunications services resulted in rapid growth in mobile-cellular telephone usage while the number of fixed-lines in use has declined; combined mobile-cellular teledensity exceeded 110 per 100 persons in 2011
    international: country code - 1-876; the Fibralink submarine cable network provides enhanced delivery of business and broadband traffic and is linked to the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) submarine cable in the Dominican Republic; the link to ARCOS-1 provides seamless connectivity to US, parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2010)
    privately owned Radio Jamaica Limited and its subsidiaries operate multiple TV stations, subscription cable services, and radio stations; 2 other privately owned television stations; roughly 70 radio stations (2007)
    3,906 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    1.581 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 80

Transportation ::Jamaica

Military ::Jamaica

Transnational Issues ::Jamaica

    transshipment point for cocaine from South America to North America and Europe; illicit cultivation and consumption of cannabis; government has an active manual cannabis eradication program; corruption is a major concern; substantial money-laundering activity; Colombian narcotics traffickers favor Jamaica for illicit financial transactions