Photos of Jamaica

Introduction

Background

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 withdrew from the Federation in 1961 and gained full independence 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, corruption, the COVID-19 pandemic, and poverty pose significant challenges to the government today. Nonetheless, many rural and resort areas remain relatively safe and contribute substantially to the economy.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba

Geographic coordinates

18 15 N, 77 30 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 10,991 sq km

land: 10,831 sq km

water: 160 sq km

comparison ranking: total 166

Area - comparative

about half the size of New Jersey; slightly smaller than Connecticut

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

1,022 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin

measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines

Climate

tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior

Terrain

mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain

Elevation

highest point: Blue Mountain Peak 2,256 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

mean elevation: 18 m

Natural resources

bauxite, alumina, gypsum, limestone

Land use

agricultural land: 41.4% (2018 est.)

arable land: 11.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 9.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 21.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 31.1% (2018 est.)

other: 27.5% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

250 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

population density is high throughout, but increases in and around Kingston, Montego Bay, and Port Esquivel

Natural hazards

hurricanes (especially July to November)

Geography - note

third largest island in the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola); strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for the Panama Canal

People and Society

Population

2,820,982 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 140

Nationality

noun: Jamaican(s)

adjective: Jamaican

Ethnic groups

Black 92.1%, mixed 6.1%, East Indian 0.8%, other 0.4%, unspecified 0.7% (2011 est.)

Languages

English, Jamaican patois

Religions

Protestant 64.8% (includes Seventh Day Adventist 12.0%, Pentecostal 11.0%, Other Church of God 9.2%, New Testament Church of God 7.2%, Baptist 6.7%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.5%, Anglican 2.8%, United Church 2.1%, Methodist 1.6%, Revived 1.4%, Brethren 0.9%, and Moravian 0.7%), Roman Catholic 2.2%, Jehovah's Witness 1.9%, Rastafarian 1.1%, other 6.5%, none 21.3%, unspecified 2.3% (2011 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 24.11% (male 346,566/female 333,673)

15-64 years: 65.8% (male 914,208/female 942,134)

65 years and over: 10.08% (2023 est.) (male 135,388/female 149,013)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 38

youth dependency ratio: 28

elderly dependency ratio: 13.4

potential support ratio: 7.4 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 30.5 years (2023 est.)

male: 29.7 years

female: 31.3 years

comparison ranking: total 129

Population growth rate

0.09% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 189

Birth rate

15.8 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 104

Death rate

7.4 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 106

Net migration rate

-7.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 220

Population distribution

population density is high throughout, but increases in and around Kingston, Montego Bay, and Port Esquivel

Urbanization

urban population: 57.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.79% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

597,000 KINGSTON (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

21.2 years (2008 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality ratio

99 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 69

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 12.2 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 9.6 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 128

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76 years (2023 est.)

male: 74.3 years

female: 77.9 years

comparison ranking: total population 110

Total fertility rate

2.05 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 101

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.3% of population

rural: 93.9% of population

total: 96.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.7% of population

rural: 6.1% of population

total: 3.6% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

6.6% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.53 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

1.7 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 98.6% of population

rural: 99.4% of population

total: 98.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.4% of population

rural: 0.6% of population

total: 1.1% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

24.7% (2016)

comparison ranking: 55

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 3.46 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 1.19 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.25 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 1.66 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.35 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 104

Tobacco use

total: 9.4% (2020 est.)

male: 15% (2020 est.)

female: 3.8% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 137

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

2.5% (2018/19)

comparison ranking: 96

Education expenditures

6% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 43

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school

total population: 88.7%

male: 84%

female: 93.1% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years

male: 11 years

female: 13 years (2015)

Environment

Environment - current issues

heavy rates of deforestation; coastal waters polluted by industrial waste, sewage, and oil spills; damage to coral reefs; air pollution in Kingston from vehicle emissions; land erosion

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Climate

tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior

Land use

agricultural land: 41.4% (2018 est.)

arable land: 11.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 9.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 21.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 31.1% (2018 est.)

other: 27.5% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 57.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.79% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0.15% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 102

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 94

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 14.83 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 8.23 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 1.08 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1,051,695 tons (2016 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 140 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 1.1 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 110 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

10.82 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Jamaica

etymology: from the native Taino word "haymaca" meaning "Land of Wood and Water" or possibly "Land of Springs"

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Parliament) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Kingston

geographic coordinates: 18 00 N, 76 48 W

time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name is a blending of the words "king's" and "town"; the English king at the time of the city's founding in 1692 was WILLIAM III (r. 1689-1702)

Administrative divisions

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

Independence

6 August 1962 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 6 August (1962)

Constitution

history: several previous (preindependence); latest drafted 1961-62, submitted to British Parliament 24 July 1962, entered into force 6 August 1962 (at independence)

amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage of amendments to "non-entrenched" constitutional sections, such as lowering the voting age, requires majority vote by the Parliament membership; passage of amendments to "entrenched" sections, such as fundamental rights and freedoms, requires two-thirds majority vote of Parliament; passage of amendments to "specially entrenched" sections such as the dissolution of Parliament or the executive authority of the monarch requires two-thirds approval by Parliament and approval in a referendum; amended many times, last in 2017

Legal system

common law system based on the English model

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 4 out of the previous 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Governor General Sir Patrick L. ALLEN (since 26 February 2009); note - the Jamaican Government, in May 2023, announced plans to hold a referendum in 2024 to determine whether or not to remain in the Commonwealth or become a republic

head of government: Prime Minister Andrew HOLNESS (since 3 March 2016)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister

elections/appointments: 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 majority coalition in the House of Representatives is appointed prime minister by the governor general

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate (21 seats; 13 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister and 8 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the opposition party leader; members serve 5-year terms (no term limits) or until Parliament is dissolved)
House of Representatives (63 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms (no term limits) or until Parliament is dissolved)

elections: Senate - last full slate of appointments early on 3 September 2020 (next full slate in 2025)
House of Representatives - last held on 3 September 2020 (next to be held in 2025)

election results: Senate - percent by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition (as of June 2021) - men 13, women 8, percent of women 38.1%
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - JLP 57%, PNP 42.8%, independent 0.2%; seats by party - JLP 48, PNP 15; composition (as of June 2021) - men 45, women 18; percent of women 28.6%; note - total Parliament percent of women 31%

Judicial branch

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 Jamaica's highest courts are referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) rather than to the Caribbean Court of Justice (the appellate court 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

Political parties and leaders

Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Andrew Michael HOLNESS]
Jamaica Progressive Party or JPP [Gilbert Alexander EDWARDS]
People's National Party or PNP [Mark GOLDING]
United Independents' Congress or UIC [Joseph L. PATTERSON]

International organization participation

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-15, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Petrocaribe, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Audrey Patrice MARKS (since 18 January 2017)

chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660

FAX: [1] (202) 452-0036

email address and website:
contactus@jamaicaembassy.org

https://www.embassyofjamaica.org/

consulate(s) general: Miami, New York

consulate(s): Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Concord (MA), Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Richmond (VA), San Francisco, Seattle

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador N. Nickolas PERRY (since 13 May 2022)

embassy: 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6

mailing address: 3210 Kingston Place, Washington DC  20521-3210

telephone: (876) 702-6000 (2018)

FAX: (876) 702-6348 (2018)

email address and website:
KingstonACS@state.gov

https://jm.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and fly 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

National symbol(s)

green-and-black streamertail (bird), Guaiacum officinale (Guaiacwood); national colors: green, yellow, black

National anthem

name: "Jamaica, Land We Love"

lyrics/music: Hugh Braham SHERLOCK/Robert Charles LIGHTBOURNE

note: adopted 1962

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 1 (mixed)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Blue and John Crow Mountains

Economy

Economic overview

upper middle-income Caribbean island economy; ongoing debt restructuring; hurricane-vulnerable economy; high crime, youth unemployment, and poverty; susceptible to commodity shocks from ongoing Russia invasion of Ukraine

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$28.579 billion (2022 est.)
$27.161 billion (2021 est.)
$25.966 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 145

Real GDP growth rate

5.22% (2022 est.)
4.6% (2021 est.)
-9.92% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 70

Real GDP per capita

$10,100 (2022 est.)
$9,600 (2021 est.)
$9,200 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 142

GDP (official exchange rate)

$17.098 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

10.35% (2022 est.)
5.86% (2021 est.)
5.23% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 162

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B+ (2019)

Moody's rating: B2 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: B+ (2019)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 7% (2017 est.)

industry: 21.1% (2017 est.)

services: 71.9% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 62; industry 139; agriculture 110

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 81.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 13.7% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 21.3% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 30.1% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -47.1% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, goat milk, yams, poultry, coconuts, oranges, bananas, gourds, plantains, grapefruit

Industries

agriculture, mining, manufacture, construction, financial and insurance services, tourism, telecommunications

Industrial production growth rate

-0.38% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 169

Labor force

1.517 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 133

Unemployment rate

5.5% (2022 est.)
6.16% (2021 est.)
6.5% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 107

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 26.1% (2021 est.)

male: 22.1%

female: 31.4%

comparison ranking: total 58

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.6%

highest 10%: 29.3% (2015)

Remittances

21.57% of GDP (2022 est.)
25.29% of GDP (2021 est.)
22.2% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $4.029 billion (2020 est.)

expenditures: $4.564 billion (2020 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

0.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 37

Public debt

106.28% of GDP (2020 est.)
92.25% of GDP (2019 est.)
102.46% of GDP (2017 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 18

Taxes and other revenues

25.71% (of GDP) (2020 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 46

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

-$129.756 million (2022 est.)
$149.262 million (2021 est.)
-$156.91 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 85

Exports

$6.424 billion (2022 est.)
$4.401 billion (2021 est.)
$3.249 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 126

Exports - partners

United States 46%, Netherlands 9%, Canada 6%, United Kingdom 4%, Russia 3% (2021)

Exports - commodities

aluminum oxide, refined petroleum, aluminum, rums, fruits, nuts, natural gas, sauces and seasonings (2021)

Imports

$9.726 billion (2022 est.)
$7.405 billion (2021 est.)
$5.913 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 125

Imports - partners

United States 35%, China 13%, Turkey 5%, Trinidad and Tobago 3%, Japan 3% (2021)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, natural gas, cars, crude petroleum, iron bars, steel bars (2021)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$4.52 billion (2022 est.)
$4.838 billion (2021 est.)
$3.938 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 106

Debt - external

$13.876 billion (2019 est.)
$13.912 billion (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 104

Exchange rates

Jamaican dollars (JMD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
153.427 (2022 est.)
150.79 (2021 est.)
142.403 (2020 est.)
133.312 (2019 est.)
128.872 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 1.216 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 3,050,780,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1.149 billion kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: imports 161; exports 148; installed generating capacity 131; transmission/distribution losses 105; consumption 139

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 87.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 1.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 6.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.6% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 61,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 82,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 3,000 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 61,100 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 20,100 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

24,250 bbl/day (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 87

Refined petroleum products - exports

823 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 109

Refined petroleum products - imports

30,580 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 100

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 693.422 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 667.115 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

10.002 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 177,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 9.276 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 549,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 106

Energy consumption per capita

49.7 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 101

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 446,831 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 98

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 2,905,408 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 103 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 142

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Jamaica’s telecom sector has for many years been propped up by the mobile sector, which accounts for the vast majority of internet connections and voice lines; it also accounts for just over half of telecom sector revenue; in December 2020, the government announced the rollout of a national broadband network costing up to $237 million; the funding will be spent on improving connectivity in under served areas, improving access to education, and deploying networks to public locations such as hospitals, municipal institutions, and police stations; to aid in this national broadband effort, the government received a donation of 650km of fiber cabling from local cable TV providers and the two main toll road operators; to encourage the use of digital channels as the country deals with the Covid-19 pandemic (2021)

domestic: fixed-line subscriptions nearly 17 per 100, cellular-mobile roughly 103 per 100 subscriptions (2021)

international: country code - 1-876 and 1-658; landing points for the ALBA-1, CFX-1, Fibralink, East-West, and Cayman-Jamaican Fiber System submarine cables providing connections to South America, parts of the Caribbean, Central America and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

Broadcast media

3 free-to-air TV stations, subscription cable services, and roughly 30 radio stations (2019)

Internet users

total: 2.296 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 82% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 131

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 385,603 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 99

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 0 (2020)

Airports

20 (2024)

comparison ranking: 135

Heliports

2 (2024)

Roadways

total: 25,595 km (2017)

comparison ranking: total 105

Merchant marine

total: 40 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 1, general cargo 11, oil tanker 1, other 27

comparison ranking: total 125

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Discovery Bay (Port Rhoades), Kingston, Montego Bay, Port Antonio, Port Esquivel, Port Kaiser, Rocky Point

cruise port(s): Falmouth, Montego Bay, Port Antonio, Ocho Rios,

container port(s) (TEUs): Kingston (2,004,302) (2021)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Jamaica Defense Force (JDF): Jamaica Regiment (Ground Forces), Maritime-Air-Cyber Command (includes Coast Guard, Air Wing, Military Intelligence Unit, Special Activities Regiment, and Military Cyber Corps), Support Brigade (logistics, engineers, health service, and military police); Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC); Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) (2024)

note 1: the JCF is the country’s police force; it has primary responsibility for internal security and has units for community policing, special response, intelligence gathering, and internal affairs; both it and the JDF are under the Ministry of National Security 

note 2:
the JNSC is a third category of service that military recruits can join as a preparatory phase for future careers; JNSC soldiers receive basic military, vocational, and life skills training; upon completion of 12 months of service, soldiers can continue on with the JDF or the JDF reserves or seek opportunities in other public sector entities such as the JCF, the Department of Correctional Services, the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the Jamaica Customs Agency, or the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency

Military expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.6% of GDP (2019 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 102

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 5,000 personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the JDF is lightly armed with a limited inventory featuring equipment mostly from Europe and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-23 for voluntary military service (17 with parental consent) for men and women; 18-28 for the reserves; no conscription; since 2017, the JDF's standard mode of recruitment is to enroll recruits ages 18-23 through the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC), which has a service requirement of 12 months (2024)

note: as of 2022, women made up about 20% of the JDF's uniformed personnel

Military - note

in addition to its responsibility of defending against external aggression, the JDF's primary missions are border, internal, and maritime security, including support to police operations in combating crime and violence; other missions include search and rescue, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, and peacekeeping; it has arrest authority and partners with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); both the JDF and JCF are under the Ministry of National Security, which directs policy for the security forces; the JDF participates in bilateral and multinational training exercises, including with the militaries of Canada, the UK, the US, and other Caribbean nations 

while Jamaica had a militia force as early as the 1660s, the JDF was constituted in 1962 from the West India Regiment (WIR), a British colonial regiment which dates back to 1795; troops for the WIR were recruited from freed slaves from North America, slaves purchased in the West Indies, and slaves from Africa bought off slave ships (2023)

Transnational Issues

Illicit drugs

Jamaica is the largest Caribbean source of marijuana and a transit point for cocaine trafficked from South America to North America and other international markets; criminal gangs in Jamaica, Haiti, and Central America use marijuana for currency to obtain guns or other contraband from criminal entities in Haiti and Central America