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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, replaced by African slaves. England seized the island in 1655 and a plantation economy - based on sugar, cocoa, and coffee - was established. 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. The cycle of violence, drugs, and poverty has served to impoverish large sectors of the populace. Nonetheless, many rural and resort areas remain relatively safe and contribute substantially to the economy.

Languages & Population

Approximate Population: 2,780,132 (July 2007 est.)

Nationality (Noun): Jamaican(s)

Nationality (Adjective): Jamaican

Official Language(s): English

Major Languages Spoken: English

Map of Jamaica

Country Facts

Country Name (long form): none

Country Name (short form): Jamaica

Country Name (local long form): none

Country Name (local short form): none

Name of Capital: Kingston

UTC Time Difference (from capital): UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Countries Near by, and Bordering Jamaica: Cayman Islands, Cuba, Haiti

Land Area: 10831 sq km

Water Area: 160 sq km

Comparative Area: slightly smaller than Connecticut

Coastline: 1,022 km

National Holiday: Independence Day, 6 August (1962)

International Phone Code: -875

Currency Code: Jamaican dollar (JMD)

Internet Country Code: .jm

US Embassy Location: 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6

US Embassy Mailing Address: P.O. Box 541, Kingston 5


Jamaica flag

Services Related to Jamaica

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