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Also known as: Land of Wood and Water (Root:  Xaymaca (Arawak)) (Source:  Caribbean Islands Handbook (Footprint Handbooks), 8th edition)
Out of Many One People 


In the Caribbean Sea, 145 km (90 miles) south of Cuba and 160 km (100 miles) west of Haiti.


Jamaica was first settled by Amerindians. Columbus visited the island in 1494, and it fell under Spanish possession from 1509-1655, before becoming a British sugar colony. During the social unrest of the 1930s, two major political parties were formed -  the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) by Alexander Bustamante, and the People's National Party (PNP) by Norman Manley. Jamaica joined the West Indies Federation in 1958, but withdrew following a referendum in 1961. The country gained independence in 1962. The PNP instituted a democratic socialist government from 1974-80, and the JLP established free-enterprise government from 1980


Last elections were held in 2007. Next elections due 2012.

Ruling Party:

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)

Major Political Parties:

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), People's National Party (PNP)

Economic Summary:
Tourism is the main source of foreign exchange. 
The manufacturing sector is the second largest after distribution.  Activities include the processing of sugar, food, beverages and tobacco, as well as production of chemicals, metals and construction material, and the assembly of electrical appliances and apparel.  Bauxite, however, is the principal industry  and Jamaica ranks as the third largest producer of bauxite, after Australia and Guinea.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing also contribute to Jamaica's foreign exchange earnings.


Norman Manley International; Donald Sangster International


Independent -  6 August 1962
Capital: Kingston 
Head of State: HE. The Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Octavious Hall, O.N., O.J. - Governor-General
Head of Government:
Honourable Orette Bruce Golding
Prime Minister
Date of Birth:  5 December 1947
Marital Status:  Married
1969:  B.Sc. (Hons)  Economics
Professional/Political Career:
1969:  Elected to the Central Executive of the Jamaica Labour Party
1972:  Elected to Parliament.  Appointed to Board of Directors of Institute of Jamaica
1974-1984:  General Secretary of Jamaica Labour Party
1980-1989:  Minister of Construction
1983:  Elected Member of Parliament
1984-1985:  Chairman of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements
1984-1995:  Chairman, Jamaica Labour Party
1989-1995:  Opposition Spokesman on Finance and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee
1995:  Resigned from the Jamaica Labour Party and Founded National Democratic Movement (NDM)
1995-2001:  President, National Democratic Movement
2002:  Re-Joined Jamaica Labour Party
2002-2005:  Appointed Senator and Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
2003:  Elected Chairman of Jamaica Labour Party
2005:  Elected Leader of Jamaica Labour Party, Member of Parliament for West Kingston, and  Leader of the Opposition
2007:  Elected Prime Minister

2,644,600 (2004)
Jamaica Dollar
Area: 10,991 km2 (4,243.6 miles2)
Population: 2,644,600 (2004)
GDP: EC$23,909.4 Mn (2004)
GDP per capita:
EC$9.0041 (2004)
Total Exports:
EC$4,324.4 Mn (2004)
Total Imports:
EC$11,086.6 Mn (2004)
Intra-Regional Exports:
EC$137.1 Mn (2003)
Intra-Regional Imports:
EC$1,268.8 Mn (2003)
Business Hours:
Commercial: 09:00-17:00 hrs Monday to Friday
Government: 08:30-17:00 hrs Monday to Thursday; 08:30-16:00 hrs Friday
National Holidays:
New Year's Day (01 January); Ash Wednesday; Good Friday; Easter Monday; Labour Day (23 May); Emancipation Day (1 August); Independence Day (First Monday in August); National Heroes Day (third Monday in October); Christmas Day (25 December); Boxing Day (26 December)
Holidays that fall on a Sunday are observed the following Monday.  In the case of Labour Day only, if this falls on a Saturday or Sunday then the Monday will be a holiday.
Date of CARICOM Membership: 1 August 1973
National Anthem:
Jamaica Land We Love

Eternal Father bless our land,
Guard us with Thy Might Hand
Keep us free from evil powers,
Be our light through countless hours.

To our Leaders Great Defender,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, Land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.
Teach us true respect for all,
Stir response to duty's call,
Strengthen us the weak to cherish,
Give us vision lest we perish.

Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, Land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love

(Words by Hugh Sherlock; music by Robert Lightbourne)
Highest National Award: Order of the National Hero
Favourite Dish: Ackee and Salt Fish
Government web page: http://www.cabinet.gov.jm
National Symbols:

Coat of Arms

Jamaica national flower

National Flag


(September 2007)

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