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Flag of Jamaica
Map of Jamaica
Introduction Jamaica
Jamaica gained full independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962. Deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s led to recurrent violence and a drop off in tourism. Elections in 1980 saw the democratic socialists voted out of office. Political violence marred elections during the 1990s.
Geography Jamaica
Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba
Geographic coordinates:
18 15 N, 77 30 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 10,991 sq km
land: 10,831 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,022 km
Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin
contiguous zone: 24 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior
mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Blue Mountain Peak 2,256 m
Natural resources:
bauxite, gypsum, limestone
Land use:
arable land: 16.07%
permanent crops: 10.16%
other: 73.77% (2001)
Irrigated land:
250 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
hurricanes (especially July to November)
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 results from vehicle emissions
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for the Panama Canal
People Jamaica
2,713,130 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.2% (male 390,966; female 372,961)
15-64 years: 65% (male 883,053; female 880,296)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 82,788; female 103,066) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 26.8 years
male: 26.2 years
female: 27.6 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.66% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
16.94 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
5.4 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-4.92 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 12.81 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.75 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 13.82 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.07 years
male: 74.04 years
female: 78.21 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.98 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
22,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
900 (2003 est.)
noun: Jamaican(s)
adjective: Jamaican
Ethnic groups:
black 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, white 0.2%, Chinese 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%
Protestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Baptist 8.8%, Anglican 5.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Brethren 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other including some spiritual cults 34.7%
English, patois English
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 87.9%
male: 84.1%
female: 91.6% (2003 est.)
Government Jamaica
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jamaica
Government type:
constitutional parliamentary democracy
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
6 August 1962 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, first Monday in August (1962)
6 August 1962
Legal system:
based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Howard Felix COOKE (since 1 August 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister Percival James PATTERSON (since 30 March 1992)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: none; the monarch 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; the deputy prime minister is recommended by the prime minister
Legislative branch:
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 eight seats) and the House of Representatives (60 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 16 October 2002 (next to be held in October 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - PNP 52%, JLP 47.3%; seats by party - PNP 34, JLP 26
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders:
Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Edward SEAGA]; National Democratic Movement or NDM [Hyacinth BENNETT]; People's National Party or PNP [Percival James PATTERSON]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
New Beginnings Movement or NBM; Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists)
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Gordon SHIRLEY
consulate(s) general: Miami and New York
FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081
telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660
chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sue McCourt COBB
embassy: Jamaica Mutual Life Center, 2 Oxford Road, 3rd floor, Kingston 5
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [1] (876) 929-4850 through 4859
FAX: [1] (876) 935-6001
Flag description:
diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side)
Economy Jamaica
Economy - overview:
The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for 70% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. The global economic slowdown, particularly after the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, stunted economic growth; the economy rebounded moderately in 2003, with one of the best tourist seasons on record. But the economy faces serious long-term problems: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a sizable merchandise trade deficit; large-scale unemployment; and a growing internal debt, the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy. The ratio of debt to GDP is close to 150%. Inflation, previously a bright spot, is expected to remain in the double digits. Depressed economic conditions have led to increased civil unrest, including gang violence fueled by the drug trade. In 2004, the government faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth.
purchasing power parity - $10.61 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.9% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $3,900 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 6.7%
industry: 37.2%
services: 56.2% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
31.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
19.7% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
37.9 (2000)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
10.3% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
1.13 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 21%, industry 19%, services 60% (1998)
Unemployment rate:
15.9% (2004 est.)
revenues: $2.596 billion
expenditures: $3.111 billion, including capital expenditures of $236 million (2004 est.)
Public debt:
145.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, vegetables, poultry, goats, milk, crustaceans, and mollusks
tourism, bauxite/alumina, textiles, agro processing, wearing apparel, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products, telecommunications
Industrial production growth rate:
-2% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:
6.272 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 96.8%
hydro: 1.8%
other: 1.4% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
5.833 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
66,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Current account balance:
$-842 million (2004 est.)
$1.355 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, wearing apparel, mineral fuels
Exports - partners:
US 29.6%, UK 11%, Canada 10.8%, France 7.9%, Norway 6.8%, Germany 6.2%, China 6%, Netherlands 4.4% (2003)
$3.265 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food and other consumer goods, industrial supplies, fuel, parts and accessories of capital goods, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials
Imports - partners:
US 39.8%, Trinidad and Tobago 9.7%, Germany 5.6%, Venezuela 4.5%, France 4.5%, Japan 4.2% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
$1.195 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$4.962 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$16 million (2003)
Jamaican dollar (JMD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Jamaican dollars per US dollar - 57.7409 (2003), 48.4159 (2002), 45.9962 (2001), 42.7011 (2000), 39.0435 (1999)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Jamaica
Telephones - main lines in use:
444,400 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.4 million (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: fully automatic domestic telephone network
domestic: NA
international: country code - 1-876; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); 3 coaxial submarine cables
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 10, FM 13, shortwave 0 (1998)
1.215 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
7 (1997)
460,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
1,480 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
21 (2000)
Internet users:
600,000 (2002)
Transportation Jamaica
total: 272 km
standard gauge: 272 km 1.435-m gauge
note: 207 of these km belonging to the Jamaica Railway Corporation had been in common carrier service until 1992 but are no longer operational; 57 km of the remaining track is privately owned and used by ALCAN to transport bauxite (2003)
total: 18,700 km
paved: 13,109 km
unpaved: 5,591 km (1999 est.)
petroleum products 10 km
Ports and harbors:
Alligator Pond, Discovery Bay, Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Rocky Point, Port Esquivel (Longswharf)
Merchant marine:
total: 6 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 74,881 GRT/100,682 DWT
foreign-owned: Greece 2, Iceland 1, Latvia 1, United States 2 (2003 est.)
by type: bulk 2, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 2, short-sea/passenger 1
35 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 5 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 24
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 22 (2003 est.)
Military Jamaica
Military branches:
Jamaica Defense Force: Ground Forces, Coast Guard, Air Wing
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 764,266 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 533,768 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 27,126 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$31 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.4% (2003)
Transnational Issues Jamaica
Disputes - international:
Illicit drugs:
major transshipment point for cocaine from South America to North America and Europe; illicit cultivation 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

This page was last updated on 30 November, 2004