Jamaica

Jamaica

The country of Jamaica has an ideal location. Located just
south of Cuba, it is the third largest island in the Caribbean Sea with
10,990 km². Although the capital is Kingston, there are many other
important centers of trade and business. The official language is English
and the major religion is Protestantism. Transportation in Jamaica connects
the entire country and movement thought out the island is very easy. There
is a coastal highway traveling the whole coast. Air Jamaica and cruise
ships make traveling to and from the issland very easy. But despite all of
the joys, there are very serious human-environmental interactions present.
Mining on the island causes serve pollution and soil erosion. Most of the
natural rainforest is destroyed. But the many beautiful beaches seem to
make all of the worries disappear. I. History The history of Jamaica starts
at about 1000 AD when a Tiano tribe called the Arawaks crossed the
Caribbean Sea in canoes to settle on the island. The Arawaks lived in
simple villages, relying on fishing and hunting for substance. Thhey lived
there peacefully for 500 years until Columbus landed at Discovery Bay in
1494. The contact with the Spanish was very traumatic to the Arawaks.
Within 70 to 100 years of first contact, the entire Arawaks population was
eliminated, leaving only a few artifacts behind. With the na

atural
inhabitants gone, the Spanish had unlimited control over the island. Since
the island had no rich abundant gold sources, it meant little to the
Spanish Crown. Instead, Jamaica was used as a base in which to launch
attacks on the rest of the Americas. The population of Jamaica, even its
capital Santiago de la Vega (now Spanish Town) never grew very large and
was easy to capture. The British, after failed to capture Hispaniola,
needed a solid base in the Caribbean. So in 1655, Admirals Penn and
Venables attacked the sparsely defended island of Jamaica. Having little
importance to the Spanish at this point, the British had no trouble seizing
the island and establishing Port Royal (near modern day Kingston) as the
capital. This would turn out to be a pivotal mooment in Jamaica’s history.
The British brought in large numbers of slaves to the area, needing
thousands of hands to work the newly developing sugar plantations. In a
short time, Jamaica turned into the “‘jewels of the English crown’”
(Essix). Many port cities back in England that serviced trade to Jamaica,
as well as the slave traders and plantation owners all prospered during
this time. The capital city of Jamaica was moved to modern day Kingston in
1703 when Port Royal was burned down 1838 saw great changes in Ja
amaica.
That year the slaves were emancipated and the whole structure of society
began to crumble. The slaves soon left the plantations to do substance
farming. The tension between the plantations owners and the representatives
from England began to grow. Several riots broke out and many plantations
struggled to pay the wages of the workers. The riots continued until 1962
when Jamaica was granted political independence. A socialist government was
soon elected, which led to immediate U.S. blockades. However, the 1980’s
began a period of a more conservative government for Jamaica. II.
Population Jamaica is a sparsely populated country of 2,600,000 people.
These 2.6 million people live on 10,990 km², for a population density of
about 1 acre per person. This gives Jamaica the distinction of being a
developed countries and being not being overpopulated. However, in some
places of Jamaica, especially along the coast, the cities are overcrowded.
The largest city is Kingston with a population of 600,000 followed by
Spanish Town, Portmore, Montego Bay and others (see graph 6). Still the
largest percentage of people live in rural areas. However, many rural
farmers are moving to the cities in search of work. Jamaica has many ethnic
groups living with its boundaries. The largest group, about 75% of the
population, are descendants of the slaves brought to Jamaica in the 1800’s.
Another large percentage of the po
opulation is composed of descendants of
the European settlers from around the same time period. Over time, small
percentages of people from East India and China have settled in Jamaica.
The 1940’s to 1970’s saw a large emigration pattern out of Jamaica to the
United States. As many as 465,000 Jamaicans left to help in the
reconstruction of the States’ economy after World War II. Since that time,
no large scale immigration or emigration has occurred within the Jamaican
population. The average male in Jamaica has a life expectancy of 73 years,
compared to his female counterpart of 77 years. The birth rate of Jamaica
is 20/1,000, compared to its death rate of 5/1,000. This gives Jamaica a
.7% growth rate. Jamaica has a high literacy rate of 98%, but a
malnourished children rate of 7% and an infant mortality rate of 14 deaths
to 1,000 births. Jamaica has a regressive population pyramid. About 33% of
the population is under 15, while 7% of it is over 65. This leaves 60%
between the ages of 16 and 64. Some 16% of this ideal work force (about 1.5
million Jamaicans) is unemployed, while Jamaica’s debt continues to grow.
Not helped by this fact is that the per capita income in Jamaica is only US
$1,340. III. Culture The national motto of Jamaica “Out of many, one
people” has never been more true in any point in its hi
istory than it is
now. Almost every creed and religion of people live somewhere on the island
country. These people all speak the national language of English, but
several variations can be found on the island. Protestantism is the
predominant religion on the island. However, most Christian religions can
be found on this island “which has more churches per square mile than any
other country in the world” (Caribbean 209). Recently, small groups of
Muslims, Jews, Hindu and Bahai have immigrated into the country. The
Rastafarians are a unique and original cult based in Jamaica. These people
follow the teachings of Ras Tafari, once a leader of Ethiopia. Many members
of this cult keep their hair in long dreadlocks and have strict rules for
dress, work and religion. They often make a living selling goods at market,
including ganja, a potent form of marijuana, that is important in their
religious ceremonies. Jamaican’s are very proud of their artistic
abilities. Such music stars as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Ernie Smith all
hail from Jamaica. Edna Manley and Kapo have brought Jamaica great
attention with their fine artistic abilities. Most of these people, with
more planned in the future, are being aided by the Jamaica Cultural
Development Commission. Set up in the 1930’s, the commission and the
government have worked hard to promote cultural expression and pride within
the Jamaican population. Aside from being attracted to Jamaica by all of
its culture, many tourists flock to the island’s many beaches. A large
number of fine resorts can be found along the northern coast between
Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Negril and Port Antonio are also hot spots for
college spring-breakers. All of these cities are frequently visited by the
many cruise ships that tour the Caribbean. The city of Kingston is
Jamaica’s cultural center. The African Caribbean Institute and the
Institute of Jamaica are leaders in historical and cultural research.
Jamaica’s National Library and National Gallery also call Kingston home.
The National Dance Theater attracts people in and to Kingston to watch its
nightly summer shows. In addition to all of its fine cultural experiences,
Jamaica is well known for its many water sports. Tourists and inhabitants
alike enjoy water skiing on the Caribbean Sea. Jamaica also hosts the
International Marlin Tournament in Port Antonio. The best fishermen in the
world come to compete in this yearly event. Many fine year-round golf
course add beauty to Jamaica’s many resorts. Cricket is a popular sport in
Jamaica as is winter bobsledding. Jamaica’s government is classified as a
Parliamentary Democracy. The citizens elect a prime minister and a sixty-
seat House of Representatives and a 21-seat Senate. The prime minister has
the power to elect his own cabinet. A Head-of-State is selected by the
British Crown and represents England during government meeting or
processes. The mining of bauxite is Jamaica’s principal industry. The
world’s third largest producer of bauxite, Jamaica depends on it because it
constitutes 46% of their total exports and 33% of their Gross National
Product. Along with bauxite mining is alumina mining. Alumina mining
accounts for 20% of Jamaica’s GNP. Slowly developing are Jamaica’s
manufacturing and agricultural industries. Jamaica produces rum,
cigarettes, beer and many cash crops. Thanks to a big government sponsored
agricultural development plan, farming is once again making a come back as
a major industry in Jamaica. Education is free to all Jamaican children.
Those wishing to further their education can attend the University of the
West Indies or Kingston Technical College. Many students attend schools in
the United States and England. IV. Climate Jamaica is a land with many
climatic variances within a small area. Its tropical climate produces an
average temperature in Kingston of 79°F. Temperatures will get warmer as
you move along the coast and closer to the equator. However, as you move
inward and into the mountains, the temperature will drop sharply.
Precipitation on the island of Jamaica can be scarce as well as abundant.
Problems with both flash floods and droughts are common in some areas. The
south and southwestern coasts are hot and dry. Kingston receives about 33
inches of rain a year, as a result of the orographic effect of the Blue
Mountains. Some parts of Jamaica can and usually do receive upwards of 100
inches of rain. All of this rain makes Jamaica one of the wettest places on
the earth. Many of the beaches in Jamaica experience refreshing sea breezes
and winds. These winds are a welcome in the summer when the humidity can
become high. The sea breezes are most commonly found on the beaches near
the Blue Mountains. The hot air from the water wants to move inland, while
the cooler mountain air wants to move down to the ocean. Jamaica has never
had trouble with tornadoes. Unfortunately, the city lays within the major
hurricane paths. Port Royal was frequently struck by hurricanes and in 1951
a major hurricane severely damaged Kingston. Adding to this mess,
earthquakes are a frequent occurrence in Jamaica. For all its beauty,
Jamaica is always at risk from these extremes. V. Landforms Jamaica has
some of the most varied terrain that can be found anywhere. The Caribbean
Sea, which encircles the entire island, produces some of the most beautiful
beaches in the world. This is where many tourists flock to on vacations and
where many Jamaicans make their living. On the southeastern part of the
island are the Blue Mountains, with peaks rising up to 7,400 feet. One such
peak, Blue Mountain Peak, is 7,402 feet. The mountains were once covered in
a dense forest that provided work for many of Jamaica’s first settlers.
Located in the central part of Jamaica is an area known as the cockpit
country. It is a rugged, limestone terrain, covered in some parts by
mangrove swamps or ancient tar pits. Inhabited by only a small group of
slave descendents, the area is cut off from most of Jamaican society.
Savannas dominate the western coast. The island of Jamaica has many rivers,
but no complex river system. The Black River, Rio Minho, Cobra River and
Rio Grande River all have major cities located them, but not much else.
Most of the rivers start in the Blue Mountains or Cockpit Country and flow
into the Caribbean Sea. Discovery Bay is an important historical landform
and popular tourist attraction in the northern part of the island. Towards
the southern part of the island many unique bays and peninsulas can be
found. The most noticeable peninsula, The Palisados, was the former
location of Port Royal. Today it serves as an international airport and
tourist attraction. Near The Palisados, he Portland Bight has many
spectacular beaches and is a common cruise ship dock area. In conclusion,
Jamaica is a very interesting country. It has a vivid and adventurous
history from the Arawaks, to the Spanish and finally to the British. The
history is full of conquest and prosperity to reform and richness. Just as
rich as the history of Jamaica is the population that lives within it. For
the largest ethnic background lives peacefully with the smallest. Jamaica
is not plagued by illiteracy or starvation, but by growth and prosperity.
Jamaicans also enjoy a rich culture. Their talents in art and music is
undeniable. They take great pride in their the total Jamaican culture, no
matter what one’s religion might be. Many sports are popular in Jamaica,
from marlin fishing to bobsledding. All of these activities are possible,
thanks to Jamaica’s varied climate and landforms. Living in Jamaica would
be a joy for me. The people are friendly and there are numerous sports to
partake in. I would enjoy experiencing all of the cultural stimulation that
is present in Jamaica.

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