Jamaica Facts

BACKGROUND:

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 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 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. Violent crime, drug trafficking, and poverty pose significant challenges to the government today. Nonetheless, many rural and resort areas remain relatively safe and contribute substantially to the economy.

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
country comparison to the world: 168
land: 10,831 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
1,022 km
Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin
Climate:
tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior
Terrain:
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: 15.83%
permanent crops: 10.01%
other: 74.16% (2005)
Irrigated land:
250 sq km (2008)
Total renewable water resources:
9.4 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.41 cu km/yr (34%/17%/49%)
per capita: 155 cu m/yr (2000)
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 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

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 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 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. Violent crime, drug trafficking, and poverty pose significant challenges to the government today. Nonetheless, many rural and resort areas remain relatively safe and contribute substantially to the economy.

PEOPLE & SOCIETY:

Nationality:
noun: Jamaican(s)
adjective: Jamaican
Ethnic groups:
black 91.2%, mixed 6.2%, other or unknown 2.6% (2001 census)
Languages:
English, English patois
Religions:
Protestant 62.5% (Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, Pentecostal 9.5%, Other Church of God 8.3%, Baptist 7.2%, New Testament Church of God 6.3%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%, Anglican 3.6%, other Christian 7.7%), Roman Catholic 2.6%, other or unspecified 14.2%, none 20.9%, (2001 census)
Population:
2,889,187 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
Age structure:
0-14 years: 30.1% (male 438,888/female 424,383)
15-64 years: 62.3% (male 882,548/female 904,242)
65 years and over: 7.6% (male 97,717/female 120,602) (2011 est.)
Median age:
total: 24.2 years
male: 23.7 years
female: 24.7 years (2011 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.714% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
Birth rate:
18.89 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
Death rate:
6.59 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
Net migration rate:
-5.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
Urbanization:
urban population: 52% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 0.6% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities – population:
KINGSTON (capital) 580,000 (2009)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2012 est.)
Maternal mortality rate:
89 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 77
Infant mortality rate:
total: 14.3 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 122
male: 14.87 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.43 years
country comparison to the world: 118
male: 71.78 years
female: 75.15 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.12 children born/woman (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
Health expenditures:
8.3% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 49
Physicians density:
0.85 physicians/1,000 population (2003)
Hospital bed density:
1.7 beds/1,000 population (2009)
Drinking water source:
improved:
urban: 98% of population
rural: 89% of population
total: 94% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2% of population
rural: 11% of population
total: 6% of population (2008)
Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 82% of population
rural: 84% of population
total: 83% of population
unimproved:
urban: 18% of population
rural: 16% of population
total: 17% of population (2008)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
1.7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
32,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68
HIV/AIDS – deaths:
1,200 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
2.2% (2007)
country comparison to the world: 109
Education expenditures:
5.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 35
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 87.9%
male: 84.1%
female: 91.6% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 15 years (2008)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 27.1%
country comparison to the world: 20
male: 22.5%
female: 33.1% (2009)

GOVERNMENT:

Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jamaica
Government type:
constitutional parliamentary democracy and 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)
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:
6 August 1962
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
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Dr. Patrick L. ALLEN (since 26 February 2009)
head of government: Prime Minister Portia SIMPSON-MILLER (since 5 January 2012)
cabinet: Cabinet is appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
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elections: 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 the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Representatives is appointed prime minister by the governor general
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 8 seats) and the House of Representatives (63 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 29 December 2011 (next to be held no later than December 2016)
election results: percent of vote by party – PNP 53.3%, JLP 46.6%; seats by party – PNP 42, JLP 21
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal; Privy Council in UK; member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
Political parties and leaders:
Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Andrew HOLNESS]; People’s National Party or PNP [Portia SIMPSON-MILLER]; National Democratic Movement or NDM [Michael WILLIAMS]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
New Beginnings Movement or NBM; Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists)
International organization participation:
ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-15, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, 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, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Audrey P. MARKS
chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660
FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Pamela BRIDGEWATER
embassy: 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6
mailing address: P.O. Box 541, Kingston 5
telephone: [1] (876) 702-6000
FAX: [1] (876) 702-6001
Flag description:
diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles – green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer 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)
National anthem:

ECONOMY:

Economy – overview:
The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for nearly 65% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Remittances account for nearly 15% of GDP and exports of bauxite and alumina make up about 10%. The bauxite/alumina sector was most affected by the global downturn while the tourism industry was resilient, experiencing an increase of 4% in tourist arrivals. Tourism revenues account for roughly 10% of GDP, and both arrivals and revenues grew in 2010, up 4% and 6% respectively. Jamaica’s economy faces many challenges to growth: high crime and corruption, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 120%. Jamaica’s onerous public debt burden is the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably to the financial sector in the mid-to-late 1990s. In early 2010, the Jamaican government created the Jamaica Debt Exchange in order to retire high-priced domestic bonds and significantly reduce annual debt servicing. The Government of Jamaica signed a $1.27 billion, 27-month Standby Agreement with the International Monetary Fund for balance of payment support in February 2010. Other multilaterals have also provided millions of dollars in loans and grants. Despite the improvement, debt servicing costs still hinder the government’s ability to spend on infrastructure and social programs, particularly as job losses rise in a shrinking economy. The SIMPSON-MILLER administration faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments, while simultaneously attacking a serious crime problem that is hampering economic growth. High unemployment exacerbates the crime problem, including gang violence that is fueled by the drug trade.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$24.58 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
$24.28 billion (2010 est.)
$24.58 billion (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$14.7 billion (2011 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
1.5% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
-1.2% (2010 est.)
-3% (2009 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$9,000 (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
$8,900 (2010 est.)
$9,100 (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 5.8%
industry: 29.5%
services: 64.7% (2011 est.)
Labor force:
1.324 million (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 17%
industry: 19%
services: 64% (2006)
Unemployment rate:
12.7% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
12.4% (2010 est.)
Population below poverty line:
16.5% (2009 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 35.8% (2004)
Distribution of family income – Gini index:
45.5 (2004)
country comparison to the world: 40
37.9 (2000)
Investment (gross fixed):
20.5% of GDP (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
Budget:
revenues: $3.982 billion
expenditures: $4.744 billion (2011 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:
27.1% of GDP (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-5.2% of GDP (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
Public debt:
126.5% of GDP (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
126.2% of GDP (2010 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.7% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
12.6% (2010 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
2% (31 December 2010 est.)
NA% (31 December 2009 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
14.3% (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
16% (31 December 2010 est.)
Stock of narrow money:
$1.543 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
$1.464 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Stock of broad money:
$6.026 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
$5.801 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:
$7.426 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
$7.253 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$6.626 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 76
$6.201 billion (31 December 2009)
$7.513 billion (31 December 2008)
Agriculture – products:
sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, ackees, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk; shellfish
Industries:
tourism, bauxite/alumina, agro processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products, telecommunications
Industrial production growth rate:
-2% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
Electricity – production:
7.323 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
Electricity – consumption:
6.4 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
Electricity – exports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity – imports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Oil – production:
506 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
Oil – consumption:
63,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
Oil – exports:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 181
Oil – imports:
90,520 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
Oil – proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
Natural gas – production:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198
Natural gas – consumption:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
Natural gas – exports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
Natural gas – imports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
Natural gas – proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
Current account balance:
-$2.367 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
-$986.5 million (2010 est.)
Exports:
$1.65 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
$1.376 billion (2010 est.)
Exports – commodities:
alumina, bauxite, sugar, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, wearing apparel, mineral fuels
Exports – partners:
US 34%, Canada 15.8%, Norway 9.4%, UK 6.6%, Netherlands 6.1% (2010)
Imports:
$6.356 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
$4.581 billion (2010 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 32.6%, Venezuela 15%, Trinidad and Tobago 14.5%, China 4.6% (2010)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$2.45 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
$2.501 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Debt – external:
$13.83 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$12.57 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Exchange rates:
Jamaican dollars (JMD) per US dollar –
86.36 (2011 est.)
87.2 (2010 est.)
87.89 (2009)
72.236 (2008)
69.034 (2007)
Fiscal year:
1 April – 31 March

Courtesy CIA Fact Book

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