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jamaica   island facts

Contents:   People   Economy   Government   Geography


The census of 2008 estimated the population to be 2,689,000 people


English, Creole
Major Religions Protestant 55.9% (Church of God 18.4%, Baptist 10%, Anglican 7.1%, Seventh-Day Adventist 6.9%, Pentecostal 5.2%, Methodist 3.1%, United Church 2.7%, other 2.5%), Roman Catholic 5%, other, including some spiritual cults 39.1% (1982)
Ethnic groups African 76.3%, Afro-European 15.1%, East Indian and Afro-East Indian 3%, white 3.2%, Chinese and Afro-Chinese 1.2%, other 1.2%
Growth rate 0.8%
Birth rate 22.19 births/1,000 population
Death rate 5.57 deaths/1,000 population
Fertility rate 2.45 children born/woman
Male life expectancy 72 years
Female life expectancy 77 years
Infant mortality rate 15.6 deaths/1,000 live births


Labor force

1.1 million
Unemployment rate 15.4% (1995)
Inflation rate CPI 25.5% (1995)
GDP $8.2 billion (1995)
Budget $2.0 billion
Debt $3.6 billion (1995)
Exports Total value: $2.0 billion
Commodities: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas and rum
Imports Total value: $2.7 billion
Commodities: machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, fuel, food and chemicals
Defense spending N/A
Highways 18,094 km (1988)


Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy and as a member of the British Commonwealth, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II is the titular head of the country. She is represented in Jamaica by a Governor General.

The Jamaican Parliament consists of two Houses, the Senate, also called the Upper House, and the House of Representatives, also known as the Lower House.

The members of the House of Representatives are elected under universal adult suffrage, with a maximum of five years between elections. There are 60 constituencies, each represented by one member of Parliament.

The Senate comprises twenty-one members appointed by the Governor General, thirteen on the advice of the Prime Minister and eight on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition. The Senate functions mainly as a review chamber and reviews legislation passed by the House of Representatives.

The Cabinet is the principal instrument of government policy. It consists of the Prime Minister and minimum of thirteen other Ministers of Government, who must be members of one of the two Houses of Parliament. However, not more than four members of the Cabinet may be members of the Senate. The Minister of Finance must be an elected member of the House of Representatives.

Local Government is organized on a parish basis, with two parishes, Kingston and St. Andrew, amalgamated and administered by the Kingston And St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC). The island's 60 constituencies are subdivided into 187 electoral divisions, each of which is represented by a Parish Councillor for Local Government.


Jamaica is the third largest of the Caribbean islands. Situated in the Caribbean Sea, it lies 965.4 km (600 miles) south of Florida, 160.9 km (100 miles) southwest of Haiti and 144.81 km (90 miles) south of Cuba.

The island's 28,389.2 km2 (4,411 square miles) are dominated by magnificent mountains. The principal range runs east to west, and the country's summit, Blue Mountain Peak, at approximately 2,256 metres (7,402 feet), stands near its eastern end.

The mountains boast a variety of minerals, chiefly limestone. Economically however, the most important mineral is bauxite (aluminum ore), and there are also deposits of gypsum and high grade calcium carbonate. There are many mineral springs, including the world renowned Milk River Baths in Clarendon.

The country is divided into three counties--Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey--which are subdivided into 14 parishes: Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary, St. Ann, Trelawny, St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon and St. Catherine.

Each parish has a capital town which is its centre of Local Government administration. Kingston, situated in the south-eastern part of the island, is the capital city. The other city, Montego Bay, is the leading tourist resort and is located on the island's north-western coast. Other important towns include Spanish Town, the former capital; Mandeville, in the heart of the bauxite mining area; May Pen; and the tourism centres of Ocho Rios and Port Antonio.

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