Geographical Location of Jamaica
Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean. The landscape is characterized by mountains and rolling hills. In the east, the highest mountain peaks rise above 2000 m above sea level. Along the coast lies a narrow, lush coastal plain. Many rivers flowing from the mountains form several large waterfalls. The western and southern coasts are protected by coral reefs, creating white sand beaches.
The climate along the coast is tropical, hot and humid all year round. In the mountains the climate is more temperate, with clear differences between the seasons. In autumn, strong southeasterly winds can cause severe, destructive storms. Most precipitation falls from October to November.
Jamaica is regularly hit by earthquakes and severe tropical storms. From June to November, the island is often directly affected or directly affected by hurricanes. In 1988, the island was heavily damaged by Hurricane Gilbert. The hurricane caused great destruction and killed 45 people. The biggest anthropogenic environmental problem is the pollution of fresh water and marine areas of the island. Poor management of garbage, industrial and mining waste, and oil spills have led to hazardous pollution in several places on the island.
Brief History of Jamaica
Jamaica was settled around 1000 BC. people who speak the Arawakan language. The indigenous people lived in villages ruled by chiefs. After the Spaniards arrived on the island in 1494, the indigenous population was completely exterminated. Several thousand West African slaves were brought to the island as labor. When Britain took control of the island in 1655, most slaves fled to the mountains to live as free farmers. The British and the Maroons (as fugitive slaves were called) had several armed conflicts until 1739, when the Maroons were granted limited independence. The British brought more and more slaves to the island. Although European descendants made up only 1 percent of the population, they retained control of the island until 1938. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the non-white population increased their participation in politics, but the island remained both economically and politically at the mercy of foreign (mainly British and American) companies and interests. In 1962, Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain.
Since independence, the country has been characterized by social unrest, widespread crime, political conflict and an unstable economy. After the 1970s, the economy was weak and crime rose rapidly. The unstable situation led to violent riots in 1980, in which more than 500 people died. In the spring of 1999, there was a major riot associated with a high increase in gasoline taxes. The government reduced the tax again after 3 days of looting and arson.
Society and Politics of Jamaica
Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy. The country's head of state is the British monarch due to its membership in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Executive power lies with the Prime Minister and is appointed by elected representatives of the National Assembly in accordance with parliamentarism. The country is seen as a stable democracy, and freedom of the press is ranked on par with Western European countries.
Jamaica has invested from the very beginning in creating a social security system for all its citizens. A minimum wage was introduced back in 1938, and in 1966 a system of pensions and old-age insurance was introduced. Despite this, there are serious social problems in the country. Crime is a widespread social problem, and the capital city of Kingston in particular has been hit hard by drug and gang related crime.
Women's oppression, sexual harassment and violence are serious social problems. Women are underrepresented in politics, and in the workplace, women on average earn much less than men.
Jamaica is famous for the Rastafari movement, which arose as a mobilization reaction against the oppression of people of color. The most famous form of communication of the Rastafari movement is reggae music.
Economy and Trade of Jamaica
Since the 1960s, Jamaica's economy has transformed from being entirely dependent on agriculture to being more based on mining, tourism and the money Jamaicans living abroad send home. Agriculture still plays an important role in the country's economy, mainly producing sugar and bananas.
Since the 1960s, Jamaica has become the world's leading supplier of aluminum, exporting bauxite and alumina. The economy is very vulnerable to changes in prices for export goods on the world market. Jamaica also has a large informal "black" economy (illegal sales and trading without taxation). By some estimates, up to 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product is black.
Since the 1990s, economic growth in Jamaica has been slow. Large social unrest, lack of government control and major natural disasters are the most important reasons for weak economic growth. A large part of the population lives in poverty, and unemployment, especially among young people, is very high. This is seen as one of the main reasons why the country has problems with gang crime and drugs.