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 ffrom the island 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 hhunting for substance. They 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 oonly a few artifacts behind. With the natural
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. TThis would turn out to be a pivotal moment 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 PPort Royal was burned down 1838 saw great changes in Jamaica.
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% oof the
population, are descendants of the slaves brought to Jamaica in the 1800’s.
Another large percentage of the population 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 bby 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 history 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 ...
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