Geographic and Governmental Profile of Jamaica

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.
Location
Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba
Geographic coordinates
18 15 N, 77 30 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
total:
10,991 sq km
rank:
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)
Get Chart Code
Get Chart Code
Irrigated land
250 sq km (2002)
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
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
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
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 Stephen VASCIANNIE
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
name:
"Jamaica, Land We Love"
lyrics/music:
Hugh Braham SHERLOCK/Robert Charles LIGHTBOURNE
adopted 1962
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

Comments are closed.