Travel Guide to Jamaica, Your Local Caribbean Trip Advisor
General Information About Jamaica
Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea, comprising the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles. The island lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola, the island containing the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Jamaica is the fifth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Previously inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taíno peoples, the island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. Named Santiago, it remained a possession of Spain until 1655, when England (later Great Britain) conquered the island and renamed it Jamaica. Under British rule, Jamaica became a leading sugar exporter, with its plantation economy highly dependent on slaves imported from Africa, followed later by Chinese and Indian indentured labor. All slaves were emancipated in 1838, with independence from the United Kingdom achieved on 6 August 1962. With 2.8 million people, Jamaica is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas (after the United States and Canada), and the fourth most populous country in the Caribbean. Kingston is the country's capital and largest city, with a population of about 1 million. Jamaicans are of predominately African descent, with significant European, Chinese, Indian, and mixed-race minorities. Due to a high rate of emigration since the 1960s, Jamaica has a large diaspora around the world, particularly in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Jamaica is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica. Jamaica is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with legislative power vested in the bicameral Parliament of Jamaica, consisting of an appointed Senate and a directly elected House of Representatives.