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Jamaica Information


Jamaica gained full independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962. Deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s led to recurrent violence and a dropoff in tourism. Elections in 1980 saw the democratic socialists voted out of office. Subsequent governments have been open market oriented. Political violence marred elections during the 1990s.
Geography - Jamaica
Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba
Geographic coordinates:
18 15 N, 77 30 W
total: 10,991 sq km
land: 10,831 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,022 km
Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to edge of the continental margin
contiguous zone: 24 NM
tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior
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: 16.07%
permanent crops: 9.23%
other: 74.7% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
250 sq km (1998 est.)
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 results from vehicle emissions
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, 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
People - Jamaica

2,695,867 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.6% (male 395,074; female 376,870)
15-64 years: 64.5% (male 870,486; female 869,431)
65 years and over: 6.8% (male 82,022; female 101,984) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 26.5 years
male: 25.8 years
female: 27.2 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
0.61% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
17.35 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
5.42 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
-5.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 13.26 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 14.3 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.85 years
male: 73.84 years
female: 77.97 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.01 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
20,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
980 (2001 est.)
noun: Jamaican(s)
adjective: Jamaican
Ethnic groups:
black 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, white 0.2%, Chinese 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%
Protestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Baptist 8.8%, Anglican 5.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Brethren 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other, including some spiritual cults 34.7%
English, patois English
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 87.9%
male: 84.1%
female: 91.6% (2003 est.)
Government - Jamaica
Country name:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jamaica
Government type:
constitutional parliamentary democracy
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
6 August 1962 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, first Monday in August (1962)
6 August 1962
Legal system:
based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Howard Felix COOKE (since 1 August 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister Percival James PATTERSON (since 30 March 1992)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: none; the monarch 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; the deputy prime minister is recommended by the prime minister
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 eight seats) and the House of Representatives (60 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 16 October 2002 (next to be held NA October 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - PNP 52%, JLP 47.3%; seats by party - PNP 34, JLP 26
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders:
Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Edward SEAGA]; National Democratic Movement or NDM [Bruce GOLDING]; People's National Party or PNP [Percival James PATTERSON]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
New Beginnings Movement or NBM; Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists)
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Seymour MULLINGS
consulate(s) general: Miami and New York
FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081
telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660
chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sue McCourt COBB
embassy: Jamaica Mutual Life Center, 2 Oxford Road, 3rd floor, Kingston 5
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [1] (876) 929-4850 through 4859
FAX: [1] (876) 926-6743
Flag description:
diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side)
Economy - Jamaica
Economy - overview:

The economy, which depends heavily on tourism and bauxite, has been stagnant since 1995. After five years of recession, the economy inched ahead, by 0.8% in 2000, 1.7% in 2001, and 0.8% in 2002; the global economic slowdown, particularly in the United States after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, has stunted the economic recovery. Serious problems include: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a widening merchandise trade deficit; and a growing internal debt, the result of government bailouts to various ailing sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector. Depressed economic conditions have led to increased civil unrest, including serious violent crime. Jamaica's medium-term prospects will depend upon encouraging investment and tourism, maintaining a competitive exchange rate, selling off reacquired firms, and implementing proper fiscal and monetary policies.
purchasing power parity - $10 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
0.4% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $3,900 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 31%
services: 63% (2002)
Population below poverty line:
34.2% (1992 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
37.9 (2000)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
1.13 million (1998)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 60%, agriculture 21%, industry 19% (1998)
Unemployment rate:
15.4% (2002 est.)
revenues: $2.23 billion
expenditures: $2.56 billion, including capital expenditures of $232.5 million (FY99/00 est.)
tourism, bauxite, textiles, food processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products
Industrial production growth rate:
-2% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:
6.272 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 96.8%
hydro: 1.8%
other: 1.4% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
5.833 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
66,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, potatoes, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk
$1.4 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
alumina, bauxite; sugar, bananas, rum
Exports - partners:
US 35.7%, EU (excluding UK) 15.9%, UK 13%, Canada 10.5% (1999)
$3.1 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, fuel, food, chemicals, fertilizers
Imports - partners:
US 47.8%, Caricom countries 12.4%, EU 8%, Latin America 7.2% (1999)
Debt - external:
$5.3 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Jamaican dollar (JMD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Jamaican dollars per US dollar - 48.4159 (2002), 45.9962 (2001), 42.7011 (2000), 39.0435 (1999), 36.55 (1998)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications - Jamaica
Telephones - main lines in use:

353,000 (1996)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
54,640 (1996)
Telephone system:
general assessment: fully automatic domestic telephone network
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); 3 coaxial submarine cables
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 10, FM 13, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
7 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
21 (2000)
Internet users:
100,000 (2002)
Transportation - Jamaica

total: 272 km
standard gauge: 272 km 1.435-m gauge; note - 207 km, belonging to the Jamaica Railway Corporation, were in common carrier service but are no longer operational; the remaining track is privately owned and used to transport bauxite (2002)
total: 19,000 km
paved: 13,433 km
unpaved: 5,567 km (1997)
petroleum products 10 km
Ports and harbors:
Alligator Pond, Discovery Bay, Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Rocky Point, Port Esquivel (Longswharf)
Merchant marine:
total: 5 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 50,536 GRT/62,868 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 2, short-sea passenger 1
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Latvia 2, US 2 (2002 est.)
35 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 5 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 24
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 22 (2002)
Military - Jamaica
Military branches:

Jamaica Defense Force (including Ground Forces, Coast Guard, and Air Wing), Jamaica Constabulary Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 755,698 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 528,689 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 27,398 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$30 million (FY95/96 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues - Jamaica
Disputes - international:

Illicit drugs:
major transshipment point for cocaine from South America to North America and Europe; illicit cultivation of cannabis; government has an active manual cannabis eradication program; corruption is a major concern; substantial money-laundering activity; Colombian narcotics traffickers favor Jamaica for illicit financial transactions