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The island state of Jamaica belongs to the group of
the Greater Antilles and is located in the Caribbean.
The Antilles are a chain of islands that extend in an
arc from Cuba to Trinidad and separate the Caribbean Sea
from the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to Jamaica, Cuba,
Puerto Rico and Hispaniola belong to the Greater
Antilles. Jamaica has a length of about 235 kilometers
in an east-westerly direction, the widest point is about
80 kilometers. The total area of the country is 10 991
Most of the island is mountainous. To the east are
the Blue Mountains with the highest mountain, the Blue
Mountain Peak (2,256 m). The cockpit country in the west
contains the karst landscape typical of the island with
limestone formations and underground caves. The coastal
plains in the south are predominantly marshes, the white
sand beaches, numerous bays and the evergreen rainforest
are typical for the north coast.
The tropical climate in Jamaica does not have any
major temperature differences. Average temperatures in
Kingston, the country's capital, are around 25 ˇăC in
January and around 28 ˇăC in July. From May to October,
most precipitation falls, with large regional
fluctuations: Kingston measures an average of around 900
mm, in the northeastern mountains up to over 5,000 mm.
Cyclones (hurricanes) often occur in late summer.
Flora and fauna
The tropical climate ensures lush vegetation, but
large plantations (sugar cane, coffee, cocoa), which are
constantly being expanded, are pushing back the original
fauna. In the native language of Jamaica (Arawak or
Aruak), the country name "Xaymaca" meant "land of
forests and water". Today, the tropical rainforest,
which previously covered large areas of the island, is
limited to areas in the northeast. The native trees
include cedar, mahogany, rosewood, fan and coconut palm
and allspice. The mahoe tree, which belongs to the
hibiscus family, is considered the national tree of
The habitat of the local animal world is also limited
accordingly, only a few areas are protected as nature
reserves. Some of the animal species are endemic,
meaning that they only occur on this island. These
include around 25 of a total of 250 bird species such as
the Jamaican hummingbird and the green or Jamaican todi.
One of the endemic mammals is, for example, the Jamaican
piglet rat, which belongs to the rodents.
Until the first half of the 19th century, Jamaica was
an important base for Britain's trade in slaves. According to COUNTRYAAH,
today, around 90% of the population are black of African
descent, almost 7% are half-breeds. The island has
around 2.64 million residents, and the number of
Jamaicans living abroad, mostly in the United Kingdom
and the United States, is not much smaller. Kingston on
the south coast of Jamaica is the largest city on the
island with around 587 800 residents, followed by
Spanish Town (92 400) and Portmore (90 100).
The official language is English, and Patois (or
Jamaican Creole) is also spoken, a mixture of European
languages and African dialects. Almost two thirds of
the population are Christians and belong predominantly
to Protestant communities, Catholics make up only a
small minority. Almost a quarter of the residents
practice African or Indian religions.
Jamaica is home to reggae, a music movement made
famous worldwide by Bob Marley. It was through them that
the Rastafaris (Rastas) and their philosophy became
known. The stronghold of the Rastafarians in Jamaica is
the small town of St. Ann's Bay, once an important port
for the slave trade. Overall, over 90% of the population
can read and write; the population growth is 0.7%, the
average life expectancy is 76 years.
The constitution dates from 1962. The formal head of
state of the parliamentary monarchy in the Commonwealth
is the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II (since
February 1962). She appoints a governor general (Patrick
Allen, since February 2009). The head of government is
the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the Governor
General (Portia Simpson Miller, since January 2012). The
cabinet is formed by the governor, based on proposals
from the prime minister.
The legislature lies with the bicameral parliament,
which consists of the House of Representatives (63
members, directly elected by the people for five years)
and the Senate. The 21 members of the Senate are
selected by the governor every five years, 13 seats are
planned for the ruling party and eight for the
opposition party. Citizens aged 18 and over are entitled
Jamaica is divided into 14 districts.
Jamaica is one of the wealthier countries in the
Caribbean, yet 17% of the population live below the
poverty line. The official unemployment rate is 13%, but
it is significantly higher for young workers (41%). The
transfers from Jamaicans abroad make the greatest
contribution to the economy alongside tourism.
Agriculture has traditionally played an important
role in Jamaica. Bananas, tobacco, sugar cane,
pineapple, grapefruit, cocoa and clove pepper are
cultivated. Coffee is also grown and exported on a large
scale. Blue Mountain coffee, which is grown in small
businesses and only grows at altitudes above 1,000 m, is
known worldwide. Overall, however, the agricultural
sector now only generates around 7% of gross domestic
product (GDP). The service sector, especially tourism
and financial services, is responsible for 72% of GDP.
The most important export goods are bauxite and
aluminum. Bauxite is mined centrally in the interior by
international companies. Among other things, industrial
and consumer goods and various raw materials are
imported. The largest trading partner in Jamaica is the
The currency is the Jamaican dollar.