Jamaica is an island country in the Caribbean Sea situated about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola (the island containing the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Jamaica is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean.
The island of Jamaica was previously inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taíno people, before it came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. The indigenous people, the Taíno, called the island Xaymaca in their language, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water" or the "Land of Springs". Yamaye has been suggested as an early Taino name for the island as recorded by Christopher Columbus.
Many of the indigenous people died of disease, and the Spanish transplanted African slaves to Jamaica as labourers. The island remained a possession of Spain until 1655, when England (Great Britain) took control and renamed it Jamaica.
Under British rule the island became a leading sugar exporter, with its plantation economy highly dependent on slaves forcibly transported from Africa.
In 1838, the slaves emancipated and many freed. Approximately 2 years after, the British utilized Indian and Chinese indentured labour to work on plantations. The island achieved its independence from the Great Britain on 6 August 1962. Jamaica has 14 parishes, grouped into three counties: Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey.
Jamaica Counties and Parishes
Kingston is the capital and the smallest parish yet the most populated city on the island, and due to a high rate of emigration for work. Jamaicans can be found all around the world, particularly in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Jamaica National Symbols