Invest in Jamaica


Jamaica is an island in the Caribbean Sea situated about 145 km (90 mi) S of Cuba. It has a total area of 10,990 sq km (4,243 sq mi) and extends, at maximum, 235 km (146 mi) N – S and 82 km (51 mi) E – W . Comparatively, the area occupied by Jamaica is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. The total coastline is 1,022 km (634 mi). The greater part of Jamaica is a limestone plateau, with an average elevation of about 460 m (1,500 ft). The interior of the island is largely mountainous, and peaks of over 2,100 m (7,000 ft) are found in the Blue Mountains, which dominate the eastern part of the island; the highest point on the island is Blue Mountain Peak, at 2,256 m (7,402 ft) above sea level. The coastal plains are largely alluvial, and the largest plains areas lie along the south coast. The island has numerous interior valleys. There are many rivers, but most are small, with rapids and falls that make navigation virtually impossible for any distance.


The climate ranges from tropical at sea level to temperate in the uplands; there is relatively little seasonal variation in temperature. The average annual temperature in the coastal lowlands is 27° C (81° F ); for the Blue Mountains, 13° C (55° F ). The island has a mean annual rainfall of 198 cm (78 in), with wide variations during the year between the north and south coasts. The northeast coast and the Blue Mountains receive up to 500 cm (200 in) of rain a year in places, while some parts of the south coast receive less than 75 cm (30 in), most of it falling between May and October. The rainy seasons are May to June and September to November. The period from late August to November has occasionally been marked by destructive hurricanes.

LOCATION: 17°43′ to 18°32′ N; 76°11′ to 78°21′ W.
TOTAL COASTLINE: 1,022 kilometers (634 miles).

CAPITAL : Kingston

FLAG : Two diagonal yellow gold bars forming a saltire divide the flag into four triangular panels. The two side panels are black, and the top and bottom panels are green.

DEPENDENCIES: Jamaica has no territories or colonies.

GOVERNMENT: The 1962 constitution provides for a governor-general appointed by the crown, a cabinet presided over by a prime minister, and a bicameral legislature. The Senate, the upper house, consists of 21 members appointed by the governor-general, 13 on the advice of the prime minister and 8 on the advice of the leader of the opposition. The popularly elected House of Representatives consists of 60 members (increased from 53 in 1976). The House is by far the more important of the two. The governor-general appoints both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. The normal term of office in parliament is five years, but elections can be called at any time. Suffrage is universal at age 18. The cabinet consists of the prime minister and at least 11 additional ministers, appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the prime minister.

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Although Jamaica remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the country's political, social, and economic ties have shifted toward participation in Latin American, Caribbean, and third-world international organizations. Jamaica was admitted to UN membership on 18 September 1962 and is a member of ACP, C, Caricom, CCC, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-15, G-19, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO and WTrO.

MONETARY UNIT : The Jamaican dollar ( J $) of 100 cents was introduced on 8 September 1969. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, and 1 dollar, and notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars. J $1 = US $0.01766 (or US $1 = J $56.6) as of May 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : Both metric and imperial weights and measures are used.

HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 23 May; Independence Day, 1st Monday in August; National Heroes' Day, 3rd Monday in October; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday.

TIME : 7 AM = noon GMT.

LANGUAGES: Jamaica is an English-speaking country and British usage is followed in government and the schools. Creole is also often used.

POPULATION: The population of Jamaica in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 2,651,000, which placed it as number 135 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 7% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 31% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 97 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 0.92%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 2,977,000. The population density in 2002 was 239 per sq km (620 per sq mi). Most of the population resides in coastal regions. It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 56% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. The capital city, Kingston, had a population of 655,000 in that year. Other leading cities are Spanish Town (about 92,383), Portmore (90,138), and Montego Bay (83,466). According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 1.7%.

ARMED FORCES: The Jamaica Defense Force assumed responsibility for the defense of Jamaica following the withdrawal of British forces in 1962. The total defense force in 2002 numbered 2,830 personnel with 950 reserves. The army accounted for 2,500 personnel, the coast guard 190, and the air wing 140. In 1997–98, Jamaica spent $47.9 million on defense.

FISHING: The fishing industry grew during the 1980s, primarily from the focus on inland fishing. Whereas the inland catch in 1982 was 129 tons, by 2000 it had risen to 450 tons. Nevertheless, substantial imports have been required to meet domestic needs. The total catch in 2000 was 5,676 tons.

FLORA AND FAUNA: The original forest of Jamaica has been largely cut over, but in the areas of heavy rainfall along the north and northeast coasts there are stands of bamboo, ferns, ebony, mahogany, and rosewood. Cactus and similar dry-area plants are found along the south and southwest coastal area. Parts of the west and southwest consist of grassland, with scattered stands of trees.  The wild hog is one of the few native mammals, but there are many reptiles and lizards. Birds are abundant. Jamaican waters contain considerable resources of fresh-and saltwater fish. The chief varieties of saltwater fish are kingfish, jack, mackerel, whiting, bonito, and tuna; freshwater varieties include snook, jewfish, gray and black snapper, and mullet.


ENVIRONMENT: Among the government agencies charged with environmental responsibilities are the Ministry of Health and Environmental Control, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority. The major environmental problems involve water quality and waste disposal. Jamaica has 9.4 cu km of renewable water resources with 77% used for agriculture and 7% used for industrial purposes. About 85% of the people living in rural areas and 98% of the city dwellers have access to pure drinking water. Coastal waters have been polluted by sewage, oil spills, and industrial wastes. Another major source of water pollution has been the mining of bauxite, which has contaminated the ground water with red-mud waste. Another environmental problem for Jamaica is land erosion and deforestation. Forest and woodland decreased 7% annually between 1990 and 1995. Jamaica's coral reefs have also been damaged. The nation's cities produce over 0.3 million tons of solid waste per year. Kingston has the waste disposal and vehicular pollution problems typical of a densely populated urban area.  In 2001, four of Jamaica's mammal species were endangered, as were seven bird species and eight reptile species. About 680 plant species are also threatened. Endangered species in Jamaica include the tundra peregrine falcon, homerus swallowtail butterfly, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, and American crocodile. The Caribbean monk seal, Osborn's key mouse, and the Jamaica giant galliwasp have become extinct.

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Image Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril by Fan Tours Jamaica  (under Fair Use Licencing)

Image:  - Parrots at Turtle River Falls and Gardens, previously called Enchanted Gardens, Jamaica. Author - Kajtek