Jamaica

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

JAMAICA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS JAMAICANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

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.

ANTHEM: First line, "Eternal father, bless our land"

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$0.01612 (or us$1 = j$62.04) as of 2005.

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.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

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) ns and 82 km (51 mi) ew. Comparatively, the area occupied by Jamaica is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. The total coastline is 1,022 km (634 mi).

Jamaica's capital city, Kingston, is located on the country's southeastern coast.

TOPOGRAPHY

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.

Some volcanic and seismic activity is present on the island in the form of lava cones and hot springs, some of the latter being radioactive. One of the worst earthquakes in history occurred at Port Royal (then the chief city in Jamaica) on 7 June 1692 when a large portion of the city literally sank below sea level through a series of three main quakes and several days of aftershocks; thousands of people were killed. A 1907 earthquake followed by a tidal wake destroyed the Kingston area and killed about 900 people. Lesser earthquakes, such as the 5.1 magnitude tremor felt throughout the country on 13 June 2005, have caused damage to homes and other building, but few injuries.

CLIMATE

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.

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.

As of 2002, there were at least 24 species of mammals, 75 species of birds, and over 3,300 species of plants throughout the country.

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 cu km of renewable water resources with 77% used for agriculture and 7% used for industrial purposes. About 87% 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 1.5% annually between 1990 and 2000. Jamaica's coral reefs have also been damaged. Kingston has the waste disposal and vehicular pollution problems typical of a densely populated urban area.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 5 types of mammals, 12 species of birds, 8 types of reptiles, 17 species of amphibians, 12 species of fish, 5 species of invertebrates, and 208 species of plants. Endangered species in Jamaica included 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.

POPULATION

The population of Jamaica in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 2,666,000, which placed it at number 134 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 7% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 31% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 98 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.4%. The projected population for the year 2025 was 3,048,000. The population density was 242 per sq km (628 per sq mi), with most of the population residing in coastal regions.

The UN estimated that 52% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.23%. The capital city, Kingston, had a population of 575,000 in that year. Other leading cities (and their estimated populations) are Montego Bay (120,000), Spanish Town (about 92,383), and Portmore (90,138).

MIGRATION

Jamaica's net loss from emigration totaled 145,800 between 1891 and 1921; after a net gain of 25,800 during 192143, losses of 195,200 were recorded from 1943 to 1960, and 265,500 from 1960 through 1970. Until the United Kingdom introduced restrictions on immigration from Commonwealth countries in 1962, a large number of Jamaican workers emigrated to Great Britain. In 1964, in an effort to curb increasing migration, Jamaica passed the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act, providing Jamaicans with easier access to the island's employment market; however, domestic unemployment continued to plague Jamaica through the 1970s. During this period, Jamaica suffered from a "brain drain," losing perhaps as much as 40% of its middle class. From 1971 through 1980, 276,200 Jamaicans left the island, 142,000 for the United States. According to the 2000 US Census, Jamaican ancestry in the United States was claimed by 736,513 people.

The great disparity between rural and urban income levels has contributed to the exodus of rural dwellers to the cities, where many of these migrants remain unemployed for lack of necessary skills. In this search for jobs, migration is so routine in Jamaica that the term "barrel children" has come to describe children whose parent have gone abroad for work and ship back necessities and goodies to their children in barrels. The US Department of State notes that 20,000 Jamaicans immigrate to the United States each year, settling mainly in New York, Miami, Chicago, and Hartford, Connecticut. In 2003, remittances to Jamaica were $1.4 billion. In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as -4.07 migrants per 1,000 population.

Jamaica is a transit point for migrants, including asylum seekers, trying to reach the United States. The total number of migrants living in Jamaica in 2000 was 13,000.

In1999, Jamaica hosted 25 recognized refugees, most from Cuba, and had granted humanitarian status to a number of others. Asylum seekers continue to arrive from Cuba, Haiti, and other parts of the world. In 2002 six Haitians sought political asylum, having arrived by boat. Fearing their forcible return to Haiti, Amnesty International drew attention to their plight and their claims were fairly heard. In 2004, some 1,104 Jamaicans sought political asylum in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

ETHNIC GROUPS

About 97% of the population is of partial or total African descent. This population is comprised of blacks, mulattos, and black-East Indians or black-Chinese. Other ethnic groups include East Indians (1.3%), Chinese (0.2%), and Europeans. Nearly the whole population is native-born Jamaican. Black racial consciousness has been present in Jamaica at least since the beginnings of the Rastafarian sect, founded in 1930 and based on the ideas of Marcus Garvey.

LANGUAGES

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

RELIGIONS

There is freedom and equality of religion in Jamaica. Protestant churches are dominant, with various denominations comprising over 61% of the total population. The Church of God now claims the largest number of adherents, with 24% of the populace. Seventh-Day Adventists, with 11%, and Pentecostals, with 10%, are the next largest denominations. About 7% of the population are Baptist. The Church of England (Anglican), formerly the dominant religion in Jamaica, claims about 4%. Other denominations include Roman Catholics (2%), United Church (2%), Methodists (2%), Jehovah's Witnesses (2%), Moravians (1%), and Brethren (1%). Other religious groups, including Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Rastafarians, as well as some spiritual cults, make up about 10% of the population. About 22% of the population claim no religious affiliation.

The Rastafarian movement continues to grow and is culturally influential in Jamaica and abroad. Rastas regard Africa (specifically Ethiopia) as Zion and consider their life outside Africa as an exile or captivity; the use of marijuana, or ganja, plays an important role in the movement. The government officially recognized Rastafarianism as a religion in 2003.

TRANSPORTATION

Jamaica has an extensive system of roads; in 2002 there were 19,000 km (11,806 mi) of roads, including 13,433 km (8,347 mi) of paved roads. In 2003 there were 115,260 licensed passenger cars and 30,100 commercial vehicles on the island. Motorbus service, which has greatly facilitated travel, is operated by the government-owned Jamaica Omnibus Services Company.

The standard-gauge rail system totals 272 km (169 mi) of track. Of that total, 207 km (129 mi) which belonged to the government-owned Jamaica Railway Corp. (JRC) are no longer operational, as of 1992. The remaining track is privately owned and used to transport bauxite.

Kingston, the main port, handles nearly all of the country's foreign imports but only a small percentage of its exports, by weight. The remaining exports are shipped through 18 other ports, which tend to specialize in particular commodities: Montego Bay and Port Antonio in bananas and sugar, for instance, and Port Esquivel and Ocho Rios in bauxite. More than 30 shipping companies provide passenger and cargo service. The port facilities of Kingston harbor are among the most modern in the Caribbean. In 2005, Jamaica's merchant marine consisted of nine vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, for a total of 74,881 GRT.

Air service is the major means of passenger transport between Jamaica and outside areas. In 2004 there were an estimated 35 airports, 11 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Control of the two modern airports, Norman Manley International Airport (Kingston) and Sangster International Airport (Montego Bay), was assigned to the Airports Authority of Jamaica in 1974. About eleven airlines provide scheduled international air transportation. Air Jamaica, the national airline, operates internationally in association with British Airways and British West Indian Airways. The government owns a controlling interest in Air Jamaica and has also invested in a domestic air carrier, Trans Jamaican Airlines. In 2003 about 1.838 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.

HISTORY

Jamaica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494 and was settled by the Spanish in the early 16th century. The Spanish used the island as a supply base and also established a few cattle ranches. The Arawaks, who had inhabited the island since about ad 1000, were gradually exterminated and replaced by African slaves. In 1655, the island was taken over by the English, and the Spanish were expelled five years later.

Spain formally ceded Jamaica to England in 1670 by the Treaty of Madrid. The island became a base for English privateers raiding the Spanish Main. A plantation economy was developed, and sugar, cocoa, and coffee became the basis of the island's economy. The abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and of slavery itself in 1834 upset Jamaica's plantation economy and society. The quarter million slaves were set free, and many became small farmers in the hill districts. Freed slaves were replaced by East Indian and Chinese contract workers.

The economy suffered from two developments in mid-century: in 1846 the British rescinded favorable terms of trade for Jamaica, and the union blockade during the US Civil War limited commercial options for the island. Bankruptcies and abandonment of plantations followed, and dissension between the white planters and black laborers led to a crisis. An uprising by black freedmen at Morant Bay in 1865 began a struggle that necessitated the imposition of martial law. Parliament established a crown colony government in 1866, and Jamaica's new governor, Sir John Peter Grant, introduced new programs, which included development of banana cultivation, improvement of internal transportation, and reorganization of government administration. Advances in education, public health, and political representation pacified the island.

These measures did not resolve Jamaica's basic problems, stemming from wide economic and social disparities, and social unrest came to the surface whenever economic reverses beset the island. The depression of the 1930s, coupled with a blight on the banana crop, produced serious disruption and demands for political reform. A royal commission investigated the island's social and economic conditions and recommended self-government for Jamaica. A Jamaica legislative council committee concurred, and in 1944, Jamaica had its first election. The contenders in that election were two recently formed political parties, the People's National Party (PNP), led by Norman W. Manley, and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), founded by Manley's cousin, Sir Alexander Bustamante.

During the 1950s, the bauxite industry and the tourist trade assumed prominent roles in the economy. The economic gains from these enterprises did little to solve Jamaica's underlying economic problems. Jamaica joined with other British Caribbean colonies in 1958 to form the Federation of the West Indies, but in a referendum in 1961 a majority of Jamaicans voted for withdrawal from the federation. The governments of the United Kingdom and Jamaica accepted the decision of the electorate, and Jamaica became an independent state on 6 August 1962, with dominion status in the Commonwealth of Nations. The PNP had supported the federation concept, so the JLP became the independence party, and Bustamante became the nation's first prime minister.

The JLP held power through the 1960s. Donald Sangster became prime minister in 1965 and was succeeded by Hugh Shearer, also of the JLP, two years later. In February 1972, the PNP regained a majority in parliament, and the late Norman Manley's son, Michael, headed a new democratic socialist government.

Manley moved to nationalize various industries, and expanded Jamaica's programs in health and education. Manley placed price controls on a number of key products and provided consumer subsidies for others. Internationally, Manley established friendly relations with Cuba, which the United States decried. Deteriorating economic conditions led to recurrent violence in Kingston and elsewhere during the mid-1970s, discouraging tourism. By 1976, Jamaica was faced with declining exports, a critical shortage of foreign exchange and investment, an unemployment rate estimated at 3040%, and rampant currency speculation.

The PNP nevertheless increased its parliamentary majority in the December elections that were held during a state of emergency. Tourism suffered another blow in January 1979 with three days of rioting in Kingston, at the height of the tourist season. Mean-while, Manley quarreled with the IMF. The IMF responded to Ja-maica's request for loan guarantees by conditioning acceptance on a set of austerity measures. Manley refused to initiate many of the market-oriented measures the IMF was demanding.

Manley called for elections in the fall of 1980. The campaign was marred by somewhere between 500 and 800 deaths, and was further inflamed by PNP claims that the CIA was attempting to destabilize its government. The opposition JLP won a landslide victory, and Edward Seaga became prime minister and minister of finance. He announced a conservative economic program that brought an immediate harvest of aid from the United States and the IMF. In October 1981, Jamaica broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba, and two years later it participated in the US-led invasion of Grenada.

In December 1983, Seaga called for elections, which the PNP boycotted, leaving the JLP with all 60 seats in the House of Representatives. Seaga then implemented an IMF plan of sharp austerity, pushing the economy into negative growth for two years. In May 1986, Seaga turned away from the IMF, announcing an expansionary budget. The JLP nevertheless suffered a sharp loss in July parish elections, with the PNP taking 12 of 13 municipalities. By January 1987, a new IMF agreement was in place, but their political position continued to slide.

The 1989 elections were a good deal less tumultuous than expected. The two parties reached an agreement to control their respective partisans, and election violence was minimal. The rhetoric was also considerably less inflammatory, as the PNP's Manley ran as a more moderate candidate. Citing the deterioration of social services under Seaga, and promising to attract foreign capital, Manley was returned to the prime ministership as the PNP took a powerful 45-seat bloc in the House of Representatives. Manley reversed many of Seaga's policies, but by 1992, inflation was on the rise and the economy slowed. Unemployment hovered around 20%. Manley retired in 1992, leaving the government to Percival J. Patterson.

Patterson moved further to the right from Seaga, encouraging more market-oriented reforms. Within a year of taking office, he called for elections, in which violence erupted anew and 11 died in campaign-related killings. The PNP increased its parliamentary margin to 528, a small consolation for a government besieged by serious political, social, and economic problems.

Political violence resurged in 1996, following the establishment in 1995 of two new political parties, the Jamaica Labour Party and the rival National Democratic Movement. Clashes between party regulars in Kingston and Spanish Town led to 10 deaths in a six-month period. Vigilante killings in response to a high crime rate were also the norm in 1995 and 1996, with police reporting 22 such killings in that span.

In March 1997, former prime minister and PNP founder Michael Manley died. In the December elections that year, the PNP remained the dominant party. It was the first time a Jamaican political party had won a third consecutive legislative victory. The ruling party also swept local elections in September 1998. However, it presided over an increasingly troubled country, with continued economic contraction and an escalating crime wave, much of it attributable to rival gangs that had begun as armed militias created by the major political parties in the 1970s and later evolved into highly powerful organized crime networks engaged in international drug smuggling and other illicit activities. In the first half of 1999 alone, an estimated 500 Jamaicans had been killed in gangrelated violence. In addition, rioting followed the announcement of a 30% gasoline tax increase in April. Export revenues driven down by low prices and high costs followed in a historically cyclical pattern, while tourism was hurt by the rising violence and harsh army tactics were used to curb the crime rate.

The PNP continued to dominate Jamaican politics. In the October 2002 elections, the PNP captured 52.2% of the vote, winning 34 seats in the 60-member Assembly. The prime minister was PNP leader Percival James Patterson. Violence continued with 971 murders in 2003 and 1,145 in 2004. England imposed policies such as halting death penalty executions intended to curb crime in 2002, and in 2003 introduced visa requirements for Jamaicans entering the United Kingdom.

In addition to social and economic hardships, on 10 September 2004 Jamaica was hit hard by Hurricane Ivan. Prime Minister Patterson declared a state of emergency in the interest of public safety, as the national public power and water supplies were forced to shut down. All sectors of the economy were badly affected; the southern parishes that are the breadbasket of the country suffered a double blow, as crops were also damaged during the passage of Hurricane Charley less than a month before. By 2005 protests over price increases, such as utilities and public transportation, continued, as well as general social unrest. In the midst of prevalent gang violence, Prime Minister Patterson announced that he would step down before the legal date of October 2007. Portia Simpson-Miller was sworn in as the new prime minister on 30 March 2006, becoming the first woman to lead Jamaica's government.

Amidst the violence and poverty, the rural sections of the island, especially in and around the resort towns of Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios, remained quite safe. Furthermore, President Chavez from Venezuela made preferential agreements with Jamaica and a number of Caribbean nations to aid them with their fuel scarcity, helping boost the slowly progressing economy.

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.

POLITICAL PARTIES

Two political parties, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP), dominate Jamaican politics. Their fortunes have risen and fallen dramatically over the past thirty years. Both parties have held more than three-fourths of parliament. The JLP, founded in 1943 by Sir Alexander Bustamante, is the more conservative of the two parties. Its original political base was the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, which Bustamante organized in 1938. The JLP held a parliamentary majority during the first 10 years of independence, and again from 198089 under Edward Seaga.

The PNP, founded by Norman W. Manley in 1938, held to a moderate socialist program and from its foundation sought responsible government and independence for Jamaica. The party formed its first government in 1972 under Michael Manley. In 1976, the PNP remained in power, increasing its majority by 10 seats in a house that had been enlarged by 7. After losing in 1980, the PNP refused to participate in the parliamentary elections called by Prime Minister Seaga for December 1983, two years ahead of schedule. The PNP draws much of its support from the National Workers' Union, Jamaica's largest trade union, and is primarily an urban, middle-class party that has moved toward the political center since its defeat in the 1980 elections. Both the JLP and PNP stand for a broad program of social reform and welfare and economic development with the participation of foreign capital. The PNP was returned to power in 1989. In 1992, its founder and longtime leader Michael Manley retired and was succeeded by Percival (P.J.) Patterson, who led the party to four consecutive parliamentary victories 19932002.

A third political party, the National Democratic Movement (NDM), was formed in October 1995 by Bruce Golding, who was the former chairman of the JLP, and who is now the main leader of the opposition. In the 2002 elections the JLP gained power as the PNP fell from 50 seats in 1997 to 34. The JLP went from winning 10 seats in 1997 to clinching 26 seats in 2002. The next elections were scheduled for October 2007.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Local government is patterned on that of the United Kingdom and the unit of local government is the parish. Responsibility for local government is vested in 12 parish councils and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation, which represents the amalgamation of two parishes. Since 1947, all of the councils (called parochial boards until 1956) have been fully elective, although the members of the House of Representatives from each parish are ex-officio members of the councils. Elections are normally held every three years on the basis of universal adult suffrage.

Local government authorities are responsible for public health and sanitation, poor relief, water supply, minor roads, and markets and fire services. Revenues come largely from land taxes, supplemented by large grants from the central government.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The judicial system follows British practice, with some local variations. Cases may be brought in the first instance before a lay magistrate (justice of the peace), a magistrate, or a judge in the Supreme Court, according to the seriousness of the offense or the amount of property involved. The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction. Final appeal rests with the seven-member Court of Appeals, appointed on the advice of the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition. The attorney general, who need not be a member of parliament, is appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the prime minister.

The judiciary is independent but is overburdened and back-logged because of a lack of trained personnel. Recent increases in salaries, training programs for judicial personnel, and improvement in court facilities may eventually serve to improve efficiency and processing of cases. In 1995, to reduce the backlog of cases, the government initiated a night court, but little progress has been achieved almost eight years after the reform.

The constitution gives power to the Court of Appeals and the parliament to refer cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. However, Jamaica was among the eight nations (Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago) whose leaders met in Kingston on 9 June 2003 to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which was inaugurated on 16 April 2005 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. It has been established as an attempt to ensure autonomy of judicial determinations in the region in order to complete the process of independence, to inspire confidence, and to ensure voluntary compliance, freeing the justice system from political manipulation.

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 2005 numbered 2,830 active personnel with 953 reservists. The Army accounted for 2,500 personnel, the Coast Guard 190, and the air wing 140. In 2005, the defense budget totaled $57.5 million.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Jamaica was admitted to the United Nations on 18 September 1962 and is a member of ECLAC and several nonregional specialized agencies, including the FAO, IAEA, ILO, IMF, UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO, and the World Bank. Jamaica served on the UN Security Council from 200001. 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. International memberships includes the ACP Group, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, G-15, G-77, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Latin American Economic System (LAES), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and OAS.

Jamaica is a member of the Nonaligned Movement and a part of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL).

In environmental cooperation, Jamaica is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

The structure of the Jamaican economy has undergone extensive changes since 1945, when it was primarily dependent on tropical agricultural products such as sugar, bananas, coffee, and cocoa. The island has since become one of the world's largest producers of bauxite, though the industry suffered severely in the 1980s from high local costs and low world prices. It has also developed into a major tourist center for North Americans. Since 1983, tourism has been Jamaica's primary foreign exchange earner.

The underlying weaknesses of Jamaica's economy (including unemployment, underemployment, and unequal distribution of income) have revealed themselves as the market for bauxite has weakened. During 197280, production and foreign sales of bauxite, sugar, and bananas declined; tourism dropped because of rising social unrest; investor confidence waned; and consumer prices (197581) increased by 325%. With the change of administration in both Jamaica and the United States during 198081, more than $1 billion in IMF and other credits became available. This was enough to extricate the country from its immediate payments crisis, but weak growth continued through 1986, when per capita income was 5.6% less than in 1981.

This trend of declining growth performance continued in the 1990s as the country experienced negative growth, for the first time in nearly a decade, declining by 1.5% in 1996. Underlying this performance was a marked deterioration in manufacturing and construction which declined by 2% and 3%, respectively, and the surfacing of severe problems in the financial sector. Significant among industries showing decline was the apparel industry, second only to bauxite and aluminum in terms of export earnings, resulting in a 5% drop in apparel exports in JanuaryOctober 1996, compared to the same period of 1995. This marked a reversal of the progress for this sector, which experienced 22% growth during the same period of 1995. Competition from NAFTA caused many garment manufacturers to close, and thousands of workers to go jobless.

Following the financial crisis of 1995/96, the Jamaican government adopted tight money policies to bring down inflation, which had peaked at 80% in 1992. At 15.8% in 1995/96, inflation fell to 8.8% in 1997/98, and has remained in single digits since. However, 1997/98 was also the first of three consecutive years of contraction in part attributable to the government's financial stabilization policies. Real GDP decreased 0.4% in 1998/99 and 0.1% in 1999/2000, while inflation averaged 7.7% a year. In June 2000, the government agreed to a staff-monitored program (SMP) with the IMF for 2001/02 designed to reduce Jamaica's heavy debt servicing burden and increase the country's attractiveness for foreign investment. In 2000/01 growth returned at a weak level of 1.1%, and continued at the same low level in 2001/02 as export demand weakened and tourism declined in the global economic slowdown in 2001 and in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Remittances to Jamaica from expatriates accounted for 13.6% of GDP in 2001. In 2002 and 2003 Jamaica was one of 23 countries on the US government's "Majors" list for being certified as a major illicit drug producer and/or drug transit country.

In 2004, the GDP growth rate was 1.3%, down from 2.3% in 2003; the economy was expected to recover in 2005, and expand by 3.3%. Inflation was on an upward spiral, expected to grow to 14.3% in 2005, from 13.6% in 2004, and 10.3% in 2003. The unemployment rate seemed to have been brought under control at around 11%.

Civil unrest, fueled by gang violence and drug wars, as well as damages caused by Hurricane Ivan hampered the governments attempts of achieving fiscal discipline and economic growth in 2004.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Jamaica's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $11.7 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $4,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.2%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 14.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 4.9% of GDP, industry 33.8%, and services 61.3%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $1.398 billion or about $529 per capita and accounted for approximately 18.6% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $3 million or about $1 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.0% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Jamaica totaled $5.98 billion or about $2,264 per capita based on a GDP of $7.5 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 7.4%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 24% of household consumption was spent on food, 3% on fuel, 1% on health care, and 9% on education. It was estimated that in 2002 about 19.7% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

Jamaica's labor force in 2005 was estimated at 1.2 million. As of 2003, agriculture accounted for 20.1%, with industry at 16.6%, and the services sector at 63.4%. The nation's unemployment rate in 2005 was estimated at 11.5%.

The right to unionize is protected by law, and union membership accounted for 15% of those employed. The two major trade unions are closely identified with the country's two main political parties: the National Workers' Union with the PNP and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union with the JLP. The Trade Union Congress is a third major union. The ability to strike is neither authorized nor prohibited by law and strikes do occur. The government rarely interferes with union organizing or bargaining efforts and it effectively enforces laws which prohibit discriminating against workers for their union activities.

Labor legislation covers such items as national insurance, employment of nationals, hours of work, minimum wages, employment of women and youths, apprenticeship, and welfare (workers' compensation and factory conditions). The industrial workweek is generally eight hours a day for five days with mandatory over-time pay for work in excess of eight hours. Hours in agriculture and some of the service industries vary, but are usually longer. The minimum wage was us$30 per week in 2002, but most salaried workers earn more than the minimum.

AGRICULTURE

Jamaican agriculture accounts for about 7% of GDP, less than in most developing countries. Agriculture (together with forestry and fisheries) is the third-largest foreign exchange earner and the second-largest employer of labor. Attempts to offset the serious price and production problems of traditional agricultural exports by encouraging production of winter vegetables, fruits, and flowers have had limited success. Vegetable and melon production in 2004 amounted to 196,500 tons; principal varieties include pumpkin, carrot, cabbage, tomato, callaloo, and cucumber. Production of other crop groups (with leading varieties) in 2004 included: pulses (red peas, peanut, gungo peas), 5,050 tons; fruits (papaya, pineapple, watermelon), 464,404 tons; cereals (corn, rice), 1,105 tons; and roots and tubers (yams, potatoes, plantains), 212,500 tons.

Sugar, the leading export crop, is produced mainly on plantations organized around modern sugar factories that also buy cane from independent growers. Raw sugar production in 2004 was estimated at 181,042 tons, down from 290,000 tons in 1978.

Sugar is Jamaica's largest agricultural export, earning $84.9 million in 2004. Sugar is also used for the production of molasses (78,884 tons in 2004) and rum (24.7 million liters in 2004). Banana production in 2004 was 1250,000 tons. Other major export crops in 2004 included cocoa, and coffee. Blue Mountain coffee, which is primarily exported to Japan, brings in some $12 million annually in foreign exchange earnings. Jamaica also exports coconuts, pimientos, citrus fruits, ginger, tobacco, yams, papayas, dasheens, peppers, and cut flowers. Jamaica exported $266.2 million and imported $438.4 million in agricultural products during 2004.

The island's food needs are met only in part by domestic production, and foodstuffs are a major import item. The main food crops, grown primarily by small cultivators, are sweet potatoes and yams, rice, potatoes, manioc, tomatoes, and beans. Jamaica is a major producer of marijuana, which, however, remains illegal. The government participates in a US-funded campaign to eradicate marijuana trading.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Livestock has long been important in Jamaica's agricultural life, providing both fertilizer and protein for the local diet. Despite increases in the livestock population and in the production of meat, milk, and poultry, increased demand has resulted in continued imports of livestock products. Livestock holdings in 2005 included some 430,000 head of cattle, 440,000 goats, and 85,000 hogs. Livestock products in 2005 included 102,900 tons of meat (80% poultry) and 28,500 tons of cow's milk.

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 2003 it had risen to 3,013 tons. Nevertheless, imports exceeded exports by $31.3 million in 2003 to meet domestic needs. The total catch in 2003 was 11,671 tons.

FORESTRY

By the late 1980s, only 185,000 hectares (457,000 acres) of Jamaica's original 1,000,000 hectares (2,500,000 acres) of forest remained. Roundwood production increased from 55,000 cu m (1.9 million cu ft) in 1981 to 220,000 cu m (7.8 million cu ft) in 1988 and to 852,500 cu m (30 million cu ft) in 2004. About 67% of the timber cut in 2004 was used as fuel wood. The Forestry Department began a reforestation program in 1963 that was scheduled to last for 30 years; the target was to plant 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of timber a year. During the 1990s, reforestation averaged 5,000 hectares (12,300 acres) a year.

MINING

Jamaica in 2003 was a leading producer of alumina, with 3.844 million tons, as well as of bauxite, with 13.444 million tons, gross weight dry equivalent. In 2003 Jamaica's alumina plants were operating at near full capacity. The country's bauxite ores were expected to last 100 years.

In 2003, Jamaica produced 248,558 metric tons of gypsum, up from 164,880 metric tons in 2002. Output of lime totaled 275,763 metric tons in 2003. Quality marble was found in the Blue Mountains, and silica sand, limestone, clays, salt, hydraulic cement, marl and fill, and sand and gravel were also exploited. Australia's Ausjam Mining began the first recorded gold-mining operation in Jamaica in 2000, at the Pennants gold mine, in Clarendon Parish. In 2003, the mine produced 277 kg of gold and 98 kg of silver. However, low ore grades and labor union demands forced Ausjam to close Pennants in December 2003.

ENERGY AND POWER

Jamaica has no coal deposits proven reserves of oil, or natural gas, and very little hydroelectric potential.

Electricity is the main source of power and is almost all generated by steam from oil-burning plants. In 2002, Jamaica's electric power generating capacity stood at 1.398 million kW, of which conventional thermal accounted for 1.398 million kW of capacity and hydropower at 0.023 million kW. The total amount of electricity generated by public and private sources in 2002 totaled 6.524 billion kWh, of which 6.334 billion kWh came from conventional thermal sources and 0.093 billion kWh came from hydroelectric sources. Geothermal and other sources accounted for 0.097 billion kWh. Consumption of electricity in 2002 came to 6.067 billion kWh. As of 2002, blackouts still occurred from lack of capacity. Some large enterprises, such as the bauxite companies, and the sugar estates generate their own electricity. In 2001, US-based Mirant Corporation acquired 80% of the Jamaica Public Service Company, which had been government owned.

In 2001, Jamaica stated its intention to start replacing fuel oil with natural gas as the primary energy source for its power plants and for the bauxite and alumina industry. Although Jamaica has made a few ventures into alternative sources of energy, these are still minor relative to overall demand.

In 2002, Jamaica's imports of refined and crude oil products averaged 67,860 barrels per day, with total demand for refined products averaging 67,780 barrels per day.

Imports and consumption of coal in 2002 each came to 97,000 short tons.

INDUSTRY

In 1996, the production of bauxite and aluminum, the leading export commodities, bounced back from a sharp decline in 1995, but the growth of earnings was dampened by soft conditions in aluminum markets. While bauxite and aluminum output grew by 8.9% and exports of ore and aluminum grew by 9.5%, the value added by mining and quarrying, which consists overwhelmingly of these products, grew by only 2%. In 2001, production of bauxite reached its highest level in 20 years. Alumina production fell by 1% that year, due to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the temporary closure of the JAMALCO Halse Hall aluminum plant due to workers' action in October 2001.

Construction was seen as a growth sector in 2002, as was food processing (particularly poultry meat production and condensed milk). Jamaica has an oil refinery with a production capacity of 34,000 barrels per day in 2002.

Industry made up 32.7% of the economy in 2004, and it employed 16.6% of the labor force; agriculture contributed only 6.1% to the economy, but it employed a fifth of the working population; services came in first with 61.3% and 63.4% respectively.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Learned societies include the Jamaica Institution of Engineers and the Medical Association of Jamaica, both in Kingston, and the Jamaican Association of Sugar Technologists, in Mandeville. Research institutions include the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, in Kingston, and the Sugar Industry Research Institute, in Mandeville. The Scientific Research Council, located in Kingston and founded in 1960, coordinates research efforts in Jamaica. The University of the West Indies, with a campus in Mona, has faculties of medical sciences and natural sciences. An agricultural college is located in Portland. The College of Arts, Science and Technology, founded in 1958, is located in Kingston, and the College of Agriculture, founded in 1982, is located in Portland. In 1986, the Scientific Research Council had 18 scientists and engineers and 15 technicians engaged in research and development (R&D). In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 64% of college and university enrollments. In 2002, high technology exports were valued at $1 million. For that same year, R&D spending totaled $7.843 million, or 0.08% of GDP.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Imports normally account for about one third of the goods distributed and importing is in the hands of a relatively small number of firms. Competition is limited by the acquisition of import licenses and profit margins are high. Many importers function as wholesalers and also have retail outlets. Locally produced consumer goods often are marketed through the same firms.

Retail outlets range from supermarkets and department stores, in the urban areas, to small general stores and itinerant merchants, in the rural regions. Purchases tend to be made in small quantities. Newspapers, radio, and television are the main advertising media.

Shops open weekdays between 8 and 9 am; large stores generally close at 4:30 or 5 pm, with an early closing one day a week. Food stores, drugstores, and family enterprises, however, often remain open until 9 pm or later. Most commercial establishments also have Saturday hours. They are generally closed on Sundays. Banks are normally open on weekdays from 9 am to 2 pm.

FOREIGN TRADE

Since the discovery of bauxite deposits in the 1950s, Jamaica has become increasingly active in international trade and has gradually loosened its ties to the Commonwealth and increased commercial contacts with North America and the Caribbean. On the supply side, the Jamaican government is committed to attracting foreign investment; and on the demand side, Jamaica is a consumer

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 1,104.1 3,543.1 -2,439.0
United States 313.0 1,525.6 -1,212.6
Canada 156.9 112.6 44.3
Netherlands 135.2 24.1 111.1
United Kingdom 122.5 129.7 -7.2
Norway 93.3 93.3
China 43.7 60.4 -16.7
France-Monaco 41.8 22.2 19.6
Japan 28.6 214.9 -186.3
Ghana 24.0 24.0
Sweden 21.9 78.6 -56.7
() data not available or not significant.

oriented country that produces very little of its major necessities. The United States supplies at least 50% of Jamaica's food needs, but two-thirds of all tourists come from the United States. Jamaica has never recorded a visible trade surplus. In February 1991, the government implemented the CARICOM Common External Tariff (CET), creating the first customs union in the Caribbean.

This island's most lucrative exports are alumina and bauxite (56%), while the garment industry comes second (11%). Sugar (6.4%), rum (4.4%), and fruits (bananas) and nuts (2.5%) are the important agricultural products.

In 2004, exports reached $1.7 billion (FOBFree on Board), while imports grew to $3.6 billion (FOB). The bulk of exports went to the United States (17.4%), Canada (14.8%), France (13%), China (10.5%), the United Kingdom (8.7%), the Netherlands (7.5%), Norway (6%), and Germany (5.9%). Imports included food and other consumer goods, industrial supplies, fuel, parts and accessories of capital goods, machinery and transport equipment, and construction materials, and mainly came from the United States (38.7%), Trinidad and Tobago (13.2%), France (5.6%), and Japan (4.7%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Balance-of-payments deficits in the 1960s and early 1970s were directly related to the growth of the Jamaican economy and to increased imports of capital goods and raw materials. Later in the 1970s, however, the continued deficits were symptomatic of a weakened economy, declining exports, and the flight of capital. The payments picture brightened somewhat in the first half of the 1980s (despite rising debt payments and the downturn of bauxite exports), as income from tourism and remittances from Jamaicans abroad rose, while substantial international assistance enabled Jamaica to meet its payments obligations. In the 1990s, a favorable balance of payments was aided by increased tourism inflows, reduced capital outflows, significant improvement in the

Current Account -761.4
   Balance on goods -1,943.8
     Imports -3,329.4
     Exports 1,385.6
   Balance on services 564.7
   Balance on income -571.4
   Current transfers 1,189.1
Capital Account 0.1
Financial Account 312.1
   Direct investment abroad -116.3
   Direct investment in Jamaica 720.7
   Portfolio investment assets -1,105.2
   Portfolio investment liabilities 819.6
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -308.8
   Other investment liabilities 302.1
Net Errors and Omissions 14.1
Reserves and Related Items 435.1
() data not available or not significant.

agricultural sector, stability in the foreign exchange rate, and the improved economic strength of the United States, Jamaica's major trading partner. The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States negatively impacted Jamaica's balance of payments situation, which had improved in 2000.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Jamaica's exports was $1.6 billion while imports totaled $3.1 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $1.5 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Jamaica had exports of goods totaling $1.45 billion and imports totaling $3.07 billion. The services credit totaled $1.9 billion and debit $1.52 billion.

Exports of goods and services reached $1.6 billion in 2004, up from $1.4 billion in 2003. Imports grew from $3.3 billion in 2003 to $3.5 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently negative in both years, hovering at around -$1.9 billion. The current account balance was also negative, slightly improving from -$773 million in 2003, to -$509 million in 2004. Foreign exchange reserves (excluding gold) grew to $1.8 billion in 2004, covering more than six months of imports.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

The Bank of Jamaica, the central bank, acts as the government's banker and is authorized to act as agent for the government in the management of the public debt. It also issues and redeems currency, administers Jamaica's external reserves, oversees private banks, and influences the volume and conditions of the supply of credit. Financial institutions in Jamaica in 2002 included 6 commercial banks, 11 merchant banks, 2 development banks, and 59 credit unions. The financial sector accounted for 15% of GDP in 2002. Total bank assets amounted to $5.14 billion in 2001. Commercial banks include the Bank of Nova Scotia, Citibank, Union Bank, CIBC, National Commerce Bank, and Trafalgar Commercial Bank.

Various measures were introduced to restructure the liquidity profile of the banking system. In July 1992, in an attempt to reduce domestic credit and curb inflation, the minimum liquid assets ratio of the commercial banks was raised to 50% (it had been 20% in April 1991). The measure appeared to have been successful and the inflation rate fell until May 1993. However, the first half of 1994 saw a rise in the inflation rate, reflecting the government's price liberalization policies. This was contained by sustained tight monetary and fiscal policy. Reduced interest rates stimulated rapid growth in domestic credit, however, and in 1995 money supply grew by 38.5%.

Economic instability which emerged during 199596 brought into focus the relationship between the central bank and the government, and in particular, the destabilizing impact of the government's drawdown of its deposits. The government has since recommended that the central bank be given greater autonomy, and transferred its operational revenue and expenditure accounts from the central bank to commercial banks. It also froze the aggregate balance in the Bank of Jamaica at the September 1995 level in an attempt to minimize any expansionist effect of fiscal operations on money supply.

The lack of confidence in the financial sector was underlined in October 1996 when further rumors of a liquidity crisis lead to a run on Jamaica's fourth-largest financial institution, the Citizen's Bank. Despite the bank's relatively healthy assets position, hundreds of depositors were prompted to withdraw their assets over a three-day period. Following the announcement of record losses of $24.6 million at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) group in the nine months prior to June 1996, it was confirmed that the National Security Bank (NSB) and Mutual Security Bank (MSB), both subsidiaries of the NCG group, were to merge their operations, thus creating the island's largest commercial bank. The extent of the drain upon public finances caused by the precarious state of the financial sector became clear in mid-February 1997, when it was reported that net advances by the Bank of Jamaica to financial institutions had risen by $17.4 million in January alone. Several financial institutions had become dependent upon the government to solve their liquidity problems.

In January 1997, the government established the Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC) to rescue the ailing financial sector. By 1998, FINSAC had already spent $2.3 billion on the restructuring project, with annual debt financing amounting to approximately $170 million. In order to pay for its operations, FINSAC sold shares in the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and merged Citizens, Eagle, and Island Victoria commercial banks into one entity called Union Bank. Laws were instituted to improve the solvency of Jamaican banks. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $1.2 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $3.5 billion.

In September 1968 the Jamaican Stock Exchange was incorporated. Jamaica's security market merged with the stock markets in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago in 1989. As of 2004, a total of 38 companies were listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), which had a market capitalization in the year of $14.415 billion. In 2004, the JSE rose 66.7% from the previous year to 112,655.5.

INSURANCE

Insurance companies in Jamaica are regulated by law through the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance of the Ministry of Finance. Major life insurance companies operating in Jamaica in 2003 were Life of Jamaica, Scotia Life, and Blue Cross. General insurance companies included United General, NEM, Dyoll, and the Insurance Co. of the West Indies. In 2003, direct insurance premiums written totaled us$410 million. In Jamaica, third-party auto liability and workers' compensation are compulsory.

PUBLIC FINANCE

Debt servicing accounts for about 62% of the fiscal budget, which limits economic expansion. Privatization of public entities has been one of the strategies used by the government to reduce the budget deficit. In 2001, the government raised $3.6 billion in new sovereign debt in both local and international financial markets, and used it to meet its US dollar debt obligations, quell rampant liquidity in order to maintain the exchange rate, and partially fund that current year's budget deficit.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Jamaica's central government took in revenues of approximately us$3.2 billion and had expenditures of us$3.3 billion. Revenues

Revenue and Grants 131,088 100.0%
  Tax revenue
  Social contributions
  Grants
  Other revenue
Expenditures 185,422 98.6%
  General public services 107,590 58.0%
  Defense 3,244 1.7%
  Public order and safety 13,776 7.4%
  Economic affairs 8,857 4.8%
  Environmental protection 368 0.2%
  Housing and community amenities 3,460 1.9%
  Health 11,763 6.3%
  Recreational, culture, and religion
  Education 29,184 15.7%
  Social protection 4,589 2.5%
() data not available or not significant.

minus expenditures totaled approximately -us$105 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 127.5% of GDP. Total external debt was us$6.792 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, budgetary central government revenues in millions of Jamaican dollars were 131,088 and expenditures were 185,422. The value of revenues in millions of US dollars was $2,270 and expenditures $3,160, based on a market exchange rate for 2003 of 57.741 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 58.0%; defense, 1.7%; public order and safety, 7.4%; economic affairs, 4.8%; environmental protection, 0.2%; housing and community amenities, 1.9%; health, 6.3%; education, 15.7%; and social protection, 2.5%.

TAXATION

In 2005, there was a single individual income tax rate of 25% on all income over $120,432 (up from $50,544 in 1996). Income tax deductions include allowances for social security, retirement fund contributions, and charitable contributions. Personal allowances and deductions for medical expenses, insurance premiums, and mortgage interest are no longer applicable.

There is a single 33.33% tax on all companies except building societies which pay 30%. Life insurance companies pay a 15% rate on investment income and a 3% rate on their premium income. Special depreciation allowances, income tax incentives, and other benefits are still available. Other direct taxes include a bauxite production levy, transfer taxes, stamp duties, travel tax, duties on estates, and motor vehicle licenses. Tax reductions and exemptions are offered as incentives to hotel and resort developers, and to export manufacturers. Jamaica does not levy a tax on capital gains.

The main indirect tax is Jamaica's General Consumption Tax (GCT) with a standard rate of 16.5% on most goods and services. A higher rate of 20% applies to telephone calls. Zero-rated or exempt items include foodstuffs, raw materials, capital goods, books, and school uniforms. The government is seeking to narrow the scope of goods that are zero-rated or exempt from the GCT. Other indirect taxes include customs on betting, gambling and lotteries, and excise duties.

The main source of local revenue is a property tax based on the unimproved value of the land.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

The importance of customs duties as a major source of government income is declining and most imports are duty-free. The remaining duties on imports from non-CARICOM nations range from 020% under the CARICOM common external tariff (CET). In addition, a stamp duty is levied on motor vehicles, alcohol, and tobacco, in addition to a special consumption tax. Most imported items are subject to the 16.5% GCT and is based upon cost, insurance, freight (CIF) plus duty. Special rates or exemptions on dutiable imports apply to goods from members of CARICOM and signatories of the Lomé Convention.

Licenses are required for imports of certain durable and nondurable consumer goods. License applications are reviewed by the Trade Board. Most capital goods and raw materials do not require import licenses. Jamaica has three free trade zones: the Kingston Export Free Zone, the Montego Bay Export Free Zone, and Garmex.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Foreign investment in Jamaica has accounted for a large part of the capital formation of the post-1945 period. Until the early 1960s, new US and Canadian capital was invested heavily in the bauxite industry. Capital investment in bauxite and aluminum then tapered off, but investment increased in other industries as a result of a vigorous campaign by the government. Starting in 1972, however, capital investments in the private sector fell substantially. After 1980, the JLP government of Prime Minister Seaga had some success attracting foreign capital, but then the economic down-turn of the mid-1980s again produced a decline in foreign investment. By early 1987, when 120 US companies operated in Jamaica, cumulative US investment, excluding the bauxite industry, was over $1 billion. There are no statuary restrictions on sectors open to foreign investment, but in practice most service industries are reserved for Jamaicans.

Increased investment, particularly in the private sector, has been identified by the government as an essential factor in the strategy for reviving and sustaining the economy. Government has therefore continued and initiated actions that are intended to encourage investment in a number of areas such as those that generate foreign exchange, utilize domestic raw materials, and generate employment. The government offers a wide range of incentives, including tax holidays up to a maximum of 10 years and duty-free concessions on raw materials and capital goods for approved incentive periods. There are in existence several acts that provide major benefits for foreign investors, such as the Industrial Incentives Act, the Export Industries Encouragement Act, and the Hotel Incentives Act. Additionally, since the liberalization of exchange controls in September 1991, investors are free to repatriate without prior approval from the Bank of Jamaica.

The United States continues to play a leading role in foreign investment. In late 1996, a US firm acquired control of Jamaica's only flour manufacturer, Jamaica Flour Mills, for $35 million. In 1997, the Financial Sector Adjustment Company privatized a large number of companies in order to support the country's financial sector.

Annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Jamaica in 1999 reached $523 million, more than double the inflow in 1997 of $203 million, but then fell to $471 million in 2000. In 2001, FDI inflow rose to $722 million. In the period 1998 to 2000, Jamaica's share of world FDI inflows was almost twice its share of world GDP (170%).

Major sources of foreign investment have been, in order, the United States, Colombia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. About half of foreign investment has gone into agriculture, 20% into films, 8% into manufacturing, 7% into the garments and textiles industry, and 5% each into tourism and information processing.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Since assuming office in 1992, Prime Minister Patterson has consolidated the market-oriented reforms initiated by his predecessor, Michael Manley, to make Jamaica a regional leader in economic reform. Patterson has eliminated most price controls, streamlined tax schedules, and privatized government enterprises. Tight monetary and fiscal policies under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program have helped slow inflation and stabilize the exchange rate, but, as a result, economic growth has slowed and unemployment remains high. Jamaica's medium-term prospects depend largely on its ability to continue to attract foreign capital and limit speculation against the Jamaican dollar.

Inevitably, the contraction of economic output impacted adversely on the employment situation. The reduced performance of the traditionally labor-intensive apparel industry contributed significantly to rising unemployment as some 7,000 jobs, amounting to 25% of the employment in the industry, were lost. Along with job losses in the financial sector and other sectors, 1996 witnessed overall losses of employment amounting to 10% of the labor force and rising unemployment above the 20% mark. The unemployment rate was 16% in 2000. Problems in the financial sector continued in the new millennium, disturbing economic development.

Inflation fell from 25% in 1995 to 7% in 2001. Low levels of investment have hampered economic development. The government offers an extensive array of incentives to investors, however, including tax holidays and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for certain enterprises. The government aims to encourage economic growth by stimulating growth in tourism, pursuing increased privatization, restructuring the financial sector, and lowering interest rates. The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and heavy floods that November and in May 2002 hurt the tourist industry in 200203. Government expenditures for tourist promotion, flood relief, and wages resulted in a less-than-expected lowering of the public debt. In 2002, the public debt stood at 129% of GDP. The government's monetary policy was tight in 2002, to keep inflation in single digits. The government put forth efforts to fight crime, improve infrastructure, and strengthen the competitiveness of the economy.

The Jamaican economy has failed to recover as quickly as expected from the floods produced by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. In addition, poor weather conditions in 2005 have negatively impacted the agriculture sector and seriously decreased tourist numbers. At the same time, the mining industry has suffered capacity constraints. The economy is expected to recover in 2006 however, due to investments in the tourist industry and in mining. Remittances from abroad will encourage private consumption, which will most likely lead to an increase in imports.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

A social insurance system was first put in place in 1958 for sugar workers, and has been most recently updated in 2003 covering all employed and self-employed workers. Benefits are available for old age and disability, healthcare and maternity, workers' compensation, widows' and widowers' pensions, and grants. The program is financed by contributions from employers and employees. The government contributes as an employer. Maternity benefits amount to the minimum weekly wage for eight weeks. Workers' medical benefits include all necessary medical, surgical and rehabilitative treatment.

Jamaican women are guaranteed full equality under the constitution and the Employment Act, but cultural traditions, economic discrimination, and workplace sexual harassment prevent them from achieving it. Violence against women is widespread. The domestic violence law provides for restraining orders and other measures to combat spousal abuses. The government is committed to improving children's welfare. However, children are often forced to work due to economic hardship.

While Jamaica's human rights record has improved in recent years, serious abuses continue to occur. A major problem is lack of police accountability for human rights violations. Prison conditions are poor, but are open to inspection by international human rights organizations. Crime is a serious social problem.

HEALTH

The central government has traditionally provided most medical services in Jamaica through the Ministry of Health. The National Health Services Act of 1997 authorized the decentralization of the health care system through the creation of regional health authorities and the restructuring of the national Ministry of Health. In 1996, the island had 364 government-operated primary health centers offering five levels of service. There are 23 public and nine small private hospitals. There were an estimated 85 physicians, 165 nurses, and 8 dentists per 100,000 people in 2004. Health care expenditure was estimated at 5.5% of GDP.

The government conducts a broad public health program, involving epidemic control, health education, industrial health protection, and campaigns against tuberculosis, venereal diseases, yaws, and malaria. These programs have brought about a significant decrease in the death rate. As of 2002 the death rate was estimated at 5.5 per 1,000 people. The infant mortality rate was 16.33 per 1,000 live births in 2005. Tuberculosis, hookworm, and venereal diseases remain the most prevalent diseases. Approximately 7% of Jamaica's children under five years old were considered malnourished and an estimated 11% of births were low birth weight. In 2000, 71% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 84% had adequate sanitation. Life expectancy averaged 73.33 years in 2005. The maternal mortality rate was 120 per 100,000 live births in 1998.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 1.20 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 22,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 900 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

Heterosexual transmission predominates.

HOUSING

Housing is one of the government's most pressing problems. While middle- and upper-income housing is comparable to that in neighboring areas of North America, facilities for low-income groups are poor by any standard. The problem has been aggravated by constant migration from the rural areas to the cities, causing the growth of urban slums. Most new urban housing is built of cinder block and steel on the peripheries of the cities. Rural housing is primarily built of wood and roofed with zinc sheeting. Squatter settlements surround the major cities of Jamaica. According the 2001 census figures, there were 723,343 occupied private dwellings with an average of 3.6 people per household. About 137,900 housing units were added from 19912001.

EDUCATION

Education is compulsory for six years of primary education. At the secondary level, there are two stages, one of three years and one of two. After this, students may enter a two-year program known as sixth form, which leads to completion of the Caribbean Examinations Council Secondary Education Certificate. In 2001, about 87% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 95% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 75% of age-eligible students. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 30:1 in 2003.

The University of the West Indies, founded in 1948 as the University College of the West Indies, achieved full university status in 1962 and serves all British Commonwealth Caribbean territories. There are faculties of arts, natural sciences, education, general studies, medicine, law, library studies, management studies, public administration, and social work at Jamaica's Mona campus; arts, natural sciences, social sciences, agriculture, engineering, international relations, and management studies at St. Augustine in Trinidad; and arts and natural sciences in Barbados. Higher technical education is provided at the College of Arts, Science, and Technology. Jamaica also has a school of agriculture, several teacher-training colleges and community colleges, and an automotive training school. In 2003, about 17% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program, with 10% for men and 25% for women.

The Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy Foundation, known as JAMAL (formerly the National Literacy Board), has reached more than 100,000 students since its founding in 1972. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 87.6%, with 83.8% for men and 91.4% for women. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.9% of GDP, or 9.5% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The Jamaica Library Service provides free public library programs throughout the island and assists the Ministry of Education in supplying books to primary-school libraries. The book stock of the Public Library Service totals about 2,666,000 volumes, 1,473,000 in schools and 1,193,000 in parish libraries. There are nearly 700 service points, including parish and branch libraries, book centers, and 14 bookmobiles. There are 507,000 volumes at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. The National Library in Kingston was established in 1979 and holds over 46,000 books, as well as collections of maps, newspapers, manuscripts, photographs, posters, and calendars.

The Institute of Jamaica, in Kingston, has a notable collection of artifacts and materials relating to the West Indies, as well as a museum and exhibition galleries focusing on natural history, military, and maritime studies. The National Gallery of Art, the African-Caribbean Institute, and Jamaica Memory Bank are also part of the Institute of Jamaica. There is a museum celebrating the life, music, and accomplishments of Bob Marley in Kingston, while Spanish Town houses the Jamaican's People's Museum of Craft and Technology and the Old Kings House Archaeological Museum. There is a botanical garden and zoo at Hope, on the outskirts of Kingston.

MEDIA

The Post and Telegraphs Department provides daily postal deliveries to all parts of the island and operates Jamaica's internal telegraph service. Jamaica International Telecommunications (JAMINTEL) provides five major international services: telephone, telegraph, television, telex, and leased circuits. Telephone service is provided by the privately owned Jamaica Telephone Co. All telephone exchanges are automatic. In 2003, there were an estimated 170 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 168,000 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 535 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Jamaica has two major broadcasting companies. The Radio Jamaica Limited broadcasts 24 hours a day over both AM and FM bands; it also owns an extensive wire network. Television Jamaica Limited, with similar transmitting facilities, broadcasts FM radio and television programs. Both are privately owned. As of 2001 there were 13 radio station and 3 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 795 radios and 374 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 53.9 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 228 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 24 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

As of 2002, there were four daily newspapers, all privately owned. The morning Jamaica Gleaner (circulation about 259,000 in 2002) and the evening Daily Star (circulation 49,500) are published by the Gleaner Co., which also publishes the Sunday Gleaner (est. 950,000) and the Thursday Star (60,000), an overseas weekly. There are also a number of weeklies and monthlies, and in addition, several papers are published by religious groups.

The constitution of Jamaica provides for free expression, including the rights of free speech and press, and the government is said to respect these rights in practice.

ORGANIZATIONS

The producers of the main export crops are organized into associations, and there are also organizations of small farmers. The Jamaica Agricultural Society, founded in 1895, is concerned with agricultural and rural development and works closely with the government. The cooperative movement has grown rapidly since World War II. All cooperatives must register with the government and are subject to supervision. Savings and credit groups are the most numerous, followed by marketing organizations. Consumer cooperatives have had little success. Outside the agricultural sector, the chambers of commerce have long been the most important business groups.

Societies and associations for the study and advancement of various branches of science and medicine have developed. These include the Medical Association of Jamaica and the Science Research Council. There are several other professional associations as well.

A wide variety of national youth organizations are active, including the Girl Guides Association, Jamaican Guild of Undergraduate Students, Jamaica Youth for Christ, Jamaica Environmental Youth Network, League of Young Socialists of Jamaica, National Council of YMCA's of Jamaica, Peoples National Party Youth Organization, Scout Association of Jamaica, 4-H clubs, Student Christian Movement of Jamaica, and the Workers Party of Jamaica Youth League. There are a number of sports associations and clubs throughout the country.

International organizations with active chapters include Amnesty International, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and UNITAS of Jamaica.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Jamaica is firmly established as a center for tourists, mainly from North America. Greatly expanded air facilities linking Jamaica to the United States, Canada, and Europe were mainly responsible for the increase in tourism during the 1960s. Rising fuel costs and a weak international economy, as well as intermittent political unrest, contributed to a slowdown in the growth rate of the industry in the 1970s; between 1980 and 1986, however, the number of tourists increased by 68%, and tourism has continued to grow since early 2000. Some 1,350,285 tourists visited the island of Jamaica in 2003, about 79% of whom came from North America. The 20,827 hotel rooms with 43,909 beds had a 58% occupancy rate. The average length of stay was six nights.

Major tourist areas are the resort centers of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Cricket is the national sport, and excellent golf and water-sports facilities are available. All visitors are required to have a valid passport and some countries require a visa. Citizens of the United States, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries may stay up to six months with other valid identification. All visitors must have an onward/return ticket and proof of sufficient funds for their stay.

The US Department of State estimated the 2005 daily expenses for staying in Jamaica at us$223.

FAMOUS JAMAICANS

Names associated with Jamaica's early history are those of Europeans or of little-known figures such as Cudjoe, chief of the Maroons, who led his people in guerrilla warfare against the English in the 18th century. George William Gordon (182065), hanged by the British as a traitor, was an advocate of more humane treatment for blacks. Jamaica-born Marcus Garvey (18871940), who went to the United States in 1916, achieved fame as the founder of the ill-fated United Negro Improvement Association. In the mid-20th century, Jamaicans whose names have become known abroad have been largely political and literary figures. Sir (William) Alexander Bustamante (18941977), trade unionist, political leader, and former prime minister of Jamaica, and his cousin and political adversary, Norman Washington Manley (18931969), a Rhodes scholar and noted attorney, were leading political figures. More recently, Norman Manley's son Michael (192397), prime minister during 197280, and Edward Seaga (b.US, 1930), prime minister from 198089, have dominated Jamaica's political life. P.J. Patterson (b.1935) was prime minister from 19922006. Portia Simpson-Miller (b.1945) succeeded him in March 2006. The novelists Roger Mais (190555), Vic Reid (191387), and John Hearne (192694) built reputations in England, and the poet Claude McKay (18901948) played an important role in the black literary renaissance in the United States. Performer and composer Robert Nesta ("Bob") Marley (194581) became internationally famous and was instrumental in popularizing reggae music outside Jamaica.

DEPENDENCIES

Jamaica has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bakan, Abigail B. Ideology and Class Conflict in Jamaica: The Politics of Rebellion. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990.

Barrow, Christine. Family in the Caribbean: Themes and Perspectives. Kingston, Jamaica: I. Randle, 1996.

Bryan, Patrick E. The Jamaican People, 18801902: Race, Class and Social Control. London: Macmillan Caribbean, 1991.

Butler, Kathleen Mary. The Economics of Emancipation: Jamaica and Barbados, 1823-1843. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Calvert, Peter. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Latin America. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.

Keith, Nelson W. The Social Origins of Democratic Socialism in Jamaica. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

LaFont, Suzanne. The Emergency of an Afro-Caribbean Legal Tradition: Gender Relations and Family Courts in Kingston, Jamaica. San Francisco: Austin Winfield, 1996.

Monteith, Kathleen E. A. and Glen Richards (eds.). Jamaica in Slavery and Freedom: History, Heritage and Culture. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2002.

Mordecai, Martin. Culture and Customs of Jamaica. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Paton, Diana. No Bond but the Law: Punishment, Race, and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 17801870. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004.

The Road to Sustained Growth in Jamaica. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2004.

Summers, Randal W., and Allan M. Hoffman (ed.). Domestic Violence: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

views updated

JAMAICA

Major Cities:
Kingston, Mandeville, Montego Bay, Port Antonio

Other Cities:
Bath, Black River, Falmouth, Morant Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios, Savanna-La-Mar, Spanish Town

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2000 for Jamaica. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

Travelers have long regarded Jamaica as one of the most alluring of the Caribbean islands. Its beaches, mountains, and carnal red sunsets regularly appear in the world's tourist brochures, and, unlike other nearby islands, it democratically caters to all comers: You can choose a private villa with your own private beach; laugh your vacation away at a party-hearty resort; or throw yourself into the thick of the island's life.

Jamaica has a vivid and painful history, marred since European settlement by an undercurrent of violence and tyranny. Christopher Columbus first landed on the island in 1494, when there were perhaps 100,000 peaceful Arawak Amerindians who had settled Jamaica around 700 AD. Spanish settlers arrived from 1510, raising cattle and pigs, and introducing two things that would profoundly shape the island's future: sugar and slaves. By the end of the 16th century the Arawak population had been entirely wiped out.

In 1654 an ill-equipped and badly organized English contingent sailed to the Caribbean. After failing to take Hispaniola (present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), the "wicked army of common cheats, thieves and lewd persons" turned to weakly defended Jamaica. Despite the ongoing efforts of Spanish loyalists and guerilla-style campaigns of freed Spanish slaves (cimarrones, "wild ones"-or Maroons), England took control of the island.

Investment and further settlement hastened as profits began to accrue from cocoa, coffee, and sugarcane production. Slave rebellions did not make life any easier for the English as escaped slaves joined with descendants of the Maroons, engaging in extended ambush-style campaigns, and eventually forcing the English to grant them autonomy in 1739. New slaves kept arriving, however, most of them put to work on sugar plantations. The Jamaican parliament finally abolished slavery on August 1, 1834.

Adult suffrage for all Jamaicans was introduced in 1944, and virtual autonomy from Britain was granted in 1947.

Post-independence politics have been dominated by the legacy of two cousins: Alexander Bustamante, who formed the first trade union in the Caribbean just before WWII and later formed the Jamaican Labor Party (JLP), and Norman Manley, whose People's National Party (PNP) was the first political party on the island when it was convened in 1938. Manley's son Michael led the PNP towards democratic socialism in the mid-1970s.

Jamaicans may have a quick wit and a ready smile, but this is not the happy-go-lucky island of Bacardi ads. Rastafarianism may mean easy skankin' to some, but its confused expression of love, hope, anger, and social discontent encapsulates modern Jamaica-a country that is struggling to escape dependency and debt.

MAJOR CITY

Kingston

The destruction of Port Royal by an earthquake in 1692 led to the settlement of Kingston to the north across the harbor. So rapid was growth that by 1703 it was declared by law the chief seat of trade and head port on the island. In 1872, it became the island's capital. After 1911, internal migration began to focus on Kingston, which led to the continuing trend toward movement from the countryside to principal urban areas. Kingston is now the largest English-speaking city in the Americas south of Miami.

Kingston is spread along the low coastal area surrounded by picturesque mountains. It is a bustling, sprawling city of striking contrasts. Typical of large cities, Kingston has areas of modern homes set in lovely gardens as well as sections of slums. The government is attempting to replace the "tin shanties" of the slums with low-cost housing developments.

The better suburban residential areas are close to several fairly modern shopping areas, which include supermarkets, drug stores, dry cleaners, small specialty shops, movie theaters, and boutiques.

The modern-day Port Royal, beyond the airport and across the harbor from Kingston, is considered one of the more valuable archeological sites in the Western Hemisphere. It was known as one of the richest and most wicked cities in the world before the 1692 earthquake, which plunged much of this buccaneer capital into the sea. Several old buildings are still standing, and there is an excellent museum. Restoration and an underwater archeological project are under way.

Kingston itself has several interesting old houses as well as galleries, museums, and other places to visit. The city features panoramic views of the mountains or the sea from nearly any point and offers many opportunities for an enjoyable tour.

Utilities

Electric service in Kingston is fair, with sporadic power outages. AC current is 110v, 50 cycles (the U.S. standard is 110v, 60 cycles). Many U.S.-made appliances function satisfactorily on 50-cycle current, but electric clocks, tape recorders, and some other equipment may not. Frequent voltage fluctuations sometimes damage electrical equipment.

Food

Supermarkets and small specialty shops in Kingston have a wide variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, and canned goods. The better quality shops and markets inspect their meat, but no government inspection is required. Prices are somewhat lower than those in the U.S. for all cuts of standard quality meats. Some American-type cuts of beef and pork are available. Fresh and frozen fish, lobster, and shrimp are available seasonally.

Vegetables range from tropical to standard fare and are available year round. Choices include white Irish potatoes (no baking), sweet potatoes, yams, beets, green beans, leaf lettuce, eggplant, green peppers, chilis, avocados, onions, scallions, celery, carrots, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, varieties of pumpkin (squash), and several local varieties of vegetables. Quality is often below U.S. standards, and prices are moderately high, especially for potatoes and onions.

Fruits are also seasonal, with oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, limes, papaya, watermelon, mango, guava, pineapple, bananas, plantains, and other good local fruits available. Prices range from reasonable to high, although quality is good. All fruits and vegetables should be washed well before eating.

Clothing

Clothing suitable for men and women in southern Florida, southern California, and Hawaii is appropriate for Kingston. Some necessary items for men, women, and children are expensive but can be found here. A limited selection of lightweight fabrics is available. A few hard-to-find dressmakers can make dresses. Ready-made clothing is sold, and prices are often high. Careful shopping can produce good results.

Bring a good supply of shoes, especially for women and children. These are hard to find in the right size, and quality is below U.S. standards. Imported shoes are available but are expensive. For possible trips to cooler climates or the U.S., include some warm clothing. Also bring blue jeans, sports clothes, slacks, and a pullover if you like mountain holidays.

American-style sportswear is worn here. Long patio dresses are worn, but short sundresses are popular for informal evening wear.

Drip-dry fabrics are ideal but are expensive here. Due to the climate and need for frequent laundering, elastic deteriorates rapidly.

For the infrequent cool evenings, sweaters or light evening wraps, depending on the function attended, will suffice. Men need only a lightweight tropical suit, even for the coolest Kingston weather.

Children wear typical play clothing, particularly shorts and T-shirts, tennis shoes, and sandals.

Supplies and Services

Bring your favorite cosmetics and toiletries, as well as prescription medications.

The quality of dry cleaning is fair. Barber shops are generally adequate and less expensive than those in the U.S. Beauty shops are nearly up to U.S. standards and charge U.S. prices.

Domestic Help

"Helper," not "maid," is the term used by Jamaicans and foreigners alike for domestic help on the island. Most Jamaican helpers are female. Most types of household help are available, but reliable, well-trained workers, especially cooks and gardeners, may be difficult to find.

The Jamaican legal minimum wage is low, and most U.S. travelers pay more generous salaries. The standard pay for a dayworker, for instance, ranges from J$200 to J$300 a day, with average weekly salaries (40-hour maximum work-week) of J$1,000 to J$1,500.

Various arrangements are made for helpers food, bus fare, and lodging. Helpers daily hours are not rigidly set, and various schedules can be arranged to suit your family needs. Gardeners are generally competent, but are hard on American lawn-mowers and tools.

If uniforms are desired, employers must furnish them. Once a year each helper receives 2 weeks' vacation with pay. In some cases, a helper is given quarters and lives in.

Helpers and employers must make modest weekly payments to the National Insurance Scheme, the Jamaican social security system. Payments for hospitalization or unemployment are not required, though often made by the employer. If a helper who has been employed at least 4 weeks is discharged without cause, 2 weeks severance pay is required.

Although local custom is not strongly established on this point, the employer should pay the costs of some medical services for a helper in case of sickness or injury. Public hospitals provide a wide range of free services, although receiving them can be time-consuming.

Religious Activities

Most major faiths are found in Jamaica. A partial list of denominations in Kingston includes Anglican, Baptist, Friends (Quaker), Jewish, Methodist, Mormon (Latter-day Saints), Presbyterian/Congregational, Roman Catholic, and Seventh-day Adventist. All services are in English.

Education

In the Jamaican school system, students take two important examinations, the Common Entrance and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). In 6th grade, at the end of January, every Jamaican student takes the Common Entrance Exam to enter high school. Doing well means acceptance in one of the nation's better high schools; doing poorly means the child cannot attend high school except as a private placement. In 1996, more than 55,000 Jamaican students sat the exam to earn one of fewer than 20,000 places. During the latter terms of 5th grade and the first term of 6th grade, students attend extra classes at the schools to prepare for the Common Entrance Exam. In its favor, the exam tests student abilities in math mechanics, adding, multiplication, etc., math reasoning and problem solving, spelling, English grammar, parts of speech, and reading comprehension. Students learn using rote memorization methods; yet they leave the Jamaican schools with a thorough grounding in the basics of math and English.

At senior level, grades 7-11, the Jamaican curriculum prepares students for the Caribbean Examination Council Exam. If students pass this exam, they go on to "A" level courses in 12th and 13th grades, and after that, to university. No Jamaican school will admit a student to the 12th grade unless the student passes the CXC.

The Jamaican high school curriculum treats science and math courses differently from the U.S. A Jamaican student studies a science course such as chemistry, biology, physics, etc., throughout 3 years and earns course credits only at the end of the third year. The Jamaican math curriculum incorporates general math, algebra, geometry, etc., into one mathematics course, whereas, under a U.S. curriculum, these are individual courses taught in separate years. In both math and science, it is difficult for a student to carry a useful transcript crediting the student with having completed algebra, geometry, the sciences, etc., to the U.S. or another school. Finally, as the high school begins at 7th grade, foreign language instruction also starts at that grade level.

Under the Jamaican education system, a person may teach in a classroom with 3 years' university certification. The student to teacher ratio is higher in Jamaican schools than in U.S. schools. Values and morals, such as integrity, responsibility, self-control, and self-reliance, are part of the Jamaican school philosophy. The students address their teachers as "Sir" or "Miss." Schools in Jamaica may not have the modern and well-equipped facilities of American schools, for example, full-scale libraries, computer and scientific laboratories, physical education gymnasiums, and sports field; nevertheless, facilities are more than adequate and children receive an education equal to U.S. standards.

In Jamaica, children enter kindergarten at age 4; thus for Americans attending Jamaican schools, the age and grade do not correspond with the U.S. system and American children may frequently be a year older than classmates. The Jamaican schools tend to place incoming children based on age, so parents should work with the school in placing their child. Some students do very well, in effect, "skipping a grade," but parents must consider whether the U.S. school system will readmit the child at the advanced grade or return the child back to a grade more suitable for the child's age, maturity, and intellectual and social development.

American International School of Kingston: AISK was founded in 1994 to meet the growing demands for a school that would offer quality education that more closely follows the U.S. curriculum and style of education. It is applying for accreditation from the Southern States Association. Class size is small (no more than 15 students per class), allowing for more individualized attention.

The school year runs from early September through to late June or very early July and is divided into three terms, the Christmas, Easter, and summer terms. The Jamaican education system separates into preparatory schools, pre-kindergarten to grade 6, and high schools, grades 7 to 13. AISK follows a traditional American grade division: an elementary program for grades pre-kindergarten through 6, a middle school for grades 7 and 8, and a high school from grades 9 to 12.

Since it does not offer a program to prepare students for the two major Jamaican exams, Common Entrance and Caribbean Examination Council, AISK is a real alternative for children from the U.S. and other diplomatic missions, American and international business families, and Jamaican families who do not need their children to sit the Common Entrance Exam because their children will attend high school abroad.

For grades 9-12, the school is fully accredited with the University of Nebraska and uses the university's directed home study program under the supervision of two high school teachers. Facilities include a library configuration that includes separate libraries for the lower grades (pre-kindergarten through 6) and upper grades (7-12), totaling over 5,000 volumes. Two computer labs with CD-ROM and access to the Internet are available to the students at AISK.

Because of the small class size, there is an emphasis on hands-on learning, and students may learn according to their own needs. The curriculum for the early grades includes Spanish, French, and art. The school emphasizes the development of the individual student. The goal of the school, at all levels, is to help students achieve their highest potential.

The high school at present does not provide facilities found in many U.S. schools. The home study system is quite different from a normal high school program, and while students lose out on a "normal high school social scene," they gain in their ability to work independently. Two students graduated in 1995 from 12th grade, and they were both accepted into Canadian universities. Students attending AISK's high school program will have no problem entering a U.S. high school when they leave Jamaica.

Hillel Academy: Hillel Academy, founded in 1969 as the Jewish community's contribution to education in Kingston, is nondenominational and religious instruction is optional. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the CEE, CXC, and SAT examinations, as many Jamaican students attend university in the U.S. Hillel is in the process of applying for accreditation from the Southern States Association. Class size is large (28-30) per class, and this can be a problem for some children who require more individualized attention.

The highly regarded preparatory school is nursery, called reception, to grade 6, and the senior school is grades 7-13. The 1995-96 enrollment was 662 students.

The prep school offers a curriculum that is closely linked to that of U.S. schools. Many of the textbooks used are from the U.S., particularly in math and science. Language arts is based on a Caribbean curriculum and uses Caribbean textbooks; for example, within the Caribbean curriculum the word "harbor" is spelled with a "u," harbour. Students in the 5th grade begin to prepare for the Common Entrance Exam, given in January of 6th grade. The prep school offers a library, computer lab, art and music programs, French and Spanish languages, and after-school activities such as soccer, net-ball, tennis, martial arts, and ballet.

Hillel, which is building a swimming pool in time for the 1996 summer term, will offer swimming instruction as part of the physical education classes and swimming as an intramural sports program.

Although the senior school has experienced some problems in the past with curriculum and discipline, the school has installed a new principal in the high school, and the reports are that firm discipline and school structure are making changes in the school. All students are required to take French and Spanish the first 3 years of senior school.

Hillel is on an 8-1/2-acre campus at the foot of the mountains. Blue uniforms are required but may be bought from a local manufacturer. Black shoes are required for both boys and girls. Boys wear dark socks and girls wear navy socks. Bring both shoes and socks to post as well as crew socks and white tennis shoes, which are needed for physical education. White shorts for phys. ed. can be bought locally, and the phys. ed. T-shirt will be sold by the school in the appropriate "house color" for your child.

Hillel Academy
Dr. Hyacinth Hall (Director)
51 Upper Markway
Kingston 8, Jamaica
Tel: (809) 925-1980

Special Educational Opportunities

The University of the West Indies has its largest campus in Kingston. It is a modern institution offering liberal arts, natural sciences, and medical training. Entrance requirements are at the level of 1 year of college in the U.S. It is possible to enroll in selected classes but difficult to enroll for a degree program.

The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts includes the Schools of Dance, Drama, Art, and Music. Each offers programs for both adults and children.

Opportunities for learning languages such as French, German, and Spanish are available at the Alliance Française, the Jamaica-German Society, and the Institute of Bolivar y Bello. Private tutors are also readily available.

A number of facilities exist in Kingston for educating the handicapped, although equipment and staff are limited. These schools have limited space, and each should be explored for specific needs. Day programs are offered by the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, the Salvation Army School for the Blind, and the Mona Rehabilitation Center for the physically handicapped. Carberry Court Special School has day and boarding programs for the severely mentally handicapped. None of these programs meets U.S. standards.

Mico Care Center offers a 9-week remedial program for those with multiple handicaps. The Jamaica Association for Children with Learning Disabilities is a resource facility for assisting children while in their regular school program.

Sports

Jamaicans are sports conscious. Chief sports are soccer, cricket, golf, tennis, swimming, sailing, and horseback riding. Smaller groups are active in squash, rugby, scuba diving, snorkeling, basketball, and softball. Local sports groups and clubs accept foreign nationals.

There is a Saturday baseball league for students that begins in the fall. It is held on the campuses of local schools. Coaches and assistants are always welcome.

Although scuba gear is available for rental, it can be purchased here at higher-than-U.S. prices.

The Jamaica Sub-Aqua Club, a branch of the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC), gives scuba diving lessons for a minimal fee. BSAC certification with the club is required to participate in club-sponsored dives, arranged every weekend. PADI certification can be obtained at the Buccaneer Scuba Club in Port Royal and through some of the north coast hotels.

Jamaica has virtually no continental shelf, and the drop-off starts 200 yards from shore. Scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts enjoy exploring the many networks of caves, canyons, and crevices. The Ocho Rios area has traditionally had one of the Caribbean's finest reef communities. Over 50 species of coral include giant pillar, lettuce, antler, star and rose cup, and staghorn, as well as a wide variety of beautiful sponges and seaweed. Hurricane damage to the reefs in 1988 was extensive, particularly on the south side of the island.

Sergeant majors, tangs, and peacock flounders are among the many fish species to be seen. The island has over 800 species of shells.

There is saltwater sport fishing for jack, blue marlin (record 600 lbs.), sailfish, kingfish, dolphin, tuna, barracuda, tarpon, and snapper. Freshwater catches are snook, mullet, and others. Windsurfing is enjoyed at several north coast resorts. Water-skiing can be found in several places, especially at Blue Hole (Port Antonio) and Doctor's Cave (Montego Bay).

For joggers and walkers, the favorite spot to do laps is the Mona Reservoir. Daily running is also possible at the Police Officers' Club in Kingston. Running on the streets is not recommended because of dogs, traffic, and crime.

Constant Spring Golf Club offers a challenging 18-hole course marked by hills and narrow fairways. Entrance fees are moderate as are annual dues. Greens fees are low. Social membership entitles you to squash, badminton, tennis, and swimming. The initiation fee for social membership is moderate when compared with U.S. private club fees. The clubhouse has a newly renovated bar and lounge room and snack bar. The pool area has also been renovated. There are no playground facilities at the club.

Caymanas Golf and Country Club is 12 miles from Kingston. Its facilities include a good 18-hole golf course and some tennis courts. Membership fees approximate those of the Constant Spring Club.

The Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) has a special arrangement for members of a Jamaican golf club. For a small annual fee, you may join JGA and play any course in Jamaica for about half price. There are 11 good golf courses on the island.

Kingston's Liguanea Club has a swimming pool; lighted tennis, badminton, and squash courts; a restaurant and bar; and an exercise room. The club has several dances a year and is used for other events. A special golf membership is available at Liguanea for play at the Caymanas golf course.

The Royal Jamaica Yacht Club has facilities available for those interested in sailing, boating, and fishing. Social events are also held. The club is located near the international airport, and its large veranda affords a panoramic view of the harbor, Kingston, and the mountains. Entrance fees and annual dues are moderate. Anyone with a desire to "crew" on sailboats should join the club and meet the boat owners.

Physical fitness clubs and health spas are available. The Spartan Health Club, for instance, offers universal weight lifting equipment, aerobic exercise classes, steam room, and shower facilities. Future Fitness is a state-of-the-art facility housed in the Wyndham Hotel. The air-conditioned facility offers aerobics as well as weight training, Stairmasters, bikes, and treadmills.

Kingston does not have extensive outdoor recreational opportunities for children. The city has a small zoo and botanical gardens where children can ride bikes or roller-blade. Schools have limited playgrounds. Most families do not have sufficient space for bikes, except for tricycles. Children usually get their outdoor exercise in their own yards.

Many Jamaicans enroll their children in full-time nursery schools at the age of 2 or 3. Because of this, Americans find their own young children frequently lack playmates. Therefore, most families enroll young children in a nursery 5 days a week, at a reasonable cost.

There is little informal play between children of neighboring families in most neighborhoods in Kingston. Parents often schedule lessons or activities for the afternoons, especially for school-age children, since schools finish between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Tennis and golf lessons as well as piano, dance, and ballet lessons are popular. The Tae Kwon Do Club is enjoyed by all ages interested in self-defense.

Because summers are hot and humid, swimming is popular. Some families have homes with swimming pools, but beaches are some distance from Kingston.

Children will want to play indoors in the heat of the day when they first arrive, especially in summer.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The most popular form of outdoor activity on the island is beach-going. The north coast of Jamaica has luxury resorts, hotels, and private villas every few miles. The off-season from mid-April to mid-December offers lower rates.

Bicycle riding is not recommended in Kingston because of erratic driving habits, potholes, and overzealous dogs. There also have been incidents of bikers being attacked and bikes stolen. The University of the West Indies campus offers several miles of quiet, scenic roads for riders of all abilities and ages. There are several tour companies that offer bike excursions into the Blue Mountains. Bring a car rack, helmet, and rear-view mirror.

Another popular outdoor activity is a weekend or day trip to Newcastle, a Jamaican Defense Force training center about an hour's drive from Kingston. At 4,000 feet, the weather can be quite cool so warmer clothes are advised. Hiking is a popular outdoor activity.

Bird watching is popular, and over 250 species can be seen, including 25 found only in Jamaica. Resident species shared with neighboring countries are of special interest, since some have developed differences in behavior and appearance peculiar to Jamaica. Bring binoculars.

Garden clubs have regular outdoor shows. The Orchid Show is an annual event enjoyed by many.

Touring is popular. Kingston-area locales include historic sites at Port Royal, Castleton and Hope Botanical Gardens, the National Gallery, and the nearby Blue Mountains. Touring elsewhere is an easy day's drive from Kingston.

Negril, on the western end of the island, has 7 miles of white-sand beach and uninhibited simplicity.

To the east of Negril along the north coast is Montego Bay, tourist capital of the island with its beaches, hotels, and attractions. The area includes several excellent golf courses and Rose Hall, Jamaica's most famous great house, which echoes with the mystery of Annie Palmer (the "White Witch"), its former mistress with a murky past. Nearby is Greenwood, once owned by the Barrett family whose best-known members were poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Sarah Barrett, "Pinkie" in Sir Thomas Lawrence's portrait.

Falmouth, despite its neglect, is a charming north coast port. It is still the best-preserved late 18th-and early 19th-century town on the island. The old Georgian buildings are worth a sight-seeing tour.

The St. Ann's Bay/Discovery Bay/Runaway Bay area, where Columbus landed in 1494, is another interesting locale. Columbus Park, Columbus Statue, and the ruins of the first Spanish settlement, Seville Nueva, are here. Visitors to the area can tour the caves near Runaway Bay, which the last Spanish governor of Jamaica used as a safe haven while fleeing the British. Discovery Bay is the home of the University of the West Indies Marine Lab.

Ocho Rios is the resort area for the central north coast. The offshore reefs are among the finest in the Caribbean. Just south of Ocho Rios is Fern Gully, a rain forest where the road twists through a ravine. Also in the area is Jamaica's leading tourist site, Dunn's River Falls. Brimmer Hall Plantation (coconut and bananas) and Prospect Estate (pimento, citrus, and cattle) offer tours.

On the northeast coast near Port Maria is "Firefly," former home of Noel Coward. "Golden Eye," once home of James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, is in Oracabessa.

Port Antonio, once vacation home of actor Errol Flynn, is considered Jamaica's most beautiful port and is the sport fishing capital of the island. The beauty of the area, the beaches, rafting on the Rio Grande River, Blue Hole (the world's largest natural swimming pool), Folly (ruins) built by an American millionaire for his love, Nunsuch Caves, Somerset Falls, and Maroon "jerk" pork and chicken still attract many visitors to its hotels and villas.

The trip back to Kingston along the coastal road to the east of Port Antonio is rewarding. Beautiful coastal scenes, extensive coconut and banana plantations, the John Crow Mountains, and interesting villages provide a pleasant break from tourist areas.

A 424-mile primary highway circles the island and several highways cross the mountainous interior from north to south. The two main north-south roads used to cross the center of the island from Kingston are also interesting. A third, mostly paved road runs between Kingston and Buff Bay via Newcastle (41 miles). It is a narrow road through small villages and over Hardware Gap, the highest point on the primary road net, offering beautiful scenery. From Kingston to Annotto Bay (28 miles), a good but narrow road winds through the mountains. Along the way is Castleton Botanical Gardens, founded in 1862. These lovely gardens were severely damaged by the 1988 hurricane but have been restored. They provide a good setting for weekend picnic outings.

The other road crossing the island from Kingston begins by going west. It passes the Arawak Museum at White Marl, Caymanas race track, and Spanish Town, the old capital. Spanish Town is unique among Jamaican cities and has the longest history of settlement (1534) plus the finest collection of historic buildings and monuments on the island. It is also home of the National Archives.

From Spanish Town, the road winds its way north through the canyon of the Cobre River, across the narrow Flat Bridge, past Bog Walk, Linstead, and Ewarton (Alcan alumina plant), and over Mount Diablo (2,250 feet). At Moneague, where three small lakes periodically appear, the road branches to the left to St. Ann's Bay or to the right through Fern Gully to Ocho Rios.

Because of reasonable air fares and the proximity to Miami, Cayman Islands, and Haiti, it is easy to take trips out of Jamaica.

Entertainment

Two drive-in theaters and three walk-in theaters are frequented by Americans. Several theaters offer a selection of stage presentations: drama, reviews, variety, musicals, and pantomime. Kingston also has several active dance theater movements, the Jamaica Philharmonic, and several choral groups.

The island has several fine museums. The Institute of Jamaica has general displays. The Arawak Museum near Spanish Town and the Port Royal Museum with buildings and collections of relics of the Buccaneer heyday are all within the Kingston area.

The National Gallery of Art (down-town) and several smaller art galleries have excellent collections of Jamaican art. Regular exhibits of paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and native crafts are held in Kingston.

There are many colorful activities that are interesting to newcomers, including Jonkanoo dancing, a curious type of costumed, masked folk dancing of African origin that is seen during the Christmas season. Carnival is a popular event, celebrated the week after Easter with both adult and children's carnivals.

"Eating Jamaican" is not to be missed. Two popular dishes are ackee with saltfish and rice with peas (beans). Other specialties include curried goat, fricasseed chicken, escovitched fish, Port Royal's fried fish and bammy, jerk pork, jerk chicken, soups such as pepperpot and pumpkin, and gungo peas. Desserts such as sweet potato puddings, plantain tart, bulla, gizada, cut cakes, and grater cakes are popular.

Kingston has good restaurants offering Jamaican, British, Chinese, American, Indian, French, and Italian cuisine. Most restaurants are moderately priced compared to the U.S.

Social Activities

The American Women's Group is a social club for all American women. It has monthly programs and activity groups.

The American community, through various sponsors, celebrates our holidays-Christmas, Fourth of July, and Halloween-in traditional fashion.

Americans have opportunities to meet members of the foreign community. There are several active international groups such as the Diplomatic Association of Jamaica, the Consular Corps, International Proxy Parents and the Rotary Club.

Mandeville

Mandeville is a busy mountain city noted for beautiful gardens and a climate where both tropical and subtropical plants flourish. As a market center for the surrounding agricultural areas and a dormitory town for the two major bauxite and alumina installations, it is Jamaica's most flourishing parish capital. A U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contract post is in operation here. The city has a population of about 34,000.

Mandeville, at an elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level, maintains a year-round comfortable climate where neither air conditioners nor heaters are needed. The rainy seasons are basically in May and October.

Five shopping centers, reasonably good medical facilities, pharmacies, banks, restaurants, and a good library are available. Both radio and television reception are good. There are churches of many denominations, with varied activities sponsored within each church. Service clubs include Rotary, Jaycees, Lions, and Kiwanis.

Schools for Foreigners

Belair School, an independent coeducational, boarding institution, offers classes from kindergarten through grade 12 for children of all nationalities. Founded in 1967, it is sponsored by two bauxite companies. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Belair's curriculum is a combination of programs typically found in U.S. academic and college-preparatory schools, and has subjects leading to the Cambridge GCE ordinary-level examinations. The current enrollment (mostly Jamaican) is over 650, and the staff numbers 45. Uniforms are required.

The elementary school is situated on a two-acre campus near the center of town; the preparatory and high school are located on a separate 11-acre campus. There is a 10,600-volume library. Further information can be obtained from the school at 43 DeCarteret Road, Mandeville.

Montego Bay

Montego Bay, on Jamaica's northwest coast, is the tourist capital of the island, with its good harbor and fine beaches. The city's permanent population of close to 75,000, is swelled each year by the thousands of visitors who are drawn to the yacht races, the excellent golf courses, beach parties, garden tours, and nightlife. The world's largest reggae festival, Sunsplash, is celebrated here each August.

Montego Bay was, for many years, one of several small ports on the north coast from which sugar was shipped. Many of the old buildings in town have been restored and now house restaurants and shops. Shopping centers are found downtown and close to the resort areas.

The Cage, a jail built in 1807 for runaway slaves, is now a museum. Historic mansions have also been restored as museums, and are a glimpse into life of the colonial era. Among Montego Bay's plantation houses are Rose Hall, which echoes with the mystery of Annie Palmer, the "white witch" who is said to have dabbled with the occult; and Greenwood, once owned by the family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

There are several trips that visitors may take to see the mountains and countryside around Montego Bay. The Governor's Coach is an all-day drive which winds through the mountains, stopping to visit the villages of Ipswich Caves and Appleton, and to tour a rum factory.

Port Antonio

Port Antonio, which lies on a divided bay in the northeast corner of the island, is a lovely port city called the "greenhouse of the gods" for its lush vegetation. It is almost the length of the island (134 miles) away from Montego Bay and 65 miles from Kingston, separated by the Blue Mountains. It is the fishing capital of Jamaica; dolphin, king-fish, wahoo, and bonito, with blue marlin are at their seasonal height in September and October.

Cruise ships dock here only infrequently, but the beauty of the area attracts numerous visitors to the town's hotels and villas. Attractions include the beaches; rafting on the Rio Grande River; Blue Hole, the world's largest natural swimming pool; Mitchell's Folly, the ruins of a palatial vacation villa built just after the turn of the century; nearby Somerset Falls; and Nonsuch Cave. Old Fort George, now part of the high school's grounds, is one of the town's few historic monuments, located at the tip of the peninsula.

Long a popular jet-set haunt, Port Antonio is still the site of many private villas nestled in the lush hillsides and along shoreline coves. The late Errol Flynn once had a home on the bay, and his former wife operates two boutiques in town and runs a 2,000-acre cattle ranch nearby. Port Antonio has a current population of approximately 13,000.

OTHER CITIES

BATH is located in southeastern Jamaica, 30 miles east of Kingston. The town of approximately 2,000 is famous for its hot springs and botanical gardens, the second oldest in the hemisphere. A runaway slave discovered the springs in the late 17th century; soon after, the area became a mecca for travelers from all over the island. The waters are supposedly helpful in the treatment of skin conditions, as well as rheumatic problems. The Bath Hotel has hot springs tanks for rent, in addition to outdoor bathing supplied by a bamboo pipe.

BLACK RIVER is a community of about 2,700 situated at the mouth of the Black River in the southwest, 30 miles south of Montego Bay. This quiet fishing town, once a main logging point, comes to life at the covered market on Fridays and Saturdays. The Waterloo Guest House here was the first house in the country to have electricity. Tourists enjoy visiting the Holland Estate and sugar factory. The acclaimed "Bamboo Avenue" is on the way to the town of Lacovia, less than 10 miles upriver.

FALMOUTH , despite years of destruction and neglect, is a charming north coast port. It is still the best-preserved late 18th-and early 19th-century town on the island. All the old Georgian buildings are worth a visit. Built as the capital of Trelawny Parish at the height of the area's sugar-growing prosperity, the town has been declared a national trust and plans for its restoration are being considered. Falmouth's population is about 4,000.

MORANT BAY , capital of St. Thomas Parish 30 miles southeast of Kingston, is a small town that played a big role in Jamaican history. This was the scene of the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865, led by Deacon Paul Bogle. A protest march on the courthouse led to street battles and, eventually, mass executions. The governor was recalled in the ensuing controversy and Jamaica gained new status as a Crown Colony. The nearly 3,000 residents of Morant Bay now have rebuilt the courthouse, with a statue of Paul Bogle set prominently in the front. Near the town are the highly saline Yallahs Ponds and the remnants of a signal tower, now a national monument.

NEGRIL , on the western end of the island, has seven miles of white sand beach and uninhibited simplicity. The country's newest resort town, Negril is two hours from Montego Bay. Hotels and tourist facilities have been constructed since the area was discovered by the "flower children" of the 1960s, but Negril's natural beauty remains because no building can be taller than the highest tree. Restaurants abound, and there is a wide range of accommodations, although the town is small, with a population of less than 2,800. During Jamaica Race Week, many yachts drop anchor in Negril harbor.

OCHO RIOS , once a small fishing village, is now the resort area for the central north coast, a scenic two-and-one-half-hour drive from Montego Bay. Its offshore reefs, although severely damaged by Hurricane Allen in 1980, are among the finest in the Caribbean. Ocho Rios, which has a population of 11,000, is the site of the University of the West Indies Marine Laboratory. Just south of town is Fern Gully, a rain forest where the road twists through an old riverbed. Also in the area are the 168-year-old Brimmer Hall Plantation (coconut and bananas) and Prospect Estate (pimento, citrus, and cattle), which conduct tours. Near Ocho Rios is Dunn's River Falls, a 600-foot cascade, and perhaps Jamaica's most famous beauty spot. Surrounded by lush vegetation, the water cascades over rocks to the waiting sea. Guided tours are available for climbing the falls. Daily tours to the falls are available from all of Jamaica's main towns. Also nearby is the Shaw Park Botanical Garden and Bird Sanctuary. In the vicinity, on the north coast near Port Maria, are Firefly, the former home of Noel Coward; and Golden Eye, once the residence of Ian Fleming, creator of the fictitious James Bond.

SAVANNA-LA-MAR , 25 miles southwest of Montego Bay on the west coast, has a most unfortunate past. The city of 12,000 has been ravaged by hurricanes that at one time demolished it. A forttoday used as a large swimming holewas likewise considered a disaster. An admiral derisively noted in 1755 that it was the very worst in Jamaica. Savanna-La-Mar, whose name means "plain by the sea," is an active sugar port.

SPANISH TOWN , 20 miles west of Kingston in the island's foothills, is unique among Jamaican cities. It has the longest history of continuous settlement (1534), plus the finest collection of historic buildings and monuments on the island, among them the Anglican cathedral, built on the foundation of a Spanish chapel erected in 1524. The town also houses the National Archives. Formerly called Villa de la Vega and St. Iago de la Villa, Spanish Town became Jamaica's most important city after the destruction of Port Royal by an earthquake in 1692. It served as the capital until 1872, when the seat of government was moved to Kingston. The city, with a current population estimated at 107,000, is the commercial and processing center for the surrounding rich agricultural region.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The island of Jamaica is perhaps best noted for its lush and scenic tropical beauty: the rugged spine of blue-green mountains rising to 7,400 feet; warm, clear Caribbean waters with exciting underwater reefs; and the picture-postcard north coast with its white-sand beaches.

Jamaica is the third-largest Caribbean island and lies nearly 600 miles south of Miami, Florida. The island is 146 miles long and 51 miles across at its widest point. Except for narrow coastal plains mainly on the island's south side, the landscape is one of sharp, crested ridges, unique "cockpit" formations, and deep, twisting valleys. Almost half the island is more than 1,000 feet above sea level. Some 50 percent of the island is used for agriculture, 40 percent is woodland, and the remaining 10 percent is divided between mining and urban areas.

Jamaica has about 120 rivers. Most flow to the coast from the central mountain ranges. Those on the north side tend to be shorter and swifter than those on the south side. Only one is navigable for more than a short distance.

Kingston, the capital, is on the southeast coast and has the world's seventh-largest natural harbor. From sea level at city center, the terrain rises to 1,800 feet. The suburban residential areas of St. Andrew in the foothills of the mountains are slightly cooler than the rest of the city.

Jamaica enjoys a favorable, though warm and humid, climate. Average temperatures are about 80°-95°F, May through September, and 70°-85°F during the cooler months. The higher mountainous regions reach a low of 50°F in the cooler months. Northeast trade winds help maintain a feeling of relative comfort.

Temperature and rainfall are markedly affected by the changes in elevation and geography of the island. Rainfall varies from an annual average of 25 inches at the Kingston airport to an average of 250 inches at Blue Mountain Peak. Suburban residential areas of Kingston receive about 50 inches on the average. Rainfall is generally heaviest during April-May and October-November, though these are not rainy seasons in the tropical sense. Mildew is a problem during these months. Relative humidity in Kingston ranges from 63 percent in February to 86 percent in October.

Jamaica is in the earthquake and hurricane belts but has not had a disastrous earthquake since 1907, even though every year has a few tremors. In September 1988, the island was struck head-on by Hurricane Gilbert, the first since 1980. The main force of the storm affected the entire island, especially the eastern coastal areas, and caused widespread damage, mainly to crops and vegetation, coastal properties, utilities, and roofs.

The island suffers from periodic droughts. The water situation in Kingston was improved dramatically by the completion of the Blue Mountain Water Scheme. Occasional water shortages do occur.

Jamaica has no dangerous wild animals. Black widow spiders and scorpions are present but rare. Many varieties of soft-bodied lizards and nuisance insects-particularly cockroaches, ants, and termites-present some problems. Mosquitoes and houseflies are troublesome in the Kingston area. Grass ticks and fleas are also annoying to outside pets.

Jamaica has over 600 insect species as well as 250 bird species-25 of which belong only to Jamaica. About 120 species of butterflies, including the world's largest (6" wingspan), are also found here. The island is especially noted for its fireflies, otherwise known as blinkies or peeny-waullies.

A profusion of flowering shrubs, trees, and cacti reflects Jamaica's great variation of climate and topography. Hundreds of imported plants are well established. Pimento or all-spice is from an indigenous plant, and Jamaica is the world's largest producer. The ortanique, developed in Jamaica, is a cross between an orange and a tangerine. Jamaica also has over 220 species of native orchids, over 500 different ferns, more than 300 mosses, and many fungi.

Population

Jamaica's population of 2.5 million, according to 1993 estimates, is distributed unevenly, with large, sparsely populated areas in the mountainous interior of the island. Kingston is the island's largest city, with an estimated population of 700,000 for the Kingston-St. Andrew metropolitan area. Nearby Spanish Town, with 112,000 inhabitants, and Greater Portmore, with nearly 500,000, although in the adjacent parish of St. Catherine, are in effect extensions of the Kingston metropolitan area. Montego Bay, with a population of 85,500, is the largest urban concentration outside of the greater Kingston area.

A colorful, complex cultural heritage makes Jamaicans a unique people. Their society is multiracially integrated, and the term "Jamaican" does not carry a particular color connotation. Jamaica's population is about 90 percent African or mixed descent. The remaining 10 percent are chiefly European, Chinese, East Indian, and Lebanese.

Over 70 percent of the population is under 35-the mean age is 18. The economic and emotional focus of the home is frequently the mother, as reflected by the title of Jamaican sociologist Edith Clarke's book, My Mother Who Fathered Me.

The language in Jamaica is English, but it varies from precise Oxford English to Jamaican patois. Because of differences in phraseology, inflection, and word usage, new arrivals may experience some difficulty in understanding Jamaican English, particularly on the telephone. Given time, most difficulties disappear. The exception is with patois, sometimes called Jamaican Creole. Understanding it takes time and attention.

While most Jamaicans speak standard English, a combination of patois and English is commonly encountered in dealings with street vendors, domestic helpers, and artisans. Most Jamaicans are familiar with the dialect, although few speak only patois. However, modern Jamaican theater includes much dialogue in rapid patois, which may be difficult to follow, even after extended exposure to it.

Religion is an important facet of the Jamaican character and a major stabilizing influence. Most Jamaicans are Christians, with Baptists now representing the largest single denomination. The Church of Jamaica, successor to the Church of England (Anglican) since the 1880s; Church of God; and Roman Catholic Church have substantial followings.

Many other denominations are also represented, including Moravians, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Latter-day Saints (Mormons). There are also small Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu communities.

Also found are religious groups unique to Jamaica: the Revivalists, whose Afro-Christian blend of religion has a high trance-invoking emotional content, and the bearded, "dreadlocked" Rastafarians, who worship "Jah," whose earthly representative was the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

Jamaican culture and traditions are largely African and British, but ties with North America are increasing. This is due primarily to the large number of Jamaicans who have lived in or visited the U.S. and Canada, the importance of North American tourists and the bauxite industry to the island's economy, and the influence of U.S. television shows and media.

Public Institutions

Jamaica is an independent member of the British Commonwealth. The British Monarch is the Head of State and is represented by a Jamaican Governor General nominated by the Prime Minister. The government is based on the Westminster parliamentary system and has an elected 60-member House of Representatives and an appointed 21-member Senate. Since the early 1940s, the Jamaican political scene has been dominated by two closely matched political parties: the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP). A third party, the National Democratic Movement (NDM), was formed in 1995 by former JLP chairman, Bruce Golding.

The government is elected for a 5-year term, but elections can be held earlier under certain circumstances. The ministries of government are directed by ministers selected from majority party members of the House and Senate and appointed by the Governor General, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister. An experienced though somewhat understaffed civil service carries out governmental functions.

In the March 1993 general election, the PNP won a 52 to 8 majority in the House of Representatives. Jamaica's Prime Minister is P.J. Patterson, leader of the PNP, who succeeded Michael Manley when he retired for health reasons in 1992. Edward Seaga, leader of the opposition JLP, was Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989.

Legal institutions generally follow British practice. Cases are tried before an independent judiciary ranked in an ascending hierarchy of Petty Sessions Courts, Resident Magistrate Courts, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeal. Certain cases may be sent on appeal to the U.K. Privy Council for final determination.

The island is divided into three counties, which have no present-day functions. Within these counties are 14 parishes. Kingston and the suburban parish of St. Andrew are combined for administrative purposes into the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation. Local government functions are handled by Parish Councils, which are to be elected every 3 years. They depend on support from the central government and can be dissolved if the national government believes parish affairs are being mismanaged.

Arts and Science

Culture. Jamaica has long been noted for the richness and diversity of its culture and the quality of its artists. In the area of theater, the island has produced such notable actors as Madge Sinclair, the Honorable Louise Bennett-Coverley, and Charles Hyatt. A variety of plays can be seen daily in the capital city of Kingston. Jamaica has an international reputation in dance, especially through the National Dance Theater Company, which fosters the development of traditional dance forms. The country also has a high reputation for its many fine painters, sculptors, and writers. Music is another field in which Jamaica is well known, particularly for reggae, which has been made famous by singers such as the late Bob Marley.

Music. Jamaica's music is perhaps its most revealing form of folk expression. Frank, natural, and spontaneous, it springs from the soul of the people and often reflects historical circumstances. The songs record joys and sorrows, wit, philosophy of life, and religion.

Traditional Jamaican music is percussive, polyrhythmic, and repetitive. Vocals rely heavily on the call-and-response form, while drums control the accompanying dances. The major influences are evident in the structure and behavior of Jamaican melody and harmony: the older heritage of African music and rhythm and the more recent legacy of European religious and popular music, introduced over the centuries of British rule.

Popular music has steadily evolved over the last 20 years from mento to ska to reggae. Reggae has been internationally promoted through the late Rasta folk hero and international pop star, Bob Marley. Other prominent reggae artists include Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff, and the late Peter Tosh. Several Jamaicans also have gained international recognition in the fields of classical music and jazz; Curtis Watson and Monty Alexander are notable examples. The philosophy, doctrine, and music of the Rastafarians heavily influence reggae in instrumentation, lyrics, movement, and delivery. The latest musical movement is called "DJ music." Similar to American rap music, it relies heavily on rhythmic chanting and emphasizes experiences of inner-city youth. Other forms of popular music include "dance hall," "dub," and "soca," a form of merengue music heard primarily during Carnival celebrations.

Art. Jamaican art is varied and reveals no predominant cultural or ethnic influences except, perhaps, very stylized African motifs. Many of the established Jamaican painters and sculptors have achieved acclaim outside this country, particularly in the U.S. and Britain, where many of them were trained. Sophisticated works can be obtained in various media: oils, acrylics, watercolors, silk-screen prints, woodcuts, sculpture, ceramics, pottery, and textile arts. There is a fairly large group of expatriate artists-mostly from the U.S. and the Commonwealth-resident in Jamaica.

Kingston is the art center of the island, with many artists, the art school, and several well-respected high-quality galleries. Three broad categories of art are discernible: intuitive, abstract, and representational. Representational is the dominant mode. The National Gallery of Art maintains a large collection of Jamaican and Caribbean art from the 18th century to the present.

Crafts. Local craftwork is strongly influenced by cultural heritage and finds expression in straw, semiprecious stones and jewelry, wood, clay, fabric, shell, and bamboo. A substantial amount of the alabaster, embroidered cutwork, and appliqué craftwork is exported to the U.S. An attractive cluster of craft shops is located on the grounds of Devon House, a historic site.

Dance. The National Dance Theater Company (NDTC) was formed in 1962. Many of the troupe's more recognized members studied in England and the United States. The NDTC emphasizes indigenous dance and experimentation. NDTC choreographers have produced an extremely varied and culturally rich repertoire. The revived folk dances are actively performed on the island. They are presented at cultural festivals, on TV, and in resort areas.

Drama. Drama has expanded considerably in the past decade. During the 1980s, Jamaican playwrights typically produced works based on social currents and issues of the day. Today, the theater offers a broad base, ranging from comedy and reviews to serious drama.

Festivals. Jamaica places much emphasis on the cultural heritage of its people. The artistic and cultural awakening has been accompanied by a keen search for roots in folk forms based chiefly in colorful and intensely rhythmic dances and songs. This is best reflected in the annual festival celebrated from the last two weeks in July until Independence Day, the first Monday in August. Winners of "all island" parish dance, song, poetry, and drama competitions perform during the festival. Other high-profile festivals include the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, the Reggae Sunsplash Festival, and Carnival. Festivals provide an avenue of expression for Jamaicans at every level of society.

Science. Organized scientific investigation in Jamaica dates back to 1774 when the Botanical Department and the gardens at Bath were established. The Institute of Jamaica-which includes the West Indies Reference Library, the National Gallery of Jamaica, and several museums-is the most significant cultural organization in the country. Its Natural History Division is the chief source of information on Jamaican flora and fauna. The Institute also produces publications on Jamaican history and culture. Perhaps one of the most active units of the Institute is the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts where students are instructed in dance, drama, music, and the fine arts.

Systematic geological surveys began over 100 years ago. In 1942, with the realization of the potential of bauxite, extensive research began, which led to the creation of a separate Geological Department in 1951.

Important areas of scientific research include geology, mineralogy, biochemistry, food technology, nutrition, agro-industry, crop and soil agronomy, epidemiology, ecology, and marine biology.

The Meteorological Office of the Jamaican Government and the Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies compile and disseminate information to the public.

Commerce and Industry

Jamaica's pattern of trade and production has historically been based on the export of its principal agricultural products (sugar, bananas, coffee, cocoa, spices, etc.), as well as other foreign exchange earners (bauxite/alumina, rum) in exchange for imports of oil, machinery, manufactured goods, and food products (principally wheat, corn, rice, soybeans, butter). However, the fast growth of tourism, textile production, and the proliferation of service industries have changed the island's trading habits.

Tourism has been Jamaica's primary foreign exchange-earning industry since 1983. Total visitor arrivals have remained well over one million annually. Stopover visitors (visitors staying one night or more) average 65 percent of total arrivals, two-thirds of which come from the U.S. Hotel room capacity on the island is 19,760 and is expanding. In 1994, total foreign exchange earnings from tourism accounted for an estimated US$977 million. The second largest source of foreign exchange in 1994 was remittances (approximately US$600 million).

Jamaica has large commercial deposits of mineral resources such as limestone (two-thirds of the island), bauxite, gypsum, marble, silica sand, and clays. The mining and processing of bauxite continues to be the major economic activity. Net export earnings from bauxite/alumina (levies, royalties, local cash inflows) amounted to US$231 million in 1994. Development of this industry is greatly influenced by worldwide aluminum consumption and price fluctuation in the international market. The agricultural sector generates about 8 percent of GDP and employs over one-quarter of Jamaica's work force. Jamaica has a favorable climate and varied soil types. Major traditional export crops are sugar, spices, bananas, coffee, citrus, allspice, and pimento. Other crops of growing importance include yams, tropical fruits and vegetables, legumes, and horticulture.

Other nontraditional products have also strengthened Jamaica's export performance during the last few years. These include garments, cut flowers, ornamental plants, gourmet food items and spices, handi-crafts, and furniture. World-renowned Jamaican products such as Blue Mountain coffee, cigars, and Red Stripe beer have experienced growth in demand. The U.S. continues to be Jamaica's leading trading partner, exporting an average of US$1.06 billion annually to Jamaica and importing approximately US$415 million worth of Jamaican goods during the 1992-94 period. Jamaica's other leading trading partners are the U.K., Canada, Venezuela, and Japan.

The Jamaican economy grew by 0.8 percent in 1994 following a modest growth of 1.2 percent in 1993. This resulted from growth in the agricultural sector, mining, tourism, financing, insurance, and other service sectors. The pace of economic growth in 1994 slowed somewhat due to tight monetary and fiscal policies, high inflation, and declining real incomes for the majority of the population. In addition, the servicing of a heavy debt burden, the deterioration in earnings from the bauxite/alumina industry, and high interest rates have further constrained economic growth.

Jamaica faces several ongoing economic problems. Although the external debt has been modestly reduced over the last 3 years, debt servicing still constitutes about 40 percent of the government fiscal budget, constraining both growth and the government's policy options. The stock of debt is approximately US$3.6 billion, or US$1,440 on a per-capita basis. Privatization, tariff reform, liberalization of foreign exchange controls, and tight fiscal and monetary policies are some of the major policies implemented over the past few years to enhance economic growth and development.

Transportation

Automobiles

Driving is on the left, but either left-hand or right-hand drive cars may be imported. Left-hand-drive cars must usually have headlights re-aimed. Because of the narrow roads and in the interest of safety, serious consideration should be given to bringing a right-hand-drive vehicle.

Current Jamaican Government policy forbids the importation of vehicles over 3 years old (date of manufacture to date of entry into Jamaica).

Compact cars rather than larger American model cars are better suited to the narrow, winding Jamaican roads. A car with a high road clearance is an advantage because of the many potholes. Lighter colors are preferable, as they are cooler. An air-conditioner is desirable. Garages can service most American, Japanese, or European makes, but service is below U.S. standards.

Spare parts are expensive and sometimes hard to find, especially for older and less common models. Bring a basic supply of oil filters, radiator hoses, fan belts, and spark plugs, as well as points and condensers if your car uses them. Spare parts can also be obtained from Miami with delivery in only a few days, in most cases. Also, bring a basic tool supply and repair manuals for your make and model of car. Durable tires in good condition are necessary because of often poorly kept roads.

You must have a Jamaican license to drive. Automobile registration is accomplished by obtaining (1) an import license for your car at the time of importation, (2) compulsory local liability insurance, and (3) a certificate of vehicle fitness.

Certificates of car fitness must be renewed annually. Besides being in good condition, all cars must have turn indicators. Those on U.S. cars are acceptable.

Communications

Telephone and Telegraph

Telephone service is available to most of the island, but service is below U.S. standards. Calls from one exchange to another are treated as long-distance calls despite relatively short distances, with rates determined by the mileage between exchanges. A direct-dialing system serves the whole island. Service to the U.S. by satellite is generally adequate.

A 3-minute, station-to-station call from Kingston to Washington, D.C., costs about US$5.27 at full rate and US$4 at the reduced rate (night and all day Sunday and on Jamaican holidays). AT&T calling cards can be used, and many U.S. long-distance companies offer collect-call services from Jamaica. Direct-dialing from the U.S. is possible using area code 809 and the Jamaican seven-digit number.

International telegraph service is good, and rates are moderate. Cables are sent via JAMINTEL Limited through the Jamaican postal service. Local service and delivery are erratic.

Mail

Local airmail service is available to and from the U.S. Transit time to Washington or New York is about 10 days, with some fluctuations in service. The airmail letter rate to the U.S. is J$1.10 per ounce. Surface mail and international parcel post depend on sailing schedules to Jamaica and are unreliable. Delivery time from the U.S. varies from 2 to 6 months. International letter mail service ranges from-excellent to disastrous, while local mail can disappear or take weeks to travel a few miles.

Radio and TV

AM and FM radio reception in the Kingston area is excellent. There are several major national radio networks, including RJR Limited and the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). Radio stations offer a wide variety of programming, including music, talk shows, local and international news, and religious programs.

Shortwave reception from the U.S. and U.K. is fair to good, with occasional interference; some people find a shortwave set desirable. Voice of America (VOA) shortwave broadcasts get good reception in early morning and evening and have excellent news and sports coverage.

JBC has also operated a TV station since 1963. JBC-TV transmits Jamaican, U.S., U.K., and Canadian programs. A privately owned station, CVM-TV, broadcasts many popular American sitcoms and movies. Both stations offer regular local and overseas news programs. As a result of recent legislation governing cable TV service, a wide variety of cable programming is now, available through several local cable providers. Rates are comparable to those in the U.S. TVs made in the U.S. can be used in Jamaica.

Video rental stores can be found in Kingston. The vast majority of available tapes are VHS, not Betamax. Ordering of VCRs and color TVs can be done through the commissary at U.S. retail prices, plus transportation. There are now almost 20,000 satellite dishes in Jamaica that receive the whole range of U.S. TV offerings.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

The Miami Herald and the New York Times are usually available at local newsstands late on the day of publication. Limited international coverage is provided by the Daily Gleaner, the Herald, and the Observer, Jamaica's three main newspapers. Copies of these papers are usually available for perusal at the Jamaica Desk (ARA/CAR) in the Department of State.

English and American magazines are available locally. American magazines are marked up at least 12%. Subscriptions to U.S. magazines will save money. Send them by pouch, if you don't mind them arriving at least 2 weeks late and occasionally in batches of two or three. Subscriptions to the international editions of Time or Newsweek will ensure that the magazine arrives during the week of publication. Books printed in England are available from several booksellers. U.S. bestsellers are months late arriving at local shops and difficult to find. Books cost more than in the U.S.

The Public Affairs Library has about 2,200 volumes, ranging from art to technology and the social sciences, as well as general reference works. The library also subscribes to 69 U.S. periodicals. The Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Library is part of the islandwide free public library service. It has about 75,000 volumes.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

General practitioners and specialists are available. Many have received specialty training in the U.S., Canada, or U.K. These doctors are highly qualified and good diagnosticians even without the benefit of sophisticated equipment. Fees are generally lower than those in the U.S., particularly in the specialty areas. There are many good dentists whose fees are also lower than those in the U.S. Many professionals have migrated to the U.S., and in several specialty areas it is sometimes difficult to get appointments quickly.

Several small and generally adequate private hospitals are found in and around Kingston. People go to the U.S. for special treatment or surgery. Local doctors recommend trips to the U.S. if they believe their own facilities are inadequate. The regional medical officer, who visits Kingston every 4 to 6 months, has stated that no elective surgery should be done in Jamaica. Miami is the designated medical evacuation point.

Community Health

Community sanitation in Kingston has improved in the past few years. Drains and plumbing are inspected sporadically. Insects are a constant nuisance, and there is not a regular spraying program to control the breeding grounds. Trash and garbage disposal in the urban areas has also improved. In rural areas, it is an individual matter. Sewage facilities and treatment are adequate in Kingston.

Preventive Measures

Some infectious diseases are influenza, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and German measles. It is now mandatory for students entering school for the first time to have documents verifying that they have been immunized against whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, polio, and tuberculosis before admission is approved.

Rabies, yellow fever, and malaria are not present in Jamaica, but mosquitoes do transmit the unpleasant dengue fever. Cases of dengue fever rose dramatically in late 1995, but the problem is being addressed through aerial spraying and reduction of mosquitoes' breeding areas.

Quality pasteurized milk is available in Kingston. The commissary also stocks U.S.-origin milk and dairy products, but they are expensive.

Avoid excessive exercise during the heat of the day. Because of the large areas of dense foliage and high pollen levels, the climate can be unpleasant to asthma and sinus sufferers.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb/Mar. Ash Wednesday*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

May 23National Labor Day

Aug.1 Emancipation Day

Aug.(first Monday) Independence Day*

Oct. (third Monday) National Heroes' Day*

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day

*variable

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs & Duties

Those arriving from areas where yellow fever is known to exist must be immunized.

U.S. citizens traveling as tourists can enter Jamaica with a U.S. passport or a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate and current state photo identification. They must also have a return ticket and sufficient funds for their visit. U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica for work or for extended stays are required to have a current passport and must obtain a visa before arriving. A departure tax is collected when leaving the country. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of Jamaica at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, telephone (202)452-0660, the Jamaican Consulate in Miami or New York, or one of Jamaica's honorary consuls in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle or Los Angeles. Travelers may also contact Jamaican representative in the United States through the Internet at http://[email protected] or athttp://[email protected].

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. The Consular Section is located on the first floor of the Life of Jamaica Building, 16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, telephone 1-876-935-6044. Office hours are 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with window services available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For after-hours emergencies involving American citizens, a duty officer can be contacted at 1-876-926-6440. The Chancery is located three blocks away at the Mutual Life Building, 3rd floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, telephone 1-876-929-4850 through-4859.

There is a Consular Agency in Montego Bay at St. James Place, 2nd floor, Gloucester Avenue, telephone 1-876-952-0160, fax 1-876-952-5050. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Monday through Friday.

The U.S. Embassy also has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory. Please refer to the British West Indies Consular Information Sheet for information about the Cayman Islands. There is a Consular Agency located in the office of Adventure Travel, Seven-Mile Beach, George Town, Grand Cayman, telephone 1-345-946-1611, fax 1-345-945-1811. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Monday through Friday.

Pets

With the single exception of animals born and bred in the U.K., which have never had rabies shots, importation of pets is not allowed.

To bring animals from the U.K., the following procedure must be taken. You must have a certificate from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food at Hookrise, Surrey, England, proving that the animal was born and bred in the U.K. This certificate must then be presented to the Veterinary Department at Hope Gardens in Kingston to receive an import permit. These steps must be taken before the animal arrives.

Several excellent veterinarians practice in Kingston.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

The currency is the Jamaican dollar. Bills are printed on different-colored paper in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500 while coins are minted in denominations of 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1, and $5. The official exchange rate fluctuates within a 30¢ "band" or margin, and is adjusted at regular intervals. As of January 1996, it was US$1 = J$40. The exact exchange rate at any given time may be obtained from the Jamaica desk in ARA.

With the exception of gasoline, which is sold by liter, all other units of measure (inches, feet, yards, miles, etc.) and weight (pounds and ounces) are the same as in the U.S. However, there is an ongoing national project under way to convert the country to the metric system. Some road signs and consumer product labels already reflect these changes.

U.S. dollars or travelers checks may be converted readily into Jamaican currency at airports, banks, and hotels. While some north coast resorts will accept U.S. dollars, all official transactions must be made in Jamaican currency.

You may buy U.S. dollar instruments, including travelers checks, from local banks by presenting an airline ticket showing travel off the island.

Disaster Preparedness

Jamaica, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from approximately June 1-November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in the event of an emergency or disaster. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

RECOMMENDED READING

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Apa Productions. Insight Guide to Jamaica.

Black, Clinton V. The Story of Jamaica. Rev. 1965.

Black, Evon. Beautiful Jamaica. 1975.

Cargill, Morris. Jamaica Farewell. Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, 1978.

Clark, Edith. My Mother Who Fathered Me: A Study of the Family in the Selected Communities in Jamaica. Winchester, MA: Allen Unwin, 1976.

Craton, Michael M. Searching for the Invisible Man: Slaves and Plantation Life in Jamaica. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.

Henriques, Fernando. Family & Color in Jamaica. 1953.

Henzel, Perry. The Power Game. 1983.

Ingram, K.E., ed. Jamaica. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 1984.

Insight Guides. Jamaica. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1983.

Kaplan, Irving. Area Handbook for Jamaica. 1976.

Kaplan, John. Marijuana-The New Prohibition. 1970.

Knight, Franklin W. The Caribbean: The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism. Oxford University Press, 1978.

Looney, Robert. The Jamaican Economy in the 1980's: Economic Decline and Structural Readjustment . Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986.

Lowenthal & Comitas. Consequences of Class & Color. 1973.

. Work and Family. 1967.

Mikes, George. Not by Sun Alone. 1967.

Morrish, Ivor. Obeah, Christ, and Rastaman: Jamaica and Its Religions. Greenwood, SC: Attic Press, 1982.

Nettleford, Rex. Mirror, Mirror-Identity, Race and Protest in Jamaica. 1970.

. Caribbean Cultural Identity: The Case of Jamaica. 1979.

Senior, Olive. A-Z of Jamaica Heritage. Portsmouth, NH: Heine-mann Educational Books, 1983.

Sherlock, P.M. This Is Jamaica: An Informal Guide. 1968.

Slater, Mary. The Caribbean Islands. 1968.

Thelwell. The Harder They Come.

White, Timothy. Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley. New York: Henry Holt, 1983.

Waters, Anita M. Race, Class and Political Symbols: Rastafari and Reggae in Jamaican Politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1985.

views updated

Jamaica

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Jamaica
Region: North & Central America
Population: 2,652,689
Language(s): English, Creole
Literacy Rate: 85%
Academic Year: September-August
Number of Primary Schools: 793
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 7.4%
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 300,931
  Secondary: 235,071
  Higher: 8,191
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 100%
  Higher: 8%
Teachers: Primary: 9,265
  Secondary: 10,931
  Higher: 418
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 99%
  Higher: 7%



History & Background

The history of education in Jamaica is perhaps best understood in the context of the island's colonial past. The education system and its administration were fashioned after the British system; and many of the developments in the history of Jamaican education can be seen as responses to events such as the abolition of slavery 1834, the advent of suffrage in 1944, and the achievement of independence in 1962. Much of the recent history of education in Jamaica has been driven by the perceived need to develop "homegrown" responses to economic, social, and political pressures on the island and in the Caribbean region (Whiteman 1994).

Before the Act of Emancipation went into effect in 1834 there appears to have been little in the way of a formal education system for whites and no system for educating indigenous people and slaves. White colonists who could afford it sent their sons back to the "mother country" for schooling, while others hired private tutors. Those who were less affluent sent their sons to one of the few free schools that were established through bequests from wealthy planters and merchants. The curriculum in the free schools was based on that offered by similar schools in Great Britain and was intended "to offer a classical education to young gentlemen so that they would be properly fitted to take their place in society" (Hamilton 1997). A few slave children received some schooling at plantation schools established by foreign missionaries, but their education dealt mostly with religion and the virtues of submission (Wilkins & Gamble 2000). At least some of these plantation schools provided education for girls as well as boys (Bailey 1997).

There is little documented about the education of girls in the colony before 1770 when Wolmer's Free School initiated a modified curriculum for girls that was designed to prepare them for running a home or for employment as seamstresses and mantuamakers. Hamilton (1997) states that some girls were able to get teaching positions.

Once slavery was abolished in 1834, the British saw education as an important way to integrate ex-slaves into the colonial economy and to ensure a peaceful lower class (Morrison & Milner 1995). In the years following emancipation, missionary societies developed a system of elementary education for the newly freed slaves. This system was taken over by the colonial government beginning in the 1860s. Cogan and Thompson (1988) see the eventual government sponsorship of a system of secular education as a response to the conflicts between propertied classes that led to the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865. Schooling emphasized skills that would prepare children for eventual employment as estate workers. The elementary curriculum focused on reading, writing and arithmetic with some religious training and occasional geography and history instruction. In addition, boys were given training in agriculture and other manual arts, and girls received lessons in sewing and domestic science. These separate tracks for boys and girls were formalized in the Lumb Report of 1898 (Hamilton 1997). The report emphasized the need for agricultural training in order to counteract trends seen as threatening to the colonial economy and society: students were developing a distaste for manual labor and were moving from the countryside to the cities and towns to take up clerkships and other similar occupations.

The school system continued to expand at the beginning of the twentieth century but nonetheless continued to be guided by the nineteenth century colonial practice of educating children to fit their station in life (Hamilton 1997, Whiteman 1994). As the relative number of British people in Jamaica began to decrease, it became necessary to move native Jamaicans into certain intermediate occupations, and this resulted in growth in the secondary school system and the creation of government scholarships for university study abroad (Wilkins & Gamble 2000). Elementary schools began to hold annual scholarship examinations in order to allow some children who would not have been able to afford the fees to attend secondary school. Burchell Whiteman (Minister of Education and Culture of Jamaica) characterizes these movements as the beginnings of the struggle to change the secondary schools from "being comprised of students with the 'ability to pay' to students with the 'ability to benefit from' the education offered" (1994). During the 1930s economic pressures associated with the Depression and the colonial system in general resulted in widespread unemployment among Jamaicans. This, coupled with chronically low wages and endemic poverty and with the growing desire among Jamaicans for self-rule, led to the formation of groups such as the Jamaica Workers' and Tradesmen's Union (in 1934) and the Peoples' National Party (in 1938). Mass protests and marches among the working poor and the unemployed became common and frequently ended in rioting. The British responded with the Orde Brown Inquiry into labor conditions in the colony and the formation of the West India Royal Commission under Lord Moyne which was charged with inquiring into the social, economic, and educational conditions underlying the unrest.

The Kandel Report and the associated Plan for Post-Primary Education in Jamaica of 1943-1944 addressed the educational, social, and economic conditions in the colony once again. It focused on establishing a system of post-primary education "so as to ameliorate the existing harsh socially segregated education with its class and color configurations" (Whiteman 1994). The report and plan also addressed curricula at the secondary level, establishing a common literary core for both boys and girls but further solidifying the gendered vocational training "tracks" originally formalized in the Lumb Report (Hamilton 1997).

Much of the reform and restructuring that took place from this time up until independence is described by Sherlock and Bennett (1998) as "a period of tutelage . . .[in which what] was granted was diluted self-government in doses graduated to suit the imperial interests." There was much to do because "the colonial system of education bred a lack of self-confidence among blacks in their own ability to manage their own affairs" (Sherlock & Bennett 1998). As part of this general trend toward the self-sufficiency of the island (and of the whole British Caribbean), the University of the West Indies (UWI) was founded in 1948 at Mona, Jamaica. This was an important step in establishing educational independence because Jamaica had been forced to import university graduates from Great Britain to serve as senior staff in secondary schools. The birth of the Department of Education at UWI in 1952 was a major step toward a completely "home-grown" educational system.

The processes leading toward self-rule and eventual independence for Jamaica were accelerated by the complex events and forces that arose during and after World War II. Sherlock and Bennett (1998) argue that the rejection of Nazi anti-Semitism and Aryan superiority led the British to see as untenable "the concepts of empire and of the trusteeship of a superior race." The Jamaican Constitution was revised in 1944 to grant voting rights to all adults, and the British also started the process of ending colonial economic exploitation by setting up a colonial development fund.

The Moyne report's conclusions with regard to education noted that a lack of central control over the primary schools resulted in inefficiency in administration. It also pointed out that there was a lack of correspondence between the schools' curricula and the needs of those living in Jamaica. The report recommended, among other things, that the curriculum be modified to include courses in health and hygiene, that preschools be established (even though many community-based preschools already existed and Rev. Ward had recently addressed the government on this matter, that schools be organized into levels (Primary for six- to twelve-year-olds, and Junior for twelve- to-fifteen-year-olds), and that schools be brought up to modern standards with respect to buildings, sanitation, water purity, and school equipment. It is generally agreed that the Moyne Report also contributed impetus toward the granting of universal adult suffrage and (limited) self-rule in the colony.


Constitutional & Legal Foundations

A bipartisan commission of the Jamaica Legislature drafted Jamaica's constitution during 1961-1962. It was approved in Great Britain and went into effect when Jamaica achieved full independence on August 6, 1962. It provides for a parliamentary/ministerial form of government. The Governor-General, who serves as the Queen's representative, has the authority to appoint ministers and to call elections, among other powers. The Governor-General is appointed by the Queen upon the Prime Minister's recommendation. The constitution stipulates that there be a minimum of eleven ministries; ministers are appointed and assigned their portfolios by the Governor-General in consultation with the Prime Minister. The constitutional head of each ministry is the minister, and the executive head is the Permanent Secretary, who provides continuity despite changes of government and sees to the day-to-day operations of the ministry. Ministers can introduce bills in Parliament. Bills become law once they have been approved by Parliament and have received the Governor-General's approval.

The education system in Jamaica falls under the purview of the Ministry of Education and Culture (MOE&C). The MOE&C administers the Education Regulations which govern the operation and management of schools at all levels. These include such things as the dissemination of the results of school assessments, the licensing and employment of teachers, the establishment of standards and requirements for continuing professional development of teachers, development of curricula, and the setting of the minimum number of school days. The ministry also oversees the activities of a variety of agencies that intersect with its educational mission and programs: the Jamaica Library Service, Nutrition Products Limited (in-school feeding programs), the Human Employment & Resources Training trust/National Training Agency (HEART/NTA), the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), the National Heritage Trust, the Institute of Jamaica, and the University Council of Jamaica.

The activities of various private and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in projects for improving education in the country are coordinated and administered through the MOE&C. The ministry also serves as liaison between the government and such world-wide and regional agencies as UNESCO and CARICOM, preparing necessary reports on education and implementing reforms and initiatives emanating from those organizations.

Since Jamaica became an independent nation in 1962 there have been a number of cycles of reform and one major period of retrenchment in education. The first set of reforms took place as part of the Independence Plan of 1963. The plan set forth the goal of increasing the number of teachers at both the primary and secondary levels. Expansion of teacher training facilities was directed toward increasing the annual output of primary teachers to over 500 by 1972; and an increase in the number of teachers' scholarships to UWI was intended to increase the number of qualified secondary school teachers (Miller 1992). The selection process for admission to secondary schools was also a target of reform. Admission to secondary schools was determined by either a child's parents' ability to pay fees or the child's ability to gain a free place on the basis of his/her performance on the Common Entrance (CE) Examination. The overwhelming number of free places in secondary schools had been going to children from private or church-sponsored primary preparatory schools, while children from government primary schools, who were almost entirely from the lower social strata, qualified for only a few. This resulted in the "70/30 Plan" in which the Ministry of Education decided to allocate free places on the basis of a child's performance on the CE exam and the type of primary school she/he attended. Because 70 percent of children on the island attended government primary schools, 70 percent of the free places were reserved for children from these schools. The idea was that this scheme would result in increased opportunities for a secondary education for poor children and that this, in turn, would ameliorate some of the socioeconomic, racial, and class inequities that persisted in the former colony.

The Independence Plan was superceded by the New Deal for Education in Independent Jamaica (generally referred to as the "New Deal") in 1966. This effort was funded by the World Bank, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It was, according to Cogan and Thompson (1988) "the first comprehensive and systematic attempt by the government to formulate long-range planning in education that would result in a unified system open to all." Specific proposals were designed to restructure the education system in order to encourage and enable all students to get a secondary-school education. In fact, the primary motivation behind these reforms was the idea that education should break down class and racial boundaries that it should be a unifying rather than a stratifying force in Jamaican society.

Under the New Deal the number of primary teachers being trained reached almost 1,000 per annum in 1969; however, this was partly accomplished by reducing the teacher training program from three years in college to two years in college plus one year of internship in local schools. All teachers' colleges were expanded, one new teachers' college was established in rural Jamaica, and for the first time all teachers' colleges were equipped and staffed for training secondary-school teachers. The number of scholarships to UWI was further increased, and in-service training for teachers was expanded and intensified.

The New Deal gave way to the Education Thrust in 1973. The formulation of this program began after the election of the People's National Party (PNP) in 1972. The Education Thrust was formulated coincident with the completion of the Jamaica Education Sector Survey, a comprehensive look at the whole educational system that included specialists from various external agencies, including USAID and CIDA, along with members of the Jamaican Ministry of Education. The Survey was meant to provide the basis for educational planning in the future.

The Education Thrust was intended to be a comprehensive program for dealing with education at all levels. In order to ensure that reforms were working, the plan included rolling three-year qualitative and quantitative assessments of the various programs implemented under the plan. A complete reorganization of the Ministry of Education was to result in improved planning and administration that would filter down to all levels of the education system. Free and compulsory education was to be made available to all children up to age 14, that is, up to the secondary school level. The newly established Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) was to set the standards for the school examination system. And, in order to promote social (including educational development) and public works programs, students who had been educated at government expense were to take part in a proposed "National Service Corps of Graduates."

The Education Thrust also sought to increase the number of teachers produced by the colleges to 1,700 per year. (The target year was 1975, but the goal was not reached until 1979.) An effort to provide in-service training for primary school teachers led to the establishment of the In-service Teacher Education Thrust in 1973 and to the In-service Diploma in Education in 1975. Additional teacher education training programs were set up at the College of Arts, Science, and Technology (CAST) and the Jamaica School of Agriculture (JSA) in 1975, a goal that was originally part of the New Deal program.

Cogan and Thompson (1988) argued that the three major reform programs described above "had a negligible effect on the eradication of class stratification within the larger society;" they argued further that primary education was "largely inefficient under the sheer numbers of the system" (1988). Miller (1992), however, points out that there were quite a few positive results that grew out of these programs. He observes that teacher education was expanded and reformed in accordance with set development targets. The number of and types of teachers to be trained, the modalities to be employed, and the number and location of training institutions were all carefully planned. Each plan built upon the achievements and targets previously set, despite the fact that different governments of different political parties and ideologies were involved. One result of all this was that Jamaica's capacity to train teachers had developed to the point that the government was able in 1976 to phase out recruitment of secondary school teachers from abroad. More importantly, Miller argues, the efforts to improve the number and quality of teachers at both the primary and secondary levels had paid off in terms of student performance. The 70/30 Plan, which was established because private preparatory students were winning the bulk of the free places awarded for high school, was abolished in 1974 because public primary school students' performance on entrance exams now resulted in their obtaining more than 70 percent of those places based strictly on merit (1992). The period from 1977-1987, however, marked a period of retrenchment. During this decade Jamaica and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) entered into a series of austerity agreements that implemented IMF strictures requiring adjustments to the Jamaican economy. During this period expenditure on education (expressed in 1974 dollars) declined by 33.8 percent (Miller 1992). The student-teacher ratio for primary schools was increased by the Ministry of Education from 40:1 to 55:1. Two teachers' colleges were closed, and the In-service Education Thrust and the In-service Diploma programs were done away with. Teacher education was hardest hit, experiencing a decline in real expenditure of 66.2 percent between 1977 and 1987 (Miller 1992). Miller also states that one result of all these cut-backs was "a fracturing of the relationship between the major stakeholders" in the education process and the growth of "skepticism and suspicion concerning planned developments in the sector" which left managers of the sector "with the major problem of motivating and inspiring effort, even among themselves."

Jamaica's financial difficulties have not abated. Debt service continues to consume a larger and larger portion of the government's budget, rising from 45.3 percent of the budget (25.9 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product or GDP) in 1996 to 58.2 percent (38.4 percent of GDP) in 1999 (Ministry of Education and Culture 2001). However, the government continues to place a high priority on educational development.

Jamaica participated in the 1990 World Conference on Education for All (EFA) and formulated a pair of five-year educational development plans during the 1990s that coincided with the goals and targets defined by the EFA program. These plans focused on improving access to and the quality of early childhood education, providing universal access to basic/primary education, improving attendance and completion rates at the primary level, improving curricula and instruction at the primary level, reducing the adult illiteracy rate, and establishing a variety of media outlets for disseminating information for the public good.

These efforts have paid off in some areas. Participation in early childhood programs has increased, and instruction has been improved through the development of curriculum guides. The national curricula for grades 1-9 have been revised, and the National Assessment Programme has resulted in the development of a battery of standardized tests that will enable officials to monitor performance at the primary level. The government now provides free textbooks in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies to all pupils in grades 1-6; and a textbook rental program has begun for students in grades 7-9 (UNESCO 2000).

There has been some improvement in providing teacher training, but the percentage of primary teachers with certification has dropped during the 1990s. Economic difficulties continue to result in inadequate facilities and in major inequalities in education at the secondary level. And, while enrollment rates at the preprimary and primary school levels have been boosted, attendance rates are disappointing and many children exit the system without being literate and/or numerate (UNESCO 2000). A series of new initiatives that will address these and other problems have been proposed in two recent Ministry of Education and Culture policy statements: Education: the Way Upward, A Green Paper for the Year 2000 (1999) and White Paper I: A Path for Jamaica's Education at the start of the new Millennium (2001).


Educational SystemOverview

The educational system in Jamaica is outlined below and described in more detail in the following sections. Education through the six years of primary school is compulsory and is free in government-sponsored schools. The age of entry into primary school is six years, and children generally complete primary school at age twelve. The academic year runs from September to July (with some local variation), and the Education Regulations prescribe a minimum of 195 days of instruction in the school year. The language of instruction is English.

The Ministry has pushed for the remodeling and construction of school buildings and has paid particular attention to library facilities. By the end of the 1990s a little over one hundred school libraries had been refurbished and their stocks of books increased. The Ministry has also set the goal of placing at least one computer with Internet access (where available) in every school on the island by the end of the year 2002. As of 1999, the Ministry had supplied more than 100 schools with computers and had trained almost 350 teachers in the use of computer systems and the Internet. Funding for these initiatives is uncertain, however, because the national debt continues to consume a larger portion of the government's budget each year. Success in these areas may depend on the success of the Ministry's efforts to form partnerships with businesses and manufacturers and on the largesse of foreign governments, granting agencies, and foundations.


Curriculum: Up until independence, the curriculum in Jamaica's schools mirrored that of schools in Great Britain. Curricular development since then has focused on fashioning a better fit between the educational system and the development needs of the ex-colony. This has been looked upon as both a local and a regional imperative, since many of the ex-colonies in the Caribbean Basin have experienced similar problems with educational systems that were "not geared towards enhancing the knowledge, skills, and values which helped students live more productive lives in their own societies" (Whiteman 1994). One criticism of the system was that it seemed that education at each level was primarily geared to preparing students for entry to the next level; that is, "[u]sefulness or relevance of curriculum content was seen in terms of its value in helping students pass the examinations which lead to the next stage up the educational ladder" (Whiteman 1994). Many of the earlier reforms in curriculum content were directed toward doing such things as making primary school education clearly useful in itself and not simply a means to getting into secondary school.

Such concerns are still addressed, but curricular development increasingly has been driven by economic and development pressures that require higher levels and standards of literacy and mathematical skills among the citizenry. In recent years the government has attempted to rationalize the curriculum at both primary and secondary levels in order to respond to social and manpower needs and to improve access to and encourage enrollment in secondary-level schools.

A major part of curricular reform since the 1990s has been related to the provision of textbooks. Textbooks are the main teaching materials used in the schools, and until fairly recently most of these texts were produced in other countries, primarily Great Britain and North America. This presented a number of problems. The first is that these texts were written from the perspective of the highly industrialized societies that produced them and did not reflect many aspects of the life and values of Jamaicans or West Indians. Another factor was cost. As the value of the Jamaican Dollar declined in relation to U.S. and Canadian Dollars and the British Pound, procurement of textbooks put quite a strain on government foreign currency reserves; and, because parents were required to buy these increasingly expensive textbooks for their children, many children ended up without textbooks. This resulted in a decline in children's performance and achievement in school, an increase in absentee and dropout rates, and a decline in literacy.

The MOE&C now produces textbooks for all subjects taught in grades one through six. The content in these books is linked directly to the cultural and historical development of Jamaica and reflects the experience of Jamaican children. More importantly, these texts are reprinted every year and presented free of cost to each child in the primary grades. This not only gives all children access to needed textbooks, but officials also see other benefits. They argue that the children's ownership of books will lead them to value literacy and learning more and that the continued presence of books in children's homes will generate more interest in education among younger siblings and even parents and other adults.

MOE&C has also developed and distributed textbooks for secondary-level subjects and has implemented a textbook rental program at all secondary schools. The curriculum at the secondary level has been "caribbeanized" and made more responsive to regional concerns through Jamaica's participation in the Caribbean Examinations Council programs.


Special Education: The government defines special education programs as those programs "designed to meet the educational needs of children (4-18 years) who are identified as having mental, physical, and intellectual capabilities which deviate significantly from the norm expected of their age cohort" (Ministry of Education and Culture 2001). In 2000 there were 2,200 students aged four through eighteen and a little over 300 special education teachers in government-run and government-aided special schools and units. About 300 learning disabled, hearing impaired, and other disabled students are in privately run schools.

Prior to the 1970s Jamaica's capabilities to identify and manage learning disabilities in children was very limited. The educational system as a whole was also unable to deal with the special education needs of physically and mentally exceptional children. Most special education services were provided by voluntary organizations until the government in 1974 took financial responsibility for the care of exceptional children. These children now have access to special education programs in many government schools, often aided greatly by the activities and support of a number of voluntary agencies. Mico Teachers' College runs a program that provides clinical assessments and diagnostic and prescriptive teaching services. The Lister-Mair-Gilby High School, the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, and the School of Hope provide vocational training for students with disabilities within the formal school system.

The government intends to continue to appoint special education teachers to primary and all-age schools until all students who need such services have access to them. The idea is to mainstream as many students as possible, but the special education program suffers from insufficient numbers of appropriately trained teachers and inadequate facilities and equipment. The MOE&C (2001) notes that the demand for special education services "far outstrips" its ability to meet them.

Vocational training for young adults with disabilities is provided by private voluntary organizations and NGOs, including the Jamaica Association for the deaf, Woodside Clarendon School for the Deaf, School of Hope, the 3D Projects Private Voluntary Organization Limited (PVO), and the Abilities Foundation. The PVO provides home-based training with a parent education component; another program with a parent education component is run by the Clarendon Group for the Disabled, funded by Lilianne Fone of the Netherlands. The PVO also runs community-based projects which provide training in horticulture, paper making, and other skills.


Preprimary & Primary Education

In the 1960s Jamaican educators became interested in the ideas on compensatory education that were embodied in the Head Start program that was being implemented in the United States. D.R.B. Grant organized a team from UWI to strengthen the educational program in the basic schools. Supported by a grant from the Bernard Van Leer Foundation in The Netherlands, the team focused on enhancing the education and skill of teachers, improving the curriculum, developing teaching materials, and improving school facilities. The teacher training program the team developed "still serves as the model for Jamaica's community-based programs, and several other developing countries have adopted it" (Morrison and Milner 1995). It was not until 1977, however, that it became possible to earn a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education in Jamaica.

All childcare services were organized under the MOE&C in 1998 when Day Care Services was moved out of the Ministry of Health. The consolidation of services for children aged zero to five years was formalized in the comprehensive Early Childhood Education and Development Programme, established in1999 (UNESCO 2000).

Early childhood education is delivered through community-based, government-supported basic schools, government-run infant departments in primary and all-age, and kindergartens in privately owned preparatory schools. The government has demonstrated an increasing commitment to ensuring the readiness of children entering primary school by encouraging participation in early childhood programs. The number of governmentrecognized basic schools rose from 1,251 in 1990 to 1,980 in 1998 (UNESCO 2000). There was an increase in the percentage of the education budget going to early childhood education over the four years from 1996 (2.8 percent) to 2000 (4.5 percent), and this portion of the budget is slated for another increase in the 2001-2002 budget. Even children in privately owned facilities benefit from government subsidies for teacher salaries, class materials, and school meals. The MOE&C develops the early childhood curriculum and trains teachers in regular workshops; these endeavors have often been supported by grants and technical support from sources such as UNICEF and the Bernard Van Leer Foundation.

MOE&C (2001) reports that the preschool enrollment rate of children in the four- to five-year-old age group is 91 percent, which is one of the highest rates in the Caribbean region. Just over 80 percent of the children are enrolled in the community-operated basic schools, approximately 16 percent are in public infant departments, and the remaining 4 percent or so are in private kindergartens. Based on 1998 figures, the MOE&C (2001) reports that only 3.6 percent of children under age four are in supervised care, with more than 90 percent in private day care.

While enrollment rates are quite high, the overall effectiveness of the early childhood programs in preparing preschoolers for primary school is hard to gauge. Although the government in cooperation with UWI and the Van Leer Foundation embarked on a number of initiatives in the 1990s to increase the number of trained preschool teachers, there is still a large number (possible a majority) of para-professionals working in the system (UNESCO 2000). One of the goals of the MOE&C for the 2000 decade is to place at least one trained teacher in each basic school with a minimum enrollment of over one hundred. In addition, it is unclear whether the high enrollment rates reported accurately reflect participation in the programs. Absenteeism has been a problem in the primary schools. The government reports both gross and net enrollment levels for primary schools, but such figures for pre-primary schools are difficult to obtain.

The main focus during the 1990s has been on assessment. The National Assessment Programme (NAP), designed to monitor and assess learning outcomes, was developed during this period. After a two-year pilot program involving 32 schools, it was implemented in 1999. The NAP is made up of standardized measurement instruments designed to assess student readiness and performance at four points during the primary school years. A readiness inventory is given to all students entering grade one. A set of reading and mathematics diagnostics is administered at grade three. A literacy test is given at the fourth grade level, and the Grade Six Achievement Tests (GSAT) complete the battery. As of March 1999, over 2,000 teachers had been trained in the new methodologies associated with the NAP (UNESCO 2000).

The literacy test is intended to play a crucial role in regulating the flow of students through the system and in eliminating the practice of social promotion. Promotion from grade four to grade five will become contingent on mastery of reading skills rather than on age. The hope is that this will increase literacy rates and raise overall performance on the GSAT, which has replaced the Comprehensive Entrance Examination as the mechanism for placing students in secondary school.

Primary education covers grades one through six (roughly ages six through twelve years) and is offered in public primary schools and all-age schools, as well as private schools. All-age schools offer schooling from the primary level into first-cycle secondary school, that is, grades one through nine or one through eleven; many also include so-called infant departments that offer preschool programs. Considerable effort has been put into improving primary education after the island became independent in 1962. Access to primary education is universal and free from fees for all children enrolled in public schools. All primary students receive textbooks for all their subjects free of charge from the government each year. Despite this achievement in the provision of access, the main challenge facing Jamaica is improving the quality of education at this level.

The MOE&C states that "[i]t is at the primary grades that the foundation for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and values for further development and continuing education is laid" (Ministry of Education and Culture 2001). The government had been concerned with ensuring that the primary curriculum could stand on its own without necessarily being seen as simply a way of gaining access to secondary education, but recent policy statements from the MOE&C indicate that an eventual goal is to have all children complete at least the first cycle of secondary school. The secondary system is being reformed, and much consideration is being given to again revising the primary school curriculum in order to more adequately prepare children for entry into that system.

In the six to eleven age group, 2001 reports indicate that 99 percent are enrolled in school. However, average attendance at the primary level is relatively low at 78 percent; attendance rates for girls have been consistently three to four percentage points higher than those for boys, but the gap appears to have been narrowing during the decade of the nineties (UNESCO 2000). Attendance rates also tend to be higher in urban rather than in rural areas. The current literacy rate at the end of the primary level is 70 percent; a male-female asymmetry somewhat larger than that existing in attendance also exists in this area, but the gap here has also been narrowing. There is also a rural-urban literacy gap. Approximately 96 percent of enrolled students complete primary school. The national average teacher-to-student ratio is 1:32, but 14 percent of schools have a ratio of 1:42 or worse. Some 81 percent of teachers in the primary school system are qualified/certified, but rural and remote schools generally have a higher proportion of inadequately trained teachers. Approximately 52 percent of the schools are in "good" to "satisfactory" condition, and 86 percent of the students have satisfactory seating arrangements.

Efforts to improve the quality of primary education have centered on revising the primary curriculum, implementing an assessment system, increasing the number of qualified teachers in the system, and increasing the availability of support materials such as library books and computers. The language arts component of the curriculum has been revised to incorporate a development component, the goal being to equip all teachers of grades four and six with the means and the skills to diagnose and remediate reading difficulties. There is also an effort to establish performance standards in all areas of the curriculum at the end of each grade.

Preschool education is universally available for children aged four to six in both government-sponsored (basic schools) and private facilities (kindergarten departments at private preparatory schools). The MOE&C develops the preschool curriculum and sponsors regular workshops for training teachers in the basic schools. In order to promote school-readiness for children entering primary school, the government encourages parents to enroll their children in preschools. The MOE&C has also launched parent education initiatives that are aimed at encouraging conceptual and social development in children from ages zero to four.

Primary education covers six grades/years. Children ordinarily enter at age six and exit the system at age twelve. Promotion from grade to grade has been determined largely by age, but the MOE&C is putting in place mechanisms that are intended to end the policy of social promotion. At the end of primary school children take the Grade Six Achievement Tests (GSAT). The GSAT is part of the set of standardized instruments that form the National Assessment Program (NAP). It replaces the Common Entrance Examination as the measure used to place graduates from primary schools into secondary schools.


Secondary Education


Secondary education covers five years (grades seven to eleven) with an additional two years (grades twelve and thirteen) for those who want to move on to higher education. The years in secondary school are divided into two cycles: first-cycle (grades seven and eight) and second cycle (grades nine through eleven). The five-year program leads to the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Secondary Education Certificate after grade 11. Upon completion of an additional two years (grade thirteen) students may take the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced A levels. The A-level exam is terminal and is the standard criterion used for entry into university-level studies.

Secondary education in Jamaica has been quite complex, in large part because the system originally was extremely selective and elitist. As demand for secondary education grew over the years, a variety of institutions evolved to meet varying and changing needs. At the beginning of the 1990s there were seven different types of secondary schools. Each type of school had a program of instruction, and levels of accomplishment and academic and vocational skills varied among graduates. One of the objectives of the MOE&C during the 1990s was to develop some sort of curricular uniformity across the different types in order to ensure equity and quality. The Reform of Secondary Education (ROSE) project resulted in the construction of a common curriculum for grades seven through nine in all schools. It is hoped that the introduction of this junior high school curriculum will equalize educational opportunities for secondary students. The MOE&C is also developing and distributing secondary school textbooks.

Traditional high schools and comprehensive high schools both have offered five years of secondary education, and admission to both types was selective, determined by performance on the GSAT. Comprehensive schools, however, also accepted students from local primary feeder schools. There was a perception that the comprehensive high schools were inferior to the high schools even though the curricula in the two were virtually identical. In May of 2000 the category comprehensive high school was abolished, and all of these institutions are now simply called high schools. The feeder system has been done away with, and all students must meet minimum scores on the GSAT in order to gain admission. Students who fail to gain admission to high school may gain admission after they complete grade nine (and the new standardized junior high curriculum) by performing satisfactorily on the Junior High School Examination.

The curriculum in the high schools is primarily academic and is intended to prepare students for the CXC (after grade eleven) and GCE exams (after grade thirteen). New secondary schools have a two-track system, offering continuing and vocational courses of study. Students in the academically-centered continuing course pursue a curriculum leading to the CXC examination, and many go on to enter teachers' colleges. Vocational students concentrate on technical and vocational courses in addition to the common junior high school curriculum. Curricula vary quite a bit in the other secondary schools, but all students in all schools now take the junior high school curriculum. A small percentage of students attend independent high schools (which also must offer the junior high curriculum); most of these schools are sponsored by religious organizations.

In 1999-2000 approximately 42 percent of teachers in high schools were university graduates and 20 percent of comprehensive high school teachers had university degrees; other secondary-school teachers usually have a certificate or diploma granted by a teachers' college. Government figures (MOE&C 2001) indicate that 81 percent of high-school-age children have access to five years of secondary-level schooling, a level which the MOE&C would like to see increased. Note that this does not mean that all of the 81 percent have access to five years of high-school level education; the 2001-2002 budget, however, includes money for the construction of three new high schools (Ministry of Finance 2001), which will provide additional spaces in high school. The MOE&C reports that Jamaican students' performance on the CXC exams is "satisfactory" in a range of subjects, particularly in technologies, business, and social science subjects. However, performance on English and mathematics is still "below desirable levels." Scores have increased in these areas over the years 1996-2000, and the Ministry expects the trend to continue as students who have benefited from the new primary curriculum and the NAP make their way into the secondary system.

As mentioned above, the MOE&C has developed and distributed textbooks for use in secondary schools, but it does not have the resources to dispense them free of charge as it does in the primary schools. A textbook rental program does operate in all secondary schools, however. Education at this level is not free. The government has introduced "cost sharing" at this level, and most students and/or their parents are expected to contribute at least a nominal amount toward the cost of their education. Fees are set by each school, but all fees must be approved by the MOE&C. The Ministry has a program that helps needy students with all or a portion of their fees so that no child misses out on an education because of financial hardship. Ministry funding for secondary schools covers teachers' salaries and related expenses, but little else. The cost-sharing program has resulted in a significant increase in the amount of money that schools have for instructional materials and equipment.

The Ministry also started the Income Generating Project in 1993. This is a revolving loan system that helps individual schools to develop and implement projects that will generate additional income. Profits from the ventures that have been funded so far have been used for such things as subsidizing examination fees and providing uniforms for poorer students.


Higher Education

Jamaica is affiliated with the University of the West Indies (UWI), which has campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. This regional institution is headquartered at the Mona campus located in Kingston, Jamaica. The University of Technology (Jamaica Utech), which was previously known as the College of Arts, Science, and Technology (CAST) and received university status in 1995, is Jamaica's only national university.

The University Council of Jamaica (an agency of the MOE&C) serves as the accreditation body for higher education in Jamaica. Three private institutions are recognized and accredited by the University Council: the Jamaica Theological Seminary, which offers a four-year Bachelor of Theology program, the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology, which offers a Master's degree in theology, and the West Indies College/Northern Caribbean University, which offers associate and bachelor's degrees in biological sciences and business studies but will expand its degree programs with its newly-granted university status.

Admission to bachelor's degree programs in government-associated universities (UWI and Utech) requires students to pass in five CXC General Certificate of Education (GCE) subjects, including two or three subjects at the advanced level. (The GCE exams are ordinarily taken at the completion of grade thirteen.) Students may also be admitted with the CXC Secondary Education Certificate (taken after grade eleven) or its equivalent after a preliminary year of probationary study. Some students also elect to attend community colleges where they can earn a two-year degree that can be used to transfer to a university. Foreign students must meet the same requirements (or their equivalents) as Jamaican citizens and must demonstrate competence in English; they must also obtain a visa and present certification of good health from a medical practitioner along with proof of vaccination against yellow fever and diphtheria. At UWI there are limitations on the number of spaces available to non-Jamaicans in engineering, law, and medicine.

Undergraduate degrees (either bachelor's or professional) normally take a minimum of three years of full-time study. Postgraduate study that leads to the master's degree requires two years of study and the submission of a thesis or a research paper, as in the case of professional degrees such as the Master's of Social Work. Medical specialization leading to a master's degree is also offered in a variety of specialties after four years of approved internship. The length of time it takes to obtain a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) varies from program to program but most take three years of study beyond the master's level. A thesis is required. Professional qualifications may be obtained one year after completing certain degrees or qualifications.

The two government-aided universities and the three university-council accredited private institutions draw students from throughout the Caribbean and from around the world. A number of programs, in particular some graduate programs and faculties at UWI, have earned international recognition and serve as magnets for students and scholars in certain areas of study. Many Jamaicans pursue university-level studies abroad, the majority in the USA, Canada, and Great Britain.


Administration, Finance, & Educational Research


Funds for all agencies and ministries come through the Ministry of Finance, which is also responsible for collecting all taxes, overseeing financial institutions, and for managing the country's debt. The MOE&C receives funds from general revenues and from certain taxes that are earmarked for education and/or for specific programs. For example, the HEART/NTA programs receive direct funding via a payroll tax levied on employers whose monthly payrolls exceed a certain amount. A host of international funding agencies, including UNESCO, OAS, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), assist the government with projects involving construction of new facilities, the development of curricula, monitoring of student performance, and grants and fellowships for students to study both at home and abroad.

The government has made education its main priority, and this is reflected in the budget allocation given to the MOE&C. The Ministry's allotment has steadily increased since 1996, and projections for the 2001-2002 budget give the Ministry just under thirty percent of the non-debt portion of the budget. Debt service continues to eat up larger portions of the government purse, rising from 45.3 percent in 1996 to 58.2 percent in 2000 and to a projected 62.4 percent in 2001. The allocations given by the MOE&C to the different levels within the educational system also reflect changing needs and priorities. In the 1996 budgetary year early childhood education received 2.8 percent of ministry funds, primary education 34.3 percent, secondary 31.3 percent, and tertiary 20.2 percent. In 2000 early childhood received 4.5 percent, primary 36.9 percent, secondary 32.9 percent, and tertiary 18.3 percent. The proposed 2001 budget includes real dollar increases for all levels but allocates slightly more to early childhood, secondary, and tertiary education.

Traditionally, the management strategy of the MOE&C has been based on central control over all administrative matters. As the system expanded and grew more diverse, it was recognized that administrative reform was needed in order to provide a more effective way of managing the system at the local level. As part of the government's Administrative Reform Programme, the MOE&C was reorganized into a less centralized structure. Regional offices with clearly defined delegated authority and responsibility were (re)introduced with an eye to ensuring more efficient use of human and material resources. Six regional administrators have the responsibility for monitoring and managing systems in their geographic areas. The National Council on Education was established and charged with appointing and training members of individual school boards; it is also charged with finding ways to increase community participation in policy formation. Previously the members of individual school boards were appointed directly by the Minister of Education upon the recommendations of members of Parliament and the principals of the individual schools. The Boards of Management are directly responsible to the Minister for the smooth functioning of their schools, and each is required to formulate and implement a development plan in which annual targets are set and resources managed in accordance with that plan. Incentive funds are supposed to become available in 2003; these will be made available to schools and school boards that demonstrate excellence in organization, development, and academic performance. Each school also has an Education Officer whose job is to carry out Ministry directives and to ensure that the school is run in compliance with the government's code of regulations.

The Planning and Development Section of the MOE&C is responsible for research projects, planning and sitting schools, disseminating information about curricula to teachers, and organizing in-service and continuing teacher education. A variety of demonstration/pilot projects are supported by outside granting agencies; one example is the on-going Teenage Mothers Project operated by the van Leer Foundation and the Center for Early Childhood Education at UWI. Various other research centers at UWI engage in education and educationrelated research, as do Utech and Mico Teachers' College, among others.


Nonformal Education


Jamaica continues to be plagued by high unemployment. Part of this is because there simply are not enough jobs, and part of it is due to relatively low literacy rates and the lack of appropriate job skills among Jamaicans. The government has decided that investing in education will provide the best routes to solving the problem. Raising literacy rates and providing job skills is expected to enable more people to qualify for existing jobs, and it is also hoped that a literate, educated, and skilled populace will result in the creation of more home-grown jobs and attract enterprises that will bring jobs to the island.

The literacy problem has been attacked on two fronts. Reform of the primary-school curriculum and the end of social promotion policies is supposed to ensure that no student leaves the system without basic literacy and numerical skills. And, the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Adult Literacy (JAMAL) was established in 1974 to eradicate illiteracy in those aged fifteen and over through nonformal education channels. The program is organized by a core of literacy specialists who are supported by a large network of volunteers who conduct classes in workplaces and community centers throughout the island. Government figures show that almost 114,000 people enrolled in JAMAL's programs in the years 1994 to 2000. The MOE&C points to the results of the National Literacy Survey done in 1994 as evidence of JAMAL's success. In 1994, approximately 75.4 percent of the population over fifteen was literate, with rates being 81.3 percent for females and 69.4 percent for males. There was also an inverse relationship between age and literacy: the rate for the fifteen-to-nineteen age group was 86.5 percent whereas that for the sixty-five-and-over group was 47.9 percent. JAMAL has stepped up efforts to establish workplace literacy programs in an effort to close the gap between men and women.

There are a variety of programs that are intended to reach those who normally are not served by the standard educational system. Some of these programs are based in community colleges, evening institutes, and community centers. These include the HEART/NTA and JAMAL programs. The MOE&C has vigorously encouraged the formation of partnership programs between private and public sector companies and the established educational institutions. This has led to a variety of non-traditional training schemes, including a special program offered by Utech for personnel of Air Jamaica. Utech also has partnership training programs with a number of companies that lead to a diploma or certificate.

The MOE&C has stressed the need for development of distance education programs and implementation of other educational delivery systems such as computerbased instruction and internet-based courses, but the necessary infrastructure for these is not widely available. The ministry has set a goal of placing at least one computer with Internet access in each school on the island by the end of 2002. This may provide a base from which to develop such a program, as may the formation of partnership programs with businesses and NGOs.

The other major program addresses employment skills. The Human Employment and Resource Training trust/National Training Agency (HEART/NTA) is a statutory program set up in 1982 that was intended to administer and equip all public sector vocational training programs. It is funded by a three-percent training levy on private sector payrolls over a certain amount (originally about US $7,200). HEART/NTA programs are available to those over seventeen years of age, but there are programs for younger persons such as the Learning for Earning Activity Programme. Pre-vocational training is also offered at Vocational Training Centers (VTCs) for those who do not qualify for specific HEART/NTA programs. Most HEART/NTA programs have some kind of entry requirements, and VTCs provide a sort of feeder system for these programs. Some HEART/NTA programs have been articulated with programs at Utech and the College of Arts, Science, and Education, thus offering graduates of these programs admission to formal/degree-level educational programs.

The program offers institutionally based training in eight HEART/NTA Academies and sixteen VTCs spread across the island. On-the-job training is offered through the School-Leaver's Training Opportunities Programme and also through apprenticeship programs. Communitybased programs are offered through the Skills 2000 Project and the Special Needs Programme.

Average enrollment in HEART/NTA programs during the years 1993 through 1998, the most recent years for which figures are available, was 12,373 per annum, with the largest annual enrollment coming in 1998; 58.7 percent of enrollees were female. Apparel and sewn products, commercial skills, hospitality, and construction skills programs were the most popular. An average of 6,868 graduated per annum during 1993-1998, with the highest number of graduates (10,996) coming in 1998; females accounted for 66.6 percent of all graduates. Reflecting the enrollment profile, the majority of graduates were in the areas of apparel and sewn product, building, and commercial skills.

The Social Development Commission (SDC), a joint responsibility of the MOE&C and the Ministry of Local Government, Youth, and Community Development, is responsible for structuring services for youth and communities. Its Community Center Programme has trained approximately 2000 young people in home making and crafts. National Youth Services and Operation Strive, also SDC initiatives, provide training and services to youth in mostly urban areas. Other, non-SDC, organizations provide vocational and other job-related programs for youth; these include the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, the Peer Counseling Association, Youth Opportunity Unlimited, the Mel Nathan Institute, the Kingston Restoration Company, the Youth Educational and Support System, and the Lift Up Jamaica Programme.

The Integrated Community Development Programme is the most extensive and innovative of the SDC's efforts. It is a community-based self-help program. As of 1998, almost 11,000 people had benefited from training and assistance that resulted in communityorganized income-generating projects such as the Meylersfield Food Fish Project, Mile Gully Coffee Farms, Waltham Basket Weaving, Bromley Vegetable Farms, and Highgate Dolls. The Government of Jamaica Bee-Keeping Project has also trained and set up apiaries for about 1,200 individuals in rural areas. The MOE&C has also formulated more broad-based nonformal educational initiatives under the rubric of "Education for Better Living." Its objectives include the encouragement and propagation of values and attitudes generally within the society and particularly regarding respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and the responsibilities of the individual to society; respect for observance of legal and social codes and stability in social life, the imperative to positively influence youth and family and to strive for the proper education and ideas on matters of general public interest. . .(UNESCO 2000, Part II, 20). To date, much of this effort has focused on establishing the Public Service Broadcasting System and on a weekly full-page weekly bulletin that appears in The Gleaner, Jamaica's largest circulation newspaper. The MOE&C, along with all other government agencies and ministries, is developing a website that is intended to serve as a portal for all sorts of educational resources for all of its constituencies.

Distance learning experiments have been undertaken throughout the last three decades but have been crippled by a lack of infrastructure and the expense of the equipment needed for such efforts. One must keep in mind that telephones and cable television and even electricity may be rarities in rural areas, and these things are prohibitively expensive for many individuals in both rural and urban areas. And, one must also keep in mind that many schools do not have enough desks and chairs for students and teachers or buildings that meet minimum standards.

The effort to supply computers and Internet access to all primary schools and computer laboratories in all secondary schools may result in most of the island becoming "wired", and such things as broadband transmission and/or fiber optic lines may open things up further in the distance learning arena. UWI's three regional campuses have been linked via various forms of video transmission since the 1980s, and experimental links have been established from time to time between UWI and teachers' colleges. Advances (and eventual decreases in costs) in wireless and other technologies may lead to broader use of distance learning in all sectors of the educational system, and all indications are that Jamaicans and their government will enthusiastically embrace new technologies when they become accessible.


Other Professional Programs: Nurses are trained in a number of schools that fall under the authority of the Ministry of Health, one dental auxiliary school (also under the Ministry of Health) trains nurses exclusively for dentistry practice. Admission to these programs requires prescribed minimum scores on at least four CXC subjects, with English and Science required. The course of study lasts three years; the final year involves a supervised internship. Courses and certification in other allied health fields are offered at a wide range of both vocational/technical institutions and at the universities.

The Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts is a rather unique cultural and training institution. The school's aim is to produce creators, performers, and educators who will disseminate knowledge of artistic technique and of Jamaican/Caribbean historical and social development and its relation to local and regional culture. There are two courses of study: certificate (two years) and diploma (four years); certificates and/or diplomas are granted in music, dance, drama, and art. The curriculum is structured so that all students take a common set of foundation courses in their first year. In the second year they rotate through all of the subject areas; the third and fourth years are for specialized training. Graduates find employment in all sorts of cultural and artistic organizations and in the primary and secondary schools. Some primary and secondary teachers use the Manley School's diploma and certificate programs to get specialized training in arts and cultural education. The school was originally founded in 1995 by the government of Jamaica for Jamaicans, but it now draws students from the whole Caribbean basin and beyond.

The College of Agriculture, Science, and Education and the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports offer teacher training in specialized areas as well as a range of certificate, diploma, and degree programs. These institutions also serve students from both the island and the region.

Teaching Profession


The post-emancipation formation of an educational system led to the obvious need for teachers and to the recognition that primary school teachers must be trained locally, since the supply of foreign missionaries and British-trained "imports" could not possibly keep up with demand. It appears that most "homegrown" teachers in the early years after emancipation gained access to the profession through a kind of apprenticeship system in which they served as "pupil-teachers" or "monitors" in local schools. This seems to have grown out of the missionaries' practice of singling out promising young men and training them as class leaders and lay preachers (cf. Sherlock & Bennett 1998). In 1836 the Mico Charity established the Mico Institute (now Mico College) "for the benefit of African slaves made free and engaged in the work [of teaching]" (Sherlock & Bennett 1998). The Institute was coeducational when it opened but soon accepted only men. Initially, most teachers were male, but by 1900 three teachers' colleges for women had opened (Bethabara Training College in 1861, Shortwood Training College in 1885, and St. Joseph's in 1897), and the proportion of women in the profession had risen to nearly half. By the 1960s the percentage of women in the profession had risen to roughly 75 percent (Hamilton 1997).

A major issue within the profession (and the MOE&C) has been to increase the number of certified teachers in the schools, and there is some evidence that efforts to rectify this are starting to have some effect. There is a high rate of turnover among teachers, however, especially among the best and most highly-qualified ones, partly because salaries are low and teachers reach the top of the pay and rank scale relatively quickly, and partly because the profession has traditionally been a route for upward social and economic mobility, especially for lower-class and rural persons.

Another concern has been the almost complete lack of male teachers at the primary level (and to some extent at the secondary level). In the past males may have been more likely than females to use the profession as a stepping stone to other careers, but since the 1950s fewer and fewer men have entered the teachers' colleges, and those that have tended to concentrate in the upper secondary level. Some feel that lower literacy rates and lower levels of academic achievement along with higher rates of behavior problems among boys may be due to the lack of male role models in the schools. This lack of male role models, in turn, may exacerbate the problem because boys may see the profession as a female domain. Whatever the reason, Jamaica is certainly not alone here, and there seems to be little that can be done to dramatically increase the number of men in the primary schools, although measures meant to encourage participation in secondary- and tertiary-level education may help to increase the pool of potential male teachers.

The Professional Development Unit of the MOE&C actively promotes in-service education programs for teachers and is an important part of efforts to ensure that all teachers in primary schools meet minimum standards. The Unit also seeks out and disseminates information on fellowships and scholarships that provide teachers and would-be teachers with access to advanced study in education. Some individual primary schools have established arrangements with nearby teachers' colleges and/or UWI and Jtech to provide in-service training and programs similar to the In-service Diploma in Education that existed during the Education Thrust of the 1970s. The MOE&C is constructing a website for primary teachers that will provide information on a variety of things of concern to teachers and may facilitate the flow of information and ideas among teachers throughout the island. Aside from ensuring that all teachers have the necessary training, the biggest problem facing Jamaica is getting adequate numbers of teachers into rural and remote areas of the island in order to overcome the lack of parity between rural and urban schools.

The vast majority of teachers belong to the Jamaica Teachers' Association and its affiliated Jamaica Association of Teacher Educators, whose members come from the teachers' college faculties. Some teachers are represented by the National Union of Democratic Teachers, and there are a host of specialized teachers' organizations like the Jamaica Association of Music Teachers. There are also many non-Jamaican, i.e., Caribbean and Commonwealth, organizations that represent teachers and their interests, including university and college faculty and staff. Teachers also join in formal and informal associations to represent their interests at the school, parish, and regional levels.

The Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts (formerly the Cultural Training Center) is a rather unique cultural and training institution. The school's aim is to produce creators, performers, and educators who will disseminate knowledge of artistic technique and of Jamaican/Caribbean historical and social development and its relation to local and regional culture. There are two courses of study: certificate (two years) and diploma (four years); certificates and/or diplomas are granted in music, dance, drama, and art. The curriculum is structured so that all students take a common set of foundation courses in their first year. In the second year they rotate through all of the subject areas; the third and fourth years are for specialized training. Graduates find employment in all sorts of cultural and artistic organizations and in the primary and secondary schools. Some primary and secondary teachers use the Manley School's diploma and certificate programs to get specialized training in arts and cultural education. The school was originally founded in 1995 by the government of Jamaica for Jamaicans, but it now draws students from the whole Caribbean basin and beyond.

Summary

The MOE&C engaged in a concerted effort during 1999-2001 to rationalize the educational system in Jamaica and to define more explicitly its role and the role of education in Jamaican society.

The MOE&C defines its mission as "to provide a system which secures quality education and training for all persons in Jamaica and achieves effective integration of educational and cultural resources in order to optimize individual and national development." The mission is further elaborated upon in the seven strategic objectives specified by the MOE&C:

  1. To devise and support initiatives striving towards literacy for all in order to extend personal opportunities and contribute to national development.
  2. To secure teaching and learning opportunities that will optimize access, equity and relevance throughout the education system.
  3. To support student achievement and improve institutional performance in order to ensure that national targets are met.
  4. To maximize opportunities throughout the Ministry's purview that promote cultural development, awareness and self-esteem for individuals, communities and the nation as a whole.
  5. To devise and implement systems of accountability and performance management in order to improve performance and win public confidence and trust.
  6. To optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of staff in all aspects of the service in order to ensure continuous improvement in performance.
  7. To enhance student learning by the greater use of information and communication technology as preparation for life in the national and global communities.

The Ministry has also set a number of "critical targets" in line with these objectives; among these are the following:

  • Full enrollment of the Early Childhood age cohort ages four and five by the year 2003.
  • Island-wide public education program by August 2001 in support of Early Childhood Care and Early Stimulation for children between birth and age four.
  • Ninety percent attendance by 2005 at the primary level.
  • Teacher/student ratio in the primary schools to be standardized at 1:35 by 2003, and at no greater than 1:30 for grades one and two by 2005.
  • Eighty percent of all primary school completers to demonstrate full literacy by 2003.
  • Five years of secondary education for all students entering grade 7 in 2003 and thereafter.
  • Fifteen percent minimum enrollment in tertiary education by 2005.
  • Provision of basic infrastructure, i.e., chairs, desks, etc., to meet the needs of all students and teachers by 2003.
  • Minimum of one computer linked to the Internet (or with appropriate other software where Internet connection is not possible) in every primary school by the end of 2002.

There appears to be sufficient government resolve and commitment to expect that at least some of these targets will be reached. The government continues to devote the largest share of the budget remaining after debt servicing to education, and recent reports indicate that the primary school computer goal may be reached ahead of schedule.

Debt servicing continues to eat up a larger and larger portion of Jamaica's revenues, and its economy, like most of those in the Caribbean, is fragile. One can only hope that the island is not forced to undergo another round of "economic restructuring" and wide-spread retrenchment like that imposed by the IMF in the 1970s and 1980s and from which the island is only now beginning to recover.


Bibliography

Bailey, Barbara. "Sexist Patterns of Formal and Non-formal Educational Programmes: The Case of Jamaica." In Gender: A Caribbean Multi-Disciplinary Perspective, ed. Elsa Leo- Rhynie, Barbara Bailey, and Christine Barrow, 144-158. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1997.

Hamilton, Marlene, "The Availability and Suitability of Educational Opportunities for Jamaican Female Students: An Historical Overview." In Gender: A Caribbean Multi-Disciplinary Perspective, ed. Elsa Leo-Rhynie, Barbara Bailey, and Christine Barrow, 133-143. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1997.

Miller, Errol, "IMF Related Devastation of Teacher Education in Jamaica," Social and Economic Studies, 41.2 (June 1992): 153-181.

Ministry of Education and Culture, Education: The way Upward, A Green Paper for the Year 2000. Kingston, 1999. Available from http://www.jis.gov.jm.

. Press Release: "Excerpts from the address delivered by Senator the Honorable Burchell Whiteman, Minister of Education and Culture, at the official 'Renaming Ceremony and Expo 2000 of Comprehensive High Schools'." Kingston, 2000.

. White Paper I: A path for Jamaica's Education at the start of the new Millennium. Kingston, 2001. Ministry of Finance, Minister's Budget Message to Parliament. Kingston, April 16, 2001.

Morrison, Johnetta Wade, and Milner, Valentine, "Formal Education of Children in Jamaica," Childhood Education, 71.4 (Summer 1995): 194-196.

Sherlock, Philip, and Bennett, Hazel, The Story of the Jamaican People. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1998.

UNESCO, The EFA 2000 Assessment Country Reports: Jamaica. Paris, 2000. Available at http://www2. unesco.org.

Whiteman, Burchell, "Education and Training Partnerships, The 1990's Imperatives: Jamaica, The West Indies," Journal of Education Finance, 19.4 (Spring 1994): 94-98.

Wilkins, Julia, and Gamble, Robert J., "An Examination of Gender Differences among Teachers in Jamaican Schools," Multicultural Education, 7.4 (Summer 2000): 18-20.


Edward H. Matthei and
Linda Miller Matthei

views updated

JAMAICA

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

The largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is about 160 kilometers (90 miles) south of Cuba and has an area of 10,990 square kilometers (4,243 square miles) and a total coastline of 1,022 kilometers (634 miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by Jamaica is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. Jamaica's capital city, Kingston, is located on the country's southeastern coast.

POPULATION.

The population of Jamaica was estimated at 2,652,689 in July of 2000, an increase of 7.5 percent from the 1990 population of 2,466,100. In 2000 the birth rate stood at 18.51 per 1,000 while the death rate stood at 5.51 per 1,000. With a projected annual population growth rate of 0.9 percent between 1997 and 2015, the population is expected to reach 2.9 million by the year 2015.

The Jamaican population is primarily of African descent (90.9 percent), with mixed race people making up 7.3 percent of the population, East Indians making up 1.3 percent, and several other ethnic groups rounding out the total. The population is generally young, with 30 percent below the age of 14 and just 7 percent of the population older than 65. A majority of Jamaicans54.7 percent lived in urban areas in 1997, up more than 10 percent from 1975; it is expected that by 2015 more than 63 percent of the population will live in urban areas. The capital city of Kingston and its suburbs are home to the largest number of Jamaicans.

Jamaica became the first Caribbean nation to implement a population policy. The National Population Policy, adopted in 1983, was designed to control the growth, health, and concentration of the population. Mainly, the policy focuses on limiting the birth rate by encouraging the use of contraception, and increasing the quality and length of Jamaicans' lives by addressing treatments for chronic diseases like AIDS and by reducing the number of violent deaths. In addition, the policy considers issues of migration, including urban growth, sustainable environmental plans, and other housing and transportation issues. The major funding for the implementation of this policy comes from international sources. Grants have come from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF); the World Bank is the largest loan provider.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Tourism and bauxite and alumina production dominated Jamaica's economy in 2001, but the island's early economy was centered around the production of one thing: sugar. The English colonists who occupied the island in 1655 imported slave labor and developed large sugar plantations. For the colony's first 2 centuries sugar production dominated the economy, but the end of slavery in 1834 and the beginning of banana production ended this mono-culture (dependence on a single crop). Nevertheless, sugar remained Jamaica's dominant export until the 1950s.

Jamaica entered the 20th century as a crown colony of England, which meant that it was administered by officials from England. Jamaica received limited self rule in 1944, but the growing power of the country's black majority was acknowledged in 1962 with the island's peaceful claim of independence. Since claiming its independence, Jamaica has struggled to create a stable, diversified economy. By the end of the 20th century, Jamaica had not yet created a truly vibrant economy and remained heavily dependent on the United States and Europe for imported goods, and on international lending agencies for financial assistance.

Jamaica is primarily a free-market economy with some state control; despite occasional political violence, it has a fairly stable, 2-party political system and the strong economic support of the United States, Canada, and the European Union. The economy's main exports are bauxite, alumina, sugar, and bananas, but the greatest single contributor to the national economy is tourism. Mining is largely conducted in the island's central highlands, and tourist activities are concentrated on the island's north and west coasts; farmsmany of them quite smallare spread throughout the island. Limited manufacturing, retail trade, and services are centered around the urban centers of Kingston and Montego Bay. Because of its limited productive capacity, the island nation is heavily dependent on imported goods and on foreign debt relief to sustain its struggling economy.

Neither mining nor tourism is capable of providing enough jobs to counteract long-standing problems with unemployment. Unemployment reached nearly 40 percent in the 1970s under the democratic socialist government of Michael Manley. Even under the more conservative regimes of later governments, unemployment often hovered around 20 percent. In 1998 unemployment stood at 15.5 percent; by contrast, the unemployment rate in the United States in 1999 was just 4.2 percent.

Despite its economic difficultiestrade imbalance, high unemployment, underdeveloped commercial sectorJamaica is largely perceived by the outside world as an island paradise. Tourists from North America, Europe, and Japan flock to the sunny Caribbean island in the winter, and they find luxurious hotels and many businesses dedicated to serving their needs.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

As a member of the British Commonwealth, Jamaica's government follows the Westminster Parliamentary model. The British queen is represented by the governor general, who acts as head of state, while the prime minister serves as head of the government. Voters elect members of the House of Representatives, and the leader of the majority becomes the prime minister.

Since earning its independence from England in 1962, Jamaica has been governed alternately by the 2 major political parties, the left-leaning People's National Party (PNP) and the more conservative, pro-business Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). Unlike in the United States, where transitions between the 2 major parties have not marked major swings in policy, Jamaica's 2 parties have often offered conflicting programs for managing the economy and have resorted to violence in opposing each other. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, both parties aligned themselves with rival gun gangs and fought their political battles in the streets as well as at the ballot box. The taint of political violence has touched nearly every election in Jamaican history. In 1995 a new party, the National Democratic Movement (NDM), broke onto the political scene.

From 1972 to 1980 the PNP, under prime minister Michael Manley, adopted democratic socialism as its ruling platform and instituted state control over economic activities. The PNP had little success, as the widespread prosperity of the 1960s gave way to high inflation , unemployment, and great civil unrest and violence. During the 1970s Jamaica became a debtor nation and has remained so ever since. The more conservative JLP won control of the government in 1980 and maintained power until 1989. This pro-business party, led by Edward Seaga, withdrew state control from many industries and encouraged closer economic ties with the United States. Such controls were encouraged, even demanded, as a condition of loans made by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Under Seaga, the economy recovered some of its strength. Nevertheless, Seaga's implementation of austerity measures demanded by the IMF as part of Jamaica's debt maintenance eroded his popularity, and in 1989 the PNP returned to power, again under the leadership of Manley. After Manley's retirement in 1992, Percival J. Patterson assumed the position of prime minister and led the party to an unprecedented third consecutive victory in the 1997 elections.

With socialist economic principles largely discredited by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the PNP generally continued the pro-business programs of the JLP in the 1990s. A crisis in the financial sector which shook the Jamaican economy between 1994 and 1996 prompted the PNP to place this sector under close government supervision, raising fears that the party was returning to more state control of the economy. Yet the PNP's efforts did little to correct the poor health of the economyas measured by mounting government debt, little or no growth in GDP, continued high inflation rates , and the declining value of the Jamaican dollarand could not contain rising levels of street violence and the drug trade. Though analysts expect that the Jamaican economy may begin to rebound in 2001, it may be too late for the PNP to maintain power.

The major source of government revenue comes from taxes. According to the U.S. State Department Country Commercial Guide for 2001, 36 percent of Jamaica's revenues come from income tax , 20 percent come from a value-added tax , and the remainder from customs duties and other sources. The highest marginal tax rate on Jamaican taxpayers stood at 25 percent for incomes over US$2,712 in 1999; while the tax rate percentage is low compared to other countries, the level of the income taxed at this rate is also quite low, which means that a fairly high percentage of Jamaicans are taxed at the highest rate. The highest marginal tax rate on corporations in the same period was 33 percent. Customs taxes are collected under the Common External Tariff (CET) policy enacted by the CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market). The CET is intended to encourage trade among Caribbean nations by placing a tariff of between 0 and 30 percent on goods imported from outside the CARICOM.

The declining value of the Jamaican dollar forced the government to increase the burden of taxes on the Jamaican public. During the financial crises of the late 1990s, the government raised the tax rate on such goods as gasoline, cigarettes, and alcohol, sparking widespread protests. When the government raised taxes on petroleum products in April 1999, for example, riots paralyzed the island for 3 days. To stop the violence, the government reduced the tax increases.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Jamaica enjoys an extensive though aging infrastructure which has received much government attention in the 1990s. The small island is served by a network of over 18,700 kilometers (11,620 miles) of roads, 13,100 kilometers (8,140 miles) of which are paved. With growing numbers of licensed automobiles in the 1990s, the road system, especially in urban areas, has become highly congested. A major highway development project between Montego Bay and Negril began in 1999, but has since been suspended because of financial problems experienced by the contractor.

The nation's rail system is troubledin 1992 the state-owned Jamaica Railway Corporation ceased operation and the few operating rail lines are used only for

Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Jamaica 353,000 (1996) 54,640 (1996) AM 10; FM 13; shortwave 0 1,215 M 7 460,000 21 60,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Cuba 473,031 (2000) 2,994 AM 169; FM 55; shortwave 1 3.9 M 58 2.64 M 4 (2001) 60,000
St. Lucia 37,000 1,600 AM 2, FM 7, shortwave 0 (1998) 111,000 3 32,000 15 5,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

transporting bauxite and aluminabut the government is pursuing efforts to modernize the country's railways. An Indian agency responsible for the rehabilitation of track line, locomotives, and stations, and the acquisition of new technology and equipment is working to improve Jamaica's rail service. In addition, the government announced upcoming commuter services from Kingston to Spanish Town and Linstead in early 2001.

Jamaica has 2 major airports: the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, both of which are quite modern. The latter was slated for privatization by the end of 2000. Ten major airlines provide service to Jamaica, and are responsible for carrying many of the country's tourists. The ports of Kingston and Montego Bay are world-class sea ports; in fact, the port of Kingston was estimated to be the seventh largest transshipment port (a port in which goods arrive to be distributed by other means) in the world, according to the EIU Country Profile for 1997-98. However, Jamaica has lost some international shipping business due to the high cost of shipping operations in the country.

Electrical power is supplied to Jamaicans by the state-owned Jamaica Public Service Company, which has the capacity to produce 656.2 megawatts of power. Because the nation has no natural fuel reserves, over 95 percent of the country's power is generated from imported fuel oil, which accounted for 15 percent of all imports in 1996. Though generally reliable, the 110-volt power system has been subject to occasional power shortages and blackouts.

Telecommunications services in Jamaica are thoroughly modern. Telephone service is provided by Cable and Wireless of Jamaica Limited; although Cable and Wireless held a monopoly at the beginning of the 21st century, the government allowed for domestic competition in 2001, with plans for the market to be fully competitive by 2003. In addition, 2 foreign companies bought licenses to introduce mobile phone service to the country: Cellular One Caribbean, a St. Maarten-based U.S. company, and Mossel Limited, an Irish firm. According to the EIU Country Profile for 1997-98, the country had 331,816 telephone lines and was adding new lines at the rate of 60,000 a year. In 1999 the country also had 6 Internet service providers.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

Jamaica's economic sectors reflect the small size of the country, which places real limits on the availability of natural resources, population, and domestic markets. During the late 1990s, Jamaica's economy suffered from a variety of setbacks that hampered the growth of its goods-producing sectorsall of which experienced declines, with the exception of agriculture. The economy is still reeling from the crisis experienced in the financial sector in 1996, although the government's intervention to stabilize the banking system led to a growth of 4.8 percent in the services sector in 1999. Increasing political violence also held back growth in the tourist industry. Jamaica's economy relies heavily on trade with other countries, so changes in the preferential trade regimes it enjoyed with the United States and the European Union, combined with an overvalued currency, has significantly shrunk its export market.

Recognizing these obstacles, Jamaica has targeted certain economic sectors to fuel the economy's growth. Jamaica's 15-year plan called the National Industrial Policy, adopted in 1996, identified tourism, shipping and port services, apparel, agricultural processing, minerals, bauxite, and alumina as industries to target for export growth and expansion. The World Trade Organization (WTO) highlighted the services sector, especially tourism, as critical to Jamaica's development.

AGRICULTURE

Agricultural production is an important contributor to Jamaica's economy, accounting for 7.4 percent of GDP in 1997 and providing nearly a quarter of the country's employment. Sugar, which has been produced in Jamaica for centuries, is the nation's dominant agricultural export, but the country also produces bananas, coffee, spices, pimentos, cocoa, citrus, and coconuts. In addition to legal agricultural production, Jamaica is also a major producer of marijuana, known locally as ganja, which contributes a great deal of money to the informal economy . Agricultural production of all sorts has been subject to the region's tumultuous weather, which includes seasonal hurricanes and occasional drought. In addition to cash crops , Jamaica also produces a wide variety of produce for domestic consumption.

In 1996 the country produced 237,943 metric tons of sugar, its highest output since 1980. Of this total, 181,183 metric tons of sugar were exported, earning US$109 million. The European Union (EU) was the major purchaser of Jamaican sugar, thanks to standard export quotas granted to Jamaica. The United Kingdom was the single largest purchaser of Jamaican sugar, purchasing 86.5 percent in 1996.

The bulk of Jamaican sugar is produced on large sugar plantations, though small and medium-sized businesses do contribute between 30 and 40 percent of the bulk sugarcane converted on the plantations. Productivity in the Jamaican sugar industry is low due to outdated equipment, inefficient management, and an aging work-force. Losses in this economic sector, prompted in part by a severe drought in 1997, forced the government to offer the sector a US$100 million assistance package late in 1997.

The EU previously offered Jamaica an annual quota of 105,000 metric tons on bananas (which means that they agree to purchase a defined amount of bananas each year), but the WTO ruled in 1995 that the EU went against free trade legislation by giving preference to Caribbean banana exports. As will be the case with many Caribbean nations which rely on strong banana exports, this ruling is expected to negatively affect Jamaica's banana industry as the preferential market is phased out. From a low in 1988 following Hurricane Gilbert, Jamaican banana production reached 88,917 metric tons in 1996 and earned US$44.1 million. Banana producers, who are generally small farmers, hope to increase their output by increasing efficiency and extracting higher yields per acre.

The remainder of Jamaica's agricultural production is divided among a number of smaller export products, including cocoa, coffee (Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is prized throughout the world), copra (coconut flesh), and pimentos. Production of these minor crops climbed in the early 1990s, though they were also affected by the drought of 1997. Food production for domestic consumptiongenerally conducted by small farmers selling their goods in local marketsalso climbed during the early 1990s. Despite this increased production, Jamaica imports the majority of the food it consumes, which keeps food prices high throughout the country.

Though it is not recorded on any official reports on agricultural production and exports, marijuana is an important cash crop for many Jamaican farmers. Many small farmers plant marijuana between their other crops and an efficient farmer can expect to earn thousands, even tens of thousands, of Jamaican dollars off a small plot of land. Farmers sell their crop to drug dealers, who risk arrest to supply high U.S. demand for the illegal drug. The profits earned from the drug trade, in turn, fuel corruption and bribery among local police and politicians.

Though Jamaica's location would suggest that the island would have a booming fishing industry, actual fishing production has remained relatively stagnant throughout the 1980s and 1990s, rarely reaching even 50 percent of government targets. In fact, the island imports between US$15 and $20 million in fish annually.

INDUSTRY

MINING.

Bauxite and alumina, raw materials used in the production of aluminum, are the country's main exports. During the 1960s Jamaica was the world's largest producer of bauxite, a position it held until the 1980s. Today, Jamaica is the world's third largest producer of bauxite, after Australia and Guinea, and has estimated reserves of more than 1.9 billion metric tons. The majority of the bauxite exported from Jamaica is first converted into alumina, though roughly 30 percent of bauxite is exported in its raw form. Bauxite is taken from mines to processing plants by truck and rail, but, because the island lacks sources of cheap energy, the final and most profitable conversion process that turns bauxite/alumina into aluminum must take place overseas.

Bauxite production first became a factor in Jamaica's economy in the 1950s. Between 1950 and 1960, the contribution of bauxite production to the nation's GDP grew from less than 1 percent to 9.3 percent. By 1970, mining's contribution to GDP reached 15.7 percent. In the years since, the industry's contribution to Jamaica's GDP remained at about 10 percent. Historically, the mining of bauxite was overseen by large American and Canadian aluminum companies such as Alcoa and Alcan, and final processing of the ore took place in their plants elsewhere. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, foreign companies withdrew from the island, and the government bought into the industry, thus keeping profits at home.

In the late 1990s, the bauxite/alumina industry employed about 5,000 people in the country's most highly paid economic sector. According to the U.S. State Department's Country Commercial Guide, the industry produced 12.6 million tons of bauxite and alumina in 1998, its highest level of production in over a decade. However, production declined by 7.3 percent to 11.79 million tons in 1999; some of the lost volume is due to an explosion at a Louisiana refinery which handles two-thirds of Kaiser Jamaica Bauxite Company's exports. The loss was offset by an increase in the price of bauxite on international markets, but shifting world demand for aluminum and variations in oil prices have made profits from the industry quite variable over the years. Fortunately, tourism helps bring in foreign dollars when bauxite profits decline.

In addition to bauxite, Jamaica has substantial reserves of several other important minerals, including limestone, gypsum, silica, and marble. Extensive, high-quality limestone reserves estimated at 50 billion tons provide an ample base for exports, though limestone production has, in fact, been rather small. Gypsum, which has been mined in eastern Jamaica since 1949, is another important export mineral. While some gypsum is used locally in the manufacture of tiles and cement, most is shipped unprocessed to the United States and Latin America.

MANUFACTURING.

The manufacturing sector is an important, though declining, contributor to the Jamaican economy. Though manufacturing accounted for 19.6 percent of GDP in 1988, it had fallen to 18.1 percent in 1996. Total employment in manufacturing in 1996 stood at 100,400 people, or 8.7 percent of the labor force . Forces contributing to the shrinkage of the manufacturing sector include the sinking price of imports, increases in domestic wages, and, in the mid-1990s, increased competition from Mexico in the garment industry following the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which granted Mexican products preferential treatment in U.S. markets.

Historically, Jamaican companies have processed sugar, food, beverages, and tobacco; produced chemicals, metals, and construction materials; and assembled electrical appliances and apparel. Many of these companies were set up to encourage import substitution , which meant that they were designed to produce goods that had previously been imported. Beginning in the 1980s, however, apparel production became the dominant manufacturing activity in the nation, employing 35,000 people in the early 1990s. Production was greatly increased when U.S. companies began exporting their apparel assembly to countries such as Jamaica, which could assemble clothing at far lower prices than in the United States. The value of apparel exports reached US$292 million in 1995, making it the nation's second most valuable export next to alumina.

SERVICES

TOURISM.

Tourism is vitally important to the health of the Jamaican economy, contributing approximately US$1.23 billion to the economy in 1999. Beginning in the 1960s, economic prosperity in the major Western countries and declining international air fares helped make Jamaica a major tourist destination. By the early 1970s tourism competed with the bauxite industry as the country's dominant source of income. After a brief decline in tourism in the late 1970s and early 1980sdue largely to internal unresttourism has expanded dramatically through the late 1980s and into the 1990s. The number of tourist arrivals has risen from 846,716 in 1983 to 1.82 million in 1996. Of these visitors, roughly 65 percent of tourists stay in Jamaican hotels, apartments, guest houses, and other lodging, while the majority of the remainder visit from cruise ships anchored offshore. Two-thirds of tourists to Jamaica in 1999 were from the United States.

Jamaicans have responded to this influx of tourists by constructing a range of lodging options and by investing in the infrastructureroads, docks, services, and airports. According to the U.S. Department of State Country Commercial Guide, Jamaica had a total room capacity of 22,715 in 1998 and was planning to add another 1,289 rooms between 2000 and 2001. Important development projects included the opening of the Ritz-Carlton hotel complex in the Montego Bay area, in addition to 3 other hotels before 2001. In the late 1990s, however, Jamaica began experiencing slight declines in tourist visits, thanks to unfavorable exchange rates , increasing competition for tourist dollars by other Caribbean destinations, and heightened fears that tourists might be affected by the rising political and gang violence in the country.

The tourist economy employs 84,300 people directly and it is estimated that another 170,000 people are engaged in tourism-related activities. Most tourist activity is centered on the northern coast of the island, which is more accessible to cruise ships departing from the United States, and in the communities of Montego Bay, Port Royal, and Kingston.

FINANCIAL SERVICES.

The other major component of Jamaica's service industry, beside tourist services, is the financial services industry. The early 1990s saw a rapid expansion in banking, investment, and insurance services fueled by an influx in capital and a lack of sufficient oversight by government regulatory agencies. In the mid-1990s, however, the entire financial services sector entered a period of severe crisis. Banks found themselves suffering from poor lending decisions as many of their loans were not repaid. Insurance companies who had invested in or owned banks were affected, as were other branches of the financial services sector.

In 1996 the Jamaican government took over the nation's fourth-largest bank, Century National Bank, in order to stave off its failure, and trust in the banking industry in general declined, prompting customers to attempt to withdraw their funds. By 1997 the government was forced to assume partial ownership of 5 of the nation's 6 largest locally-owned commercial banks with a rescue package valued at US$276 million, or 4.5 percent of GDP. The government agency entrusted with regulating the industry, the Financial Sector Adjustment Company, hoped to provide both the funding and the management skills necessary to rescue the industry, but by the late 1990s these changes had not yet taken affect.

RETAIL.

The absence of large commercial centers, other than Kingston and its suburbs and the tourist center at Montego Bay, has resulted in a poorly developed retail sector in Jamaica. While Kingston is home to a variety of retail stores, including fast-food franchises such as Burger King and McDonald's, the majority of the towns in the interior of the country have small shops, farmer's markets, and temporary roadside stands.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Over the past several decades, Jamaica has relied more and more on imports. The value of imports in 1998 was more than double the value of exports. Jamaica exports and imports the majority of its goods from the United States. The United Kingdom was Jamaica's second largest single trading partner, with US$192 million in exports in 1995, or 13 percent; the remainder of the European Union countries received US$219 million, or 15 percent. Other major recipients of Jamaican goods were Canada, Norway, and the various CARICOM countries.

Imports of foreign goods were also dominated by the United States. In 1995, Jamaica imported US$1,399 million in goods from the United States, representing 49 percent of all imports (this number climbed to 52 percent in 1999). Major imports were consumer goods , including

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Jamaica
Exports Imports
1975 .815 1.122
1980 .963 1.095
1985 .566 1.111
1990 1.135 1.859
1995 1.414 2.757
1998 1.303 3.273
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

food, fuels, and other raw materials. CARICOM countries accounted for US$255 million in imports, or 9 percent, in 1995, while the United Kingdom (US$240 million, or 8.5 percent), Norway (US$184 million, or 6.5 percent), other EU countries ($112 million, or 4 percent), and Canada (US$99 million, or 3.5 percent) accounted for the remainder of imports. Imports rose dramatically through the 1990s, from US$1.799 billion in 1991 to US$3 billion in 1999. Much of the rise in imports can be attributed to large purchases of capital goods by the government, expanding demand for consumer goods, and to major purchases made by Air Jamaica, the country's major airline.

The United States has increased in importance as Jamaica's dominant trading partner throughout the 1990s. In 1990, the United States accounted for 28 percent of Jamaica's exports and 49 percent of its imports; by 1999, those numbers had risen to 42 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Major exports are bauxite and alumina, food, and garments assembled in Jamaica. As Jamaica's trade with the United States increased, its trade with fellow members of CARICOM, the Caribbean Common Market, decreased from 8.3 percent of exports and 21.7 percent of imports in 1990 to 4 percent and 9 percent, respectively, by 1995. This lack of trade within CARICOM signals the group's inability to stimulate the regional economy despite the proximity and the lack of trade restrictions between member nations.

Exchange rates: Jamaica
Jamaican dollars (J$) per US$1
Jan 2001 45.557
2000 42.701
1999 39.044
1998 36.550
1997 35.404
1996 37.120
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

The substantial and growing trade imbalance that Jamaica endured over the years has been partially offset by the input of tourist dollars and of monies sent home by Jamaicans working abroad. Nevertheless, Jamaica continues to run a trade deficit which forces it to borrow heavily to pay for its consumption.

MONEY

The value of the Jamaican dollar has slowly declined on the world market over a period of 30 years, making it increasingly difficult for the average Jamaican to afford imported goods. In 1977 the Jamaican dollar was valued at 90.9 cents for every U.S. dollar; by December of 1999 the value of the Jamaican dollar had collapsed to J$42.25 for every U.S. dollar. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) classifies the Jamaican exchange rate as freely floating, which means that the value of the Jamaican dollar is determined by supply and demand in the foreign exchange market and not by government control. The government, however, has tried to stabilize the price of the Jamaican dollar under IMF supervision in order to stabilize its economy. These stabilization efforts have subjected Jamaicans to periods of high inflation, economic recession , and mounting national debt . In 1999 debt service accounted for J$97.5 billion, or 58.1 percent of the budget. Even so, Jamaica's debt is lower than that of many other Caribbean nations.

Jamaica has a single stock exchange, the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), which began operations on 3 February 1969. During its first year of operation the JSE had 34 member companies with a total market capitalization of J$146 million. The JSE had as many as 51 member companies during the financial services boom of the mid-1990s, but dropped back down to 45 companies in 1999. That same year the total market capitalization of the companies trading on the JSE was J$104 billion.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

When it comes to wealth, Jamaica is a land of extremes. On the northern coasthome to tourismand in the suburbs of Kingston, wealthy Jamaicans live in first-rate housing, visit shopping centers featuring the best imported goods, and enjoy an elevated standard of living. Living in such suburbs as Cherry Gardens, Arcadia Gardens, and Forest Hills, the wealthy send their children to private schools and to universities abroad, and employ private security forces. Yet not far from these wealthy enclaves a significant number of poor Jamaicans live in squalor, with poor housing, limited food supply, and inadequate access to clean water, quality health care, or education. Kingston's poor congregate in the slum districts of Trench Town, Jones Town, and Denham Town, where

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Jamaica 1,819 1,458 1,353 1,651 1,559
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Haiti 500 607 527 481 370
St. Lucia N/A 2,076 2,150 3,542 3,907
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

water supplies are often polluted and violent youth gangs clash with police for control of the streets.

The wealth is distributed largely along racial lines, reflecting Jamaica's slave-plantation heritage. The descendants of black slaves tend to be among the poorest classes in Jamaica, while white and mixed-race descendants of plantation owners and traders tend to be better off. These extremes are reflected in the nation's distribution of income: in 1996 the wealthiest 20 percent of Jamaicans controlled 43.9 percent of the wealth, while the poorest 20 percent controlled only 7 percent. In fact, the poorest 60 percent controlled just 34.3 percent of wealth. Due in large part to the decline of services in urban slums, the percentage of people with access to safe water has declined from 96 percent in the period from 1982-85 to 70 percent in the period from 1990-96; access to sanitation facilities (plumbed toilets) has dropped from 91 percent to 74 percent in the same period.

Jamaica's rural poor also face difficult circumstances, for many workers must try to grow their own crops or participate in the informal economy in some cases, the drug tradein order to survive. Both the rural and urban poor have suffered from the long decline in the quality of social services provided to Jamaicans. Though the British built a well-developed health and education system on the island in the post-World

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage
Share: Jamaica
Lowest 10% 2.9
Lowest 20% 7.0
Second 20% 11.5
Third 20% 15.8
Fourth 20% 21.8
Highest 20% 43.9
Highest 10% 28.9
Survey year: 1996
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Jamaica 24 7 3 1 9 8 48
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Cuba N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
St. Lucia 40 5 11 4 17 11 11
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

World War II years, a lack of government funding for schools and hospitals has meant that these services have declined in quality over the years. Despite this deterioration, 93 percent of Jamaican primary-level students are enrolled in school, and a government-funded health-care system ensures that Jamaicans have access to adequate health care.

Jamaica's high inflation and dependence on importsespecially for food, gasoline, and clothinghas meant that the poor have had to spend a high amount of their relatively small incomes on the necessities of life. Despite governmental food subsidies for the poor, similar to food stamp programs (vouchers that can be exchanged for food in grocery stores) in the United States, most poor Jamaicans spend more than half of their income on food and beverages. The difficulty that many Jamaicans face to earn a living on the island has contributed directly to the high immigration rate of the country and to its very low population growth. Despite the difficulties faced by Jamaica's poor, a study conducted by the Overseas Development Council judged that Jamaica's quality of life was better than both Mexico and Venezuela and equal to that of neighboring Trinidad and Tobago.

WORKING CONDITIONS

In the last years of the 1990s the Jamaican labor force has been shrinking, to an estimated 1,120,000 workers in 1999. The official unemployment rate for 1999 was 15.7 percent, down 1 percent from the year before. But the declining unemployment rate does not necessarily mean that opportunities for workers are increasing. Many of those leaving the workforce to retire are older, more highly skilled workers, while those entering the workforce are younger and unskilled. Job training and secondary education in Jamaica are generally poor, thus much of the younger workforce cannot expect high-paying jobs. Unemployment remains particularly high among women and younger workers.

Before there were even political parties in Jamaica there was a labor union: the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, formed in 1938 to protect the rights of Jamaican workers. In the 1990s the U.S. State Department estimated union membership in Jamaica's 70 labor unions at around 20 percent of the employed workforce. The government of Jamaica supports workers' rights conventions promoted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and has set conditions governing industrial and human relations, established minimum wage standards, and protected low-wage workers from paying income tax. The 40-hour work week is the standard, and Jamaica has no history of child labor problems. In 1999, the government-mandated minimum wage increased to J$1,200 a week, and no income tax was required on wages lower than J$100,464 a year. In addition, the government provides social security benefits that include a retirement pension, pay for on-the-job injuries, food stamps, rehabilitation, and training. These latter benefits are considered sub-standard, however, and represent a tiny portion of federal spending.

Despite the protections offered by unions and government regulations, conditions for workers in Jamaica are not ideal. First, labor actionsstrikes, slow downs, and protestshave frequently disturbed work life; in 1996 there were a total of 195 such disputes, up 7.7 percent from 1995. Second, the educational and training system in Jamaica is of such low quality that few workers have the skills to secure higher paying skilled jobs. (In 1998 adult illiteracy rates stood at 18 percent for men and 10 percent for women, significantly higher than elsewhere in the Caribbean.) Thus many workers seek earnings in the informal sector, which includes jobs as street vendors but also in the illegal drug trade. Finally, the close connection between labor unions and political parties has meant that union jobs are often granted as political favors, and that fights for jobs and votes have often turned violent. Industrial and political violence has been a recurring feature in Jamaican life since the 1970s and has helped decrease the attraction of Jamaica for those looking to locate factories in the country.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1494. Jamaica is discovered by Christopher Columbus, and comes under the control of Spain in 1509.

1655. England establishes a colony on Jamaica, which is confirmed by the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. The English begin importing slaves to harvest sugar on large plantations.

1807. England bans the slave trade, ending the flow of African slaves into Jamaica.

1834. England abolishes slavery in its colonies, forcing sugar plantation owners to change their labor relations and granting more power to the island's largely black population.

1865. The Morant Bay Rebellion against the authoritarian rule of white colonial leaders is crushed, but British authorities decide to rule Jamaica as a crown colony, which means that it is administered by British officials.

1938. Labor leader Alexander Bustamante helps establish the first trade union in the Caribbean region, the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU). In the same year Norman Washington Manley forms Jamaica's first political party, the People's National Party (PNP).

1943. Alexander Bustamante forms the nation's second political party, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

1944. England grants Jamaica a new constitution allowing for the election of a governor by all citizens. Jamaica is now self-governed.

1958-61. The West Indies Federation attempts to join Caribbean nations in a single political entity, but is undermined by competition between Jamaica and Trinidad, the federation's 2 largest members.

1962. Jamaica is granted its independence from England on 5 August 1962, and becomes an independent state within the British Commonwealth.

1968. Jamaica joins Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), hoping to enlarge the regional market for its goods.

1973. Jamaica becomes a founding nation of the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM), a union of Caribbean nations dedicated to ensuring the free flow of goods between countries. CARICOM has never received sufficient support from member countries to operate effectively.

1973-74. The worldwide oil crisis undermines Jamaica's economy and puts the nation on the path to lasting trade imbalances and debt.

1988. Hurricane Gilbert devastates the island's agricultural sector, causing damage that continues to affect the economy into the 1990s.

1995. Bruce Golding helps found the National Democratic Movement (NDM), the nation's third major political party.

FUTURE TRENDS

Jamaica entered the 21st century under a cloud of economic decline. For the better part of 3 decades, despite some successes at increasing tourism and exports and curbing imports, the nation has been fighting a losing battle with inflation, mounting debt, and the declining value of the Jamaican dollar. In real terms, this has meant that the quality of life for the average Jamaican has undergone a slow but steady decline. The government enacted policies in the early 1990s to stabilize the economy and appeared to be making progress toward that goal. However, the financial collapse of the mid-1990s caused significant setbacks. Following policies outlined by the World Bank, the IMF, and other lending agencies, the government hopes that its program of lowering interest rates, encouraging tourism, and encouraging exports can help the economy. Yet nearly 20 years of following policies outlined by lending agencies has not yet led Jamaica out of its economic decline. Whether the Jamaican economy will rebound depends heavily on continued world prosperity in the early part of the 21st century, especially in areas related to Jamaica's main revenue producers, and on the government's ability to ride out the social backlash against needed austerity measures.

DEPENDENCIES

Jamaica has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bayer, Marcel. Jamaica: A Guide to the People, Politics and Culture. London: Latin American Bureau, 1993.

"The Caribbean's Tarnished Jewel." The Economist. 2 October 1999.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Jamaica, Barbados, 1997-98. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 1998.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Jamaica. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2001/wha/jamaica_ccg2001.pdf>. Accessed September 2001.

World Trade Organization, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. "Jamaica: 1998." <http://www.wto.org/English/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp85_e.htm>. Accessed September 2000.

Tom Pendergast

CAPITAL:

Kingston.

MONETARY UNIT:

Jamaican dollar (J$). One Jamaican dollar equals 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, and 1 dollar. There are notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars. In 1999 the exchange rate of Jamaican to U.S. dollars was J$42.25=US$1.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Bauxite, alumina, sugar, bananas, rum.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Machinery and transportation equipment, construction materials, fuel, food, chemicals, fertilizers.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$8.8 billion (purchasing power parity, 1998 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$1.303 billion (f.o.b., 1998). Imports: US$3.273 billion (c.i.f., 1998).

views updated

Jamaica

PROFILE
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-JAMAICAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the October 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Jamaica

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 10,991 sq. km. (4,244 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Kingston metro area and St. Andrew (pop. 650,000). Other cities—Montego Bay (96,000), Spanish Town (131,515).

Terrain: Mountainous, coastal plains.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Jamaican(s).

Population: (2006 est.) 2,673,800.

Annual growth rate: (2006) 1.5%.

Ethnic groups: African 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, Chinese 0.2%, White 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%.

Religions: Anglican, Baptist and other Protestant, Roman Catholic, Rastafarian, Jewish.

Languages: English, Patois.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy (age 15 and over)— 79.9%.

Health: (2005) Infant mortality rate—19.2/1,000. Life expectancy—female 75 yrs., male 73 yrs.

Work force: (2006, 1.25 million) Industry—17.1%; agriculture—17.9%; services—64.9%.

Government

Type: Constitutional parliamentary democracy.

Independence: August 6, 1962.

Constitution: August 6, 1962.

Government branches: Executive—Governor General (chief of state, representing British monarch), prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Parliament (21 appointed senators, 60 elected representatives). Judicial—Court of Appeal and courts of original jurisdiction.

Political subdivisions: 14 parishes, 60 electoral constituencies.

Political parties: People's National Party (PNP), Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), National Democratic Movement (NDM), United Peoples Party (UPP).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $9.7 billion.

Real growth rate: (2006) 2.5%.

Per capita GDP: (2005) $3,640.

Natural resources: Bauxite, gypsum, limestone, marble, sand, silica.

Agriculture: Products—sugar, bananas, coffee, citrus fruits, condiments and spices.

Industry: Types—tourism, bauxite and alumina, processed foods, sugar, rum, cement, metal, chemical products.

Trade: (2005) Exports—$1.5 billion: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, chemicals, citrus fruits and products, rum, coffee. Major markets (2005)—U.S. 26.3%, U.K. 10.8%, Canada 19.6%, Trinidad and Tobago 0.6%, Japan 1.0%. Imports (2005)— $4.7 billion: machinery, transportation and electrical equipment, food, fuels, fertilizer. Major suppliers (2000)—U.S. 40.1%, Trinidad and Tobago 9.0%, Japan 4.5%, U.K. 2.4%, Canada 2.3%.

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Arawaks from South America had settled in Jamaica prior to Christopher Columbus’ first arrival at the island in 1494. During Spain's occupation of the island, starting in 1510, the Arawaks were exterminated by disease, slavery, and war. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517. In 1655, British forces seized the island, and in 1670, Great Britain gained formal possession.

Sugar made Jamaica one of the most valuable possessions in the world for more than 150 years. The British Parliament abolished slavery as of August 1, 1834. After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica gained a degree of local political control in the late 1930s, and held its first election under full universal adult suffrage in 1944. Jamaica joined nine other U.K. territories in the West Indies Federation in 1958 but withdrew after Jamaican voters rejected membership in 1961. Jamaica gained independence in 1962, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.

Historically, Jamaican emigration has been heavy. Since the United Kingdom restricted emigration in 1967, the major flow has been to the United States and Canada. About 20,000 Jamaicans emigrate to the United States each year; another 200,000 visit annually. New York, Miami, Chicago, and Hartford are among the U.S. cities with a significant Jamaican population. Remittances from the expatriate communities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, estimated at up to $1.6 billion per year, make increasingly significant contributions to Jamaica's economy.

GOVERNMENT

The 1962 constitution established a parliamentary system based on the U.K. model. As chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II appoints a governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, as her representative in Jamaica. The governor general's role is largely ceremonial. Executive power is vested in the cabinet, led by the prime minister. Parliament is composed of an appointed Senate and an elected House of Representatives. Thirteen Senators are nominated on the advice of the prime minister and eight on the advice of the leader of the opposition. General elections must be held within 5 years of the forming of a new government. The prime minister may ask the governor general to call elections sooner, however. The Senate may submit bills, and it also reviews legislation submitted by the House.

It may not delay budget bills for more than 1 month or other bills for more than 7 months. The prime minister and the cabinet are selected from the Parliament. No fewer than two or more than four members of the cabinet must be selected from the Senate. The judiciary also is modeled on the U.K. system. The Court of Appeals is the highest appellate court in Jamaica. Under certain circumstances, cases may be appealed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Jamaica's parishes have elected councils that exercise limited powers of local government.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Governor General: Kenneth HALL

Prime Minister: Bruce GOLDING

Dep. Prime Minister: Kenneth BAUGH, Dr.

Min. of Agriculture: Christopher TUFTON

Min. of Defense: Bruce GOLDING

Min. of Education: Andrew HOLNESS

Min. of Energy, Mining, & Telecommunications: Clive MULLINGS

Min. of Finance & the Public Service: Audley SHAW

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Trade: Kenneth BAUGH, Dr.

Min. of Health & Environment: Rudyard SPENCER

Min. of Industry & Commerce: Karl SAMUDA

Min. of Information, Culture, Youth, & Sports: Olivia GRANGE

Min. of Justice: Dorothy LIGHTBOURNE

Min. of Labor & Social Security: Pearnel CHARLES

Min. of National Security: Derrick SMITH

Min. of Planning & Development: Bruce GOLDING

Min. of Tourism: Edmund BARLETT

Min. of Transport & Works: Michael HENRY

Min. of Water & Housing: Horace CHANG, Dr.

Attorney General: Dorothy LIGHTBOURNE

Governor, Central Bank: Ambassador to the US: Gordon SHIRLEY

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Stafford NEIL

Jamaica maintains an embassy in the United States at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-452-0660). It also has consulates in New York at 767 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-935-9000); and in Miami in the Ingraham Building, Suite 842, 25 SE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33131 (tel. 305-374-8431/2).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Jamaica's political system is stable. However, the country's serious economic problems have exacerbated social problems and have become the subject of political debate. High unemployment—averaging 12.5%— rampant underemployment, growing debt, and high interest rates are the most serious economic problems. Violent crime is a serious problem, particularly in Kingston.

The two major political parties have historical links with the two largest trade unions—the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), and the People's National Party (PNP) with the National Workers Union (NWU). The center-right National Democratic Movement (NDM) was established in 1995, and the populist United Peoples Party (UPP) in 2001; neither has links with any particular trade union, and both are marginal movements.

For health reasons, Michael Manley stepped down as Prime Minister in March 1992 and was replaced by P.J. Patterson. Patterson subsequently led the PNP to victory in general elections in 1993, 1997, and in October of 2002. The 2002 victory marked the first time any Jamaican political party has won four consecutive general elections since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1944. Upon Patterson's retirement on March 30, 2006, Portia Simpson Miller became the first female prime minister in Jamaica's history. She left office after her party (PNP) lost to the JLP in general elections held in September 2007. The current composition of the lower house of Jamaica's Parliament is 32 JLP and 28 PNP.

Since the 1993 elections, the Jamaican Government, political parties, and Electoral Advisory Committee have worked to enact electoral reform. In the 2002 general elections, grassroots Jamaican efforts from groups like CAFFE (Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections), supplemented by international observers and organizations such as The Carter Center, helped reduce the violence that has tended to mar Jamaican elections. Former President Carter also observed the 2002 elections and declared them free and fair.

ECONOMY

Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, adequate water supplies, and climate conducive to agriculture and tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.

The country faces some serious problems but has the potential for growth and modernization. Currency reserves, remittances, tourism, agriculture, mining, construction, and shipping all remain strong, and Jamaica has attracted over U.S. $4.4 billion in foreign direct investment over the past decade. However, high unemployment, burdensome debt, an alarming crime rate, and anemic growth continue to darken the country's prospects. After 4 years of negative economic growth, Jamaica's GDP grew by 0.8% in 2000, and has grown in the 0.5% to 2.5% range, year-on-year, since then. Inflation fell from 25% in 1995 to 6.1% in 2000 and has mostly registered single digits since then, including calendar year 2006, which saw the lowest rate in 18 years, at 5.8%. Through periodic intervention in the market, the central bank prevents any abrupt drop in the exchange rate. Nevertheless, the Jamaican dollar continues to slip despite intervention, resulting in an average exchange rate of J$68.15 to the U.S. $1.00 by May 2007.

Weakness in the financial sector, speculation, and low levels of government investment erode confidence in the production sector. The government is unable to channel funds into social and physical infrastructure because of an overwhelming debt-to-GDP ratio, which currently stands at approximately 135%. Almost 60 cents on every dollar earned by the Jamaican Government goes to debt servicing and recurrent expenditure. Tax compliance rates also contribute to the problem, hovering at approximately 45%. On the other hand, net internal reserves remain healthy, at $2.3 billion at the end of 2006.

Jamaican Government economic policies encourage foreign investment in areas that earn or save foreign exchange, generate employment, and use local raw materials. The government provides a wide range of incentives to investors, including remittance facilities to assist them in repatriating funds to the country of origin; tax holidays which defer taxes for a period of years; and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for approved enterprises.

Free trade zones have stimulated investment in garment assembly, light manufacturing, and data entry by foreign firms. However, over the last 5 years, the garment industry has suffered from reduced export earnings, continued factory closures, and rising unemployment. This can be attributed to intense international and regional competition, exacerbated by the high costs of operations in Jamaica, including security costs to deter drug activity, as well as the relatively high cost of labor. The Government of Jamaica hopes to encourage economic activity through a combination of privatization, financial sector restructuring, falling interest rates, and by boosting tourism and related production activities.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Jamaica has diplomatic relations with most nations and is a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. It was an active participant in the April 2001 Quebec Summit of the Americas. Jamaica is an active member of the British Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the G-15, and the G-77. Jamaica is a beneficiary of the Cotonou Conventions, through which the European Union (EU) grants trade preferences to selected states in Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Historically, Jamaica has had close ties with the U.K., but trade, financial, and cultural relations with the United States are now predominant. Jamaica is linked with the other countries of the English-speaking Caribbean through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and more broadly through the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). In December 2001, Jamaica completed its 2-year term on the United Nations Security Council.

U.S.-JAMAICAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close and productive relations with the Government of Jamaica. Former Prime Minister Patterson visited Washington, DC, several times after assuming office in 1992. In April 2001, Prime Minister Patterson and other Caribbean leaders met with President Bush during the Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada, at which a “Third Border Initiative” was launched to deepen U.S. cooperation with Caribbean nations and enhance economic development and integration of the Caribbean nations. Then-Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller attended the “Conference on the Caribbean—A 20/20 Vision” in Washington in June 2007. The United States is Jamaica's most important trading partner: bilateral trade in goods in 2005 was over $2 billion. Jamaica is a popular destination for American tourists; more than 1.2 million Americans visited in 2006. In addition, some 10,000 American citizens, including many dual-nationals born on the island, permanently reside in Jamaica.

The Government of Jamaica also seeks to attract U.S. investment and supports efforts to create a Free Trade Area of the Americans (FTAA). More than 80 U.S. firms have operations in Jamaica, and total U.S. investment is estimated at more than $3 billion. An office of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, located in the embassy, actively assists American businesses seeking trade opportunities in Jamaica. The country is a beneficiary of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partner Act (CBTPA). The American Chamber of Commerce, which also is available to assist U.S. business in Jamaica, has offices in Kingston.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance to Jamaica since its independence in 1962 has contributed to reducing the population growth rate, the attainment of higher standards in a number of critical health indicators, and the diversification and expansion of Jamaica's export base. USAID's primary objective is promoting sustainable economic growth. Other key objectives are improved environmental quality and natural resource protection, strengthening democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law, as well as family planning. In fiscal year 2006, the USAID mission in Jamaica operated a program totaling more than $21 million in development assistance. The Peace Corps has been in Jamaica continuously since 1962. Since then, more than 3,300 volunteers have served in the country. Today, the Peace Corps works in the following projects: Youth-at-Risk, which includes adolescent reproductive health, HIV/AIDS education, and the needs of marginalized males; water sanitation, which includes rural waste water solutions and municipal waste water treatment; and environmental education, which helps address low levels of awareness and strengthens environmental nongovernmental organizations. The Peace Corps in Jamaica fields about 70 volunteers who work in every parish on the island, including some inner-city communities in Kingston.

Jamaica is a major transit point for cocaine en route to the United States and is also a key source of marijuana and marijuana derivative products for the Americas. During 2006, the Government of Jamaica seized narcotics destined for the United States, arrested key traffickers and criminal gang leaders, and dismantled their organizations. Jamaica remains the Caribbean's largest producer and exporter of marijuana. The efforts of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) enabled cannabis seizures to increase by over 200% in 2006. In 2006, the JCF arrested 5,409 persons on drug related charges, including 269 foreigners. Additionally, more than 20,000 kilograms of marijuana were seized, and 6,300,000 marijuana plants eradicated in 2006. In August 2006, two priority targets associated with major cocaine trafficking organizations were arrested in Jamaica and await extradition to the United States where they are charged with conspiracy to import illegal drugs. Jeffrey and Gareth Lewis (father and son) allegedly transported cocaine shipments from Colombia to the United States. Operation Kingfish is a multinational task force (Jamaica, U.S., United Kingdom, and Canada) for coordinating investigations leading to the arrest of major criminals. From its October 2004 inception through December 2006, Operation Kingfish launched 1,378 operations resulting in the seizure of 56 vehicles, 57 boats, one aircraft, 206 firearms, and two containers conveying drugs. Kingfish was also responsible for the seizure of over 13 metric tons of cocaine (mostly outside of Jamaica) and over 27,390 pounds of compressed marijuana.

In 2006 Operation Kingfish mounted 870 operations, compared to 607 in 2005. In 2006, through cargo scanning, the Jamaican Customs Contraband Enforcement Team seized over 3,000 pounds of marijuana, ten kg of cocaine, and approximately $500,000 at Jamaican air and seaports.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

KINGSTON (E) 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, 876-702-6000, Fax 876-702-6001, Workweek: M-F; 07:15 to 16:00; most offices allow flex time; all offices staffed core hours, some staff take Friday afternoons off, working longer on other days., Website: http://kingston.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Shelia Lockett
AMB OMS:Tiffany Thompson
CG OMS:Felisha Skipper
FCS:Office Closed
FM:Carroll Webb
HRO:Maryanne Masterson
MGT:Eric A. Flohr
POL ECO:Lloyd W. Moss
AMB:Brenda La Grange Johnson
CG:Edward Wehrli
DCM:James T. Heg
PAO:Patricia Attkisson
GSO:Alfred Braswell
RSO:Arthur Balek
AGR:Jamie Rothschild
APHIS:Aiester Simmons
CLO:Lucy Ramel
DAO:CDR Randall Ramel
DEA:Kelvin Jamison
EEO:Tiffany Thompson
FAA:Allan B. Hurr
FMO:Sarah Spodek
ICASS:Chair Vacant
IMO:Howard Sparks
ISO:Douglas Culver
ISSO:Vacant
MLO:Ltc. Erik Valentzas
NAS:Andrea Lewis
State ICASS:Eric A. Flohr

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Trade Information Center 14th and Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20230 Tel: 800-USA-TRADE or 800-872-8723 Web site: http://trade.gov/

American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica
The Jamaica Pegasus
81 Knutsford Blvd
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 929-7866/67
Fax: (876) 929-8597
Web site:
http://www.amchamjamaica.org/
E-mail: [email protected]

Caribbean-Central American Action
1818 N Street, NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075
Web site: http://www.c-caa.org

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

October 16, 2007

Country Description: Jamaica is a developing nation of over 2.6 million people. Facilities for tourists are widely available. International airports are located in Kingston and Montego Bay.

Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens traveling by air to and from Jamaica must present a valid passport when entering or re-entering the United States. Sea travelers must have a valid U.S. passport (or other original proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified U.S. birth certificate with a government-issued photo ID). Persons traveling with U.S. passports tend to encounter fewer difficulties upon departure than those who choose to use other documents.

Important Information: As early as January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and Jamaica by sea (including ferries) may be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on applying for a passport.

Visitors must have a return ticket and be able to show sufficient funds for their visit. U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica for work or extended stays are required to have a current U.S. passport and visa issued by the Jamaican Embassy or a Jamaican Consulate. There is a departure tax for travelers, which is regularly included in airfare. For further information, travelers may contact the Embassy of Jamaica at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, telephone (202) 452-0660; the Jamaican Consulate in Miami or New York; honorary consuls in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle or Los Angeles. Visit the Embassy of Jamaica's web site at http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: Gang violence and shootings occur regularly in certain areas of Kingston and Montego Bay. These areas include Mountain View, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens, and Arnett Gardens in Kingston, and Flankers in Montego Bay. Some neighborhoods are occasionally subject to curfews and police searches. Impromptu demonstrations can occur, during which demonstrators often construct roadblocks or otherwise block the streets. These events usually do not affect tourist areas, but travelers to Kingston should check with local authorities or the U.S. Embassy for current information prior to their trip.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers out-side the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Crime, including violent crime, is a serious problem in Jamaica, particularly in Kingston. While the vast majority of crimes occur in impoverished areas, the violence is not confined. The primary criminal concern of a tourist is being a victim of theft. In several cases, armed robberies of Americans have turned violent when the victims resisted handing over valuables. Crime is exacerbated by the fact that police are understaffed and ineffective. Therefore, tourists should take their own precautions and always pay extra attention to their surroundings when traveling, exercise care when walking outside after dark, and should always avoid areas known for high crime rates. As a general rule, valuables should not be left unattended, including in hotel rooms and on the beach. Care should be taken when carrying high value items such as cameras, or when wearing expensive jewelry on the street. Women's handbags should be zipped and held close to the body. Men should carry wallets in their front pants pocket. Large amounts of cash should always be handled discreetly.

The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to avoid inner-city areas of Kingston and other urban centers, such as those listed in the section on Safety and Security, whenever possible. Particular caution is advised after dark in downtown Kingston. The U.S. Embassy also cautions its staff not to use public buses, which are often overcrowded and are a frequent venue for crime.

To enhance security in the principal resort areas, the Government of Jamaica has taken a number of steps, including assignment of special police foot and bicycle patrols. Particular care is still called for, however, when staying at isolated villas and smaller establishments that may have fewer security arrangements. Some street vendors and taxi drivers in tourist areas are known to confront and harass tourists to buy their wares or employ their services. If a firm “No, thank you” does not solve the problem, visitors may wish to seek the assistance of a tourist police officer.

Drug use is prevalent in some tourist areas. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding, or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances. There is anecdotal evidence that the use of so-called date rape drugs, such as Ruhypnol, has become more common at clubs and private parties. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illegal narcotics are especially potent in Jamaica, and their use may lead to severe or even disastrous health consequences.

Relatives of U.S. citizens visiting Jamaica and U.S. citizens who are prisoners in Jamaica have received telephone calls from people claiming to be Jamaican police officers, other public officials, or medical professionals. The callers usually state that the visitor or prisoner has had trouble and needs financial help. In almost every case these claims are untrue.

The caller insists that money should be sent to either themselves or a third party who will assist the visitor or prisoner, but when money is sent, it fails to reach the U.S. citizens in alleged need. U.S. citizens who receive calls such as these should never send money. They should contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassy's Consular Section at telephone (876) 702-6000 for assistance in confirming the validity of the call.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/ or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is more limited than in the United States. Comprehensive emergency medical services are located only in Kingston and Montego Bay, and smaller public hospitals are located in each parish. Emergency medical and ambulance services, and the availability of prescription drugs, are limited in outlying parishes. Ambulance service is limited both in the quality of emergency care and in the availability of vehicles in remote parts of the country. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often require cash payment prior to providing services. If a medical evacuation is required, the Embassy recommends you contact the American Citizen Services Unit at (876) 702-6000 for assistance.

Numerous cases of dengue fever, including two afflicting Americans, were reported in Jamaica in 2007, the first in many years. Americans are urged to read the Centers for Disease Control's Fact Sheet on dengue fever and particularly to follow the guidance on deterring mosquitoes at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Jamaica is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Drivers and pedestrians should remember that driving in Jamaica is on the left-hand side of the road. Breakdown assistance is quite limited in urban areas and virtually unavailable in rural areas. Nighttime driving is especially dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. As noted above in the section on Crime, public buses are often over-crowded and they are frequently a venue of crime. Travelers who use taxicabs should take only licensed taxicabs having red-and-white PP license plates.

Drivers and passengers in the front seat are required to wear seat belts, and motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. Extreme caution should be used in operating motor driven cycles. Several serious and fatal accidents take place each year involving American tourists riding in taxis without seat belts. All passengers are strongly encouraged to utilize vehicles equipped with seat belts.

Drivers should make every effort to avoid areas of high crime and civil strife. Roadblocks are sometimes employed by residents as protests intended to draw attention to particular issues and require extreme caution by drivers.

The Embassy also advises its staff to always keep their windows up and doors locked when driving and to leave enough distance between themselves and the preceding car at intersections to allow a roll forward in case of harassment by pedestrian panhandlers. As a rule, drivers should always avoid contact with large groups of pedestrians.

Most roads are paved, but suffer from ill repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. City roads are often subject to poorly marked construction zones, pedestrians, bicyclists, and, occasionally, live-stock. Street corners are frequented by peddlers, window washers, and beggars walking among stopped cars. Smaller roads are often narrow and they are frequently traveled at high speeds. Drivers should be aware of roundabouts, which are often poorly marked and require traffic to move in a clockwise direction. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to those already in it. Failure to turn into the correct flow of traffic can result in a head on collision.

The Al, A2 and A3 highways are the primary links between the most important cities and tourist destinations on the island. These roads are not comparable to American high-ways, and road conditions may be hazardous due to poor repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. The B highways and other rural roads are often very narrow and frequented by large trucks, buses, pedestrians, bicyclists and open range livestock. Highways are traveled at high speeds, but they are not limited-access and are subject to the hazards outlined above.

For specific information concerning Jamaican drivers permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Jamaica's website: http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org or the Jamaica Tourist Board at: 1-800-JAMAICA or on line at http://www.jamaicatravel.com.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Jamaica's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Jamaica's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Behavior Modification Facilities: In recent years, there has been a growth of Behavior Modification Facilities for the treatment of minors with drug/ alcohol and discipline problems. Parents enroll their children in these facilities in the hope of improving their behavior. The Department of State is aware of such facilities in Jamaica and Mexico. There may be facilities in other countries that have not come to the attention of the U.S. government.

Parents considering enrolling their children in overseas Behavior Modification Facilities should visit the facility, if at all possible, and review the host country's rules regarding the facility and its employees. Parents may contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the host country to inquire about the facility or speak to the country officer in the Office of American Citizen Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs at: (202) 647-5226. When such facilities are known to exist, consular officials conduct periodic site visits, sometimes in the company of host country government officials, to monitor the general well being of U.S. citizen enrollees and to check on specific individuals who have been the subject of welfare and whereabouts inquiries. Further information can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Behavior Modification Facilities information flyer.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Jamaica without authorization from the Ministry of National Security. Entering Jamaica with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition is a serious crime that can result in a long prison sentence.

Fresh fruits, vegetables and uncooked meats are not permitted to be brought in or out of the country and may be confiscated by customs officials. Pets may not be brought into Jamaica, except for dogs from the United Kingdom that have not been vaccinated for rabies and only after six months quarantine.

It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington or one of the Jamaican consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Jamaica, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in the event of an emergency or disaster. General information is available on the subject via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences.

Persons violating Jamaica's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Jamaica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Airport searches are thorough and people attempting to smuggle narcotics are often apprehended.

Prison conditions in Jamaica differ greatly from prison conditions in the United States. Prisoners are provided only the most basic meals and must rely upon family and friends to supplement their diets, provide clothing, and supply personal care items such as toothpaste and shampoo. Packages shipped from the United States to prisoners are subject to Jamaican import taxes and are undeliverable when the recipient lacks the funds to pay the duties.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Jamaican law contains specific prohibitions on certain sexual activities. These prohibitions have been used to target homosexuals and trans-gendered individuals. Violations can result in lengthy imprisonment.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Jamaica are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Jamaica. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 142 Old Hope Road in the Liguanea area of Kingston, tel. (876) 702-6000. Office hours are 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with window services available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., except local and U.S. holidays. For emergencies after hours, on weekends, and holidays, U.S. citizens are requested to call the U.S. Embassy duty officer through the main switchboard at (876) 702-6000.

The Consular Agency in Montego Bay is located at St. James Place, 2nd Floor, Gloucester Avenue, tel. (876) 952-0160. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30. The U.S. Embassy also has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory. The U.S. Consular Agency in the Cayman Islands is located at 222 Mirco Centre, Georgetown. Hours are M-W-F from 7:30 to 11:00 and T-Th from 12:00 to 3:30. The telephone number is (345) 945-8173 and the email is [email protected] For additional information on travel conditions in the Cayman Islands, please refer to the Cayman Islands Country Specific Information.

International Adoption

March 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The government office responsible for adoptions in Jamaica is the Child Development Agency, or CDA, which may be reached via its web site at http://www.cda.gov.jm, or by mail or phone at:

2-4 King Street
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: 876-948-6678
Fax: 876-924-9401

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: The government of Jamaica allows for adoptions by single individuals or married couples. Prospective adoptive parents who are not related to the potential adopted child must be age 25 or older. If the child is a brother, sister, niece or nephew of the prospective adoptive parent(s), at least one of the prospective adoptive parents must be age 18 or older. There are no laws that dictate the age difference between the adoptee and the perspective adoptive parent when they are related. The CDA does not have any specified medical ineligibilities, but evaluates each potential adoption on a case-by-case basis. A medical condition of the adoptive parents may factor into this evaluation.

Residency Requirements: There are two types of adoption in Jamaica: Adoption Licenses and Adoption Orders. Prospective adoptive parents seeking an Adoption License have no residency requirements to meet. However, the prospective adoptive parents will likely have to travel to Jamaica at least twice (once to meet with the CDA and again to apply for a visa).

Prospective adoptive parents seeking an Adoption Order must reside in Jamaica during the pre-adoption placement and until the case appears before a Jamaican court. This typically takes at least four months. The court may waive the pre-adoption placement requirement if the adoptive parents are Jamaican nationals adopting a relative.

Time Frame: Most adoptions under the Adoption License process can be completed in four months. For Adoption Orders, the time frame may be somewhat longer. Paperwork processing may take 2–3 months to complete prior to the pre-adoption placement, unless the child is a relative. The pre-adoption placement typically lasts four months.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: The Child Development Agency is the only agency legally authorized to provide adoption services in Jamaica. There are one or two private agencies operating in Jamaica, but they do so without government sanction or authorization.

Adoption Fees: The Child Development Agency does not charge any fees for adoptions. The CDA has proposed charging a registration fee, but, as of March 2006, has yet to receive permission from the Ministry of Health, who oversees the CDA, to do so. The amount of the registration fee has yet to be determined. The CDA requires the prospective adoptive child to undergo an extensive medical exam that includes laboratory work.

Any licensed pediatrician in Jamaica can perform this examination. Most pediatricians charge approximately US$100 for the medical examination. After a committee of the CDA approves the adoption, the case is referred to the court. Adoptive parents may have legal representation at the court proceeding, but most adoptive parents do not hire an attorney for the court proceeding. Attorney fees will vary.

Adoption Procedures: All applications for adoptions of Jamaican children must be made to the Child Development Agency. The CDA also identifies children for adoption, so persons interested in adopting a child from Jamaica should contact the CDA. There are both public and private children's homes in Jamaica. The CDA administers the public children's homes but not the private homes. The CDA, however, places children from either type of home. In the city of Kingston as well as St. Andrew, Westmoreland, and St. James parishes, special Family Courts exercise jurisdiction over adoptions. In all other parishes, the local Resident Magistrate's Court supervises adoptions.

Adoption License: Adoption Licenses allow for a Jamaican citizen orphan to be taken to a “scheduled country” (the United States is a scheduled country) and adopted there. If the child is a grandchild, niece or nephew of the applicant(s), a License is not required, but the prospective adoptive parent(s) must still work through the CDA. For the Adoption License to be issued, the Jamaican court must be satisfied that the prospective adoptive parent(s) is/are suitable (in keeping with the requirements of the CDA that sending the child abroad would be in his or her best interest and that the consent of the child's parent(s) or guardian(s), or any person who has custody of the child, has been given).

To determine that the prospective adoptive parent(s) is/are suitable, the CDA reviews the home study. In most cases, the home study conducted as part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ 1-600 or I-600A process will be suitable. The CDA verifies the contents of the home study report by writing to the home study agency. In doing so, the CDA verifies the home study authorship and obtains the home study agency's agreement to supervise the placement in the future.

Adoption Orders: Adoption Orders provide for the orphan to be adopted in Jamaica. Adoption Orders require a pre-adoption placement. The placement involves CDA supervision of the prospective adoptive child in the prospective adoptive parents’ home, typically for 4 months. This placement must take place in Jamaica. The CDA also conducts a home study during this period. The court issues the Adoption Order when the CDA is satisfied that the pre-adoption placement has gone well and that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the petitioner. Post-placement reports are not required when an Adoption Order is issued.

Required Documents: To obtain an Adoption License, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must present:

  • An application form (available from the CDA);
  • A certified original home study plus two copies to be sent directly to the Board by the Department of Health (this can be the same home study conducted in the U.S. for the I-600A or 1-600);
  • A completed medical examination of both the prospective adoptive parents and the child;
  • A letter of undertaking from the agency that conducted the home study agreeing to supervise the placement until the adoption is complete, and beyond, as determined necessary on a case-by-case basis by the CDA;
  • A bank statement;
  • Letter(s) from the parent(s)'s employer(s), indicating annual income and the nature of employment.

To obtain an Adoption Order, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must present:

  • An application form (available from the CDA);
  • A certified original home study plus two copies to be sent directly to the Board by the Department of Health (this can be the same home study conducted in the U.S. for the I-600A or I-600);
  • A completed medical examination of both the prospective adoptive parents and the child;
  • An income statement;
  • Two personal references;
  • A letter of undertaking from the Jamaican agency that conducted the home study to supervise placement.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-452-0660

Jamaica also has Consulates-General in New York, NY and Miami, FL, as well as Consulates in Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Richmond, VA; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy Jamaica
16 Oxford Road
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: 876-935-6000
Fax: 876-935-6019
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 541
Kingston Jamaica

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Jamaica may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction

February 2008

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Jamaica is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any other international or bilateral treaties in force between Jamaica and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Jamaica place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts.

American citizens planning a trip to Jamaica with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: In Jamaica, if parents are legally married they share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is granted by law to the mother unless there are known facts of inappropriate behavior mental or social problems. Foreign court orders are not automatically recognized.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not automatically enforced in Jamaica, but may be formally recognized by a Jamaican court.

Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has been granted custody of a child, the other parent is usually granted visitation rights. The American Embassy in Kingston has reported few problems for non-custodial parents exercising their visitation rights. If a custodial parent fails to allow visitation, the non-custodial parent may appeal to the court.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is recognized under Jamaican law.

Travel Restrictions: No exit visas are required to leave Jamaica. However, a child leaving the country with a person other than a parent needs written authorization from one parent. This authorization requires certification from the Jamaican immigration office before minors may exit the country.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Jamaican court should retain an attorney in Jamaica. The U.S. Embassy in Jamaica maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by accessing the internet address below or by requesting one from the Embassy at:

U.S. Embassy Kingston
Consular Section
Jamaica Mutual Life Center
2 Oxford Road, 3rd Floor
Kingston
Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 929-4850
Fax: [876] 935-6001
Web site: www.state.gov/kingston

Questions involving Jamaican law should be addressed to a Jamaican attorney or to the Embassy of Jamaica in the United States at:

Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 452-0660

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/family. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

views updated

Jamaica

Compiled from the December 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name: Jamaica

PROFILE

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

GOVERNMENT

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-JAMAICAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 10,991 sq. km. (4,244 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Kingston metro area (pop. 628,000). Other cities—Montego Bay (96,600), Spanish Town (122,700).

Terrain: Mountainous, coastal plains.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Jamaican(s).

Population: (2005 est.) 2,660,700 million.

Annual growth rate: (2005) 0.5%.

Ethnic groups: African 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, Chinese 0.2%, White 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%.

Religions: Anglican, Baptist and other Protestant, Roman Catholic, Rastafarian, Jewish.

Languages: English, Patois.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy (age 15 and over)—79.9%.

Health: (2005) Infant mortality rate—19.2/1,000. Life expectancy—female 75 yrs., male 73 yrs.

Work force: (2005, 1.19 million) Industry—17.8%; agriculture—21.4%; services—60.8%.

Government

Type: Constitutional parliamentary democracy.

Independence: August 6, 1962.

Constitution: August 6, 1962.

Government branches: Executive—Governor General (chief of state, representing British monarch), prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Parliament (21 appointed senators, 60 elected representatives). Judicial—Court of Appeal and courts of original jurisdiction.

Political subdivisions: 14 parishes, 60 electoral constituencies.

Political parties: People’s National Party (PNP), Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), National Democratic Movement (NDM), United Peoples Party (UPP).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $9.127 billion.

Real growth rate: (2005) 1.5%.

Per capita GDP: (2005) $3,430.

Natural resources: Bauxite, gypsum, limestone.

Agriculture: Products—sugar, bananas, coffee, citrus fruits, all-spice.

Industry: Types—tourism, bauxite and alumina, garment assembly, processed foods, sugar, rum, cement, metal, chemical products.

Trade: (2005) Exports—$1.53 billion: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, garments, citrus fruits and products, rum, coffee. Major markets (2000 data)—U.S. 39.1%, U.K. 11.2%, Canada 10.2%, Netherlands 22.0%, Norway 9.1%, CARICOM 3.7%, Japan 2.3%. Imports (2005)—$4.74 billion: machinery, transportation and electrical equipment, food, fuels, fertilizer. Major suppliers (2000)—U.S. 44.8%, Trinidad and Tobago 10.0%, Japan 6.0%, U.K. 3.1%, Canada 3.1%, Mexico 4.8%, Venezuela 3.9%.

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Arawaks from South America had settled in Jamaica prior to Christopher Columbus’ first arrival at the island in 1494. During Spain’s occupation of the island, starting in 1510, the Arawaks were exterminated by disease, slavery, and war. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517. In 1655, British forces seized the island, and in 1670, Great Britain gained formal possession.

Sugar made Jamaica one of the most valuable possessions in the world for more than 150 years. The British Parliament abolished slavery as of August 1, 1834. After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica gained a degree of local political control in the late 1930s, and held its first election under full universal adult suffrage in 1944. Jamaica joined nine other U.K. territories in the West Indies Federation in 1958 but withdrew after Jamaican voters rejected membership in 1961. Jamaica gained independence in 1962, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.

Historically, Jamaican emigration has been heavy. Since the United Kingdom restricted emigration in 1967, the major flow has been to the United States and Canada. About 20,000 Jamaicans emigrate to the United States each year; another 200,000 visit annually. New York, Miami, Chicago, and Hartford are among the U.S. cities with a significant Jamaican population. Remittances from the expatriate communities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, estimated at up to $800 million per year, make increasingly significant contributions to Jamaica’s economy.

GOVERNMENT

The 1962 constitution established a parliamentary system based on the U.K. model. As chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II appoints a governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, as her representative in Jamaica. The governor general’s role is largely ceremonial. Executive power is vested in the cabinet, led by the prime minister.

Parliament is composed of an appointed Senate and an elected House of Representatives. Thirteen Senators are nominated on the advice of the prime minister and eight on the advice of the leader of the opposition. General elections must be held within 5 years of the forming of a new government. The prime minister may ask the governor general to call elections sooner, however. The Senate may submit bills, and it also reviews legislation submitted by the House.

It may not delay budget bills for more than 1 month or other bills for more than 7 months. The prime minister and the cabinet are selected from the Parliament. No fewer than two or more than four members of the cabinet must be selected from the Senate.

The judiciary also is modeled on the U.K. system. The Court of Appeals is the highest appellate court in Jamaica. Under certain circumstances, cases may be appealed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Jamaica’s parishes have elected councils that exercise limited powers of local government.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/27/2006

Governor General: Kenneth HALL

Prime Minister: Portia SIMPSON-MILLER

Min. of Agriculture & Land: Roger CLARKE

Min. of Defense: Portia SIMPSON-MILLER

Min. of Education & Youth: Maxine HENRY-WILSON

Min. of Finance & Planning: Omar DAVIES

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade: Anthony HYLTON

Min. of Health: Horace DALLEY

Min. of Housing, Transport, & Works: Robert PICKERSGILL

Min. of Industry, Science, & Technology (With Energy): Phillip PAULWELL

Min. of Information & Development: Portia SIMPSON-MILLER

Min. of Justice: A. J. NICHOLSON

Min. of Labor & Social Security: Derrick KELLIER

Min. of Local Government & Environment: Dean PEART

Min. of National Security: Peter PHILLIPS

Min. of Sports: Portia SIMPSON-MILLER

Min. of Tourism, Entertainment, & Culture: Aloun N’dombet ASSAMBA

Attorney General: A. J. NICHOLSON

Governor, Central Bank: Derick LATIBEAUDIERE

Ambassador to the US: Gordon SHIRLEY

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Stafford NEIL

Jamaica maintains an embassy in the United States at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-452-0660). It also has consulates in New York at 767 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-935-9000); and in Miami in the Ingraham Building, Suite 842, 25 SE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33131 (tel. 305-374-8431/2).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Jamaica’s political system is stable. However, the country’s serious economic problems have exacerbated social problems and have become the subject of political debate. High unemployment—averaging 15.5%—rampant underemployment, growing debt, and high interest rates are the most serious economic problems. Violent crime is a serious problem, particularly in Kingston.

The two major political parties have historical links with two large trade unions—the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the People’s National Party (PNP) with the National Workers Union (NWU). The center-right National Democratic Movement (NDM) was established in 1995 and the populist United Peoples Party (UPP) in 2001; neither has links with any particular trade union and both are marginal movements.

For health reasons, Michael Manley stepped down as Prime Minister in March 1992 and was replaced by P.J. Patterson. Patterson subsequently led the PNP to victory in general elections in 1993, 1997, and in October of 2002. The 2002 victory marked the first time any Jamaican political party has won four consecutive general elections since the introduction of universal suffrage to Jamaica in 1944.

Upon Patterson’s retirement on March 30, 2006, Portia Simpson Miller became the first female prime minister in Jamaica’s history. The current composition of the lower house of Jamaica’s Parliament is 34 PNP and 26 JLP.

Since the 1993 elections, the Jamaican Government, political parties, and Electoral Advisory Committee have worked to enact electoral reform. In the 2002 general elections, grassroots Jamaican efforts from groups like CAFFE (Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections), supplemented by international observers and organizations such as The Carter Center, helped reduce the violence that has tended to mar Jamaican elections. Former President Carter also observed the 2002 elections and declared them free and fair.

ECONOMY

Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, adequate water supplies, and climate conducive to agriculture and tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica’s economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.

The country faces some serious problems but has the potential for growth and modernization. Despite over U.S. $4.4 billion in foreign direct investment over the past decade, the economy remains relatively flat. After 4 years of negative economic growth, Jamaica’s GDP grew by 0.8% in 2000, and has grown in the 0.5% to 1.5% range, year-on-year, since then. Inflation fell from 25% in 1995 to 6.1% in 2000 and 7.0% in 2001, but has remained in the 10% range since then.

Through periodic intervention in the market, the central bank prevents any abrupt drop in the exchange rate. Nevertheless, the Jamaican dollar continues to slip despite intervention, resulting in an average exchange rate of J$65.9 to the U.S. $1.00 by September 2006.

Weakness in the financial sector, speculation, and low levels of government investment erode confidence in the productive sector. The government

is unable to channel funds into these areas because of an overwhelming debt-to-GDP ratio, which currently stands at approximately 135%. Over 70 cents on every dollar earned by the Jamaican government goes to debt servicing and recurrent expenditure. Tax compliance rates also contribute to the problem, hovering at approximately 45%.

Net internal reserves, on the other hand, remain healthy at $2.09 billion at the end of 2005. Jamaican Government economic policies encourage foreign investment in areas that earn or save foreign exchange, generate employment, and use local raw materials. The government provides a wide range of incentives to investors, including remittance facilities to assist them in repatriating funds to the country of origin; tax holidays which defer taxes for a period of years; and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for approved enterprises.

Free trade zones have stimulated investment in garment assembly, light manufacturing, and data entry by foreign firms. However, over the last 5 years, the garment industry has suffered from reduced export earnings, continued factory closures, and rising unemployment. This can be attributed to intense international and regional competition, exacerbated by the high costs of operations in Jamaica, including security costs to deter drug activity, as well as the relatively high cost of labor.

The Government of Jamaica hopes to encourage economic activity through a combination of privatization, financial sector restructuring, falling interest rates, and by boosting tourism and related productive activities.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Jamaica has diplomatic relations with most nations and is a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. It was an active participant in the April 2001 Quebec Summit of the Americas. Jamaica is an active member of the British Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the G-15, and the G-77. Jamaica is a beneficiary of the Cotonou Conventions, through which the European Union (EU) grants trade preferences to selected states in Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Historically, Jamaica has had close ties with the U.K., but trade, financial, and cultural relations with the United States are now predominant. Jamaica is linked with the other countries of the English-speaking Caribbean through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and more broadly through the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). In December 2001, Jamaica completed its 2-year term on the United Nations Security Council.

U.S.-JAMAICAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close and productive relations with the Government of Jamaica. Former Prime Minister Patterson visited Washington, DC, several times after assuming office in 1992. In April 2001, Prime Minister Patterson and other Caribbean leaders met with President Bush during the Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada, at which a “Third Border Initiative” was launched to deepen U.S. cooperation with Caribbean nations and enhance economic development and integration of the Caribbean nations. The United States is Jamaica’s most important trading partner: bilateral trade in goods in 2000 was almost $2 billion. Jamaica is a popular destination for American tourists; more than 800,000 Americans visited in 2000. In addition, some 10,000 American citizens, including many dual-nationals born on the island, permanently reside in Jamaica.

The Government of Jamaica also seeks to attract U.S. investment and supports efforts to create a Free Trade Area of the Americans (FTAA). More than 80 U.S. firms have operations in Jamaica, and total U.S. investment is estimated at more than $1 billion. An office of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, located in the embassy, actively assists American businesses seeking trade opportunities in Jamaica. The country is a beneficiary of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partner Act (CBTPA). The American Chamber of Commerce, which also is available to assist U.S. business in Jamaica, has offices in Kingston. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance to Jamaica since its independence in 1962 has contributed to reducing the population growth rate, the attainment of higher standards in a number of critical health indicators, and the diversification and expansion of Jamaica’s export base. USAID’s primary objective is promoting sustainable economic growth. Other key objectives are improved environmental quality and natural resource protection, strengthening democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law, as well as family planning. In fiscal year 2002, the USAID mission in Jamaica operated a program totaling more than $13 million in development assistance.

The Peace Corps has been in Jamaica continuously since 1962. Since then, more than 3,300 volunteers have served in the country. Today, the Peace Corps works in the following projects: Youth-at-Risk, which includes adolescent reproductive health, HIV/AIDS education, and the needs of marginalized males; water sanitation, which includes rural waste water solutions and municipal waste water treatment; and environmental education, which helps address low levels of awareness and strengthens environmental nongovernmental organizations. The Peace Corps in Jamaica fields about 70 volunteers who work in every parish on the island, including some inner-city communities in Kingston. Jamaica is a major transit point for South American cocaine en route to the United States. It is also the largest Caribbean producer and exporter of marijuana. A significant increase in cocaine flow through Jamaica was observed during 2001. Jamaica is the embarkation point for the largest number of passengers arrested on drug charges at U.S. airports. U.S. assistance has played a vital role in stemming the flow of drugs to the United States. In fiscal year 2001, the Jamaican Government seized over 1,700 kilograms of cocaine. Several large seizures in late 2001 contributed to a doubling of interdicted cocaine during calendar year 2001 over 2000. The Jamaican Government eradicated 436 hectares of marijuana in 2001, nearly 800 hectares short of its 1,200 hectare goal. Authorities also seized and destroyed 72.6 metric tons of marijuana in 2001, a sizable increase over 2000. Over 7,450 drug arrests were made in 2001, including 415 foreigners. A bilateral maritime interdiction cooperation agreement is facilitating U.S. Coast Guard and Jamaican military coordination.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

KINGSTON (E) Address: 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6; Phone: 876-702-6000; Fax: 876-702-6001; Workweek: M-F; 07:15 to 16:00; most offices allow flex time; all offices staffed core hours, some staff takes Friday afternoons off, working longer on other days.; Website: usembassy. state.gov/kingston

AMB:Brenda La Grange Johnson
AMB OMS:Tiffany Thompson
DCM:James T. Heg
DCM OMS:LaVonya Hayward
CG:Edward Wehrli
CG OMS:Yvonne Barnett
POL/ECO:Lloyd W. Moss
MGT:Eric A. Flohr
AGR:Jamie Rothschild
AID:Karen Turner
APHIS:Alester Simmons
CLO:Eva Crawford
DAO:Randall Ramel
DEA:Kelvin Jamison
EEO:Sheila Groh
FAA:Allan B. Hurr
FCS:Michael McGee
FMO:G. Patricia Chuck
GSO:DeAna McCloy
IMO:Howard Sparks
ISO:Mark McCloy
ISSO:Douglas Culver
MLO:Matthew Faddis
NAS:Andrea Lewis
PAO:Glenn Guimond
RSO:Arthur Balek
State ICASS:Eric A. Flohr

Last Updated: 1/24/2007

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 800-USA-TRADE
or 800-872-8723
Web site: http://ita.doc.gov/td/tic/

American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica
The Jamaica Pegasus
81 Knutsford Blvd
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 929-7866/67
Fax: (876) 929-8597
Web site: http://www.amchamjamaica.org/
E-mail: [email protected]

Caribbean-Central American Action
1818 N Street, NW
Suite 500 Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075
Web site: http://www.c-caa.org

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : December 20, 2006

Country Description: Jamaica is a developing nation of over 2.6 million people. Facilities for tourists are widely available. International airports are located in Kingston and Montego Bay.

Entry/Exit Requirements: Effective January 23, 2007, all U.S. citizens traveling by air to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada are required to have a valid passport to enter or re-enter the United States. As early as January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on applying for a passport.

Until these new regulations take effect, a certified U.S. birth certificate and current, government issued photo identification may be used in lieu of a passport. Persons traveling with U.S. passports tend to encounter fewer difficulties upon departure than those who choose to use other documents. Visitors must have a return ticket and be able to show sufficient funds for their visit. U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica for work or extended stays are required to have a current U.S. passport and visa issued by the Jamaican Embassy or a Jamaican Consulate. There is a departure tax for travelers, which is regularly included in airfare. For further information, travelers may contact the Embassy of Jamaica at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 452-0660; the Jamaican Consulate in Miami or New York; honorary consuls in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle or Los Angeles. Visit the Embassy of Jamaica’s web site at http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: Gang violence and shootings occur regularly in certain areas of Kingston and Montego Bay. These areas include Mountain View, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens, and Arnett Gardens in Kingston, and Flankers in Montego Bay. Some neighborhoods are occasionally subject to curfews and police searches. Impromptu demonstrations can occur, during which demonstrators often construct roadblocks or otherwise block the streets. These events usually do not affect tourist areas, but travelers to Kingston should check with local authorities or the U.S. Embassy for current information prior to their trip.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Crime, including violent crime, is a serious problem in Jamaica, particularly in Kingston. While the vast majority of crimes occur in impoverished areas, the violence is not confined. The primary criminal concern of a tourist is being a victim of theft. In several cases, armed robberies of Americans have turned violent when the victims resisted handing over valuables. Crime is exacerbated by the fact that police are understaffed and ineffective. Therefore, tourists should take their own precautions and always pay extra attention to their surroundings when traveling, exercise care when walking outside after dark, and should always avoid areas known for high crime rates. As a general rule, valuables should not be left unattended, including in hotel rooms and on the beach. Care should be taken when carrying high value items such as cameras, or when wearing expensive jewelry on the street. Women’s handbags should be zipped and held close to the body. Men should carry wallets in their front pants pocket. Large amounts of cash should always be handled discreetly.

The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to avoid inner-city areas of Kingston and other urban centers, such as those listed in the section on Safety and Security, whenever possible. Particular caution is advised after dark in downtown Kingston. The U.S. Embassy also cautions its staff not to use public buses, which are often overcrowded and are a frequent venue for crime.

To enhance security in the principal resort areas, the Government of Jamaica has taken a number of steps, including assignment of special police foot and bicycle patrols. Particular care is still called for, however, when staying at isolated villas and smaller establishments that may have fewer security arrangements. Some street vendors and taxi drivers in tourist areas are known to confront and harass tourists to buy their wares or employ their services. If a firm “No, thank you” does not solve the problem, visitors may wish to seek the assistance of a tourist police officer.

Drug use is prevalent in some tourist areas. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding, or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances. There is anecdotal evidence that the use of so-called date rape drugs, such as Ruhypnol, has become more common at clubs and private parties. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illegal narcotics are especially potent in Jamaica, and their use may lead to severe or even disastrous health consequences.

Relatives of U.S. citizens visiting Jamaica and U.S. citizens who are prisoners in Jamaica have received telephone calls from people claiming to be Jamaican police officers, other public officials, or medical professionals. The callers usually state that the visitor or prisoner has had trouble and needs financial help. In almost every case these claims are untrue. The caller insists that money should be sent to either themselves or a third party who will assist the visitor or prisoner, but when money is sent, it fails to reach the U.S. citizens in alleged need. U.S. citizens who receive calls such as these should never send money. They should contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassy’s Consular Section at telephone (876) 935-6044 for assistance in confirming the validity of the call.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is more limited than in the United States. Comprehensive emergency medical services are located only in Kingston and Montego Bay, and smaller public hospitals are located in each parish. Emergency medical and ambulance services, and the availability of prescription drugs, are limited in outlying parishes. Ambulance service is limited both in the quality of emergency care and in the availability of vehicles in remote parts of the country. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often require cash payment prior to providing services. If a medical evacuation is required, the Embassy recommends you contact the American Citizen Services Unit at (876) 935-6044 for assistance.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Jamaica is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Drivers and pedestrians should remember that driving in Jamaica is on the left-hand side of the road. Breakdown assistance is quite limited in urban areas and virtually unavailable in rural areas. Nighttime driving is especially dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. As noted above in the section on Crime, public buses are often overcrowded and they are frequently a venue of crime. Travelers who use taxicabs should take only licensed taxicabs having red-and-white PP license plates.

Drivers and passengers in the front seat are required to wear seat belts, and motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. Extreme caution should be used in operating motor driven cycles. Several serious and fatal accidents take place each year involving American tourists riding in taxis without seat belts. All passengers are strongly encouraged to utilize vehicles equipped with seat belts.

Drivers should make every effort to avoid areas of high crime and civil strife. Roadblocks are sometimes employed by residents as protests intended to draw attention to particular issues and require extreme caution by drivers. The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to exercise caution when traveling in areas described in the sections on Safety and Security and Crime. The Embassy also advises its staff to always keep their windows up and doors locked when driving and to leave enough distance between themselves and the preceding car at intersections to allow a roll forward in case of harassment by pedestrian panhandlers. As a rule, drivers should always avoid contact with large groups of pedestrians.

Most roads are paved, but suffer from ill repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. City roads are often subject to poorly marked construction zones, pedestrians, bicyclists, and, occasionally, livestock. Street corners are frequented by peddlers, window washers, and beggars walking among stopped cars. Smaller roads are often narrow and they are frequently traveled at high speeds. Drivers should be aware of roundabouts, which are often poorly marked and require traffic to move in a clockwise direction. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to those already in it. Failure to turn into the correct flow of traffic can result in a head on collision.

The A1, A2 and A3 highways are the primary links between the most important cities and tourist destinations on the island. These roads are not comparable to American highways, and road conditions may be hazardous due to poor repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. The B highways and other rural roads are often very narrow and frequented by large trucks, buses, pedestrians, bicyclists and open range livestock. Highways are traveled at high speeds, but they are not limited-access and are subject to the hazards outlined above. For specific information concerning Jamaican drivers permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Jamaica’s website: http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org or the Jamaica Tourist Board at: 1-800-JAMAICA or on line at http://www.jamaicatravel.com.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Jamaica’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Jamaica’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Behavior Modification Facilities: In recent years, there has been a growth of Behavior Modification Facilities for the treatment of minors with drug/alcohol and discipline problems. Parents enroll their children in these facilities in the hope of improving their behavior. The Department of State is aware of such facilities in Jamaica and Mexico. There may be facilities in other countries that have not come to the attention of the U.S. government.

Parents considering enrolling their children in overseas Behavior Modification Facilities should visit the facility, if at all possible, and review the host country’s rules regarding the facility and its employees. Parents may contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the host country to inquire about the facility or speak to the country officer in the Office of American Citizen Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs at: (202) 647-5226. When such facilities are known to exist, consular officials conduct periodic site visits, sometimes in the company of host country government officials, to monitor the general well being of U.S. citizen enrollees and to check on specific individuals who have been the subject of welfare and whereabouts inquiries. Further information can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Behavior Modification Facilities information flyer.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Jamaica without authorization from the Ministry of National Security. Entering Jamaica with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition is a serious crime that can result in a long prison sentence.

Fresh fruits, vegetables and uncooked meats are not permitted to be brought in or out of the country and may be confiscated by customs officials. Pets may not be brought into Jamaica, except for dogs from the United Kingdom that have not been vaccinated for rabies and only after six months quarantine.

It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington or one of the Jamaican consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Jamaica, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in the event of an emergency or disaster. General information is available on the subject via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Jamaica’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Jamaica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Airport searches are thorough and people attempting to smuggle narcotics are often apprehended.

Prison conditions in Jamaica differ greatly from prison conditions in the United States. Prisoners are provided only the most basic meals and must rely upon family and friends to supplement their diets, provide clothing, and supply personal care items such as toothpaste and shampoo. Packages shipped from the United States to prisoners are subject to Jamaican import taxes and are undeliverable when the recipient lacks the funds to pay the duties.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Jamaica are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Jamaica. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 142 Old Hope Road in the Liguanea area of Kingston, tel. (876) 702-6000. Office hours are 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with window services available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., except local and U.S. holidays. For emergencies after hours, on weekends, and holidays, U.S. citizens are requested to call the U.S. Embassy duty officer through the main switchboard at (876) 702-6000.

The Consular Agency in Montego Bay is located at St. James Place, 2nd Floor, Gloucester Avenue, tel. (876) 952-0160. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30. The U.S. Embassy also has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory. At this time we do not have a Consular Agent in the Cayman Islands. Citizens requiring assistance should contact the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit in Kingston.

International Adoption : March 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The government office responsible for adoptions in Jamaica is the Child Development Agency, or CDA, which may be reached via its web site at http://www.cda.gov.jm, or by mail or phone at:

2-4 King Street
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: 876-948-6678
Fax: 876-924-9401

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: The government of Jamaica allows for adoptions by single individuals or married couples. Prospective adoptive parents who are not related to the potential adopted child must be age 25 or older. If the child is a brother, sister, niece or nephew of the prospective adoptive parent(s), at least one of the prospective adoptive parents must be age 18 or older. There are no laws that dictate the age difference between the adoptee and the perspective adoptive parent when they are related. The CDA does not have any specified medical ineligibilities, but evaluates each potential adoption on a case-by-case basis. A medical condition of the adoptive parents may factor into this evaluation.

Residency Requirements: There are two types of adoption in Jamaica: Adoption Licenses and Adoption Orders. Prospective adoptive parents seeking an Adoption License have no residency requirements to meet. However, the prospective adoptive parents will likely have to travel to Jamaica at least twice (once to meet with the CDA and again to apply for a visa).

Prospective adoptive parents seeking an Adoption Order must reside in Jamaica during the pre-adoption placement and until the case appears before a Jamaican court. This typically takes at least four months. The court may waive the pre-adoption placement requirement if the adoptive parents are Jamaican nationals adopting a relative.

Time Frame: Most adoptions under the Adoption License process can be completed in four months. For Adoption Orders, the time frame may be somewhat longer. Paperwork processing may take 2-3 months to complete prior to the pre-adoption placement, unless the child is a relative. The pre-adoption placement typically lasts four months.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: The Child Development Agency is the only agency legally authorized to provide adoption services in Jamaica. There are one or two private agencies operating in Jamaica, but they do so without government sanction or authorization.

Adoption Fees: The Child Development Agency does not charge any fees for adoptions. The CDA has proposed charging a registration fee, but, as of March 2006, has yet to receive permission from the Ministry of Health, who oversees the CDA, to do so. The amount of the registration fee has yet to be determined.

The CDA requires the prospective adoptive child to undergo an extensive medical exam that includes laboratory work. Any licensed pediatrician in Jamaica can perform this examination. Most pediatricians charge approximately U.S.$100 for the medical examination.

After a committee of the CDA approves the adoption, the case is referred to the court. Adoptive parents may have legal representation at the court proceeding, but most adoptive parents do not hire an attorney for the court proceeding. Attorney fees will vary.

Adoption Procedures: All applications for adoptions of Jamaican children must be made to the Child Development Agency. The CDA also identifies children for adoption, so persons interested in adopting a child from Jamaica should contact the CDA.

There are both public and private children’s homes in Jamaica. The CDA administers the public children’s homes but not the private homes. The CDA, however, places children from either type of home.

In the city of Kingston as well as St. Andrew, Westmoreland, and St. James parishes, special Family Courts exercise jurisdiction over adoptions. In all other parishes, the local Resident Magistrate’s Court supervises adoptions.

Adoption License: Adoption Licenses allow for a Jamaican citizen orphan to be taken to a “scheduled country” (the United States is a scheduled country) and adopted there. If the child is a grandchild, niece or nephew of the applicant(s), a License is not required, but the prospective adoptive parent(s) must still work through the CDA.

For the Adoption License to be issued, the Jamaican court must be satisfied that the prospective adoptive parent(s) is/are suitable (in keeping with the requirements of the CDA that sending the child abroad would be in his or her best interest and that the consent of the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s), or any person who has custody of the child, has been given). To determine that the prospective adoptive parent(s) is/are suitable, the CDA reviews the home study. In most cases, the home study conducted as part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ I-600 or I-600A process will be suitable. The CDA verifies the contents of the home study report by writing to the home study agency. In doing so, the CDA verifies the home study authorship and obtains the home study agency’s agreement to supervise the placement in the future.

Adoption Orders: Adoption Orders provide for the orphan to be adopted in Jamaica. Adoption Orders require a pre-adoption placement. The placement involves CDA supervision of the prospective adoptive child in the prospective adoptive parents’ home, typically for 4 months. This placement must take place in Jamaica. The CDA also conducts a home study during this period. The court issues the Adoption Order when the CDA is satisfied that the pre-adoption placement has gone well and that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the petitioner. Post-placement reports are not required when an Adoption Order is issued.

Documentary Requirements:

To obtain an Adoption License, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must present:

  • An application form (available from the CDA);
  • A certified original home study plus two copies to be sent directly to the Board by the Department of Health (this can be the same home study conducted in the U.S. for the I-600A or I-600);
  • A completed medical examination of both the prospective adoptive parents and the child;
  • A letter of undertaking from the agency that conducted the home study agreeing to supervise the placement until the adoption is complete, and beyond, as determined necessary on a case-by-case basis by the CDA;
  • A bank statement;
  • Letter(s) from the parent(s)’s employer(s), indicating annual income and the nature of employment.

To obtain an Adoption Order, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must present:

  • An application form (available from the CDA);
  • A certified original home study plus two copies to be sent directly to the Board by the Department of Health (this can be the same home study conducted in the U.S. for the I-600A or I-600);
  • A completed medical examination of both the prospective adoptive parents and the child;
  • An income statement;
  • Two personal references;
  • A letter of undertaking from the Jamaican agency that conducted the home study to supervise placement.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of Jamaica:
1520 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-452-0660

Jamaica also has Consulates-General in New York, NY and Miami, FL, as well as Consulates in Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Richmond, VA; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy Jamaica:
16 Oxford Road
Kingston 5

Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: 876-935-6000
Fax: 876-935-6019

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 541
Kingston
Jamaica

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Jamaica may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction : February 2007

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Jamaica is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any other international or bilateral treaties in force between Jamaica and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Jamaica place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Jamaica with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: In Jamaica, if parents are legally married they share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is granted by law to the mother unless there are known facts of inappropriate behavior mental or social problems. Foreign court orders are not automatically recognized.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgements: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not automatically enforced in Jamaica, but may be formally recognized by a Jamaican court.

Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has been granted custody of a child, the other parent is usually granted visitation rights. The American Embassy in Kingston has reported few problems for non-custodial parents exercising their visitation rights. If a custodial parent fails to allow visitation, the non-custodial parent may appeal to the court.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is recognized under Jamaican law.

Travel Restrictions: No exit visas are required to leave Jamaica. However, a child leaving the country with a person other than a parent needs written authorization from one parent. This authorization requires certification from the Jamaican immigration office before minors may exit the country.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJ DP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Jamaican court should retain an attorney in Jamaica. The U.S. Embassy in Jamaica maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by accessing the internet address below or by requesting one from the Embassy at:

U.S. Embassy Kingston
Consular Section
Jamaica Mutual Life Center
2 Oxford Road, 3rd Floor
Kingston
Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 929-4850
Fax: [876] 935-6001
Web site: www.state.gov/kingston

Questions involving Jamaican law should be addressed to a Jamaican attorney or to the Embassy of Jamaica in the United States at:

Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 452-0660

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.

For answers to general questions, please contact the Overseas Citizens Services Call Center at the toll-free number, 1-888-407-4747, which is available from 8:00AM through 8:00PM Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. holidays). Callers who are unable to use the toll-free number, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during the hours by calling 1-202-501-4444. This hotline provides OCS information to the general public and forwards callers to the appropriate OCS country officer as necessary. OCS information is also available on the web at: www.travel.state.gov. Please refer the general public to the Web site or to this toll free number during normal working hours. Persons seeking information or emergency assistance outside of these hours, including on weekends or holidays, should call 1-202-647-5225.

views updated

JAMAICA

Compiled from the November 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Jamaica


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

10,991 sq. km. (4,244 sq. mi.).

Cities:

Capital—Kingston metro area (pop. 628,000). Other cities—Montego Bay (96,600), Spanish Town (122,700).

Terrain:

Mountainous, coastal plains.

Climate:

Tropical.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Jamaican(s).

Population (2000):

2.65 million.

Annual growth rate (2000):

0.6%.

Ethnic groups:

African 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, Chinese 0.2%, White 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%.

Religious affiliation:

Anglican, Baptist and other Protestant, Roman Catholic, Rastafarian, Jewish.

Language:

English, Patois.

Education:

Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy (age 15 and over)—79.9%.

Health (2000):

Infant mortality rate—24.5/1,000. Life expectancy—female 75 yrs., male 70 yrs.

Work force (2000, 1.1 million):

Industry—17.8%; agriculture—21.4%; services—60.8%.

Government

Type:

Constitutional parliamentary democracy.

Independence:

August 6, 1962.

Constitution:

August 6, 1962.

Branches:

Executive—Governor General (chief of state, representing British monarch), prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Parliament (21 appointed senators, 60 elected representatives). Judicial—Court of Appeal and courts of original jurisdiction.

Subdivisions:

14 parishes, 60 electoral constituencies.

Political parties:

People's National Party (PNP), Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), National Democratic Movement (NDM), United Peoples Party (UPP).

Suffrage:

Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP (2002):

$7.335 billion.

Real growth rate (2002):

1.0%.

Per capita GDP (2001):

$2,771.

Natural resources:

Bauxite, gypsum, limestone.

Agriculture:

Products—sugar, bananas, coffee, citrus fruits, allspice.

Industry:

Types—tourism, bauxite and alumina, garment assembly, processed foods, sugar, rum, cement, metal, chemical products.

Trade (2002):

Exports—$1.14 billion: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, garments, citrus fruits and products, rum, coffee. Major markets (2000 data)—U.S. 39.1%, U.K. 11.2%, Canada 10.2%, Netherlands 22.0%, Norway 9.1%, CARICOM 3.7%, Japan 2.3%. Imports (2000)—$3.191 billion: machinery, transportation and electrical equipment, food, fuels, fertilizer. Major suppliers (2000)—U.S. 44.8%, Trinidad and Tobago 10.0%, Japan 6.0%, U.K. 3.1%, Canada 3.1%, Mexico 4.8%, Venezuela 3.9%.


PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Arawaks from South America had settled in Jamaica prior to Christopher Columbus' first arrival at the island in 1494. During Spain's occupation of the island, starting in 1510, the Arawaks were exterminated by disease, slavery, and war. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517. In 1655, British forces seized the island, and in 1670, Great Britain gained formal possession.

Sugar made Jamaica one of the most valuable possessions in the world for more than 150 years. The British Parliament abolished slavery as of August 1, 1834. After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica gained a degree of local political control in the late 1930s, and held its first election under full universal adult suffrage in 1944. Jamaica joined nine other U.K. territories in the West Indies Federation in 1958 but withdrew after Jamaican voters rejected membership in 1961. Jamaica gained independence in 1962, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.

Historically, Jamaican emigration has been heavy. Since the United Kingdom restricted emigration in 1967, the major flow has been to the United States and Canada. About 20,000 Jamaicans emigrate to the United States each year; another 200,000 visit annually. New York, Miami, Chicago, and Hartford are among the U.S. cities with a significant Jamaican population. Remittances from the expatriate communities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, estimated at up to $800 million per year, make increasingly significant contributions to Jamaica's economy.


GOVERNMENT

The 1962 constitution established a parliamentary system based on the U.K. model. As chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II appoints a governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, as her representative in Jamaica. The governor general's role is largely ceremonial. Executive power is vested in the cabinet, led by the prime minister.

Parliament is composed of an appointed Senate and an elected House of Representatives. Thirteen Senators are nominated on the advice of the prime minister and eight on the advice of the leader of the opposition. General elections must be held within 5 years of the forming of a new government. The prime minister may ask the governor general to call elections sooner, however. The Senate may submit bills, and it also reviews legislation submitted by the House. It may not delay budget bills for more than 1 month or other bills for more than 7 months. The prime minister and the cabinet are selected from the Parliament. No fewer than two nor more than four members of the cabinet must be selected from the Senate.

The judiciary also is modeled on the U.K. system. The Court of Appeals is the highest appellate court in Jamaica. Under certain circumstances, cases may be appealed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Jamaica's parishes have elected councils that exercise limited powers of local government.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/14/2005

Governor General: Howard COOKE, Sir
Prime Minister: Percival James (P. J.) PATTERSON
Min. of Agriculture: Roger CLARKE
Min. of Commerce, Science, & Technology: Phillip PAULWELL
Min. of Defense: Percival James (P. J.) PATTERSON
Min. of Development: Paul ROBERTSON
Min. of Education, Youth, & Culture: Maxine HENRY-WILSON
Min. of Finance & Planning: Omar DAVIES
Min. of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade: K. D. KNIGHT
Min. of Health: John JUNOR
Min. of Industry & Tourism: Aloun N'dombet ASSAMBA
Min. of Information: Burchel WHITEMAN
Min. of Justice: A. J. NICHOLSON
Min. of Labor & Social Security: Horace DALLEY
Min. of Lands & Environment: Dean PEART
Min. of Local Government, Community Development, & Sports: Portia SIMPSON-MILLER
Min. of National Security: Peter PHILLIPS
Min. of Transportation & Works: Robert PICKERSGILL
Min. of Water & Housing: Donald BUCHANAN
Attorney General: A. J. NICHOLSON
Governor, Central Bank: Derick LATIBEAUDIERE
Ambassador to the US: Gordon SHIRLEY
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Stafford NEIL

Jamaica maintains an embassy in the United States at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-452-0660). It also has consulates in New York at 767 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-935-9000); and in Miami in the Ingraham Building, Suite 842, 25 SE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33131 (tel. 305-374-8431/2).


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Jamaica's political system is stable. However, the country's serious economic problems have exacerbated social problems and have become the subject of political debate. High unemployment—averaging 15.5%—rampant underemployment, growing debt, and high interest rates are the most serious economic problems. Violent crime is a serious problem, particularly in Kingston. The two major political parties have historical links with two large trade unions—the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the People's National Party (PNP) with the National Workers Union (NWU). The center-right National Democratic Movement (NDM) was established in 1995 and the populist United Peoples Party (UPP) in 2001; neither has links with any particular trade union and both are marginal movements.

For health reasons, Michael Manley stepped down as Prime Minister in March 1992 and was replaced by P.J. Patterson. Patterson subsequently led the PNP to victory in general elections in 1993, 1997, and in October of 2002. The 2002 victory marked the first time any Jamaican political party has won four consecutive general elections since the introduction of universal suffrage to Jamaica in 1944. The current composition of the lower house of Jamaica's Parliament is 34 PNP and 26 JLP.

Since the 1993 elections, the Jamaican Government, political parties, and Electoral Advisory Committee have worked to enact electoral reform. In the 2002 general elections, grassroots Jamaican efforts from groups like CAFFE (Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections), supplemented by international observers and organizations such as The Carter Center, helped reduce the violence that has tended to mar Jamaican elections. Former President Carter also observed the 2002 elections and declared them free and fair.


ECONOMY

Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, adequate water supplies, and climate conducive to agriculture and tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.

The country faces some serious problems but has the potential for growth and modernization. After 4 years of negative economic growth, Jamaica's GDP grew by 0.8% in 2000. Inflation fell from 25% in 1995 to 6.1% in 2000 and 7.0% in 2001. Through periodic intervention in the market, the central bank prevented any abrupt drop in the exchange rate. The Jamaican dollar continued to slip despite intervention, resulting in an average exchange rate of J$47.4 to the U.S.$1.00 by December 2001.

Weakness in the financial sector, speculation, and low levels of investment erode confidence in the productive sector. The government raised $3.6 billion in new sovereign debt in local and international financial markets in 2001. This was used to meet its U.S. dollar debt obligations, to mop up liquidity to maintain the exchange rate, and to help fund the current budget deficit. Net internal reserves rose from $969.5 million at the beginning of 2001 to $1.8 billion at the end of the year.

Jamaican Government economic policies encourage foreign investment in areas that earn or save foreign exchange, generate employment, and use local raw materials. The government provides a wide range of incentives

to investors, including remittance facilities to assist them in repatriating funds to the country of origin; tax holidays which defer taxes for a period of years; and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for approved enterprises. Free trade zones have stimulated investment in garment assembly, light manufacturing, and data entry by foreign firms. However, over the last 5 years, the garment industry has suffered from reduced export earnings, continued factory closures, and rising unemployment. This can be attributed to intense international and regional competition, exacerbated by the high costs of operations in Jamaica, including security costs to deter drug activity. The Government of Jamaica hopes to encourage economic activity through a combination of privatization, financial sector restructuring, falling interest rates, and by boosting tourism and related productive activities.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Jamaica has diplomatic relations with most nations and is a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. It was an active participant in the April 2001 Quebec Summit of the Americas. Jamaica is an active member of the British Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the G-15, and the G-77. Jamaica is a beneficiary of the Cotonou Conventions, through which the European Union (EU) grants trade preferences to selected states in Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Historically, Jamaica has had close ties with the U.K., but trade, financial, and cultural relations with the United States are now predominant. Jamaica is linked with the other countries of the English-speaking Caribbean through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and more broadly through the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). In December 2001, Jamaica completed its 2-year term on the United Nations Security Council.


U.S.-JAMAICAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close and productive relations with the Government of Jamaica. Prime Minister Patterson has visited Washington, DC, several times since assuming office in 1992. In April 2001, Prime Minister Patterson and other Caribbean leaders met with President Bush during the Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada, at which a "Third Border Initiative" was launched to deepen U.S. cooperation with Caribbean nations and enhance economic development and integration of the Caribbean nations. The United States is Jamaica's most important trading partner: bilateral trade in goods in 2000 was almost $2 billion. Jamaica is a popular destination for American tourists; more than 800,000 Americans visited in 2000. In addition, some 10,000 American citizens, including many dual-nationals born on the island, permanently reside in Jamaica.

The Government of Jamaica also seeks to attract U.S. investment and supports efforts to create a Free Trade Area of the Americans (FTAA). More than 80 U.S. firms have operations in Jamaica, and total U.S. investment is estimated at more than $1 billion. An office of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, located in the embassy, actively assists American businesses seeking trade opportunities in Jamaica. The country is a beneficiary of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partner Act (CBTPA). The American Chamber of Commerce, which also is available to assist U.S. business in Jamaica, has offices in Kingston.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance to Jamaica since its independence in 1962 has contributed to reducing the population growth rate, the attainment of higher standards in a number of critical health indicators, and the diversification and expansion of Jamaica's export base. USAID's primary objective is promoting sustainable economic growth. Other key objectives are improved environmental quality and natural resource protection, strengthening democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law, as well as family planning. In fiscal year 2002, the USAID mission in Jamaica operated a program totaling more than $13 million in development assistance.

The Peace Corps has been in Jamaica continuously since 1962. Since then, more than 3,300 volunteers have served in the country. Today, the Peace Corps works in the following projects: Youth-at-Risk, which includes adolescent reproductive health, HIV/AIDS education, and the needs of marginalized males; water sanitation, which includes rural waste water solutions and municipal waste water treatment; and environmental education, which helps address low levels of awareness and strengthens environmental nongovernmental organizations. The Peace Corps in Jamaica fields about 70 volunteers who work in every parish on the island, including some inner-city communities in Kingston.

Jamaica is a major transit point for South American cocaine en route to the United States. It is also the largest Caribbean producer and exporter of marijuana. A significant increase in cocaine flow through Jamaica was observed during 2001. Jamaica is the embarkation point for the largest number of passengers arrested on drug charges at U.S. airports. U.S. assistance has played a vital role in stemming the flow of drugs to the United States. In fiscal year 2001, the Jamaican Government seized over 1,700 kilograms of cocaine. Several large seizures in late 2001 contributed to a doubling of interdicted cocaine during calendar year 2001 over 2000. The Jamaican Government eradicated 436 hectares of marijuana in 2001, nearly 800 hectares short of its 1,200 hectare goal. Authorities also seized and destroyed 72.6 metric tons of marijuana in 2001, a sizable increase over 2000. Over 7,450 drug arrests were made in 2001, including 415 foreigners. A bilateral maritime interdiction cooperation agreement is facilitating U.S. Coast Guard and Jamaican military coordination.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

KINGSTON (E) Address: NCB Towers, South Tower, Third Floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I.; Phone: 876-935-6000; Fax: 876-935-6001; Workweek: M-F; 07:15 to 16:00; most offices allow flex time; all offices staffed core hours, some staff takes Friday afternoons off, working longer on other days.; Website: usembassy.state.gov/kingston.

AMB:Brenda La Grange Johnson
AMB OMS:Tiffany Thompson
DCM:Thomas C. Tighe
DCM OMS:Daniel J. Pellegrino
CG:Ronald S. Robinson
CG OMS:Yvonne Barnett
POL/ECO:Mark Powell
MGT:Steven J. Valdez
AFSA:Kim D'Auria-Vazira
AGR:Paul Hoffman
AID:Karen Turner
APHIS:Alester Simmons
CLO:Eva Crawford
DAO:Randall Ramel
DEA:Kelvin Jamison
EEO:Sheila Groh
FAA:Allan B. Hurr
FCS:David Katz
FMO:Natalie Cropper
GSO:Steven Goertz
ICASS Chair:Peter Klosky
IMO:Howard Sparks
INS:Charles W. Jean
IPO:Kenneth Klein
ISSO:Kenneth Klein
MLO:Matthew Faddis
NAS:Natasha Henderson
PAO:Glenn Guimond
RSO:Michael Limpantsis
Last Updated: 1/5/2006

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 800-USA-TRADE or 800-872-8723
Web site: http://www.ita.doc.gov/tic

American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica
The Hilton Hotel
77 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 929-7866/67
Fax: (876) 929-8597
E-mail: [email protected]

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075
E-mail: [email protected] Web site: http://www.claa.org


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 29, 2005

Country Description:

Jamaica is a developing nation of over 2.6 million people. Facilities for tourists are widely available. International airports are located in Kingston and Montego Bay.

Entry/Exit Requirements U.S.:

citizens traveling as tourists may enter Jamaica with a U.S. passport or a certified U.S. birth certificate and current, government issued photo identification. Persons traveling with U.S. passports tend to encounter fewer difficulties upon departure than those who choose to use other documents. Visitors must have a return ticket and be able to show sufficient funds for their visit. U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica for work or extended stays are required to have a current U.S. passport and visa issued by the Jamaican Embassy or a Jamaican Consulate. Travelers must pay a departure tax when leaving the country.

For further information, travelers may contact the Embassy of Jamaica at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 452-0660; the Jamaican Consulate in Miami or New York; honorary consuls in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle or Los Angeles. Visit the Embassy of Jamaica's web site at http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security:

Gang violence and shootings occur regularly in inner-city areas of Kingston. Some inner-city neighborhoods are occasionally subject to curfews and police searches. Impromptu demonstrations sometimes occur, during which demonstrators often construct roadblocks or otherwise block the streets. These events usually do not affect tourist areas, but travelers to Kingston should check with local authorities or the U.S. Embassy for current information prior to their trip.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Crime, including violent crime, is a serious problem in Jamaica, particularly in Kingston. While the vast majority of crimes occur in impoverished areas, the violence is not confined. The primary criminal concern of a tourist is being a victim of theft. In several cases, armed robberies of Americans have turned violent when the victims resisted handing over valuables. Crime is exacerbated by the fact that police are understaffed and ineffective. Therefore, tourists should take their own precautions and always pay extra attention to their surroundings when traveling, exercise care when walking outside after dark, and should always avoid areas known for high crime rates. As a general rule, valuables should not be left unattended, including in hotel rooms and on the beach. Care should be taken when carrying high value items such as cameras, or when wearing expensive jewelry on the street. Women's handbags should be zipped and held close to the body. Men should carry wallets in their front pants pocket. Large amounts of cash should always be handled discreetly.

The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to avoid inner-city areas of Kingston and other urban centers whenever possible. Particular caution is advised after dark in downtown Kingston. The U.S. Embassy also cautions its staff not to use public buses, which are often overcrowded and are a frequent venue for crime.

To enhance security in the principal resort areas, the Government of Jamaica has taken a number of steps, including assignment of special police foot and bicycle patrols. Particular care is still called for, however, when staying at isolated villas and smaller establishments that may have fewer security arrangements. Some street vendors and taxi drivers in tourist areas are known to confront and harass tourists to buy their wares or employ their services. If a firm "No, thank you" does not solve the problem, visitors may wish to seek the assistance of a tourist police officer.

Drug use is prevalent in some tourist areas. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding, or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances. There is anecdotal evidence that the use of so-called date rape drugs, such as Ruhypnol, has become more common at clubs and private parties. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illegal narcotics are especially potent in Jamaica, and their use may lead to severe or even disastrous health consequences.

Relatives of U.S. citizens visiting Jamaica and U.S. citizens who are prisoners in Jamaica have received telephone calls from people claiming to be Jamaican police officers, other public officials, or medical professionals. The callers usually state that the visitor or prisoner has had trouble and needs financial help. In almost every case these claims are untrue. The caller insists that money should be sent to either themselves or a third party who will assist the visitor

or prisoner, but when money is sent, it fails to reach the U.S. citizens in alleged need. U.S. citizens who receive calls such as these should never send money. They should contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassy's Consular Section at telephone (876) 935-6044 for assistance in confirming the validity of the call.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical care is more limited than in the United States. Comprehensive emergency medical services are located only in Kingston and Montego Bay, and smaller public hospitals are located in each parish. Emergency medical and ambulance services, and the availability of prescription drugs, are limited in outlying parishes. Ambulance service is limited both in the quality of emergency care and in the availability of vehicles in remote parts of the country. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often require cash payment prior to providing services. If a medical evacuation is required, the Embassy recommends you contact the American Citizen Services Unit at (876) 935-6044 for assistance.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web-site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Jamaica is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Drivers and pedestrians should remember that driving in Jamaica is on the left-hand side of the road. Breakdown assistance is quite limited in urban areas and virtually unavailable in rural areas. Nighttime driving is especially dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. As noted above in the section on Crime, public buses are often over crowded and they are frequently a venue of crime. Travelers who use taxicabs should take only licensed taxicabs having red-and-white PP license plates.

Drivers and passengers in the front seat are required to wear seat belts, and motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. A number of U.S. citizens who have rented motorcycles and scooters have been seriously injured, often because the riders were not wearing a helmet and other motorcycle safety gear. Extreme caution should be used in driving motor driven cycles. In addition, several serious and fatal accidents take place each year involving American tourists riding in taxis without seat belts. All passengers are strongly encouraged to utilize vehicles equipped with seat belts.

Drivers should make every effort to avoid areas of high crime and civil strife. Roadblocks are sometimes employed by residents as protests intended to draw attention to particular issues and require extreme caution by drivers. The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to exercise caution when traveling in areas described in the section on Crime. The Embassy also advises its staff to always keep their window up and doors locked when driving and to leave enough distance between themselves and the preceding car at intersections to allow a roll forward in case of harassment by pedestrian panhandlers. As a rule, drivers should always avoid contact with large groups of pedestrians.

Most roads are paved, but suffer from ill repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. City roads are often subject to poorly marked construction zones, pedestrians, bicyclists, and, occasionally, livestock. Street corners are frequented by peddlers, window washers, and beggars walking among stopped cars. Smaller roads are often narrow and they are frequently traveled at high speeds. Drivers should be aware of roundabouts, which are often poorly marked and require traffic to move in a clockwise direction. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to those already in it. Failure to turn into the correct flow of traffic can result in a head on collision.

The A1, A2 and A3 highways are the primary links between the most important cities and tourist destinations on the island. These roads are not comparable to American highways, and road conditions may be hazardous due to poor repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. The B highways and other rural roads are often very narrow and frequented by large trucks, buses, pedestrians, bicyclists and open range livestock. Highways are traveled at high speeds, but they are not limited-access and are subject to the hazards outlined above.

For specific information concerning Jamaican drivers permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Jamaica's website: http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org or the Jamaica Tourist Board at: 1-800-JAMAICA or on line at http://www.jamaicatravel.com.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Jamaica as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Jamaica's air carrier operations.

Special Circumstances:

Behavior Modification Facilities: In recent years, there has been a growth of Behavior Modification Facilities for the treatment of minors with drug/alcohol and discipline problems. Parents enroll their children in these facilities in the hope of improving their behavior. The Department of State is aware of such facilities in Jamaica and Mexico. There may be facilities in other countries that have not come to the attention of the U.S. government.

Parents considering enrolling their children in overseas Behavior Modification Facilities should visit the facility, if at all possible, and review the host country's rules regarding the facility and its employees. Parents may contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the host country to inquire about the facility or speak to the country officer in the Office of American Citizen Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs at: (202) 647-5226. When such facilities are known to exist, consular officials conduct periodic site visits, sometimes in the company of host country government officials, to monitor the general well being of U.S. citizen enrollees and to check on specific individuals who have been the subject of welfare and whereabouts inquiries. Further information can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Behavior Modification

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Jamaica without authorization from the Ministry of National Security. Entering Jamaica with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition is serious crime that can result in a long prison sentence.

Fresh fruits, vegetables and uncooked meats are not permitted to be brought in or out of the country and may be confiscated by customs officials. Pets may not be brought into Jamaica, except for dogs from the United Kingdom that have not been vaccinated for rabies and only after six months quarantine. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington or one of the Jamaican consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Jamaica, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in the event of an emergency or disaster. General information is available on the subject via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Jamaica's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Jamaica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Airport searches are thorough and people attempting to smuggle narcotics are often apprehended.

Prison conditions in Jamaica differ greatly from prison conditions in the United States. Prisoners are provided only the most basic meals and must rely upon family and friends to supplement their diets, provide clothing, and supply personal care items such as toothpaste and shampoo. Packages shipped from the United States to prisoners are subject to Jamaican import taxes and are undeliverable when the recipient lacks the funds to pay the duties.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Jamaica are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Jamaica. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located on the first floor of the Oxford Manor building, 16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, tel. (876) 935-6044. Office hours are 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with window services available Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., except local and U.S. holidays. For emergencies after hours, on weekends, and holidays, U.S. citizens are requested to call the U.S. Embassy duty officer through the main switchboard at (876) 935-6000. The Chancery is located three blocks away in the Mutual Life Building, 3rd Floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5; phone (876) 929-4850 through 59.

The Consular Agency in Montego Bay is located at St. James Place, 2nd Floor, Gloucester Avenue, tel. (876) 952-0160. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30. The U.S. Embassy also has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory. The Consular Agency in George Town is located in Unit 7 of the Grand Harbour Shops in Georgetown, Grand Cayman; telephone (345) 945-1511; fax (345) 945-1811; e-mail: [email protected] Office hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Monday-Friday. For additional information on travel conditions in the Cayman Island, please refer to the Cayman Islands Consular Information Sheet.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.:

Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans from Jamaica.

Fiscal Year: Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2004: 51
FY 2003:36
FY 2002: 39
FY 2001: 51
FY 2000: 39

Adoption Authority in Jamaica:

The government office responsible for adoptions in Jamaica is the Jamaican Adoption Board.

Oceana Complex
2-4 King Street
P.O. Box 130
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: 876-948-2841/876-948-2842 Fax:
876-924-9401

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents:

Single individuals or married couples may adopt children in Jamaica. Those persons not related to the potential adopted child must be age 25 or older. If the child is a brother, sister, niece or nephew of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the age limit is 18.

The Adoption Board does not have any specified medical ineligibilities, but evaluates each potential adoption on a case-by-case basis. A medical condition of the adoptive parents may factor into this evaluation.

Residential Requirements:

There are two types of adoption in Jamaica: Adoption Orders and Adoption Licenses. Adoption Orders provide for the orphan to be adopted in Jamaica. Adoption Licenses allow for a Jamaican citizen orphan to be taken to a "scheduled country" (the United States is a scheduled country) and adopted there. For parents seeking an Adoption License, there is no residential requirement. The parents will likely have to travel to Jamaica at least twice (once to meet with the Adoption Board and again to apply for a visa), however.

For parents seeking an Adoption Order, the parents must reside in Jamaica during the pre-adoption placement and until the case appears before a Jamaican court. This typically takes at least 4 months. The court may waive the pre-adoption placement requirement if the adoptive parents are Jamaican nationals adopting a relative.

Time Frame:

Most adoptions under the Adoption License process can be completed in 4 months. For Adoption Orders, the time frame may be somewhat longer, as the pre-adoption placement typically lasts 4 months and paperwork processing may take an additional 2-3 months prior to the pre-adoption placement, unless the child is a relative.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

The Adoption Board is the only agency legally authorized to provide adoption services in Jamaica. There are one or two private agencies operating in Jamaica, but they do so without government sanction or authorization.

Adoption Fees in Jamaica:

Currently, the Adoption Board does not charge any fees. The Adoption Board has proposed charging a registration fee, but, as of February 2005, has yet to receive permission to do so. The amount of the registration fee has yet to be determined.

The Adoption Board does require the adoptive child to undergo an extensive medical exam, which includes laboratory work. Any licensed pediatrician in Jamaica can perform this examination. Most pediatricians charge approximately US$100 for the medical examination.

After a committee of the Adoption Board approves the adoption, the case is referred to the court. Adoptive parents may have legal representation at the court proceeding, but most adoptive parents do not hire an attorney for the court proceeding. Attorney fees will vary.

Adoption Procedures:

There are two types of adoption in Jamaica: Adoption Orders and Adoption Licenses. Adoption Orders provide for the orphan to be adopted in Jamaica. Adoption Licenses allow for a Jamaican citizen orphan to be taken to a "scheduled country" (the United States is a scheduled country) and adopted there. If the child is a grandchild, niece or nephew of the applicant(s), a License is not required, but the adoptive parent(s) must still work through the Adoption Board.

For the License to be issued, the court must be satisfied that the overseas adopter is suitable, in keeping with the requirements of the Adoption Board, that sending the child abroad would be in his or her best interest and that the consent of the child's parent(s) or guardian(s), or any person who has custody of the child, has been given. To determine that the overseas adopter is suitable, the Adoption Board reviews the home study. In most cases, the home study conducted as part of the I-600 or I-600A process will be suitable. The Adoption Board verifies the contents of the home study report by writing to the home study agency to verify its authorship and to obtain the home study agency's agreement to supervise the placement in the future. Typically, the Adoption Board will require the agency that conducted the home study to submit reports to the Adoption Board on a regular basis for up to two years after the License is issued.

Adoption Orders require a pre-adoption placement. The placement involves Adoption Board supervision of the prospective adoptive child in the prospective adoptive parents' home, typically for 4 months. This placement must take place in Jamaica. The Adoption Board also conducts a home study during this period. The court issues the Adoption Order when the Adoption Board is satisfied that the pre-adoption placement has gone well and that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the petitioner.

All applications for adoptions of Jamaican children must be made to the Adoption Board. The Adoption Board also identifies children for adoption, so parents interested in adopting a child from Jamaica should contact the Adoption Board. The Adoption Board works with the Child Development Agency, the government entity responsible for the administration of children's homes. There are both public and private children's homes in Jamaica.

In Kingston & St. Andrew, Westmore-land, and St. James parishes, special Family Courts exercise jurisdiction over adoptions. In all other parishes, the local Resident Magistrate's Court supervises adoptions.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

Documents Required for Adoption in Jamaica:

To obtain an Adoption License, the adoptive parent(s) must present:

  • An application form (available from the Adoption Board);
  • A certified original home study plus two copies to be sent directly to the Board by the Department of Health (this can be the same home study conducted in the U.S. for the I-600A or I-600);
  • A completed medical examination;
  • A letter of undertaking from the agency that conducted the home study agreeing to supervise the placement until the adoption is complete;
  • A bank statement;
  • Letter(s) from the parent(s)'s employer(s), indicating annual income and the nature of employment.

To obtain an Adoption Order, the adoptive parent(s) must present:

  • An application form (available from the Adoption Board);
  • A certified original home study plus two copies to be sent directly to the Board by the Department of Health (this can be the same home study conducted in the U.S. for the I-600A or I-600);
  • A completed medical examination;
  • An income statement;
  • Two personal references;
  • A letter of undertaking from the agency that conducted the home study to supervise placement.

Authenticating U.S. Documents to be Used Abroad:

Jamaica is not a party of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents, so the Legalization Convention "apostille" certificate should not be used for documents to be presented in Jamaica. Instead, the "chain authentication method" will be used to authenticate documents for Jamaica. Visit the State Department website at travel.state.gov for additional information about authentication procedures.

Jamaica Embassy and Consulates in the United States:

Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-452-0660

Jamaica also has Consulates-General in New York, NY and Miami, FL, as well as Consulates in Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Richmond, VA; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Applying for a Visa for your Child at the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica:

After obtaining the Adoption License or Adoption Order, the adoptive parents should schedule an immigrant visa interview at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy. This may be done by appearing at the Information Window of the Immigrant Visa section on any weekday (except U.S. and Jamaican holidays) between 7:15 am and 10 am. The medical examination can usually be scheduled for the next business day, and the interview for the day after that. The cost of the medical examination for the immigrant visa application is approximately US$50 for children under 15 and US$100 for children 15 and older. The medical examination used to meet to the Adoption Board requirements cannot be used for the immigrant visa interview.

U.S. Embassy in Jamaica:

The Consular Section is located at:

Street Address:
U.S. Embassy Jamaica
16 Oxford Road
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: 876-935-6000
Fax: 876-935-6019

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 541
Kingston
Jamaica

U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Jamaica:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has an office in Kingston, Jamaica. This office is located at:

Street Address:
2 Oxford Road, 1st Floor
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: 876-926-6098

The office is open Monday through Thursday (except holidays), 9:00 am to 12 noon.

Additional Information:

Specific questions about adoption in Jamaica may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4 th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2006

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

General Information:

Jamaica is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any other international or bilateral treaties in force between Jamaica and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Jamaica place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Jamaica with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes:

In Jamaica, if parents are legally married they share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is granted by law to the mother unless there are known facts of inappropriate behavior mental or social problems. Foreign court orders are not automatically recognized.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments:

Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not automatically enforced in Jamaica, but may be formally recognized by a Jamaican court.

Visitation Rights:

In cases where one parent has been granted custody of a child, the other parent is usually granted visitation rights. The American Embassy in Kingston has reported few problems for non-custo-dial parents exercising their visitation rights. If a custodial parent fails to allow visitation, the non-custodial parent may appeal to the court.

Dual Nationality:

Dual nationality is recognized under Jamaican law.

Criminal Remedies:

For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

views updated

JAMAICA

Compiled from the January 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.




Official Name:
Jamaica




PROFILE
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-JAMAICAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 10,991 sq. km. (4,244 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Kingston metro area (pop. 628,000). Other cities—Montego Bay (96,600), Spanish Town (122,700).

Terrain: Mountainous, coastal plains.

Climate: Tropical.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Jamaican(s).

Population: (2000) 2.65 million.

Annual growth rate: (2000) 0.6%.

Ethnic groups: African 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, Chinese 0.2%, White 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%.

Religious affiliation: Anglican, Baptist and other Protestant, Roman Catholic, Rastafarian, Jewish.

Languages: English, Patois.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy (age 15 and over)—79.9%.

Health: (2000) Infant mortality rate—24.5/1,000. Life expectancy—female 75 yrs., male 70 yrs.

Work force: (2000, 1.1 million) Industry—17.8%; agriculture—21.4%; services—60.8%.

Government

Type: Constitutional parliamentary democracy.

Independence: August 6, 1962.

Constitution: August 6, 1962.

Branches: Executive—Governor General (chief of state, representing British monarch), prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Parliament (21 appointed senators, 60 elected representatives). Judicial—Court of Appeal and courts of origi-nal jurisdiction.

Subdivisions: 14 parishes, 60 electoral constituencies.

Political parties: People's National Party (PNP), Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), National Democratic Movement (NDM), United Peoples Party (UPP).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.


Economy

GDP: (2002) $7.335 billion.

Real growth rate: (2002) 1.0%.

Per capita GDP: (2001) $2,771.

Natural resources: Bauxite, gypsum, limestone.

Agriculture: Products—sugar, bananas, coffee, citrus fruits, allspice.

Industry: Types—tourism, bauxite and alumina, garment assembly, processed foods, sugar, rum, cement, metal, chemical products.

Trade: (2002) Exports—$1.14 billion: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, garments, citrus fruits and products, rum, coffee. Major markets (2000 data)—U.S. 39.1%, U.K. 11.2%, Canada 10.2%, Netherlands 22.0%, Norway 9.1%, CARICOM 3.7%, Japan 2.3%. Imports (2000)—$3.191 billion: machinery, transportation and electrical equipment, food, fuels, fertilizer. Major suppliers (2000)—U.S. 44.8%, Trinidad and Tobago 10.0%, Japan 6.0%, U.K. 3.1%, Canada 3.1%, Mexico 4.8%, Venezuela 3.9%.




PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Arawaks from South America had settled in Jamaica prior to Christopher Columbus' first arrival at the island in 1494. During Spain's occupation of the island, starting in 1510, the Arawaks were exterminated by disease, slavery, and war. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517. In 1655, British forces seized the island, and in 1670, Great Britain gained formal possession.


Sugar made Jamaica one of the most valuable possessions in the world for more than 150 years. The British Parliament abolished slavery as of August 1, 1834. After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica gained a degree of local political control in the late 1930s, and held its first election under full universal adult suffrage in 1944. Jamaica joined nine other U.K. territories in the West Indies Federation in 1958 but withdrew after Jamaican voters rejected membership in 1961. Jamaica gained independence in 1962, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.


Historically, Jamaican emigration has been heavy. Since the United Kingdom restricted emigration in 1967, the major flow has been to the United States and Canada. About 20,000 Jamaicans emigrate to the United States each year; another 200,000 visit annually. New York, Miami, Chicago, and Hartford are among the U.S. cities with a significant Jamaican population. Remittances from the expatriate communities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, estimated at up to $800 million per year, make increasingly significant contributions to Jamaica's economy.




GOVERNMENT

The 1962 constitution established a parliamentary system based on the U.K. model. As chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II appoints a governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, as her representative in Jamaica. The governor general's role is largely ceremonial. Executive power is vested in the cabinet, led by the prime minister.


Parliament is composed of an appointed Senate and an elected House of Representatives. Thirteen Senators are nominated on the advice of the prime minister and eight on the advice of the leader of the opposition. General elections must be held within 5 years of the forming of a new government. The prime minister may ask the governor general to call elections sooner, however. The Senate may submit bills, and it also reviews legislation submitted by the House. It may not delay budget bills for more than 1 month or other bills for more than 7 months. The prime minister and the cabinet are selected from the Parliament. No fewer than two nor more than four members of the cabinet must be selected from the Senate.

The judiciary also is modeled on the U.K. system. The Court of Appeals is the highest appellate court in Jamaica. Under certain circumstances, cases may be appealed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Jamaica's parishes have elected councils that exercise limited powers of local government.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 11/18/02


Governor General: Cooke, Howard, Sir

Prime Minister: Patterson, Percival James (P.J.)

Min. of Agriculture: Clarke, Roger

Min. of Commerce, Science, & Technology: Paulwell, Phillip

Min. of Defense: Patterson, Percival James (P.J.)

Min. of Development: Robertson, Paul

Min. of Education, Youth, & Culture: Henry-Wilson, Maxine

Min. of Finance & Planning: Davies, Omar, Dr.

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade: Knight, K. D.

Min. of Health: Junor, John

Min. of Industry & Tourism: Assamba, Aloun N'dombet

Min. of Information: Whiteman, Burchell

Min. of Labor & Social Security: Dalley, Horace

Min. of Lands & Environment: Peart, Dean

Min. of Local Government, Community Development, & Sports: Simpson-Miller, Portia

Min. of National Security: Phillips, Peter

Min. of Transportation & Works: Pickersgill, Robert

Min. of Water & Housing: Buchanan, Donald

Attorney General: Nicholson, A. J.

Governor, Central Bank: Latibeaudiere, Derick

Ambassador to the US: Mullings, Seymour

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Neil, Stafford



Jamaica maintains an embassy in the United States at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-452-0660). It also has consulates in New York at 767 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-935-9000); and in Miami in the Ingraham Building, Suite 842, 25 SE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33131 (tel. 305-374-8431/2).




POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Jamaica's political system is stable. However, the country's serious economic problems have exacerbated social problems and have become the subject of political debate. High unemployment—averaging 15.5%—rampant underemployment, growing debt, and high interest rates are the most serious economic problems. Violent crime is a serious problem, particularly in Kingston. The two major political parties have historical links with two large trade unions—the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the People's National Party (PNP) with the National Workers Union (NWU). The center-right National Demo cratic Movement (NDM) was established in 1995 and the populist United Peoples Party (UPP) in 2001; neither has links with any particular trade union and both are marginal movements.


For health reasons, Michael Manley stepped down as Prime Minister in March 1992 and was replaced by P.J. Patterson. Patterson subsequently led the PNP to victory in general elections in 1993, 1997, and in October of 2002. The 2002 victory marked the first time any Jamaican political party has won four consecutive general elections since the introduction of universal suffrage to Jamaica in 1944. The current composition of the lower house of Jamaica's Parliament is 34 PNP and 26 JLP.


Since the 1993 elections, the Jamaican Government, political parties, and Electoral Advisory Committee have worked to enact electoral reform. In the 2002 general elections, grassroots Jamaican efforts from groups like CAFFE (Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections), supplemented by international observers and organizations like The Carter Center, helped reduce the violence that has tended to mar Jamaican elections. Former President Carter also observed the 2002 elections and declared them free and fair.




ECONOMY

Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, adequate water supplies, and climate conducive to agriculture and tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.


The country faces some serious problems but has the potential for growth and modernization. After 4 years of negative economic growth, Jamaica's GDP grew by 0.8% in 2000. Inflation fell from 25% in 1995 to 6.1% in 2000 and 7.0% in 2001. Through periodic intervention in the market, the central bank prevented any abrupt drop in the exchange rate. The Jamaican dollar has been slipping, despite intervention, resulting in an average exchange rate of J$47.4 to the U.S.$1.00 (Dec. 2001). Although interest rates continue to decline from 1995 levels, they are still high, averaging 26.8% in December 2001.


Weakness in the financial sector, speculation, and low levels of investment erode confidence in the productive sector. The government raised $3.6 billion in new sovereign debt in local and international financial markets in 2001. This was used to meet its U.S. dollar debt obligations, to mop up liquidity to maintain the exchange rate, and to help fund the current budget deficit. Net internal reserves rose from $969.5 million at the beginning of 2001 to $1.8 billion at the end of the year.


Jamaican Government economic policies encourage foreign investment in are as that earn or save foreign


exchange, generate employment, and use local raw materials. The government provides a wide range of incentives to investors, including remittance facilities to assist them in repatriating funds to the country of origin; tax holidays which defer taxes for a period of years; and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for approved enterprises. Free trade zones have stimulated investmenting arment assembly, light manufacturing, and data entry by foreign firms. However, over the last 5 years, the garment industry has suffered from reduced export earnings, continued factory closures, and rising unemployment. This can be attributed to intense international and regional competition, exacerbated by the high costs of operations in Jamaica, including security costs to deter drug activity. The Government of Jamaica hopes to encourage economic activity through a combination of privatization, financial sector restructuring, falling interest rates, and by boosting tourism and related productive activities.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

Jamaica has diplomatic relations with most nations and is a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. It was an active participant in the April 2001 Quebec Summit of the Americas. Jamaica is an active member of the British Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the G-15, and the G-77. Jamaica is a beneficiary of the Cotonou Conventions, through which the European Union (EU) grants trade preferences to selected states in Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.


Historically, Jamaica has had close ties with the U.K., but trade, financial, and cultural relations with the United States are now predominant. Jamaica is linked with the other countries of the English-speaking Caribbean through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and more broadly through the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). In December 2001, Jamaica completed its 2-year term on the United Nations Security Council.




U.S.-JAMAICAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close and productive relations with the Government of Jamaica. Prime Minister Patterson has visited Washington, DC, several times since assuming office in 1992. In April 2001, Prime Minister Patterson and other Caribbean leaders met with President Bush during the Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada, at which a "Third Border Initiative" was launched to deepen U.S. cooperation with Caribbean nations and enhance economic development and integration of the Caribbean nations. The United States is Jamaica's most important trading partner: bilateral trade in goods in 2000 was almost $2 billion. Jamaica is a popular destination for American tourists; more than 800,000 Americans visited in 2000. In addition, some 10,000 American citizens, including many dual-nationals born on the island, permanently reside in Jamaica.


The Government of Jamaica also seeks to attract U.S. investment and supports efforts to create a Free Trade Area of the Americans (FTAA). More than 80 U.S. firms have operations in Jamaica, and total U.S. investment is estimated at more than $1 billion. An office of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, located in the embassy, actively assists American businesses seeking trade opportunities in Jamaica. The country is a beneficiary of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partner Act (CBTPA). The American Chamber of Commerce, which also is available to assist U.S. business in Jamaica, has offices in Kingston.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance to Jamaica since its independence in 1962 has contributed to reducing the population growth rate, the attainment of higher standards in a number of critical health indicators, and the diversification and expansion of Jamaica's export base. USAID's primary objective is promoting sustainable economic growth. Other key objectives are improved environmental quality and natural resource protection, strengthening democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law, as well as family planning. In fiscal year 2002, the USAID mission in Jamaica operated a program totaling more than $13 million in development assistance.


The Peace Corps has been in Jamaica continuously since 1962. Since then, more than 3,300 volunteers have served in the country. Today, the Peace Corps works in the following projects: Youth-at-Risk, which includes adolescent reproductive health, HIV/AIDS education, and the needs of marginalized males; water sanitation, which includes rural waste water solutions and municipal waste water treatment; and environmental education, which helps address low levels of awareness and strengthens environmental nongovernmental organizations. The Peace Corps in Jamaica fields about 70 volunteers who work in every parish on the island, including some inner-city communities in Kingston.


Jamaica is a major transit point for South American cocaine enroute to the United States. It is also the largest Caribbean producer and exporter of marijuana. A significant increase in cocaine flow through Jamaica was observed during 2001. Jamaica is the embarkation point for the largest number of passengers arrested on drug charges at U.S. airports. U.S. assistance has played a vital role in stemming the flow of drugs to the United States. In fiscal year 2001, the Jamaican Government seized over 1,700 kilograms of cocaine. Several large seizures in late 2001 contributed to a doubling of interdicted cocaine during calendar year 2001 over 2000. The Jamaican Government eradicated 436 hectares of marijuana in 2001, nearly 800 hectares short of its 1,200 hectare goal. Authorities also seized and destroyed 72.6 metric tons of marijuana in 2001, a sizable increase over 2000. Over 7,450 drug arrests were made in 2001, including 415 foreigners. A bilateral maritime interdiction cooperation agreement is facilitating U.S. Coast Guard and Jamaican military coordination.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Kingston (E), Jamaica Mutual Life Center, 2 Oxford Rd., 3rd Fl., Tel (876) 929-4850 thru 9, (876) 935-6000, Fax 935-6001. Direct-in-dial numbers: NAS (876) 935-6080; PC 929-0495; DAO 935-6021; MLO 935-6074; DEA 929-4956; COM 926-8115; AGR 920-2827; INS 935-6095; PAO Tel (876) 935-6053, Fax (876) 929-3637; E-mail: [email protected]

AMB: Sue M. Cobb
AMB OMS: Jeannie Keller
DCM: Thomas Tighe
CON: Ronald Robinson
COM: Terry Sorgi (res. Santo Domingo)
MGT: Judith Francis
ECO/POL: Mark Powell
RSO: Michael Limpantsis
PAO: Orna Blum
IMO: John Benton
AID: Karen Turner
DAO: CDR Martin Hundley, USN
USCG: LTCDR Peter Broda
MLO: LTC Vincent Moynihan
AGR: David Salmon (res. Santo Domingo)
APHIS: [Vacant]
NAS: Sandra Oudkirk
PC: Suchet Loois
IRS: Frederick Dulas (res. Mexico City)
CLO: Eva Crawfor
INS: Charles Jean
FAA: Allan B. Hurr (res. Miami)
LAB: John J. Muth (res. Wash., D.C.)
DEA: Ray Ollie


Montego Bay (CA), P.O. Box 212 St. James Place, 2nd Fl., Glouchester Avenue; Tel. (876) 952-0160/5050.

CA: Robert T. Garth

Cayman Islands (CA), Office of Adventure Travel, Seven Mile Beach, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Tel (345) 945-1511, Fax (345) 945-1811.


CA: Gail Duquesnay

Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 800-USA-TRADE or 800-872-8723
Website:http://www.ita.doc.gov/tic


American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica
The Hilton Hotel
77 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 929-7866/67
Fax: (876) 929-8597
E-mail: [email protected]


Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075
E-mail: [email protected]
Website:http://www.claa.org




TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
January 15, 2004


Country Description: Jamaica is a developing nation of over 2.6 million people. Facilities for tourists are widely available. International airports are located in Kingston and Montego Bay.


Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens traveling as tourists may enter Jamaica with a U.S. passport or a certified U.S. birth certificate and current, government issued photo identification. Persons traveling with U.S. passports tend to encounter fewer difficulties upon departure than those who choose to use other documents. Visitors must have a return ticket and be able to show sufficient funds for their visit. U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica for work or extended stays are required to have a current U.S. passport and visa issued by the Jamaican Embassy or a Jamaican Consulate. Travelers must pay a departure tax when leaving the country.

For further information, travelers may contact the Embassy of Jamaica at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 452-0660; the Jamaican Consulate in Miami or New York; honorary consuls in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle or Los Angeles; or via the Internet at http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Safety and Security: Gang violence and shootings occur regularly in inner-city areas of Kingston. Some inner-city neighborhoods are occasionally subject to curfews and police searches. Impromptu demonstrations sometimes occur, during which demonstrators often construct roadblocks or otherwise block the streets. These events usually do not affect tourist areas, but travelers to Kingston should check with local authorities or the U.S. Embassy for current information prior to their trip.


For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use tollfree numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Crime Information: Crime, including violent crime, is a serious problem in Jamaica, particularly in Kingston. While the vast majority of crimes occur in impoverished areas, the violence is not confined. The primary criminal concern of tourist is being a victim of theft. In several cases, armed robberies of Americans have turned violent when the victims resisted handing over valuables. Crime is exacerbated by the fact that police are understaffed and ineffective. Therefore, tourists should take their own precautions and always pay extra attention to their surroundings when traveling, exercise care when walking outside after dark, and should always avoid areas known for high crime rates. As a general rule, applicable everywhere, valuables should not be left unattended, including in hotel rooms and on the beach. Care should be taken when carrying high value items such as cameras, or when wearing expensive jewelry on the street. Women's handbags should be zipped and held close to the body. Men should carry wallets in their front pants pocket. Large amounts of cash should always be handled discreetly.


The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to avoid inner-city areas of Kingston and other urban centers whenever possible. Particular caution is advised after dark in downtown Kingston. The U.S. Embassy also cautions its staff not to use public buses, which are often overcrowded and are a frequent venue for crime.

To enhance security in the principal resort areas, the Government of Jamaica has taken a number of steps, including assignment of special police foot and bicycle patrol s. Particular care is still called for, however, when staying at isolated villas and smaller establishments that may have fewer security arrangements. Some street vendors and taxi drivers in tourist areas are known to confront and harass tourists to buy their wares or employ their services. If a firm No, thank you does not solve the problem, visitors may wish to seek the assistance of a tourist police officer.


Drug use is prevalent in some tourist areas. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding, or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances. There is anecdotal evidence that the use of so-called date rape drugs, such as Ruhypnol, has become more common at clubs and private parties. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illegal narcotics are especially potent in Jamaica, and their use may lead to severe or even disastrous health consequences.


Relatives of U.S. citizens visiting Jamaica and U.S. citizens who are prisoners in Jamaica have received telephone calls from people claiming to be Jamaican police officers, other public officials, or medical professionals. The callers usually state that the visitor or prisoner has had trouble and needs financial help. In almost every case these claims are untrue. The caller insists that money should be sent to either themselves or a third party who will assist the visitor or prisoner, but when money is sent, it fails to reach U.S. citizens in alleged need. U.S. citizens who receive calls such as these should never send money. They should contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassy's Consular Section at telephone (876) 935-6044 for assistance in confirming the validity of the call.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S.

Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical care is more limited than in the U.S. Comprehensive emergency medical services are located only in Kingston and Montego Bay, and smaller public hospitals are located in each parish. Emergency medical and ambulance services are limited in outlying parishes. Ambulance service is limited both in the quality of emergency care and in the availability of vehicles in remote parts of the country.


Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often require cash payment prior to providing services.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions and traffic regulations that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Jamaica is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of public transportation: Poor

Urban road conditions/maintenance: fair

Rural road conditions/maintenance: fair

Availability of roadside assistance: Poor


Drivers and pedestrians should remember that driving in Jamaica is on the left-hand side of the road. Breakdown assistance is quite limited in urban areas and virtually unavailable in rural areas. Nighttime driving is especially dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. As noted above in the section on Crime, public buses are often overcrowded and they are frequently avenue of crime. Travelers who use taxicabs should take only licensed taxicabs having red-and-white PP license plates.


Drivers and passengers in the front seat are required to wear seat belts, and motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. A number of U.S. citizens who have rented motorcycles and scooters have been seriously injured, often because the riders were not wearing a helmet and other motorcycle safety gear. Extreme caution should be used in driving motor driven cycles.


Drivers should make every effort to avoid areas of high crime and civil strife. Roadblocks are sometimes employed by residents as protests intended to draw attention to particular issues and require extreme caution by drivers. The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to exercise caution when traveling in areas described in the section on Crime. The embassy also advises its staff to always keep their window up and doors locked when driving and to leave enough distance between themselves and the preceding car at intersections to allow a roll forward in case of harassment by pedestrian panhandlers. As a rule, drivers should always avoid contact with large groups of pedestrians.

Most roads are paved, but suffer from ill repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. City roads are often subject to poorly marked construction zones, pedestrians, bicyclists, and, occasionally, livestock. Street corners are frequented by peddlers, window washers and beggars walking among stopped cars. Smaller roads are often narrow and they are frequently traveled at high speeds.


Drivers should be aware of roundabouts, which are often poorly marked and require traffic to move in a clockwise direction. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to those already in it. Failure to turn into the correct flow of traffic can result in a head on collision.


The A1, A2 and A3 highways are the primary links between the most important cities and tourist destinations on the island. These roads are not comparable to American highways, and road conditions may be hazardous due to poor repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. The B highways and other rural roads are often very narrow and frequented by large trucks, buses, pedestrians, bicyclists and open range livestock. Highways are traveled at high speeds, but they are not limited-access and are subject to the hazards outlined above.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Jamaican drivers permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Jamaica's website: http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org or the Jamaica Tourist Board at: 1-800-JAMAICA or on line at http://www.jamaicatravel.com.


Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Jamaica's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 — in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Jamaica's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at (800) 322-7873, or visit the FAA website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at 618-229-4801.


Customs Regulations: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Jamaica without authorization from the Ministry of National Security. Entering Jamaica with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition is serious crime that can result in a long prison sentence. Fresh fruits, vegetables and uncooked meats are not permitted to be brought in or out of the country and may be confiscated by customs officials. Pets may not be brought into Jamaica, except for dogs from the United Kingdom that have not been vaccinated for rabies and only after six months quarantine. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington or one of the Jamaican consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Jamaican laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or traf-ficking in illegal drugs in Jamaica are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Airport searches are thorough and people attempting to smuggle narcotics are often apprehended.

Prison conditions in Jamaica differ greatly from prison conditions in the United States. Prisoners are provided only the most basic meals and must rely upon family and friends to supplement their diets, provide clothing, and supply personal care items such as toothpaste and shampoo. Packages shipped from the United States to prisoners are subject to Jamaican import taxes and are undeliverable when the recipient lacks the funds to pay the duties.


Disaster Preparedness: Jamaica, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in the event of an emergency or disaster. General information is available on the subject via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/. The Embassy encourages long-term residents of Jamaica to prepare a sufficient supply of food, water and other necessary supplies in the event of a natural disaster. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and abductions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Special Circumstances: Behavior Modification Facilities: In recent years, there has been a growth of Behavior Modification Facilities for the treatment of minors with drug/alcohol and discipline problems. Parents enroll their children in these facilities in the hope of improving their behavior. The Department of State is aware of such facilities in Jamaica, Mexico and The Dominican Republic. There may be facilities in other countries that have not come to the attention of the U.S. government.


Parents considering enrolling their children in overseas Behavior Modification Facilities should visit the facility, if at all possible, and review the host country's rules regarding the facility and its employees. Parents may contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the host country to inquire about the facility or speak to the country officer in the Office of American Citizen Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs at: (202) 647-5226. When such facilities are known to exist, consular officials conduct periodic site visits, sometimes in the company of host country government officials, to monitor the general well being of U.S. citizen enrollees and to check on specific individuals who have been the subject of welfare and whereabouts inquiries. Further information can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Behavior Modifica-tion Facilities information flyer, available at http://travel.state.gov/behavior_modification.html.


Registration/Embassy and Consular Agency Locations: Americans living in or visiting Jamaica are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston and obtain updated information on travel and security within Jamaica. The Consular Section is located on the first floor of the Oxford Manor building, 16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, tel. (876) 935-6044. Office hours are 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with window services available Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., except local and U.S. holidays. For emergencies after hours, on weekends, and holidays, U.S. citizens are requested to call the U.S. Embassy duty officer through the main switchboard at (876) 935-6000. The Chancery is located three blocks away in the Mutual Life Building, 3rd Floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5; phone (876) 929-4850 through 59.

The Consular Agency in Montego Bay is located at St. James Place, 2nd Floor, Gloucester Avenue, tel. (876) 952-0160.

Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.


The U.S. Embassy also has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory. The Consular Agency in George Town is located in the office of Adventure Travel, Seven-Mile Beach; telephone (345) 946-1611; fax (345) 945-1811; e-mail: [email protected] Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Monday-Friday. For additional information on travel conditions in the Cayman Island, please refer to the Cayman Islands Consular Information Sheet.


International Parental Child Abduction

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.


General Information: Jamaica is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any other international or bilateral treaties in force between Jamaica and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Jamaica place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Jamaica with dual national children should bear this in mind.


Custody Disputes: In Jamaica, if parents are legally married they share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is granted by law to the mother unless there are known facts of inappropriate behavior mental or social problems. Foreign court orders are not automatically recognized.


Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not automatically enforced in Jamaica, but may be formally recognized by a Jamaican court.


Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has been granted custody of a child, the other parent is usually granted visitation rights. The American Embassy in Kingston has reported few problems for non-custodial parents exercising their visitation rights. If a custodial parent fails to allow visitation, the non-custodial parent may appeal to the court.


Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is recognized under Jamaican law.


Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program: Separate from the two-parent signature requirement for U.S. passport issuance, parents may also request that their children's names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system, also known as CPIAP. A parent or legal guardian can be notified by the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues before a passport is issued to his/her minor child. The parent, legal guardian or the court of competent jurisdiction must submit a written request for entry of a child's name into the Passport Issuance Alert program to the Office of Children's Issues. The CPIAP also provides denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with the Office of Children's Issues. Although this system can be used to alert a parent or court when an application for a U.S. passport has been executed on behalf of a minor, it cannot be used to track the use of a passport that has already been issued. If there is a possibility that your child has another nationality you may want to contact the appropriate embassy or consulate directly to inquire about the possibility of denial of that country's passport. There is no requirement that foreign embassies adhere to U.S. regulations regarding issuance and denial of passports. For more information contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-312-9700. General passport information is also available on the Office of Children's Issues home page on the internet at www.travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html.

Travel Restrictions: No exit visas are required to leave Jamaica. However, a child leaving the country with a person other than a parent needs written authorization from one parent. This authorization requires certification from the Jamaican immigration office before minors may exit the country.

Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Jamaican court should retain an attorney in Jamaica. The U.S. Embassy in Jamaica maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by accessing the internet address below or by requesting one from the Embassy at:


U.S. Embassy Kingston
Consular Section
Jamaica Mutual Life Center
2 Oxford Road, 3rd Floor
Kingston
Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 929-4850
Fax: [876] 935-6001
Website: www.state.gov/kingston


Questions involving Jamaican law should be addressed to a Jamaican attorney or to the Embassy of Jamaica in the United States at:


Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 452-0660

views updated

JAMAICA

Compiled from the February 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Jamaica


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 10,991 sq. km. (4,244 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Kingston metro area (pop. 628,000). Other cities—Montego Bay (96,600), Spanish Town (122,700).

Terrain: Mountainous, coastal plains.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Jamaican(s).

Population: (2000) 2.65 million.

Annual growth rate: (2000) 0.6%.

Ethnic groups: African 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, Chinese 0.2%, White 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%.

Religions: Anglican, Baptist and other Protestant, Roman Catholic, Rastafarian, Jewish.

Languages: English, Patois.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy (age 15 and over)—79.9%.

Health: (2000) Infant mortality rate—24.5/1,000. Life expectancy—female 75 yrs., male 70 yrs.

Work force: (2000, 1.1 million) Industry—17.8%; agriculture—21.4%; services—60.8%.

Government

Type: Constitutional parliamentary democracy.

Independence: August 6, 1962.

Constitution: August 6, 1962.

Branches: Executive—Governor General (chief of state, representing British monarch), prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Parliament (21 appointed senators, 60 elected representatives). Judicial—Court of Appeal and courts of original jurisdiction.

Administrative subdivisions: 14 parishes, 60 electoral constituencies.

Political parties: People's National Party (PNP), Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), National Democratic Movement (NDM), United Peoples Party (UPP).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2002) $7.335 billion.

Real growth rate: (2002) 1.0%.

Per capita GDP: (2001) $2,771.

Natural resources: Bauxite, gypsum, limestone.

Agriculture: Products—sugar, bananas, coffee, citrus fruits, allspice.

Industry: Types—tourism, bauxite and alumina, garment assembly, processed foods, sugar, rum, cement, metal, chemical products.

Trade: (2002) Exports—$1.14 billion: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, garments, citrus fruits and products, rum, coffee. Major markets (2000 data)—U.S. 39.1%, U.K. 11.2%, Canada 10.2%, Netherlands 22.0%, Norway 9.1%, CARICOM 3.7%, Japan 2.3%. Imports (2000)—$3.191 billion: machinery, transportation and electrical equipment, food, fuels, fertilizer. Major suppliers (2000) U.S. 44.8%, Trinidad and Tobago 10.0%, Japan 6.0%, U.K. 3.1%, Canada 3.1%, Mexico 4.8%, Venezuela 3.9%.


PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Arawaks from South America had settled in Jamaica prior to Christopher Columbus' first arrival at the island in 1494. During Spain's occupation of the island, starting in 1510, the Arawaks were exterminated by disease, slavery, and war. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517. In 1655, British forces seized the island, and in 1670, Great Britain gained formal possession.

Sugar made Jamaica one of the most valuable possessions in the world for more than 150 years. The British Parliament abolished slavery as of August 1, 1834. After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica gained a degree of local political control in the late 1930s, and held its first election under full universal adult suffrage in 1944. Jamaica joined nine other U.K. territories in the West Indies Federation in 1958 but withdrew after Jamaican voters rejected membership in 1961. Jamaica gained independence in 1962, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.

Historically, Jamaican emigration has been heavy. Since the United Kingdom restricted emigration in 1967, the major flow has been to the United States and Canada. About 20,000 Jamaicans emigrate to the United States each year; another 200,000 visit annually. New York, Miami, Chicago, and Hartford are among the U.S. cities with a significant Jamaican population. Remittances from the expatriate communities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, estimated at up to $800 million per year, make increasingly significant contributions to Jamaica's economy.


GOVERNMENT

The 1962 constitution established a parliamentary system based on the U.K. model. As chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II appoints a governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, as her representative in Jamaica. The governor general's role is largely ceremonial. Executive power is vested in the cabinet, led by the prime minister.

Parliament is composed of an appointed Senate and an elected House of Representatives. Thirteen Senators are nominated on the advice of the prime minister and eight on the advice of the leader of the opposition. General elections must be held within 5 years of the forming of a new government. The prime minister may ask the governor general to call elections sooner, however. The Senate may submit bills, and it also reviews legislation submitted by the House. It may not delay budget bills for more than 1 month or other bills for more than 7 months.

The prime minister and the cabinet are selected from the Parliament. No fewer than two nor more than four members of the cabinet must be selected from the Senate.

The judiciary also is modeled on the U.K. system. The Court of Appeals is the highest appellate court in Jamaica. Under certain circumstances, cases may be appealed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Jamaica's parishes have elected councils that exercise limited powers of local government.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 9/22/04

Governor General: Cooke , Howard, Sir
Prime Minister: Patterson , Percival James (P. J.)
Min. of Agriculture: Clarke , Roger
Min. of Commerce, Science, & Technology: Paulwell , Phillip
Min. of Defense: Patterson , Percival James (P. J.)
Min. of Development: Robertson , Paul
Min. of Education, Youth, & Culture: Henry-Wilson , Maxine
Min. of Finance & Planning: Davies , Omar
Min. of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade: Knight , K. D.
Min. of Health: Junor , John
Min. of Industry & Tourism: Assamba , Aloun N'dombet
Min. of Information: Whiteman , Burchell
Min. of Justice: Nicholson , A. J.
Min. of Labor & Social Security: Dalley , Horace
Min. of Lands & Environment: Peart , Dean
Min. of Local Government, Community Development, & Sports: Simpson-Miller , Portia
Min. of National Security: Phillips , Peter
Min. of Transportation & Works: Pickersgill , Robert
Min. of Water & Housing: Buchanan , Donald
Attorney General: Nicholson , A. J.
Governor, Central Bank: Latibeaudiere , Derick
Ambassador to the US: Shirley , Gordon
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Neil , Stafford

Jamaica maintains an embassy in the United States at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-452-0660). It also has consulates in New York at 767 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-935-9000); and in Miami in the Ingraham Building, Suite 842, 25 SE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33131 (tel. 305-374-8431/2).


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Jamaica's political system is stable. However, the country's serious economic problems have exacerbated social problems and have become the subject of political debate. High unemployment—averaging 15.5%—rampant underemployment, growing debt, and high interest rates are the most serious economic problems. Violent crime is a serious problem, particularly in Kingston. The two major political parties have historical links with two large trade unions—the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the People's National Party (PNP) with the National Workers Union (NWU). The center-right National Democratic Movement (NDM) was established in 1995 and the populist United Peoples Party (UPP) in 2001; neither has links with any particular trade union and both are marginal movements.

For health reasons, Michael Manley stepped down as Prime Minister in March 1992 and was replaced by P.J. Patterson. Patterson subsequently led the PNP to victory in general elections in 1993, 1997, and in October of 2002. The 2002 victory marked the first time any Jamaican political party has won four consecutive general elections since the introduction of universal suffrage to Jamaica in 1944. The current composition of the lower house of Jamaica's Parliament is 34 PNP and 26 JLP.

Since the 1993 elections, the Jamaican Government, political parties, and Electoral Advisory Committee have worked to enact electoral reform. In the 2002 general elections, grassroots Jamaican efforts from

groups like CAFFE (Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections), supplemented by international observers and organizations such as The Carter Center, helped reduce the violence that has tended to mar Jamaican elections. Former President Carter also observed the 2002 elections and declared them free and fair.


ECONOMY

Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, adequate water supplies, and climate conducive to agriculture and tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.

The country faces some serious problems but has the potential for growth and modernization. After 4 years of negative economic growth, Jamaica's GDP grew by 0.8% in 2000. Inflation fell from 25% in 1995 to 6.1% in 2000 and 7.0% in 2001. Through periodic intervention in the market, the central bank prevented any abrupt drop in the exchange rate. The Jamaican dollar continued to slip despite intervention, resulting in an average exchange rate of J$47.4 to the U.S.$1.00 by December 2001.

Weakness in the financial sector, speculation, and low levels of investment erode confidence in the productive sector. The government raised $3.6 billion in new sovereign debt in local and international financial markets in 2001. This was used to meet its U.S. dollar debt obligations, to mop up liquidity to maintain the exchange rate, and to help fund the current budget deficit. Net internal reserves rose from $969.5 million at the beginning of 2001 to $1.8 billion at the end of the year.

Jamaican Government economic policies encourage foreign investment in areas that earn or save foreign exchange, generate employment, and use local raw materials. The government provides a wide range of incentives to investors, including remittance facilities to assist them in repatriating funds to the country of origin; tax holidays which defer taxes for a period of years; and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for approved enterprises. Free trade zones have stimulated investment in garment assembly, light manufacturing, and data entry by foreign firms. However, over the last 5 years, the garment industry has suffered from reduced export earnings, continued factory closures, and rising unemployment. This can be attributed to intense international and regional competition, exacerbated by the high costs of operations in Jamaica, including security costs to deter drug activity. The Government of Jamaica hopes to encourage economic activity through a combination of privatization, financial sector restructuring, falling interest rates, and by boosting tourism and related productive activities.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Jamaica has diplomatic relations with most nations and is a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. It was an active participant in the April 2001 Quebec Summit of the Americas. Jamaica is an active member of the British Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the G-15, and the G-77. Jamaica is a beneficiary of the Cotonou Conventions, through which the European Union (EU) grants trade preferences to selected states in Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Historically, Jamaica has had close ties with the U.K., but trade, financial, and cultural relations with the United States are now predominant. Jamaica is linked with the other countries of the English-speaking Caribbean through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and more broadly through the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). In December 2001, Jamaica completed its 2-year term on the United Nations Security Council.


U.S.-JAMAICAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close and productive relations with the Government of Jamaica. Prime Minister Patterson has visited Washington, DC, several times since assuming office in 1992. In April 2001, Prime Minister Patterson and other Caribbean leaders met with President Bush during the Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada, at which a "Third Border Initiative" was launched to deepen U.S. cooperation with Caribbean nations and enhance economic development and integration of the Caribbean nations. The United States is Jamaica's most important trading partner: bilateral trade in goods in 2000 was almost $2 billion. Jamaica is a popular destination for American tourists; more than 800,000 Americans visited in 2000. In addition, some 10,000 American citizens, including many dual-nationals born on the island, permanently reside in Jamaica.

The Government of Jamaica also seeks to attract U.S. investment and supports efforts to create a Free Trade Area of the Americans (FTAA). More than 80 U.S. firms have operations in Jamaica, and total U.S. investment is estimated at more than $1 billion. An office of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, located in the embassy, actively assists American businesses seeking trade opportunities in Jamaica. The country is a beneficiary of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partner Act (CBTPA). The American Chamber of Commerce, which also is available to assist U.S. business in Jamaica, has offices in Kingston.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance to Jamaica since its independence in 1962 has contributed to reducing the population growth rate, the attainment of higher standards in a number of critical health indicators, and the diversification and expansion of Jamaica's export base. USAID's primary objective is promoting sustainable economic growth. Other key objectives are improved environmental quality and natural resource protection, strengthening democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law, as well as family planning. In fiscal year 2002, the USAID mission in Jamaica operated a program totaling more than $13 million in development assistance.

The Peace Corps has been in Jamaica continuously since 1962. Since then, more than 3,300 volunteers have served in the country. Today, the Peace Corps works in the following projects: Youth-at-Risk, which includes adolescent reproductive health, HIV/AIDS education, and the needs of marginalized males; water sanitation, which includes rural waste water solutions and municipal waste water treatment; and environmental education, which helps address low levels of awareness and strengthens environmental nongovernmental organizations. The Peace Corps in Jamaica fields about 70 volunteers who work in every parish on the island, including some inner-city communities in Kingston.

Jamaica is a major transit point for South American cocaine en route to the United States. It is also the largest Caribbean producer and exporter of marijuana. A significant increase in cocaine flow through Jamaica was observed during 2001. Jamaica is the embarkation point for the largest number of passengers arrested on drug charges at U.S. airports. U.S. assistance has played a vital role in stemming the flow of drugs to the United States. In fiscal year 2001, the Jamaican Government seized over 1,700 kilograms of cocaine. Several large seizures in late 2001 contributed to a doubling of interdicted cocaine during calendar year 2001 over 2000. The Jamaican Government eradicated 436 hectares of marijuana in 2001, nearly 800 hectares short of its 1,200 hectare goal. Authorities also seized and destroyed 72.6 metric tons of marijuana in 2001, a sizable increase over 2000. Over 7,450 drug arrests were made in 2001, including 415 foreigners. A bilateral maritime interdiction cooperation agreement is facilitating U.S. Coast Guard and Jamaican military coordination.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

KINGSTON (E) Address: NCB Towers, South Tower, Third Floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I.; Phone: 876-935-6000; Fax: 876-935-6001; Workweek: M–F; 07:15 to 16:00; Website: usembassy.state.gov/kingston

AMB:Sue M. Cobb
DCM:Thomas C. Tighe
CG:Ronald S. Robinson
POL:Mark Powell
COM:David Katz
MGT:Steven J. Valdez
AFSA:Alexandra Z. Tenny
AGR:David Salmon
AID:Karen Turner
APHIS:Alester Simmons
CLO:Eva Crawford
DAO:Martin Hundley
DEA:Ranaldo Ollie
ECO:Mark Powell
EEO:John Benton
FAA:Allan B. Hurr
FMO:Natalie Cropper
GSO:Steven Goertz
ICASS Chair:Peter Klosky
IMO:John M. Benton
INS:Charles W. Jean
IPO:John M. Benton
ISSO:John M. Benton
MLO:Vincent J. Moynihan
NAS:Garace Reynard
PAO:Glenn Guimond
RSO:Michael Limpantsis
Last Updated: 11/2/2004

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 800-USA-TRADE or 800-872-8723
Web site: http://www.ita.doc.gov/tic

American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica
The Hilton Hotel
77 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 929-7866/67
Fax: (876) 929-8597
E-mail: [email protected]

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.claa.org


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

November 29, 2004

Country Description: Jamaica is a developing nation of over 2.6 million people. Facilities for tourists are widely available. International airports are located in Kingston and Montego Bay.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens traveling as tourists may enter Jamaica with a U.S. passport or a certified U.S. birth certificate and current, government issued photo identification. Persons traveling with U.S. passports tend to encounter fewer difficulties upon departure than those who choose to use other documents. Visitors must have a return ticket and be able to show sufficient funds for their visit. U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica for work or extended stays are required to have a current U.S. passport and visa issued by the Jamaican Embassy or a Jamaican Consulate. Travelers must pay a departure tax when leaving the country.

For further information, travelers may contact the Embassy of Jamaica at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 452-0660; the Jamaican Consulate in Miami or New York; honorary consuls in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle or Los Angeles. Visit the Embassy of Jamaica's web site at http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: Gang violence and shootings occur regularly in inner-city areas of Kingston. Some inner-city neighborhoods are occasionally subject to curfews and police searches. Impromptu demonstrations sometimes occur, during which demonstrators often construct roadblocks or otherwise block the streets. These events usually do not affect tourist areas, but travelers to Kingston should check with local authorities or the U.S. Embassy for current information prior to their trip.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: Crime, including violent crime, is a serious problem in Jamaica, particularly in Kingston. While the vast majority of crimes occur in impoverished areas, the violence is not confined. The primary criminal concern of a tourist is being a victim of theft. In several cases, armed robberies of Americans have turned violent when the victims resisted handing over valuables. Crime is exacerbated by the fact that police are understaffed and ineffective. Therefore, tourists should take their own precautions and always pay extra attention to their surroundings when traveling, exercise care when walking outside after dark, and should always avoid areas known for high crime rates. As a general rule, valuables should not be left unattended, including in hotel rooms and on the beach. Care should be taken when carrying high value items such as cameras, or when wearing expensive jewelry on the street. Women's handbags should be zipped and held close to the body. Men should carry wallets in their front pants pocket. Large amounts of cash should always be handled discreetly.

The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to avoid inner-city areas of Kingston and other urban centers whenever possible. Particular caution is advised after dark in downtown Kingston. The U.S. Embassy also cautions its staff not to use public buses, which are often overcrowded and are a frequent venue for crime.

To enhance security in the principal resort areas, the Government of Jamaica has taken a number of steps, including assignment of special police foot and bicycle patrols. Particular care is still called for, however, when staying at isolated villas and smaller establishments that may have fewer security arrangements. Some street vendors and taxi drivers in tourist areas are known to confront and harass tourists to buy their wares or employ their services. If a firm "No, thank you" does not solve the problem, visitors may wish to seek the assistance of a tourist police officer.

Drug use is prevalent in some tourist areas. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding, or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances. There is anecdotal evidence that the use of so-called date rape drugs, such as Ruhypnol, has become more common at clubs and private parties. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illegal narcotics are especially potent in Jamaica, and their use may lead to severe or even disastrous health consequences.

Relatives of U.S. citizens visiting Jamaica and U.S. citizens who are prisoners in Jamaica have received telephone calls from people claiming to be Jamaican police officers, other public officials, or medical professionals. The callers usually state that the visitor or prisoner has had trouble and needs financial help. In almost every case these claims are untrue. The caller insists that money should be sent to either themselves or a third party who will assist the visitor

or prisoner, but when money is sent, it fails to reach the U.S. citizens in alleged need. U.S. citizens who receive calls such as these should never send money. They should contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassy's Consular Section at telephone (876) 935-6044 for assistance in confirming the validity of the call.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/brochure_victim_assistance.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is more limited than in the United States. Comprehensive emergency medical services are located only in Kingston and Montego Bay, and smaller public hospitals are located in each parish. Emergency medical and ambulance services are limited in outlying parishes. Ambulance service is limited both in the quality of emergency care and in the availability of vehicles in remote parts of the country.

Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often require cash payment prior to providing services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Jamaica is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Drivers and pedestrians should remember that driving in Jamaica is on the left-hand side of the road. Breakdown assistance is quite limited in urban areas and virtually unavailable in rural areas. Nighttime driving is especially dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. As noted above in the section on Crime, public buses are often overcrowded and they are frequently a venue of crime. Travelers who use taxicabs should take only licensed taxicabs having red-and-white PP license plates.

Drivers and passengers in the front seat are required to wear seat belts, and motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. A number of U.S. citizens who have rented motorcycles and scooters have been seriously injured, often because the riders were not wearing a helmet and other motorcycle safety gear. Extreme caution should be used in driving motor driven cycles.

Drivers should make every effort to avoid areas of high crime and civil strife. Roadblocks are sometimes employed by residents as protests intended to draw attention to particular issues and require extreme caution by drivers. The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to exercise caution when traveling in areas described in the section on Crime. The Embassy also advises its staff to always keep their window up and doors locked when driving and to leave enough distance between themselves and the preceding car at intersections to allow a roll forward in case of harassment by pedestrian panhandlers. As a rule, drivers should always avoid contact with large groups of pedestrians.

Most roads are paved, but suffer from ill repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. City roads are often subject to poorly marked construction zones, pedestrians, bicyclists, and, occasionally, livestock. Street corners are frequented by peddlers, window washers, and beggars walking among stopped cars. Smaller roads are often narrow and they are frequently traveled at high speeds. Drivers should be aware of roundabouts, which are often poorly marked and require traffic to move in a clockwise direction. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to those already in it. Failure to turn into the correct flow of traffic can result in a head on collision.

The A1, A2 and A3 highways are the primary links between the most important cities and tourist destinations on the island. These roads are not comparable to American highways, and road conditions may be hazardous due to poor repair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. The B highways and other rural roads are often very narrow and frequented

by large trucks, buses, pedestrians, bicyclists and open range livestock. Highways are traveled at high speeds, but they are not limited-access and are subject to the hazards outlined above.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Jamaican drivers permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Jamaica's website: http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org or the Jamaica Tourist Board at: 1-800-JAMAICA or on line at http://www.jamaicatravel.com.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Jamaica as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Jamaica's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: Behavior Modification Facilities: In recent years, there has been a growth of Behavior Modification Facilities for the treatment of minors with drug/alcohol and discipline problems. Parents enroll their children in these facilities in the hope of improving their behavior. The Department of State is aware of such facilities in Jamaica and Mexico. There may be facilities in other countries that have not come to the attention of the U.S. government.

Parents considering enrolling their children in overseas Behavior Modification Facilities should visit the facility, if at all possible, and review the host country's rules regarding the facility and its employees. Parents may contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the host country to inquire about the facility or speak to the country officer in the Office of American Citizen Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs at: (202) 647-5226. When such facilities are known to exist, consular officials conduct periodic site visits, sometimes in the company of host country government officials, to monitor the general well being of U.S. citizen enrollees and to check on specific individuals who have been the subject of welfare and whereabouts inquiries. Further information can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Behavior Modification Facilities information flyer, available at http://travel.state.gov/behavior_modification.html.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Jamaica without authorization from the Ministry of National Security. Entering Jamaica with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition is serious crime that can result in a long prison sentence. Fresh fruits, vegetables and uncooked meats are not permitted to be brought in or out of the country and may be confiscated by customs officials. Pets may not be brought into Jamaica, except for dogs from the United Kingdom that have not been vaccinated for rabies and only after six months quarantine. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington or one of the Jamaican consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Jamaica, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in the event of an emergency or disaster. General information is available on the subject via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Jamaica's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Jamaica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Airport searches are thorough and people attempting to smuggle narcotics are often apprehended.

Prison conditions in Jamaica differ greatly from prison conditions in the United States. Prisoners are provided only the most basic meals and must rely upon family and friends to supplement their diets, provide clothing, and supply personal care items such as toothpaste and shampoo. Packages shipped from the United States to prisoners are subject to Jamaican import taxes and are undeliverable when the recipient lacks the funds to pay the duties.

Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Jamaica are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Jamaica. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located on the first floor of the Oxford Manor building, 16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, tel. (876) 935-6044. Office hours are 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with window services available Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., except local and U.S. holidays. For emergencies after hours, on weekends, and holidays, U.S. citizens are requested to call the U.S. Embassy duty officer through the main switchboard at (876) 935-6000. The Chancery is located three blocks away in the Mutual Life Building, 3rd Floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5; phone (876) 929-4850 through 59.

The Consular Agency in Montego Bay is located at St. James Place, 2nd Floor, Gloucester Avenue, tel. (876) 952-0160. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The U.S. Embassy also has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory. The Consular Agency in George Town is located in Unit 7 of the Grand Harbour Shops in Georgetown, Grand Cayman; telephone (345) 945-1511; fax (345) 945-1811; e-mail: [email protected] Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Monday-Friday. For additional information on travel conditions in the Cayman Island, please refer to the Cayman Islands Consular Information Sheet.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Availability of Children for Adoption: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

FY-1996: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Jamaican orphans adopted abroad – 7, IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Jamaican orphans to be adopted in the U.S. – 31
FY-1997: IR-3 Visas—5,
IR-4 Visas – 25
FY-1998: IR-3 Visas—5,
IR-4 Visas – 31
FY-1999: IR-3 Visas—9,
IR-4 Visas – 39
FY-2000: IR-3 Visas—9,
IR-4 Visas—24

Jamaican Adoption Authority: The government office responsible for adoptions in Jamaica is the Jamaican Adoption Board.

Jamaican Adoption Procedures: All applications for adoptions of Jamaican children must be made to: Adoption Board, 2 King Street, Kingston, Jamaica; Tel: 876-967-1100; Fax. 876-924-9401).

Prospective parents must submit a completed application form, a personal interview and a medical examination. Once a prospective adoptive child has been identified, a pre-adoption placement will be done for a minimum of three months before an application for an Adoption Order can be made to the Family Court.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: If married, the petitioners (one of who must be a U.S. citizen) may be of any age. If unmarried, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen who is at least 24 years old when filing the BCIS Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan visa (Form I-600A) and at least 25 years old when filing the Form I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

Doctors: The U.S. Embassy (Consulate) maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Jamaica.

Jamaican Documentary Requirements:

  • Adoption License (for children going to the U.S. for adoption)-This license allows someone living in the United States to adopt a Jamaican child. For the license to be issued, the Jamaican Family Court must be satisfied that: A) The overseas adopter is suitable, in keeping with the requirements of the Adoption Board; B) Sending the child abroad would be in his/her best interest; C) The consent of the child's parent(s) or guardian(s), or any person, who has custody of the child, has been given.
  • Adoption Order (for children being adopted in Jamaica by U.S. citizens)-This is a document issued by the Family Court authorizing the adoption of a Jamaican child. The Order is issued when the Adoption Board is satisfied that the pre-adoption placement has gone well and that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the petitioner.

*Note: To obtain a list of documentary requirements, contact the Adoption Board. Adoption Board, 2 King Street, Kingston, Jamaica; Tel: 876-967-1100; Fax. 876-924-9401).

Authentication Process: All documents above must be authenticated. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A Jamaican child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details.

Jamaican Embassy (and Consulates) in the United States:
Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel.: 202-452-0660

Jamaica also has Consulates in: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Miami, FL; New York, NY; Richmond, VA, and Seattle, WA.

U.S. Embassy in Jamaica:
Street Address
U.S. Embassy Jamaica
16 Oxford Road
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: 876-929-4850; Fax: 876-935-6019

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 541
Kingston, Jamaica

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in Jamaica may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, Tel: 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2005

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Jamaica is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any other international or bilateral treaties in force between Jamaica and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Jamaica place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Jamaica with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: In Jamaica, if parents are legally married they share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is granted by law to the mother unless there are known facts of inappropriate behavior mental or social problems. Foreign court orders are not automatically recognized.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not automatically enforced in Jamaica, but may be formally recognized by a Jamaican court.

Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has been granted custody of a child, the other parent is usually granted visitation rights. The American Embassy in Kingston has reported few problems for non-custodial parents exercising their visitation rights. If a custodial parent fails to allow visitation, the non-custodial parent may appeal to the court.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is recognized under Jamaican law.

Travel Restrictions: No exit visas are required to leave Jamaica. However, a child leaving the country with a person other than a parent needs written authorization from one parent. This authorization requires certification from the Jamaican immigration office before minors may exit the country.

Criminal Remedies: Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Jamaican court should retain an attorney in Jamaica. The U.S. Embassy in Jamaica maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by accessing the internet address below or by requesting one from the Embassy at: U.S. Embassy Kingston, Consular Section, Jamaica Mutual Life Center, 2 Oxford Road, 3rd Floor; Kingston, Jamaica; Telephone: (876) 929-4850; Fax: [876] 935-6001; Web site: www.state.gov/kingston

Questions involving Jamaican law should be addressed to a Jamaican attorney or to the Embassy of Jamaica in the United States at: Embassy of Jamaica, 1520 New Hampshire Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20036, Telephone: (202) 452-0660.

views updated

Jamaica

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Jamaicans

35 Bibliography

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.

ANTHEM: First line, “Eternal father, bless our land...”

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$0.01612 (or us$1 = j$62.04) as of 2005.

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.

1 Location and Size

Jamaica is an island in the Caribbean Sea situated about 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of Cuba. It has a total area of 10,991 square kilometers (4,244 square miles), slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. The total coastline is 1,022 kilometers (634 miles). Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston, is located on the country’s southeastern coast.

2 Topography

The greater part of Jamaica is a limestone plateau, with an average elevation of about 460 meters (1,500 feet). The interior of the island is largely mountainous. The Blue Mountains dominate the eastern part of the island. The highest point on the island is Blue Mountain Peak, at 2,256 meters (7,402 feet) above sea level. The lowest point is at sea level (Caribbean Sea).

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 longest river is the Black River, with a length of 71 kilometers (44 miles).

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 10,991 sq km (4,244 sq mi)

Size ranking: 161 of 194

Highest elevation: 2,256 meters (7,402 feet) at Blue Mountain Peak

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Caribbean Sea

Land Use*

Arable land: 16%

Permanent crops: 10%

Other: 74%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: (Kingston): 81 centimeters (32 inches)

Average temperature in January: (Kingston): 19–30°c (66–86°f)

Average temperature in July: (Kingston): 23–32°c (73–90°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

3 Climate

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). Kingston has an average annual rainfall of 81 centimeters (32 inches), though the island has wide variations during the year between the north and south coasts. The rainy seasons are May to June and September to November.

4 Plants and Animals

The original forest of Jamaica has been largely cut down, 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 also 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.

5 Environment

The major environmental problems involve water quality and waste disposal. 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 redmud waste. Another environmental problem for Jamaica is land erosion and deforestation. Jamaica’s coral reefs have also been damaged.

In 2006, threatened species included 5 types of mammals, 12 species of birds, 8 types of reptiles, 12 species of fish, and 208 species of plants. Endangered species in Jamaica include the tundra peregrine falcon, homerus swallowtail butterfly, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, and American crocodile. The Caribbean monk seal and the Jamaica giant galliwasp have become extinct.

6 Population

Jamaica’s 2005 population was estimated at nearly 2.6 million. Population density was 244 persons per square kilometer (632 per square mile). A population of over 3.0 million is projected for 2025. In 2005, the capital city of Kingston had a population of about 575,000.

7 Migration

From 1971 through 1980, about 276,000 Jamaicans left the island, with about 1,420,000 traveling to the United States. An estimated 20,000 Jamaicans immigrate to the United States each year. Most emigrants are seeking jobs. The great difference between rural and urban income levels has contributed to the exodus of rural dwellers to the cities, where many of these migrants remain unemployed for lack of necessary skills. The total number of migrants living in Jamaica in 2000 was 13,000. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate was 4.07 migrants per 1,000 people.

8 Ethnic Groups

About 97% of the population is of partial or total African descent. This population is comprised of blacks, mulattos (mixed race), and black-East Indians or black-Chinese. Other ethnic groups include East Indians (1.3%), Chinese (0.2%), and Europeans. Nearly the whole population is native-born Jamaican.

9 Languages

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

10 Religions

The Church of God claims the largest number of adherents, with 24% of the population. Seventh-Day Adventists (11%) and Pentecostals (10%) are the next-largest denominations. About 7% of the population is Baptist. The Church of England (Anglican), formerly the dominant religion in Jamaica, claims about 4%. Other denominations include Roman Catholics (2%), United Church (2%), Methodists (2%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (2%), Moravians (1%), and Brethren (1%).

Other religious groups, including Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Rastafarians, as well as some spiritual cults, make up about 10% of the population. The Rastafarian movement continues to grow and is culturally influential in Jamaica and abroad. Rastas regard Africa (specifically Ethiopia) as Zion and consider their life outside Africa as an exile or captivity. The use of marijuana, or ganja, plays an important role in the movement. The government officially recognized Rastafarianism as a religion in 2003.

11 Transportation

Jamaica has an extensive system of roads; in 2002 there were 19,000 kilometers (11,806 miles) of roads, including 13,433 kilometers (8,347 miles) of paved roads. In 2003, there were 115,260 licensed passenger cars and 30,100 commercial vehicles on the island. The standard-gauge rail system has 272 kilometers (230 miles) of track.

The port facilities of Kingston are among the most modern in the Caribbean. The 18 other ports tend to specialize in particular commodities. In 2005, Jamaica had a small merchant fleet of nine ships of 1,000 gross registered tons (GRT) or more, totaling 74,881 GRT.

Air service is the major means of passenger transport between Jamaica and outside areas. The two modern airports are Norman Manley International Airport (Kingston) and Sangster International Airport (Montego Bay). In 2004, there were an estimate 35 airports. Only 11 of these airports had paved runways in 2005. In 2003, about 1.8 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.

12 History

Christopher Columbus sailed to Jamaica in 1494. It was settled by the Spanish in the early 16th century. The Arawak Indians, who had inhabited the island since about ad 1000, were gradually exterminated, replaced by African slaves. In 1655, the island was taken over by the English, and the Spanish were expelled five years later.

Spain formally ceded Jamaica to England in 1670 by the Treaty of Madrid. Sugar, cocoa, and coffee plantations became the mainstay of the island’s economy. With the abolition of slavery in 1834, some 250,000 slaves were set free. Many became small farmers in the hill districts. The British Parliament established a crown colony government in 1866, and Jamaica’s new governor, Sir John Peter Grant, introduced new programs, including development of banana cultivation and advances in education, public health, and political representation.

These measures did not resolve Jamaica’s social and economic inequalities, however, and social unrest came to the surface whenever economic reverses occurred. The depression of the 1930s, coupled with a blight on the banana crop, produced serious disruption and demands for political reform. Jamaica was granted self-government and, in 1944, had its first election.

After Independence Jamaica became an independent state on 6 August 1962, with dominion status in the Commonwealth of Nations. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) became the ruling

party, and its leader, Sir Alexander Bustamante, became the nation’s first prime minister.

The JLP held power through the 1960s. In February 1972, the rival People’s National Party (PNP) gained a majority in Parliament, and Michael Manley headed a new democratic socialist government. Manley established friendly relations with Cuba, a policy which the United States criticized.

Deteriorating economic conditions led to continuing violence in Kingston and elsewhere during the mid-1970s, discouraging tourism. By 1976, Jamaica was faced with declining exports and an unemployment rate estimated at 30 to 40%. Tourism suffered another blow in January 1979 with three days of rioting in Kingston at the height of the tourist season.

Manley called for elections in the fall of 1980. The opposition JLP won a landslide victory, and Edward Seaga became prime minister and minister of finance. He announced a conservative economic program that brought an immediate harvest of aid from the United States and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In October 1981, Jamaica broke off diplomatic

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Portia Simpson-Miller

Position: Prime minister of a constitutional parliamentary democracy

Took Office: 30 March 2006

Birthplace: Wood Hall, St. Catherine Parish

Birthdate: 12 December 1945

Education: Degree in public administration from the Union Institute in Miami, Florida

Spouse: Errald Miller

Of interest: Simpson-Miller is the first female prime minister of Jamaica and is popularly known as “Sista P”.

relations with Cuba, and two years later it participated in the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada.

The conservative JLP under Seaga remained in power through the 1980s, but its support eroded as it carried out unpopular economic policies mandated by the IMF.

Criticizing the decline in social services under Seaga and promising to attract foreign investment, Manley and the PNP were returned to office in the 1989 elections. Manley reversed many of Seaga’s policies, but by 1992, inflation was on the rise and the economy slowed. Unemployment hovered around 20%.

Manley retired in 1992, leaving the government to Percival J. Patterson, who moved politically further to the right, encouraging more market-oriented reforms. Violence erupted during the 1995 election campaigns and again in 1996. Patterson was reelected in 1997. In March of the same year, former prime minister Manley died.

In the December 1997 elections, the PNP remained the dominant party. It was the first time a Jamaican political party had won a third consecutive legislative victory. The PNP presided over an increasingly troubled country, however, with continued economic problems and an escalating crime wave. In the first half of 1999 alone, an estimated 500 Jamaicans had been killed in gang-related violence.

In the elections held in October 2002, the PNP captured 52.2% of the vote and Percival James Patterson remained prime minister. However, violence continued with 971 murders in 2003 and 1,145 murders in 2004. Plus, social and economic hardship worsened with the arrival of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, which caused a temporary shutdown of national public power and water supplies. In the midst of prevalent gang violence and social protests, Prime Minister Patterson announced that he would step down from his post. In his place, Portia Simpson Miller was sworn in as prime minister on 30 March 2006. She is the first woman to lead Jamaica’s government.

13 Government

The 1962 constitution provides for a governor-general appointed by the crown, a cabinet presided over by a prime minister, and a two-chamber legislature.

The Senate, which is the upper house, consists of 21 appointed members. The popularly elected House of Representatives consists of 60 members. The House is by far the more important of the two chambers.

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. Voting 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.

Responsibility for local government is vested in 12 parish councils.

14 Political Parties

Two political parties dominate Jamaican politics. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), the more conservative of the two parties, held a parliamentary majority during the first 10 years of independence and again from 1980 to 1989. The JLP gained power again in 2002. The People’s National Party (PNP), which was returned to power in 1989–2002, holds to a moderate socialist program. Both the JLP and PNP support a broad program of social reform and welfare, and promote economic development with the participation of foreign investment.

15 Judicial System

Cases may be heard first before a lay magistrate (justice of the peace), a magistrate, or a judge in the Supreme Court, according to the seriousness of the offense or the amount of property involved. The Supreme Court also hears appeals. Final appeal rests with the seven-member Court of Appeals.

In 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Jamaica to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Jamaica was one of eight nations to approve the CCJ.

16 Armed Forces

The Jamaica Defense Force in 2005 included 2,830 active personnel with 953 reservists. The army accounted for 2,500 personnel, the coast guard 190, and the air wing 140. In 2005, Jamaica spent us$57.5 million on defense.

17 Economy

The structure of the Jamaican economy has undergone major changes since 1945, when it was primarily dependent on tropical agricultural products: sugar, bananas, coffee, and cocoa. The island has since become one of the world’s largest

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

producers of bauxite. It also has developed into a major tourist center for North Americans.

18 Income

In 2005, Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP) was us$11.7 billion, or about us$4,300 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.7%. The average inflation rate was 14.9% in the same year. In 2003, remittances from citizens working abroad totaled over us$1.3 billion, accounting for about 18.6% of the GDP. Foreign aid receipts amount to about us$3 million.

19 Industry

In 2004, industry accounted for about 34% of the economy. Bauxite and aluminum production are main industries. Construction and food processing are regarded as growth industries. Jamaica has an oil refinery with a production capacity of 34,000 barrels per day.

20 Labor

The labor force in 2005 was estimated at 1.2 million. The unemployment rate was estimated at 11.5%. Of those employed in 2003, 20.1% worked in agriculture, 16.6% in industry; and 63.4% in services. The combined membership of unions amounted to 15% of those employed. The minimum wage was us$30 per week in 2002, but most salaried workers earned more than the minimum.

21 Agriculture

Vegetable and melon production in 2004 amounted to 196,500 tons. Principal varieties include pumpkin, carrot, cabbage, tomato, and cucumber. Production of other crop groups (with leading varieties) included 5,500 tons of pulses (red peas, peanuts, gungo peas); 464,404 tons of fruits (papaya, pineapple, watermelon); 1,105 tons of cereals (corn, rice); and 212,500 tons of roots and tubers (yams, potatoes, plantains).

Sugar, the leading export crop, is produced mainly on plantations organized around modern sugar factories. Raw sugar production in 2004 was estimated at 181,042 tons. Sugar is used for the production of molasses (78,884 tons in 2004) and rum (24.7 million liters/6.3 million gallons in 2004). Banana production in 2004 was 125,000 tons.

Other major export crops in 2004 included cocoa and coffee. Blue Mountain coffee, which is primarily exported to Japan, brings in about us$12 million annually in foreign exchange earnings. Jamaica also exports coconuts, pimientos,

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

ginger, tobacco, peppers, and cut flowers. The main food crops, grown primarily by small cultivators, are sweet potatoes and yams, rice, potatoes, manioc, tomatoes, and beans. Jamaica is a major producer of marijuana, which, however, remains illegal.

22 Domesticated Animals

Livestock has long been important in Jamaica’s agricultural life, providing both fertilizer and protein for the local diet. Despite increases in the livestock population and in the production of meat, milk, and poultry, increased demand has resulted in continued imports of livestock products. Livestock holdings in 2005 included about 430,000 head of cattle, 440,000 goats, and 185,000 hogs. Livestock products in 2005 included 102,900 tons of meat (80% of it poultry) and 28,500 tons of cow’s milk.

23 Fishing

Substantial imports have been required to meet domestic needs for fish. The total catch in 2003 was 11,671 tons.

24 Forestry

By the late 1980s, only 185,000 hectares (457,000 acres) of Jamaica’s original 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) of forest remained. In 2004, roundwood production was 852,500 cubic meters (30 million cubic feet). About 67% of the timber cut in 2004 was used as fuel wood. During the 1990s, reforestation averaged 5,000 hectares (12,300 acres) a year.

25 Mining

In 2003, Jamaica was a leading producer of alumina (with 3.8 million tons) and bauxite (with 13.4 million tons). Also in 2003, Jamaica produced

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

248,558 tons of gypsum and an estimated 275,763 tons of lime. Quality marble was found in the Blue Mountains and resources such as silica sand, limestone, clays, salt, hydraulic cement, and sand and gravel were also exploited.

26 Foreign Trade

In 1991, the government implemented the new Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) Common External Tariff, creating the first customs union in the Caribbean.

Primary exports include aluminum, bauxite, garments, sugar, bananas, and rum. Some of the major import categories include food, consumer goods, industrial supplies, fuel, machinery and transportation equipment, and construction materials.

The leading trading partners are the United States, Canada, France, China, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

27 Energy and Power

Jamaica has no coal deposits and very little hydroelectric potential. Electricity is the main source of power and almost all of it is generated by steam from oil-burning plants. In 2002, the total amount of electricity generated by public and private sources was nearly 6.5 billion kilowatt hours. Blackouts still occurred from lack of capacity.

28 Social Development

Jamaica has been a pioneer in social welfare in the West Indies since 1938. Government assistance is provided to those in need, and rehabilitation grants and family allowances are made. A social insurance system provides benefits in the form of old age and disability health, maternity coverage, pensions, workers’ compensation, widows’ and widowers’ pensions, and grants.

Cultural traditions, economic discrimination, and workplace sexual harassment have prevented women from achieving full equality. Women participate actively in politics, however.

Crime is a serious social problem.

29 Health

The government conducts a broad public health program, involving epidemic control, health education, industrial health protection, and campaigns against tuberculosis and malaria.

In 2005, the infant mortality rate was estimated at 16.3 per 1,000 live births. The same

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorJamaica Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$3,950 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate0.7% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land244 803032
Life expectancy in years: male69 587675
female73 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.8 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)30 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)79.9% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people374 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people399 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)1,543 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)3.94 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

year, life expectancy averaged 69 years for men and 73 years. In 2005, there was 0.8 physicians per 1,000 population. As of 2004, the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was estimated at 22,000. In 2003, there were about 900 deaths from AIDS.

While middle- and upper-income housing is comparable to that in neighboring areas of North America, facilities for low-income groups are poor by any standard. The problem has been aggravated by constant migration from the rural areas to the cities, causing the growth of urban slums. Most new urban housing is built of cinder block and steel on the edges of cities. Rural housing is primarily built of wood and roofed with zinc sheeting. Squatter settlements surround the major cities of Jamaica.

According to the 2001 census figures, there were 723,343 occupied private dwellings, with an average of 3.6 people per household.

31 Education

Education is compulsory for six years of primary education. As of 2003, the pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level is about 30 to 1. About 95% of primary-school-aged children attend school. About 75% of those eligible attend secondary school. At the secondary level, there are two stages, one of three years and one of two.

The University of the West Indies serves all British Commonwealth Caribbean territories. Jamaica also has a school of agriculture, several teacher-training colleges and community colleges, and an automotive training school. In 2003, about 17% of eligible students were enrolled in some type of higher education program.

As of 2004, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 79.9%.

32 Media

In 2003, there were an estimated 170 mainline telephones and 535 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people. As of 2001, there were 13 radio station and 3 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 795 radios and 374 television sets for every 1,000 people. In 2004, there were 60 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 399 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

As of 2002, there were four daily newspapers, all privately owned. The morning Jamaica Gleaner (circulation about 259,000 in 2002) and the evening Daily Star (circulation 49,500) are published by the Gleaner Company, which also publishes the Sunday Gleaner (est. 950,000) and the Thursday Star (60,000), an overseas weekly.

33 Tourism and Recreation

Jamaica is firmly established as a center for tourists, mainly from North America. In recent years, Jamaica has diversified its traditional tourist market-the United States and Canada-by aggressively marketing in Europe and Japan.

In 2003, 1,350,285 tourists visited the island. There were about 20,827 hotel rooms and 43,909 beds with a 58% occupancy rate that year.

Major tourist areas are the resort centers of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Cricket is the national sport and excellent golf and water sports facilities are available.

34 Famous Jamaicans

Jamaica-born Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) achieved fame as the founder of the ill-fated United Negro Improvement Association. Trade unionist Sir (William) Alexander Bustamante (1894–1977) and his cousin, Norman Washington Manley (1893–1969), were rival political leaders for decades. Performer and composer Robert Nesta (“Bob”) Marley (1945–1981) became internationally famous for popularizing reggae music outside of Jamaica. The novelists Roger Mais (1905–1955), Vic Reid (1913–1987), and John Hearne (1926–1994) have built reputations in England, and the poet Claude McKay (1890–1948) played an important role in the black literary renaissance in the United States.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Brownlie, Alison. Jamaica. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1999.

Capek, Michael. Jamaica. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1999.

Heinrichs, Ann. Jamaica. New York: Children’s Press, 2003.

Mordecai, Martin. Culture and Customs of Jamaica. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Wilkins, Frances. Jamaica. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999.

Williams, Colleen Madonna Flood. Jamaica. Philadelphia, PA: Mason Crest Publishers, 2004.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/jamaica/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Commonwealth Country Profiles. www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID=139044. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/jm/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.jis.gov.jm/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).