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Jamaica



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Introduction

Background: Jamaica gained full independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962. Deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s led to recurrent violence and a dropoff in tourism. Elections in 1980 saw the democratic socialists voted out of office, and a more conservative government installed. Political violence marred elections during the 1990s.

Geography

Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba

Geographic coordinates: 18 15 N, 77 30 W

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

Area
  total: 10,990 sq km
  land: 10,830 sq km
  water: 160 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Connecticut

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 1,022 km

Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
  continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
  exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior

Terrain: mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain

Elevation extremes
  lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
  highest point: Blue Mountain Peak 2,256 m

Natural resources: bauxite, gypsum, limestone

Land use
  arable land: 14%
  permanent crops: 6%
  permanent pastures: 24%
  forests and woodland: 17%
  other: 39% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 350 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: hurricanes (especially July to November)

Environment - current issues: heavy rates of deforestation; coastal waters polluted by industrial waste, sewage, and oil spills; damage to coral reefs; air pollution in Kingston results from vehicle emissions

Environment - international agreements
  party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
  signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note: strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for Panama Canal

People

Population: 2,652,689 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 30% (male 411,448; female 392,559)
  15-64 years: 63% (male 832,314; female 837,133)
  65 years and over: 7% (male 80,059; female 99,176) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.46% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 18.51 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 5.51 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: -8.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
  total population: 1 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 14.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 75.21 years
  male: 73.26 years
  female: 77.26 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.11 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: Jamaican(s)
  adjective: Jamaican

Ethnic groups: black 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, white 0.2%, Chinese 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.1%

Religions: Protestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Baptist 8.8%, Anglican 5.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Brethren 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other, including some spiritual cults 34.7%

Languages: English, Creole

Literacy
  definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
  total population: 85%
  male: 80.8%
  female: 89.1% (1995 est.)

Government

Country name
  conventional long form: none
  conventional short form: Jamaica

Data code: JM

Government type: constitutional parliamentary democracy

Capital: Kingston

Administrative divisions: 14 parishes; Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, Manchester, Portland, Saint Andrew, Saint Ann, Saint Catherine, Saint Elizabeth, Saint James, Saint Mary, Saint Thomas, Trelawny, Westmoreland

Independence: 6 August 1962 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day (first Monday in August) (1962)

Constitution: 6 August 1962

Legal system: based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
  chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Howard Felix COOKE (since 1 August 1991)
  head of government: Prime Minister Percival James PATTERSON (since 30 March 1992) and Deputy Prime Minister Seymour MULLINGS (since NA 1993)
  cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
  elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (a 21-member body appointed by the governor general on the recommendations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; ruling party is allocated 13 seats, and the opposition is allocated eight seats) and the House of Representatives (60 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
  elections: last held 18 December 1997 (next to be held by March 2002)
  election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PNP 50, JLP 10

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister; Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders: Jamaica Labor Party or JLP [Edward SEAGA]; National Democratic Movement or NDM [Bruce GOLDING]; People's National Party or PNP [P. J. PATTERSON]

Political pressure groups and leaders: New Beginnings Movement or NBM; Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists)

International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CCC, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-15, G-19, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Richard Leighton BERNAL
  chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
  telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660
  FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081
  consulate(s) general: Miami and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Stanley Louis MCLELLAND
  embassy: Jamaica Mutual Life Center, 2 Oxford Road, 3rd floor, Kingston
  mailing address: use embassy street address
  telephone: [1] (809) 929-4850 through 4859
  FAX: [1] (809) 926-6743

Flag description: diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles - green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side)

Economy

Economy - overview: Key sectors in this island economy are bauxite (alumina and bauxite account for more than half of exports) and tourism. Since assuming office in 1992, Prime Minister PATTERSON has eliminated most price controls, streamlined tax schedules, and privatized government enterprises. Continued tight monetary and fiscal policies have helped slow inflation - although inflationary pressures are mounting - and stabilize the exchange rate, but have resulted in the slowdown of economic growth (moving from 1.5% in 1992 to 0.5% in 1995). In 1996, GDP showed negative growth (-1.4%) and remained negative through 1999. Serious problems include: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; the weak financial condition of business in general resulting in receiverships or closures and downsizings of companies; the shift in investment portfolios to non-productive, short-term high yield instruments; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a widening merchandise trade deficit; and a growing internal debt for government bailouts to various ailing sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector. Depressed economic conditions in 1999 led to increased civil unrest, including a mounting crime rate. Jamaica's medium-term prospects will depend upon encouraging investment in the productive sectors, maintaining a competitive exchange rate, stabilizing the labor environment, selling off reacquired firms, and implementing proper fiscal and monetary policies.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $8.8 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: -0.5% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,350 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 7.4%
  industry: 42.1%
  services: 50.5% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line: 34.2% (1992 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: 2.4%
  highest 10%: 31.9% (1991)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9.4% (1999 est.)

Labor force: 1.13 million (1998)

Labor force - by occupation: services 60%, agriculture 21%, industry 19% (1998)

Unemployment rate: 15.5% (1998)

Budget
  revenues: $2.27 billion
  expenditures: $3.66 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.265 billion (FY98/99 est.)

Industries: tourism, bauxite, textiles, food processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 6.386 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 92.7%
  hydro: 2.21%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 5.09% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 5.939 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, potatoes, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk

Exports: $1.4 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

Exports - commodities: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, rum

Exports - partners: US 39.5%, EU (excluding UK) 15.6%, UK 12.1%, Canada 11.5% (1998)

Imports: $2.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, fuel, food, chemicals, fertilizers

Imports - partners: US 50.9%, EU (excluding UK) 9.5%, Caricom countries 10.4%, Latin America 6% (1998)

Debt - external: $3.8 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $102.7 million (1995)

Currency: 1 Jamaican dollar (J$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Jamaican dollars (J$) per US$1 - 41.139 (December 1999), 9.044 (1999), 36.550 (1998), 35.404 (1997), 37.120 (1996), 35.142 (1995)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 292,000 (1995)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 45,178 (1995)

Telephone system: fully automatic domestic telephone network
  domestic: NA
  international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); 3 coaxial submarine cables

Radio broadcast stations: AM 10, FM 13, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios: 1.215 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 7 (1997)

Televisions: 460,000 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6 (1999)

Transportation

Railways
  total: 370 km
  standard gauge: 370 km 1.435-m gauge; note - 207 km belong to the Jamaica Railway Corporation in common carrier service, but are no longer operational; the remaining track is privately owned and used to transport bauxite

Highways
  total: 18,700 km
  paved: 13,100 km
  unpaved: 5,600 km (1997 est.)

Pipelines: petroleum products 10 km

Ports and harbors: Alligator Pond, Discovery Bay, Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Rocky Point, Port Esquivel (Longswharf)

Merchant marine
  total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,930 GRT/3,065 DWT
  ships by type: petroleum tanker 1 (1999 est.)

Airports: 36 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 11
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
  914 to 1,523 m: 3
  under 914 m: 5 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 25
  914 to 1,523 m: 2
  under 914 m: 23 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: Jamaica Defense Force (includes Ground Forces, Coast Guard, and Air Wing), Jamaica Constabulary Force

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower - availability
  males age 15-49: 725,975 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service
  males age 15-49: 510,419 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually
  males: 27,202 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $30 million (FY95/96 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for cocaine from Central and South America to North America and Europe; illicit cultivation of cannabis; government has an active manual cannabis eradication program

 

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