The Jamaica Portal
Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola). Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola (the island containing the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic); the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands lies some 215 kilometres (134 mi) to the north-west.
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taíno peoples, the island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. Many of the indigenous people were either killed or died of diseases to which they had no immunity, and the Spanish thus forcibly transplanted large numbers of African slaves to Jamaica as labourers. The island remained a possession of Spain until 1655, when England (later Great Britain) conquered it, renaming it Jamaica. Under British colonial rule Jamaica became a leading sugar exporter, with a plantation economy dependent on the African slaves and later their descendants. The British fully emancipated all slaves in 1838, and many freedmen chose to have subsistence farms rather than to work on plantations. Beginning in the 1840s, the British began utilising Chinese and Indian indentured labour to work on plantations. The island achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 6 August 1962.
With 2.9 million people, Jamaica is the third-most populous Anglophone country in the Americas (after the United States and Canada), and the fourth-most populous country in the Caribbean. Kingston is the country's capital and largest city. The majority of Jamaicans are of African ancestry, with significant European, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, and mixed-race minorities. Due to a high rate of emigration for work since the 1960s, there is a large Jamaican diaspora, particularly in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The country has a global influence that belies its small size; it was the birthplace of the Rastafari religion, reggae music (and associated genres such as dub, ska and dancehall), and it is internationally prominent in sports, most notably cricket, sprinting and athletics.
Jamaica is an upper-middle income country with an economy heavily dependent on tourism, with an average of 4.3 million tourists a year. Politically it is a Commonwealth realm, with Elizabeth II as its queen. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica, an office held by Patrick Allen since 2009. Andrew Holness has served as Prime Minister of Jamaica since March 2016. Jamaica is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with legislative power vested in the bicameral Parliament of Jamaica, consisting of an appointed Senate and a directly elected House of Representatives.
Selected article -
Port Royal is a village located at the end of the Palisadoes at the mouth of Kingston Harbour, in southeastern Jamaica. Founded in 1518 by the Spanish, it was once the largest city in the Caribbean, functioning as the centre of shipping and commerce in the Caribbean Sea by the latter half of the 17th century. It was destroyed by an earthquake on 7 June 1692, which had an accompanying tsunami. Severe hurricanes have regularly damaged it. Another severe earthquake occurred in 1907.
Port Royal was once home to privateers
who were encouraged to attack Habsburg Spain
's vessels at a time when smaller European powers dared not make war on Spain directly. As a port city, it was notorious for its gaudy displays of wealth and loose morals. It was a popular homeport for the English and Dutch-sponsored privateers to spend their treasure during the 17th century. When those governments abandoned the practice of issuing letters of marque
to privateers against the Spanish treasure fleets and possessions in the later 16th century, many of the crews turned pirate
. They continued to use the city as their main base during the 17th century. Pirates from around the world congregated at Port Royal, coming from waters as far away as Madagascar
. Read more...
Selected biography -
Ken Boothe OD
Ken Boothe in concert in 2018
(born 22 March 1948) is a Jamaican vocalist known for his distinctive vibrato and timbre. Boothe achieved an international reputation as one of Jamaica's finest vocalists through a series of crossover hits that appealed to both reggae
fans and mainstream audiences. Read more...
General images -
The following are images from various Jamaica-related articles on Wikipedia.
English map from the 1600s
Henry Morgan, governor of Jamaica
Sugar cane cutters in Jamaica, 1891
View of Kingston in 1907 showing damage caused by the earthquake.
An illustration of pre-1692 Port Royal
Horse-drawn carriages in Kingston, 1891
Sugar cane cutters in Jamaica, 1880
European colonies in the 18th-century Caribbean
Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1980 and from 1989 to 1992
Good article -
This is a Good article, an article that meets a core set of high editorial standards.
17th century woodcut of Morgan
Sir Henry Morgan (Welsh: Harri Morgan, c. 1635 – 25 August 1688) was a Welsh privateer, plantation owner, and, later, Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica. From his base in Port Royal, Jamaica, he raided settlements and shipping on the Spanish Main, becoming wealthy as he did so. With the prize money from the raids he purchased three large sugar plantations on the island.
Much of Morgan's early life is unknown. He was born in south Wales
, but it is not known how he made his way to the West Indies, or how he began his career as a privateer. He was probably a member of a group of raiders led by Sir Christopher Myngs
in the early 1660s. Morgan became a close friend of Sir Thomas Modyford
, the Governor of Jamaica
. When diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of England
and Spain worsened in 1667, Modyford gave Morgan a letter of marque
, a licence to attack and seize Spanish vessels. Morgan subsequently conducted successful and highly lucrative raids on Puerto Principe
(now Camagüey in modern Cuba
) and Porto Bello
(now Portobelo in modern Panama). In 1668 he sailed for Maracaibo
, both on Lake Maracaibo
in modern-day Venezuela. He raided both cities and stripped them of their wealth before destroying a large Spanish squadron as he escaped. Read more...
Selected picture -
Selected fare or cuisine -
Hard dough bread, also called hardo bread, is a Jamaican bread similar to the Pullman loaf or pain de mie, although hard dough bread tends to be sweeter. The dough consists of flour, water, yeast, salt and sugar. Additional ingredients such as treacle, molasses and vegetable shortening can be used. It typically has a dense consistency and is typically brushed with sugared water before baking. It is a staple food in Jamaican households.
Hard dough bread loaves are usually rectangular shaped and can be bought already sliced or unsliced. Most loaves are wrapped in plastic when bought. Read more...
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