Quick Facts

  • Officially known as the Commonwealth of Jamaica
  • Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494, seized from Spain by Great Britain in 1655
  • Gained independence from Great Britain on August 6, 1962
  • Location:  island in the Caribbean Sea, 90 miles south of Cuba
  • Area:  4,244 sq. miles, slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut
  • Population:  2,889,187 (2012)
  • Captial and major city:  Kingston  580,000
  • Climate:  tropical; hot, humid, temperate interior
  • Terrain:  mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain
  • Ethnic groups:  black 91.2%, mixed 6.2%, other 2.6%
  • Language:  English, English patois
  • Religions:  Protestant 62.5%, Roman Catholic 2.6%, other 14.2%, none 20.9%
  • Literacy:  87.9% age 15 and over can read and write
  • Economy:  heavily dependent on services, which now account for 65% of GDP.  Most of Jamicas foreign exchange comes from tourism, remittances and bauxite/alumina.  Jamica’s economy faces challenges to growth:  high crime and corruption, high unemployment and a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 120%.
  • Current weather conditions –  www.weather.com
  • Tips for Travel in country – www.travel.state.gov
  • Currency exchange rates –  www.xe.com

Government in Power

  • Jamaica has a constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
  • Chief of State:  Queen Elizabeth II represented by Governor General Dr. Patrick L. Allen  – appointed by the Monarchy
  • Head of Government:  Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

Healthcare Statistics

  • Life expectancy:  73.43 years
  • Health expenditures:  8.3% of GDP
  • Physicians density:  0.85 physicians/1,000 population
  • Hospital bed density:  1.76 beds/ 1,000 population
  • Infant mortality rate –  14.3/1000 births
  • Maternal mortality rate – 110/100,000 births
  • HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:  1.7%
  • Children under the age of 5 underweight:  2.2%
  • Infectious diseases present – travelers diarrhea, Hep. A, typhoid, dengue, Hep. B, filariasis, toxoplasmosis, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis
  • Infectious disease updates:  http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm

Images From the Field


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