Jamaica is a tropical island, located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea. Around the coastlines are beautiful beaches with crystal clear blue-green water. In some respects, this is the majority of what people know about Jamaica. In this orientation text you will better understand Jamaica’s history, the people who live there, the many different religions, geography, and governments that have ruled the land.
The land of Jamaica is very small. The total land mass area of the island is 4,243 square miles. Stretching 146 miles from east to west and at its furthest points north to south, approximately 51 miles (Encyclopedia Americana, 2001, P 670). Within this area, the land is largely mountainous with an average elevation of 15,000 feet (Encyclopedia Americana, 200, P 670). These mountains mainly consist of limestone, where in the middle of the country the terrain is extreme and mostly inaccessible. Within this extreme area are high plateaus, underground caverns, and deep circular basins. This area is what the local people call “cockpits” (Encyclopedia Americana, 2001, P 670). The highest point in Jamaica is Blue Mountain Peak which stands 7,402 feet. Jamaican climate is tropical, with average temperatures ranging from 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The capital of Jamaica is Kingston.
The history of Jamaica is extremely jaded with disease, buccaneering, and slavery. First discovered by Europeans in 1494, Columbus stopped on Jamaica on his second trip to the “New World” and encountered the indigenous Arawaks (Encyclopedia Americana, 2001, P 672). Later colonized by Spain in 1509, the land was abandoned when the lack of abundance of silver and gold was discovered. The indigenous Arawaks were overwhelmed with European disease and died out (Encyclopedia Americana, 2001, 672). These times will be some of the most peaceful times in Jamaican history. Buccaneers used Jamaica as a trade center for booty seized from different galleons. Soon following, England will seize as much of Spain’s Caribbean land as possible.
The English captured Jamaica from Spain in 1655. With the indigenous people gone, and Spain being overthrown, all the imported African slaves revolted. Renegade slaves were called “Maroons.” The Maroons waged war against there new governing country for nearly 100 years until a peace tr...
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11. Engerman, Stanley L. Between Slavery and Free Labour: The Spanish Speaking Caribbean in the Nineteenth Century. (1985). John Hopkins University Press.
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13. Graton, Michael. Empire, Enslavement, and Freedom in the Caribbean (1997). Markus Wiener Publishers.
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