macrohistory & world report


location of Jamaica

Location of Jamaica

World Factbook as of November 2014: "The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which accounts for nearly 80% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Remittances and tourism each account for 30% of GDP, while bauxite/alumina exports make up roughly 5% of GDP... Jamaica's economy faces many challenges to growth: high crime and corruption, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 140%... Jamaica's economic growth rate in the recent past has been stagnant, averaging less than 1% per year for over 20 years. Jamaica's onerous public debt burden is largely the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably to the financial sector... High unemployment exacerbates the crime problem, including gang violence that is fueled by the drug trade."

Labor force in agriculture
2006: 17%

Unemployment rate:
2011: 12.7%
2010: 12.4%

Public debt
2011: 126.5% of GDP

Export/import ratio
2011: exports $1.65 billion, imports $6.356 billion.

Export commodities
Alumina, bauxite, sugar, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, wearing apparel, mineral fuels

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 38th among 141 countries (lower rank number is less equal).

Described by the World Factbook as suffering "heavy rates of deforestation." Coastal waters are polluted by industrial waste, sewage, and oil spills. Damage has been done to coral reefs. Cars in Kingston create air pollution. 

Health expenditures
2009: 8.3% of GDP


July 2014 estimate: 2,930,050

births / deaths
2014: 18.41 / 6.67

Net migration rate:
2014: -4.83 migrant(s)/1,000 population

2012 BBC News: "Jamaicans have migrated in significant numbers to the United States, Canada and Britain..."

Infant mortality rate:
2014: 13.69 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:
2014: total population: 73.48 years

2010: Living in an urban area: 52%

Ethnic groups
2001 census: black 91.2%, mixed 6.2%, other or unknown 2.6%

Protestant 62.5% (Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, Pentecostal 9.5%, Other Church of God 8.3%, Baptist 7.2%, New Testament Church of God 6.3%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%, Anglican 3.6%, other Christian 7.7%), Roman Catholic 2.6%, other or unspecified 14.2%, none 20.9%, (2001 census)

Literacy (age 15 and over having ever attended school)
2011: males 82.1, females 91.8
2003: males 84.1%, females 91.6%


Island in the Carribean Sea, 150 kilometers south of Cuba, equivalent in size to 105 by 105 kilometers, or roughly 65 by 65 miles – actually about 150 miles, or 240 kilometers, long.

Jamaica has a mountain peak 2,256 meters (7401.5 feet) high.


(As of May 2014) Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II (constitutional monarch, House of Windsor) since 6 February 1952. Head of government: Portia Simpson-Miller (prime minister) since 5 January 2012, People's National Party (Social Democratic)

In Jamaica, Queen Elizabeth is represented by a Governor General. Jamaica has a bicameral Parliament, with 21 members appointed by the governor general on the recommendations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. The ruling party in the Senate is allocated 13 seats and the opposition 8 seats. The House of Representatives has 60 seats and members are elected

Capital: Kingston.

Recent History

Jamaica gained full independence within the Commonwealth in 1962.

1998-2000: Jamaica is third in the world in murders per capita, behind Colombia and South Africa, according to a United Nations survey

Political violence marred elections during the 1990s.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.