This semester, I have the privilege of getting to share what is currently going on in Jamaica. I’ll be sharing many different topics and where Jamaica is in terms or dealing with the issues. In this first post, I’ll be discussing Jamaica as a whole in order for you, the reader, to gain background knowledge of this fascinating country.
To start off with, what do you think of when you hear the name Jamaica? At least for me, I think of Usain Bolt and the great core of sprinters they have. Usain Bolt is the most decorated track athlete in Olympic history, accommodating 9 Olympic Gold Medals, three of which he acquired this summer at the Olympics in Rio (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and 4×100 meter relay). I also think of Jamaica as a great place to go on vacation or on a honeymoon. In terms of movies, I think of Cool Runnings, which is a movie about the true story of Jamaica forming a bobsledding team that went and almost qualified to compete in the Winter Olympics.
Before you start planning your vacation to Jamaica, you should find out what is currently happening in the country. For starters, you should read a news source from within the country. I recommend that you check out the Jamaica Observer (http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/). It is a source that reports the news of not only the country, but it covers the world news as well. When it comes to the country itself, it reports news in a variety of categories from politics to economic to sports. They even have a section for teenagers that explores current events that have more of an effect on them like university news, celebrity gossip.
To give a short history of the country, the land was owned by the Spanish Empire from the early 1500’s to the 1655. Around 1655, the British came in and took fort after fort in the territory. The region prospered from sugar and slave trade. The British controlled the land for a little over 300 years, then slowly transitioned power to local leaders for self-rule. On August 6th, 1962, full independence was granted by the United Kingdom to become their own country.
Today, They have in place a Constitutional Monarchy system of government. Elizabeth the Second is the Monarch with Patrick Allen and Andrew Holness being the Governor-General and Prime Minister respectively. Their legislative branches consist of the Lower House (House of Representatives) and Upper House (Senate).
Jamaica has a population of 2.95 million people. Of the population, the country is predominantly Black (92.1%). Mixed races make about 6.1%, Asian are another 0.8%, and the other 1.1% are other races or “unspecified”. They mainly speak English or Jamaican Patois.
In terms of their economy, they are mixed with government intervention with privately owned businesses. They use a Jamaican dollar as their form of currency. Their GDP (nominal) is $14.057 billion which converts to $4,968 per capita. Their Gini Coeffiecent is at 45.5 which is 77th lowest in the world. They mainly focus on service types of jobs because they get over one million tourists a year
The size of their island is 4,244 square miles, which is slightly more than the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The nation’s capital is located in Kingston. The country is broken down to three counties (from West to East, Cornwall, Middlesex, and Surrey) of about 14 parishes (5 in Cornwall, 5 in Middlesex, and 4 in Surrey).
Education is important for the betterment of society. In Jamaica, they have their own system of schooling starting at the Early Childhood level (2-4 years old). They then move to Primary (Prep) School (4-11 years old). After that, they have Secondary School (11-19 years old). Finally, they have Tertiary School (19+ years old) which are like community colleges. All their schools are a hybrid of being privately and publicly owned institutions.
Like schools in the United States, Jamaicans can compete in athletics as well as gaining an education. The Jamaicans love athletics and I do as well. Being a track athlete in high school, the Jamaicans and I appreciate competitive Track and Field. As I mentioned before, Jamaica is the home to the fastest man ever, Usain Bolt. He holds the world records in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. He is also part of the world record relay in the 4×100 meter. Even though one of their countrymen is the “fastest man ever”, the most popular sport in the country is Cricket. Like most nations around the world, they also love soccer, basketball, and rugby. Other sports that Jamaicans love to compete in are netball, horse-racing, and baseball. One notable baseball player from Jamaica is Justin Masterson, whose is a starting pitcher in the MLB.
Jamaica has a lot of fascinating places and a beautiful culture. I can’t wait to learn more of this amazing country this semester!