This beautiful Caribbean paradise was originally inhabited by the Arawak Indians.
Jamaica is a tropical country and lies 90 miles (150K) south of Cuba and 100 miles (160K) west of Haiti.
It is the largest English speaking West Indian island. The next largest is Trinidad.
It has an area of 11,424 square kilometres (4,411 square miles). Its length from east to west is approximately 243 kilometres (146 miles) and its greatest width is 80 kilometers (51 miles).
Christopher Columbus arrived in Jamaica in 1494 and Jamaica became a Spanish colony from 1509 to 1655.
Queen Isabella (the Spanish Queen) gave Jamaica to Christopher Columbus.
Jamaica was taken over by the British in 1655 and became a British colony for over 300 years.
Plantations were started and there were a number of slave rebellions over the years. The runaway slaves were known as Maroons.
Port Royal (a small city in the Island) became a 'home' for Buccaneers.
Port Royal was the main city in Jamaica and the House of Assembly met there.
In 1692, there was a major earthquake which destroyed Port Royal and thousands of people were killed.
In 1807, the slave trade was banned by Britain but slaves were not freed until 1838.
1944 saw the introduction of the Universal Adult Suffrage which gave 'the right for every adult man and woman to vote in an election
to choose the government of their country'.
The late Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey (a Jamaican) was known as the champion of blacks worldwide. He formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Garvey is now one of our National Heroes.
Out of the formation of Trade Unions, political parties were created.
In 1959, Self Government was granted to the Island and, in 1962, Jamaica became an Independent Nation.
The two political leaders during Independence became National Heroes. They are the late Sir Alexander Bustamante then Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Hon. Norman Washington Manley then Leader of the People's National Party (PNP). These two National Heroes were cousins.
The Hon. Edward Seaga was once Prime Minister when the Jamaica Labour Party was the Government. He recently retired from the Jamaican politics after serving for 30 years as the JLP Leader.
The JLP and PNP are still the two major political parties today. The PNP is the present Government of Jamaica with the Hon. P.J. Patterson as Prime Minister.
UPDATE: The Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller is now the Prime Minister of Jamaica and Hon. Bruce Golding is now the Leader of the Opposition.