Jamaica Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022

Basic information about the territory

Jamaica Basic Information

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

Official name: Jamaica, English Jamaica

Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy that is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The head of the country is still the British Queen Elizabeth, who is represented on the island by the Governor General. His duties are mostly to attend ceremonies and appoint the prime minister, who is always the chairman of the winning political party. Jamaica has a bicameral parliament: 63 members of the lower house directly elected for five-year terms; 21 members of the upper house – the Senate, 13 seats appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and 8 on the recommendation of the Leader of the Opposition. The last parliamentary elections were held in September 2020, when the victorious JLP (Jamaican Labor Party) won 49 seats in Parliament and the opposition PNP (People’s National Party) 14 seats. Check diseaseslearning to learn more about Jamaica political system.

Voices are growing in Jamaica, led by former Prime Minister Patterson, after Jamaica seceded from the British crown and established a republic along the lines of Barbados. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has so far described the efforts as “empty symbolism”, but Parliament is already looking into the matter. According to surveys, 59% of the population supports the transition from monarchy to republic. The Jamaican opposition is very weak and burdened by internal contradictions, with attempts to recall members of the government, who are then moved to another government portfolio, becoming the order of the day.

The composition of the government

  • Governor General – Patrick Allen
  • Prime Minister, Minister for Defense and Minister for Economic Growth and Jobs – Andrew Michael Holness
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Kamina Johnson Smith
  • Minister of Science, Energy and Technology – Daryl Vaz
  • Minister for Transport and Mining – Audley Shaw
  • Minister for Industry, Investment and Trade – Norman Dunn
  • Minister for Tourism – Edmund Bartlett
  • Minister of Justice – Delroy Chuck
  • Secretary of National Security – Horace Chang
  • Minister of Education, Youth and Information – Fayval Williams
  • Minister for Health – Christopher Tufton
  • Minister of Labor and Social Affairs – Karl Samuda
  • Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport – Olivia Grange
  • Minister for Finance and the Public Service – Nigel Clarke
  • Minister for Local Government and Rural Development – Desmond McKenzie
  • Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries – Pearnel Charles Jr.
  • Attorney General – Marlene Malahoo Forte
  • Governor of the Central Bank – Richard Byles

Foreign policy of the country

Jamaica tries to be on good terms with everyone and avoids taking sides unequivocally with any of the great powers. Foreign-political relations did not particularly develop due to the pandemic.

Jamaica’s political stability and natural wealth provide the country with close trade ties with the United States, Canada and the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Relations through the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) are also important for Jamaica. Jamaica is attempting to accelerate regional integration within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market, while also seeking to become a Caribbean logistics hub focused on manufacturing and business process outsourcing. Regional cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and maintaining strong ties with the US, the country’s main trading partner, remain key to Jamaica’s foreign policy. After the election of President Joe Biden, there was a partial improvement in relations between Jamaica and the US. Under a bilateral agreement, 80% of Jamaican exports to the US enjoy duty-free access. The US provides significant development assistance to Jamaica aimed at increasing resilience to natural disasters, reducing crime and developing clean energy. In recent years, China has intensively deepened its economic and diplomatic influence in Jamaica by implementing important infrastructure and industrial projects financed by Chinese investors (e.g. highway across the island). The Jamaican government is very receptive to Chinese investment, with the counterbalance of investment from other countries (with the exception of Spain in the tourism sector) lacking for the time being. Criticism of leaning towards China is rather rare. Check themotorcyclers for Jamaica defense and foreign policy.

Relations with other countries are generally at a good level. The exception is relations with Venezuela, which have been strained since 2019, when a 49% stake in the Petrojam refinery (owned by PDV Caribe, a subsidiary of PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company) was seized by the Jamaican government.

Foreign-political relations did not develop much during the covid epidemic.

Population

According to the current estimate from 2022, 2.818 million inhabitants live on the island. The population density is 270 inhabitants per km2. Jamaica is an island of youth – 25% of the population is under 15 years of age, the largest demographic cohort is the 25-54 age group with over 38% of people. Blacks make up the largest population group with 92%. This is followed by mixed race (6%), Asian (0.8%), other races (0.4%) and unspecified nationalities (0.7%). A large proportion of Asians are descendants of indentured laborers brought from Asia by the British colonial government, which was short of labor after the abolition of slavery in 1838. The majority, around two-thirds, are Protestants in Jamaica, mainly Seventh-day Adventists. A peculiarity are the Rastafarians, who flourished in Jamaica in the 1930s, and of whom an estimated 1.1% live on the island.

Source CIA World Factbook