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Geography

Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba

Geographic coordinates: 18 15 N, 77 30 W

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

Area:
total: 10,990 sq km
land: 10,830 sq km
water: 160 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Connecticut

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 1,022 km

Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior

Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Blue Mountain Peak 2,256 m

Natural resources: bauxite, gypsum, limestone

Land use:
arable land: 14%
permanent crops: 6%
permanent pastures: 24%
forests and woodland: 17%
other: 39% (1993 est.)
note: irrigated land—3% (350 sq km)(1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 350 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: hurricanes (especially July to November)

Environment—current issues: deforestation; coastal waters polluted by industrial waste, sewage, and oil spills; damage to coral reefs; air pollution in Kingston results from vehicle emissions

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography—note: strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for Panama Canal

 
People

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Population: 2,634,678 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 32% (male 425,233; female 406,529)
15-64 years: 62% (male 806,846; female 817,145)
65 years and over: 6% (male 79,125; female 99,800) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.7% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 20.91 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.45 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -8.45 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 14.47 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.37 years
male: 73.01 years
female: 77.84 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.33 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Jamaican(s)
adjective: Jamaican

Ethnic groups: black 90.4%, East Indian 1.3%, white 0.2%, Chinese 0.2%, mixed 7.3%, other 0.6%

Religions: Protestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Baptist 8.8%, Anglican 5.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Brethren 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other, including some spiritual cults 34.7%

Languages: English, Creole

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 85%
male: 80.8%
female: 89.1% (1995 est.)

 
Government

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Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jamaica

Data code: JM

Government type: parliamentary democracy

National capital: Kingston

Administrative divisions: 14 parishes; Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, Manchester, Portland, Saint Andrew, Saint Ann, Saint Catherine, Saint Elizabeth, Saint James, Saint Mary, Saint Thomas, Trelawny, Westmoreland

Independence: 6 August 1962 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day (first Monday in August) (1962)

Constitution: 6 August 1962

Legal system: based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II of the UK (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Howard Felix COOKE (since 1 August 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister Percival James PATTERSON (since 30 March 1992) and Deputy Prime Minister Seymour MULLINGS (since NA 1993)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: none; the queen is a hereditary monarch; governor general appointed by the queen on the recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (a 21-member body appointed by the governor general on the recommendations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; ruling party 13 seats, opposition 8 seats) and the House of Representatives (60 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 18 December 1997 (next to be held by March 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PNP 50, JLP 10

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges appointed by the governor general on advice of the prime minister

Political parties and leaders: People's National Party (PNP), P. J. PATTERSON; Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), Edward SEAGA; National Democratic Movement (NDM), Bruce GOLDING

Political pressure groups and leaders: Rastafarians (black religious/racial cultists, pan-Africanists); New Beginnings Movement (NBM)

International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CCC, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-15, G-19, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNITAR, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard Leighton BERNAL
chancery: 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 452-0660
FAX: [1] (202) 452-0081
consulate(s) general: Miami and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Stanley Louis MCLELLAND
embassy: Jamaica Mutual Life Center, 2 Oxford Road, 3rd floor, Kingston
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [1] (809) 929-4850 through 4859
FAX: [1] (809) 926-6743

Flag description: diagonal yellow cross divides the flag into four triangles—green (top and bottom) and black (hoist side and outer side)

 
Economy

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Economy—overview: Key sectors in this island economy are bauxite (alumina and bauxite account for more than half of exports) and tourism. Since assuming office in 1992, Prime Minister PATTERSON has eliminated most price controls, streamlined tax schedules, and privatized government enterprises. Continued tight monetary and fiscal policies have helped slow inflation and stabilize the exchange rate, but have resulted in the slow-down of economic growth (moving from 1.5% in 1992 to 0.5% in 1995. In 1996, GDP was in negative growth (-1.4%) and remained so in 1997. Serious problems include: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; the weak financial condition of business in general resulting in receiverships or closures and downsizings of companies; the shift in investment portfolios to non-productive, short-term high yield instruments; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a widening merchandise trade deficit; and a growing internal debt for government bailouts to various ailing sectors of the economy. Jamaica's medium-term prospects will depend upon encouraging investment in the productive sectors, maintaining a competitive exchange rate, stabilizing the labor environment, and implementing proper fiscal and monetary policies.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$9.5 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: -1.4% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$3,660 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 8%
industry: 37%
services: 55% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 17% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
total: 1.14 million (1996)
by occupation: services 41%, agriculture 22.5%, industry 19%, unemployed 17.5% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 16% (1996 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $3 billion
expenditures: $3 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.163 billion (FY97/98 est.)

Industries: tourism, bauxite, textiles, food processing, light manufactures

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 1.182 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 3.87 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 1,503 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, potatoes, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk

Exports:
total value: $1.4 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, rum
partners: US 37%, UK 13%, Canada 12%, Netherlands 9%, Norway 7%

Imports:
total value: $2.9 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, fuel, food, chemicals
partners: US 52%, Trinidad and Tobago 8%, Japan 6%, UK 4%, Canada 3%

Debt—external: $3.2 billion (1997 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $306 million (1996)

Currency: 1 Jamaican dollar (J$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Jamaican dollars (J$) per US$1—36.051 (November 1997), 37.120 (1996), 35.142 (1995), 33.086 (1994), 24.949 (1993)

Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March

 
Communications

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Telephones: 350,000 (1997 est.)

Telephone system: fully automatic domestic telephone network
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); 3 coaxial submarine cables

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 7, shortwave 0 (1997)

Radios: 1.973 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 8

Televisions: 330,000 (1992 est.)

 
Transportation

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Railways:
total: 370 km
standard gauge: 370 km 1.435-m gauge; note—207 km belong to the Jamaica Railway Corporation in common carrier service, but are no longer operational; the remaining track is privately owned and used to transport bauxite

Highways:
total: 18,700 km
paved: 13,100 km
unpaved: 5,600 km (gravel 3,200 km; improved earth 2,400 km) (1997 est.)

Pipelines: petroleum products 10 km

Ports and harbors: Alligator Pond, Discovery Bay, Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Rocky Point, Longswharf

Merchant marine:
total: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,931 GRT/10,545 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1, oil tanker 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 1 (1997 est.)

Airports: 36 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 5 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 25
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 23 (1997 est.)

 

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