Jamaica is one of the most famous Caribbean islands and part of the Greater Antilles. It is one of the most populated and largest of the Caribbean islands as well. It is a member of the Commonwealth yet has achieved independence from the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II remains their ceremonial figurehead and so what can we discover in the island's past that has lead to this fascinating mixture of people and nature? Let's take a look at Jamaica history to find out.
Jamaica Early Inhabitants
The Island was inhabited by the Arawak and Taino tribes in the beginning until the developing empire states decided to take a piece of the action. Jamaica history started as early as 4000 BC and it wasn't until 1494 AD that any attempt was made to control the island.
Christopher Columbus claimed the island for Spain on his travels and moved the capital city to Spanish Town. The Spanish had a little time on their hands to fully establish their position. They built forts and seemed settled in. This was until the English decided Jamaica needed their contribution. They moved in but had a long task ahead of them. They didn't fully take control over the island until 1655, after they took the last Spanish fort left on the island.
The British moved in and soon began taking as much as they could from the island. 77,000 tons of Sugar cane per year were extracted, planted and worked by the slaves that were brought to the island. A lucrative part of Jamaica for the British was not so sweet for the slaves that made it possible. Slaves were treated as twelfth class citizens and were afforded no human rights.
The slave trade was abolished yet this made little difference. There was little done to help the slaves and Jamaica history sees little change until much later. However, times were changing and Jamaica history was coming closer and closer to Jamaica present. The slave trade had no place in the modern world and the slaves represented a 20 to 1 majority on the island.
By becoming a member of the West Indies Federation, Jamaica was able to slowly gain its independence from Britain. When it left this federation in 1962 it became fully independent. This sparked a huge economic boom for Jamaica history and 6% growth and more was achieved over the next ten years following its independence.
Tourism and investment played a big part in this economic redevelopment but it certainly underwent a huge change. From the Slavery days of nothing to the booming days of national prosperity. Jamaica history is certainly full of ups and downs. Unfortunately, national prosperity did little to help the poorest of the island's residents who were left in poverty. This led to unease and a growing sense of impatience with the government.
This in turn caused economic problems and Jamaica received assistance from the US government and the International Monetary Fund. Tourism decreased as a result of this and a key mining firm left Jamaica. These all contributed to increased strain and a 25% drop in production.
Although faced with many hardships and obstacles, Jamaica proves to be a very resilient country with a rich and diverse culture, "Out of Many, One People." Jamaica continues to make major contributions in the world of music, entertainment, and athletics.