Today, Jamaica is one of most favorite vacation destinations for many travelers. Visitors are fascinated by the rich history, unique culture and comfortable climate. A brief visit to the history of Jamaica is educational whether you plan to visit the Island this year or in the future.
Arawaks Before the Arrival of Columbus
The history of Jamaica started long before the arrival of Columbus in 1494. Jamaica island was inhabited by Arawaks for hundreds of years or even more. They lived a simple life in small community based on fishing, hunting, and small scale cultivation. The arrival of Spanish led by Columbus opened the door of the island to the world, but the economic activities also brought new diseases that destroyed native Arawaks small communities in a few decades. The trace of early Arawaks life, today, can only be seen in a few artifacts-facts displayed at the small museum at White Marl.
The Spanish Occupation
Between 1494 and1655, the Spanish used Jamaica as a springboard for the conquest of the Americas. The island was occupied by of the Spanish settlement and their slaves. In 1655, it was captured by the British expedition led by Admirals Penn and Venables. The influence of the Spanish settlement on the development of social, economic and political life of the island was insignificant apart from remnants of buildings on the Island – Spanish colonial architectural styles, and names of places etc.. The island was not of significance for Spanish at the time.
The Slave Economy
A few years after capturing the island, the British imported African slaves on large scale for sugar plantations. Unlike the occupation by the Spanish, Jamaica brought prosperity to the English plantation owners and many English cities. Plantation dominated economic, political and religious life on the Island. The laws supported the slave system as well. In 1838, the slaves were freed and the plantations started paying wages to its workers. After Emancipation, many of the ex-slaves settled down and cultivated as small farmers in the mountains. As the decline of sugar exportation, they began the exports of logwood, coffee, and bananas.
The Independence and Decolonization
The movement for independence was the reaction to the economic crisis spawned by the Great Depression. In 1938, two major political parties, and the labor unions affiliated to them combined efforts in fighting for political independence from England. By 1962, Jamaica was granted political independence.
After the political independence, Jamaica was governed by a prime minister, who is required to consult with the Governor General who was the representative of England. PNP and JLP are two major political parties in Jamaica today. The PNP, the held political office and initiated a shift in major economic policies between 1972 and 1980. From 1980 to 1989, the JLP held political office. With a special political relationship with the Reagan administration, Jamaica benefited from generous USA assistance in the first half of the decade. The prosperity of Jamaica was further fueled by the large volumes of emigrants started in the eighties also saw , primarily to the USA.
The size of 4,000 sq miles makes Jamaica the third largest island in the Caribbean. The capital of Jamaica Kingston is where most activities are centered. Jamaica, today, is one of most popular travel destinations for vacationers. People around the world flock to Jamaica for its weather, culture and entertainment, or just to spend a weekend in luxury Jamaica Hotels. Jamaica is where you can enjoy the different styles of home life and you can help yourself to fruits from the trees in the countryside though the most important dinners are jerk chicken, and fish with coconut milk and spices. Almost everybody in Jamaica speaks English . Driving in Kingston is a challenge for new visitors because there are no signs. With the popularity of the Internet, a typical vacation plan to the Island of 2.7 million population starts with the search on the Web to look for perfect Jamaica Hotels and Resorts. When you know the history of Jamaica, your visit to the Island will never be the same.