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Jamaica is the largest English-speaking Island in the Caribbean and the third largest overall behind Cuba and Hispaniola. Tourism and mining are the two most profitable economic sectors. Jamaica has been an independent country since 1962 when it ceased to be a British colony but remains part of the British Commonwealth.
Jamaica has a rich and diverse culture blended from around the world.
Jamaica's motto is:
"Out of Many, One People"
This diversity is most apparent in the various foods. African and European influences dominate the culture; however, the Spanish, Irish, Indians, Chinese and Germans have all left their mark.
The official language is English, but Patois is the conversational dialect most Jamaicans use on a day-to-day basis. Patois is a combination of English, Spanish, and languages from some of the West African nations.
Jamaicans have a musical heritage that stems from their African roots. Reggae music is Jamaica's most recognized sound. These thumping sounds are rich and infectious and encompass expression of personal freedom, independence, religion, and love. Jamaica's most famous musician is Bob Marley. He is credited with putting Reggae music into the world spotlight.
2.8 million (CIA estimate 2007)
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%
Black 90.9%, East Indian 1.3%, White 0.2%, Chinese 0.2%, Mixed 7.3%, Other 0.1%
The value of the Jamaican dollar fluctuates with the market. The exchange rate is roughly J $76 to $1 US. Vendors often prefer the US dollar. Many establishments list prices in US dollars.
The average temperature in Jamaica is 82 ° F and remains consistent throughout the year. Daytime highs are a bit hotter. The northeast trade winds keep you from feeling overwhelmed despite the high humidly levels. Rainfall varies with the seasons; however, on average the island receives 78 inches per year, the bulk of which is in the Blue Mountains. Short heavy downpours are common on the coasts.
Kingston. Population: 660,000.
A largely mountainous terrain reaches 2,256m (7,402ft) at the Blue Mountain Peak in the east, descending westward in a series of ridges and forested ravines. Over 1,000km (621 miles) of coastline offers fine beaches in the north and west. At its greatest extent, Jamaica is 235km (146 miles) long with a width that varies between 35 and 82 km (22 and 51 miles). The island is roughly the same size of the American state of Connecticut. It is 10,911 sq km (4,244 sq miles).
Head of Government
Prime Minister Bruce Golding since 2007.