Jamaica Travel Information

Photo Jamaica gained full independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962. Deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s led to recurrent violence and a drop-off in tourism. Elections in 1980 saw the democratic socialists voted out of office, and a more conservative government installed. Political violence marred elections during the 1990s. Agriculture is the basic industry of Jamaica. As the island possesses a wide variety of soil and climate, nearly every tropical product can be grown here. The chief economic crops are sugar, bananas, citrus, cocoa and coconuts, each of which is dealt with below in detail. Not one of the major crops of he island is indigenous. Sugar cane, coconut, rice and ginger were introduced into the island from Far Eastern countries, bananas from the Canary Islands, cocoa from South Jamaica is the largest of the English Speaking West Indian islands. It has an area of 11,424 square kilometers (4,411 square miles), more than twice the area of Trinidad, which is next in size, and measures 243 kilometers (146 miles) from east to west. Its greatest width is 80 kilometers (51 miles), from St. Ann's Bay to Portland Point. Today, tourism is considered Jamaica's second most important earner of foreign exchange. Stores, restaurants, transportation, and many other activities that cater to tourists also provide direct employment in the industry.
The economy of Jamaica is primarily agricultural, but gains in mining, manufacturing, and tourism have diversified the economy. Annual budget figures for 1990-1991 showed about $600 million in revenues and $736 million in expenditures. In 1999 Jamaica's gross domestic product (GDP) was $6.89 billion, or about $2,650 per capita. In 1999, 6.5 billion kwh of electricity was produced.
Tourism is vital to the economy and provides a large portion of foreign-exchange earnings. In 1999, 1.2 million people visited the island, contributing $1,233 million to the economy. In 1999 the employed labor force exceeded 1.4 million. The main trade unions included the National Workers' Union of Jamaica (NWU) and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU). The NWU had 102,000 members; the BITU more than 100,000. Each union was closely identified with one of the two main political parties: the NWU with the People's National Party and the BITU with the Jamaica Labor Party.

Important: Travel to Jamaica may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Jamaica visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: none
Capital city: Kingston
Area: 10,991 sq km
Population: 2,889,187
Ethnic groups: black 91.2%, mixed 6.2%, other or unknown 2.6%
Languages: English, English patois
Religions: Protestant 62.5%
Government: constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Chief of State: Queen ELIZABETH II
Head of Government: Prime Minister Portia SIMPSON-MILLER
GDP: 24.56 billion
GDP per captia: 8,900
Annual growth rate: 1.3%
Inflation: 7.5%
Agriculture: sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, ackees, vegetables
Major industries: tourism, bauxite/alumina, agro processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products, telecommunications
Natural resources: bauxite, gypsum, limestone
Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba
Trade Partners - exports: US 36.8%, Canada 18.1%, Netherlands 7.3%, UK 5.4%, Norway 4.3%
Trade Partners - imports: US 32.8%, Venezuela 15%, Trinidad and Tobago 14.2%, China 6.3%, Mexico 4.1%