Jamaica History

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History

Jamaica was discovered in 1494 and settled by the Spanish in the early 16th century. In 1655 British forces occupied the island and in 1670 gained formal control. Two elements, sugar and slavery, made Jamaica one of the world’s most valuable possessions for over 150 years.

The Irish in Jamaica also formed a large part of the island's early population, making up two-thirds of the white population on the island in the late 17th century, twice that of the English population. They were brought in as indentured labourers and soldiers after the conquest of Jamaica by Cromwell's forces in 1655. Migration of large numbers of Irish to the island continued into the 18th century.

After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica began to achieve local political control in the late 1930's. Jamaica attained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1962.

Jamaica is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica. Jamaica is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with legislative power vested in the bicameral Parliament of Jamaica, consisting of an appointed Senate and a directly elected House of Representatives.
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Timeline

1494 - The island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus
1655 - England conquered it and renamed it Jamaica
1840s - Begining in the 1840's The British utilized Chinese and Indian indentured labour to work on the island
1962 - The island achieved independence from the United Kingdom

Local Histories

  • Beckford, William. A Descriptive Account of the Island of Jamaica. London: Printed for T. and J. Egerton, 1790. Digital version at DLOC - free.
  • Edwards, Bryan and Arthur Broughton. The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies. Dublin: Luke White, 1793. Digital version at DLOC - free. Principally a history of Jamaica.

References