Essay, Research Paper: Jamaica

Geography

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Close your eyes and picture a beautiful sunset meeting far away on the
shimmering clear blue water in front of you. You feel a cool breeze and a hot
sun against your skin and the feeling of the warm sand beneath your feet. You
walk forward and feel the refreshing water wet your legs and you are tickled as
a school of tropical fish passes you by. You spot the palm trees and wild plants
off the shore. Are you in an unreal paradise? Yes I have. It is Jamaica.
Geographical Location Jamaica is blessed with superb geographical location and
resources that makes it a great vacation spot. It is an island country south of
Cuba and north of South America. So you must fly or sail there. Its short
distance from the United States makes it a short distance from here and that is
great for fliers. It is probably a four -hour flight. Jamaica is only about 17
degrees above the equator so it is very warm all year round. (Grab your
sunglasses and tanning oil!) Land and Resources Everyone sees the commercials
for the white-sanded beaches and the clear blue water but Jamaica's terrain is
mountainous except for those several tracts of lowlands that you see on TV. In
fact Blue Mountain's, that is the highest mountain in Jamaica, is 7402 ft. There
are many smaller mountains with many traverse spurs that extend west to the
extremity of the island making a gigantic plateau. So if you plan on going to
Jamaica you had better think of bringing your hiking boots. Lead and Salt
deposits can be found on the island and rich soils can be found on the coastal
plains. The island is also equipped with excellent natural harbors, including
those at Kingston, Saint Ann's Bay, Montego Bay, and Port Maria. There is no
volcanic activity in Jamaica but it is subject to severe earthquakes. Plants and
Animals Jamaica is filled with luxurious and diverse vegetation. More than 200
species have been identified. The indigenous tree include such as the cedar,
mahogany, rosewood, ebony, coconut palm, and pimento. Introduced varieties such
as the mango, breadfruit, banana, and plantain also flourish the island.
Jamaican animal life generally includes highly diverse bird life. This group
includes Parrots, hummingbirds, cuckoos, and green todies. No large four-legged
animals or venomous reptiles exist there. Culture Jamaica is not only blessed
with great plenty of natural wonders but it's people and their culture are
probably it's greatest resource, and that is what draws the people to the
island. Jamaica's great dependency on Great Britain form the past 300 years
shows in the language they speak and in their customs, which are combined with
African influences. Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, made Reggae, a distinctively
syncopated style of Jamaican music popular in the 20th century. It was a great
influence on rock in the middle of the 80's, especially in Britain. Government
The Jamaica constitution, promulgated in 1962, established a parliamentary
system of government patterned after that of Great Britain. The Prime Minister
is the head of the government. The British monarch is the head of the state and
is represented by a governor general, who is appointed on the advice of the
Prime Minister. There is an Executive branch, a Legislative branch, and a
Judiciary branch. Their government is quite like ours. The Prime Minister has a
lot of power, kind of like our president. Jamaica has two political parties. The
People's National Party (PNP) is one. It is socialist in orientation. The other
is the Jamaica Labour Group (JLP) which supports free enterprise in a mixed
economy. A minor party is the Jamaica American Party, which favors U.S.
statehood for Jamaica. Language and Religion In Jamaica, the principle language
spoken by the people is English. It is spoken with a local dialect that includes
African, Spanish, and French elements. Christianity is the main religion
practiced in Jamaica. Other religious groups are Baptists, Anglicans,
Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostalists, and Roman Catholic. In addition several
Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu communities exist. A number of popular groups, such as
Pocomania and Rastafarianism, are significant and famous in the Jamaican
religious life. History Members of the Arawak tribe were the aboriginal
inhabitants of the island. They named it Xaymaca. Christopher Columbus sighted
the island during his second voyage, and Xaymaca became a Spanish Colony in
1509. The Arawak quickly died out due to disease and harsh treatment. African
slaves were imported to overcome the resultant labor shortage. An English naval
force under Sir William Penn captured Jamaica in 1655. The island was formally
transferred to England in 1670 after the Treaty of Madrid. During the final
decades of the 17th century, great numbers of English immigrants arrived; the
sugar, cacao, and other agricultural and forest industries were rapidly
expanded, and the great demand for plantation labor led to enormous amounts of
slaves to be brought in. In 1682 Port Royal, the chief Jamaican slave market,
was destroyed by and earthquake. Kingston was soon established and Parliament
abolished slavery on August 1, 1838. Large numbers of freed blacks abandoned the
plantations following emancipation and took possession of occupied lands,
gravely disrupting the economy. Labor shortages bankrupt plantations, and
declining trade resulted in a delayed economic crisis. Jamaica was made a crown
colony thus losing the large degree of self-government it had since the late
17th century. Representative government was partly restored in 1884. Jamaica
gained Independence when it united with the Federation of the West Indies. The
PNP won large parliamentary majority in 1989, returning Manley to power. He
introduced moderate free-market policies before resigning in March 1992 because
of poor health. Percival J. Patterson, his successor as Prime Minister and PNP
leader, easily won reelection a year later. Jamaica is a jewel. It is a great
place with great people, and you can go there and see the beautiful beaches and
swim in the beautiful clear blue water, or go hiking in the mountains, or listen
to a band play on the street, or go sightseeing in the beautiful cities. They
have great culture, and a unique style of living.

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