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The Jamaica Portal

Flag of Jamaica Coat of arms of Jamaica
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Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, 240 kilometers (150 mi) in length and as much as 85 kilometers (50 mi) in width situated in the Caribbean Sea. It is 635 kilometers (391 mi) east of the Central American mainland, 150 kilometers (93 mi) south of Cuba, and 180 kilometers (112 mi) west of the island of Hispaniola, on which Haiti and the Dominican Republic are situated. Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning either the "Land of Springs," or the "Land of Wood and Water." Formerly a Spanish possession known as Santiago, then the British West Indies Crown colony of Jamaica. It is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada.

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Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness lead in their teams for the start of the 2012 Parliament session with their senior Members of Parliament following.
Politics of Jamaica takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy. Jamaica's current Constitution was drafted in 1962 by a bipartisan joint committee of the Jamaican legislature. It came into force with the Jamaica Independence Act, 1962 of the United Kingdom Parliament, which gave Jamaica political independence with a parliamentary system based on the United Kingdom model. As chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II appoints a largely ceremonial governor general, on the advice of the Prime Minister. Executive power is vested in the cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, and legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament.

Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English common law.


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Marcus Garvey, National Hero of Jamaica.
Credit: U.S. Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection

Marcus Garvey, National Hero of Jamaica.

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Did you know...

  • ...that record producer Lee "Scratch" Perry's first single "People Funny Boy" was directed as an insult to fellow Jamaican music mogul and former collaborator Joe Gibbs?
  • ...that Trenchtown, a neighbourhood in Kingston, Jamaica, gets its name from a large open-trenched sewer that ran through the neighbourhood?

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