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Jamaica Lesson for Kids: History & Facts

Instructor: Alyson Breeding

Alyson is an elementary special education teacher and has a master's degree in special education.

Jamaica is an island country in the Caribbean Sea. Jamaica has an interesting culture and lifestyle. Jamaica has a warm climate and is a major tourist destination for a beach vacation.

Welcome to Jamaica!

Do you like going to the beach? How would you like to live on an island surrounded by beautiful blue water? Jamaicans get to call a place like that their home.

Jamaica is an island country located in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba and west of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Jamaica is a large island compared to the others in the Caribbean Sea, but a pretty small country compared to the size of the United States. At 4,240 square miles, Jamaica is about the size of Connecticut!

Map of Jamaica
Map of Jamaica

History and Business

In 1494, Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Jamaica and claimed it as a territory of Spain. In 1655, the British took over control of Jamaica. Back then, Jamaica's biggest product was sugar and the British used slaves to work the sugar fields. In 1807, the British freed the slaves. These former slaves were able to live independently and sugar production slowly began to reduce as the biggest part of Jamaica's economy. In 1962, Jamaica became an independent country.

Nowadays, the government and people of Jamaica make most of their money from tourism instead of sugar. Tourism is the business of providing services to visitors. When you travel to somewhere on vacation and you buy a souvenir, you are a tourist helping that place make money through tourism. Jamaica is full of many beautiful beaches and mountains, and travelers from all over the world like to visit Jamaica on vacation.

Over half of the Jamaican economy relies on tourism. Over a million foreigners visit Jamaica every year for vacation. Jamaica also has a booming agricultural industry. Jamaican farmers export sugar, coffee, bananas, spices, coconuts, and more.

Culture

Jamaica has a very interesting culture. Most of Jamaica's citizens can trace their family trees back to West Africa and Europe. The official language of Jamaica is Jamaican Standard English (JSE). However, most Jamaicans speak patois, also called Creole. Patois is a language that evolved from West/Central African native languages, English dialects of slaveholders, creole language, and time.

Patois began slowly starting in the 1600s when slaves were brought to Jamaica from West and Central Africa. They mixed their native languages with words and phrases they learned from the many dialects and accents of their European slaveholders. Patois is the most commonly used language in Jamaica.

Jamaican Flag
Jamaican Flag

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