|Flag||Coat of Arms|
|Monarch||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Prime minister||Portia Simpson Miller|
|Area||4.244 sq mi|
|GDP per capita||$4.172|
Jamaica is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea just 95 miles south of Cuba. It has a total area of 10,990 sq km (4,243 sq mi) and extends, at maximum, 235 km (146 mi) N–S and 82 km (51 mi) E–W. Comparatively, the area occupied by Jamaica is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. The total coastline is 1,022 km (634 mi). The country is divided into fourteen regions called parishes and the capital of Jamaica is Kingston. The government of Jamaica is a Constitutional parliamentary democracy, which is based on the model of the United Kingdom . The Chief of State is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by a Governor General. The head of government is the Prime Minister. The official language of Jamaica is English.
The Taino people settled on Jamaica over three thousand years ago and lived in relative peace until Christopher Columbus came along in 1494 and claimed the island for Spain. In 1655, British admiral William Penn conquered the island and Jamaica began producing sugar for export to the tea-loving inhabitants of the United Kingdom. Due to its location, Jamaica became a major slave trading hub. Slavery on the island was abolished in 1834. Jamaica gained independence in 1962.
Christianity in Jamaica
Research shows that more than 85% of Jamaica's population is Christian. The majority being Protestant, which is primarily due to the influence of British colonialism and the abolitionist movement. Today, the five largest denominations in Jamaica are: Baptist, Church of God, Seventh-day Adventist, Pentecostal and Anglican.
The Rastafari movement was founded in Jamaica. This movement believes that Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is God incarnate, the returned messiah, come to take the lost Twelve Tribes of Israel back to live with him in Holy Mount Zion in a world of perfect peace, love and harmony. The movement's name comes from the Amharic title Ras ("head") and Haile Selassie's given name, Tafari. Bob Marley, a convert to the faith, spread the message of Rastafari to the world. There are now estimated to be more than a million Rastafarians throughout the world. Due to the influence of Rastafarianism, marijuana has been cultivated throughout the island. Indians first brought seeds of the plant from Asia and its use spread rapidly among plantation workers. Though it was outlawed, it is still used by some Rastafarians during meditation and prayer. it is commonly referred to as "wisdom weed".