When I picture the beautiful country Jamaica many different thoughts, images, and memories run rampant through my mind. Not only is it one of the most beautiful countries in the world with its amazing beaches and resorts but it is one of my favorites. I decided to write about Jamaica because it is where my family is from and this paper serves as a way to gain a better understanding of my family’s homeland. My mother was born and raised in a town called Spanish town which is the largest town in the parish of St. Catherine Jamaica. My father attended high school in Jamaica as well; although he was not born there he occasionally made trips there from his homeland London England which is how he met my mother. I’ve only been to Jamaica once but it is an experience that will last with me and I will cherish forever. While I was there I caught up with all the relatives I haven’t seen in years or some I was meeting for the first time. I was able to see where my mother grew up and I think what I remember what I remember most vividly the traditional Jamaican cuisine. There are so many aspects that make Jamaica great, everything from the culture to the weather all tie in to what makes Jamaica, the land we love.
Jamaica is the third largest Caribbean island, and it was inhabited by Arawak natives when it was first sighted by the second voyage of Christopher Columbus on 5 May 1494. Columbus was stranded on Jamaica from 1503 to 1504 during his fourth voyage. The Spanish settled in Jamaica in 1509 and held the island against many privateer raids from their main city, now called Spanish Town, which served as capital of Jamaica from its founding in 1534 until 1872. In 1655 Jamaica was conquered by the English from the Spaniards, whose former slaves refused to surrender, took to the mountains and repelled all attempts to subjugate them. These people came to be known as Maroons (from the Spanish Cimarron, meaning ‘wild’, a word applied to escaped slaves). Between 1660 and 1670 pirates used Jamaica as a place of resort. In 1670 Spain formally ceded the island to Britain. Two years later the Royal Africa Company, a slave-trading enterprise, was formed. The company used Jamaica as its chief market, and the island became a center of slave trading in the West Indies. Nonetheless, the battles of the Maroons to retain their freedom succeeded when, in 1740, the British authorities recognized their rights to freedom and ownership of property.
Jamaica ultimately won its independence. Jamaica gained a degree of local political control in the mid-1940s. The People's National Party (PNP) was founded in 1938. Its main rival, the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) was established five years later. The first elections under universal adult suffrage were held in 1944. Jamaica joined nine other UK territories in the Federation of the West Indies in 1958 but withdrew after Jamaican voters rejected membership in 1961. Jamaica gained independence on August 6, 1962, remaining a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The first prime minister was Alexander Bustamante of the Jamaica Labor Party.
At home my mother would sometimes tell me of the stories about the constant conflict between the PNP and JNP parties and the violence that related to it. She told me stories of how if a politician said or did something that either side didn’t agree with there would be senseless shootings and riots.
Initially, power swapped between the People's National Party and the Jamaican Labor Party regularly. Michael Manley was the first PNP prime minister in 1972. He introduced socialist policies and relations with Cuba. His second-term elections marked the start of repeated political violence. When the PNP lost power in 1980 Edward Seaga immediately began to reverse the policies of his predecessor, bringing in privatization and seeking closer ties with the USA. When the PNP and Manley returned to power in 1989 they continued the more moderate