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Jamaica Old History

 

The Spanish colonization of Jamaica began in 1494 and caused the indigenous people to die as a result of slavery and disease. The Spaniards were defeated in 1655 by the English and thus a British rule over Jamaica began for more than 300 years.

The indigenous peoples of the Caribbean began to settle on the islands maybe 7,000 years ago. The first groups are believed to have come from South America.

When Christofer Columbus arrived on the mission of the Spanish crown to Jamaica in 1494, the peaceful Arab-speaking Taino people lived on the island. Archaeological finds show that taino was probably in Jamaica for at least 500 years.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Jamaica, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

When the Spanish colonization began in 1509, the indigenous people were put to work as slaves. The hard slave labor combined with illnesses that the Europeans brought, and which the indigenous peoples lacked protection, led to Taino soon dying out. In order to obtain labor for their plantations, the Spaniards instead began shipping over slaves from West Africa.

The center of the slave trade

The small group of Spanish colonizers was defeated in 1655 by an English military expedition, which became the beginning of British rule over Jamaica. Port Royal outside Kingston became the base for buck hunters - pirates who, on the British crown's behalf, plundered throughout the Caribbean. From 1672 Jamaica was also the center of the slave trade. In the 17th century, escaped slaves, maroons, began attacks on British colonizers. The fighting between the British and the Maroons went on a bit into the 18th century before peace could be reached.

Old History of Jamaica

The British ran sugar plantations, among other things. The foundations for the sugar industry were ravaged when Britain abolished slavery in 1834. Plantation owners found it difficult to obtain cheap labor and began recruiting workers abroad, including India and China. A new blow to the sugar plantations came just over ten years later when Jamaica lost its position as the UK's main sugar supplier. The crisis in the economy led to violent clashes between plantation owners and a growing number of landless and unemployed former slaves. The turmoil culminated in a major uprising in 1865.

Against independence

Then followed a few decades of relative calm before Jamaica suffered strikes and unrest during the global economic crisis of the 1930s. At this time, the foundations of the two parties that still dominate political life were laid: Jamaica's Labor Party (JLP) and the People's Nationalist Party (PNP) (see Political system). Socialist PNP was led by Oxford-educated lawyer Norman Manley, while his cousin, businessman Alexander Bustamante, was the charismatic leader of the right-wing party JLP. Both parties worked for independence from the British.

Jamaica's path to independence was smooth and peaceful. Increased self-government was introduced gradually after the unrest in the 1930s. In 1944, universal suffrage was introduced. In the parliamentary elections that year, the JLP won a majority of the seats and Bustamante became Jamaica's first prime minister. JLP also won in the 1949 elections.

In the 1950s it was clear that Jamaica would be free from Britain. Like the British, the PNP wanted the English-speaking colonies of the Caribbean to merge into a federation, while the JLP doubted this solution. PNP won in the 1955 elections and in 1958 the short-lived Caribbean Federation was established. Following tensions within the federation, Jamaica withdrew from 1961. In the April election the following year, the JLP withdrew power and on August 6, 1962, Jamaica became independent.

 
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