600 miles south of Miami, Florida lies Jamaica, an island country full of contrasts. Tourists love to visit Jamaica for its beautiful, white beaches, lush rain forests and relaxed way of life. Tourists enjoy listening to reggae music, which can be heard all over the island. However, tourists don’t usually see the people who live in tiny shacks made from wood, metal scraps and even cardboard. In crowded shanty towns, violence and drug trafficking is common.
Jamaica was first settled in the 7th century by the Taino people, who sailed from South America. Christopher Columbus landed on Jamaica in 1494. The Taino people were taken as slaves. Many of them died from diseases or mistreatment. The entire group was wiped out by 1600. The Spanish ruled Jamaica until 1655 when Great Britain gained control. Slaves from Africa were brought here to work on huge sugar plantations. They were cruelly treated and often fought against their owners. Slavery was finally abolished in 1838 and the country gained its independence in 1962.
Fun Facts about Jamaica for Kids
- 2,780,132 people live in Jamaica.
- Jamaica has 4,181 square miles of land.
- 87 percent of adults can read.
- People living here can expect to live for 75 years.
- The official language of Jamaica is English.
- Jamaica is still a member of the British Commonwealth and recognizes Queen Elizabeth. Jamaica has a prime minister and elected officials.
- About 56 percent of Jamaicans are Christian. Other religions include Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. Many people belong to the Rastafarian religion, which is a Christian religion that began in the 1930s. Rastafarians do not believe in violence. They often wear their hair in long dreadlocks and wear red, yellow and green – the colors of the Ethiopian flag.
- Drug trafficking: selling drugs illegally
- Violence: deliberate harm to other people or property
- Plantation: large farm
- Abolish: outlaw; do away with
All About Jamaica Video for Kids
Check out this cool video about Jamaica for kids:
This is a video documentary about the music, sports and culture of Jamaica.
Question: What do people in Jamaica do for a living?
Answer: Some people farm, but most people live in the cities. Kingston is the largest city. Here, people work in finance, technology and manufacturing. Tourism is also a big industry, as is bauxite mining. Bauxite is used to make aluminum.
Map of Jamaica
Here’s a map of the country of Jamaica and all its cities and villages. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see other countries around Jamaica! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the cities of Jamaica, as though you are actually there!
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