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Backgrounder: Key facts about Jamaica
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13:29, February 10, 2009

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Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is to arrive in Jamaica on Wednesday for an official visit.

The following are basic facts about Jamaica.

Jamaica is an island nation situated in the northwest of the Caribbean Sea. It lies some 190 km west of Haiti and 140 km south of Cuba.

Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean with a total area of 10,991 square km.

More than 90 percent of Jamaica's 2.7 million population are of African descent. Christians make up the majority of the population. English is the official language.

Its largest city, Kingston, is also the capital of the island nation.

The Arawak indigenous people originating from South America settled on the island between 4,000 BC and 1,000 BC.

Spain sent Juan de Esquivel to establish a settlement in 1509, beginning Spain's effective colonization of Jamaica.

It was not until 1655 that the English took over the last Spanish fort in Jamaica.

Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom and in 1958, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies. Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.

The main sectors of the Jamaican economy include tourism, mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

Tourism and other service sectors are the pillars of the country's economy, contributing to more than 60 percent of its GDP (gross domestic products).

Jamaica is the world's fourth largest producer of alumina. Its other mining resources include cobalt, copper, iron, lead, zinc and plaster.

In recent years, computer software and data processing has become an important engine of growth.

Jamaica established diplomatic relations with China on Nov. 21,1972.

In February 2005, Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong paid a visit to Jamaica, during which the two countries forged a friendly partnership of common development between them, and the first ministerial-level meeting of the China-Caribbean economic and trade cooperation forum was also held in Jamaica.

In June 2005, then Prime Minister of Jamaica Percival J. Patterson visited China. Jamaica opened its embassy in China the following month.


Source: Xinhua



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