Jamaican History
Long before Europeans 'discovered' Jamaica, the Arawak and Taino indigenous people lived happily on the island fro several centuries. Their economy is based on fishing and the cultivation of corn (maize)



Jamaican History
Christopher Columbus sighted the island on 5 May 1494, during his second voyage and claimed it for Spain. He landed on the shores of present-day St. Ann's Parish. He returned to Jamaica on his fourth voyage and was eventually marooned for one year at St. Ann's Bay (June 1503 - June 1504) as he was shipwrecked, which he called Santa Gloria. Juan de Esquivel, a Spanish soldier, accompanied Christopher Columbus in his second trip to the American continent in 1493 and participated in the conquest and colonization of the isle of Hispaniola, where he stayed for a long time. In 1509, the new Governor of the Hispaniola, Diego Columbus, sent Juan de Esquivel with 70 men to Jamaica to supress Arawak and Taino Indians and govern the island for Spanish crown. As the first Spanish Governor of Jamaica, he establisged first Spanish settlement in Jamaica and named it 'Sevilla La Nueva' ("The New Seville") in the honor of his birth town, Seville, Spain. Sevilla La Nueva is just one mile west of St. Ann's Bay
Jamaican History
The first Spanish settlement in Jamaica, Seville, proved unhealthy and was soon abandoned. The Spanish settlement of Villa de la Vega was founded by governor Francisco de Garay in 1534 as the capital of the colony. Later, it was also called Santiago de la Vega or St. Jago de la Vega. When the English conquered Jamaica in 1655, they renamed the settlement as Spanish Town.
Jamaican History
The Spanish colonists enslaved the Arawak and Taino indigenous people and made them work 18-hours a day under horrible conditions. Their tired bodies offered no defense against the European diseases and the entire indigenous population in Jamaica wiped out within a few years of European colonial rule. African slaves were imported to overcome the resultant labor shortage.
Jamaican History
In 1655 a British expedition under Adm. William Penn and Gen. Robert Venables captured Jamaica and expelled or killed all the Spanish colonists within 5 years and thus paving way for British rule of Jamaica. The conflict gave an opportunity for some of the slaves to escape from slavery. Many of the escaped slaves had formed communities in the highlands and were called Maroons, a name probably derived from the Spanish word cimarrón, meaning “wild” or “untamed.”
Jamaican History
Concerned about the possibility of Spanish attacks, British invited pirates to Jamaican ports and Jamaican ports soon became piracy hubs and gained notoriety for greed and lawlessness. The relentless attacks by the pirates on Spanish forced the Spanish to recognize British claims to Jamaica under under the provisions of the Treaty of Madrid in 1670.
Jamaican History
Jamaica soon became one of the principal slave-trading centers in the world. In 1692 an earthquake destroyed Port Royal, the chief Jamaican slave market, killing almost half of the town's population. Survivors of the disaster established Kingston across the bay.
Jamaican History
Labor shortages, protracted economic crisis, oppressive taxation and discriminatory treatment caused widespread unrest among the blacks. Jamaica was made a crown colony in 1865 following an insurrection at Port Morant.
Jamaican History
The combination of fertile, virgin soil and cheap slave labor made sugarcane plantations thrive in Jamaica and Jamaica became a major sugar exporter in the 18th century. Later, when the overproduction made the sugar prices plummet, Banana plantations gained prominence. During 19th century, Jamaica became a major banana exporter.
Jamaican History
British abolished slavery on August 1, 1834. Maroons waged guerrilla war against the British troops, but British ruthlessly supressed the slave rebellions. In 1865 impoverished former slaves rioted in the town of Morant Bay, killing the chief magistrate and 18 others of European ancestry. Gov. Edward John Eyre suppressed the rioters and hanged the principal instigator, Paul Bogle, and his alleged coconspirator, assembly member George William Gordon. Amid public outcries and an official investigation in Britain he was recalled and dismissed from his position. In the 1920s the Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded in 1914 by Jamaican Marcus Garvey, advocated black nationalism and Pan-Africanism in Jamaica and among the African diaspora. Dissatisfaction with the crown colony system, sharpened by the hardships of the Great Depression of the 1930s, erupted in widespread rioting in 1938. That same year saw the beginnings of Jamaica’s two-party system. Norman Manley, a lawyer, founded the moderately leftist People’s National Party (PNP). His cousin Alexander Bustamante, a businessman with considerable political flair and personal popularity, formed the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, and it served as the basis for the moderately conservative Jamaican Labor Party (JLP), which he founded in 1943. The constitution of 1944 established a House of Representatives, whose members were elected by universal suffrage; it also called for a nominated Legislative Council as an upper house (with limited powers) and an Executive Council. A two-party pattern soon emerged, and the constitution was modified in 1953 to allow for elected government ministers. In 1957 the Executive Council was transformed into a cabinet under the chairmanship of a premier. Jamaica obtained full internal self-government two years later. In 1958 Jamaica became a founding member of the West Indies Federation, a group of Caribbean islands that formed a unit within the Commonwealth. Norman Manley, leader of the People's National Party (PNP), became premier after the elections of July 1959, but in 1960 the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) under Sir Alexander Bustamante pressed for secession from the federation. A referendum in 1961 supported their views. The JLP was the overall winner of elections in April 1962, and Bustamante became premier. In May the federation was dissolved. On August 6, 1962, Jamaica became independent with full dominion status within the Commonwealth, under a constitution that retained the British monarch as head of state. Bustamante assumed the title of prime minister.