Jamaica Airport

History of Jamaica

Looking at the history of Jamaica, you begin to get a sense for the country's pulse. As is the case with many of the Caribbean islands, the history of Jamaica is characterized by a succession of migrations bringing a wide variety of people to the island, either willingly or unwillingly, to start a new life.

Jamaica was first colonized by a native group of South American origin who, in the early history of Jamaica, called their home a paradise of wood and water. The Arawak were there to greet Christopher Columbus when he arrived in Jamaica in 1494, beginning a long period of European colonization there. The history of Jamaica as a European outpost saw the island under Spanish rule for 150 years, during which the city now known as Spanish Town was established and flourished as the colony's economic hub.

In the 1650s, Jamaica was captured by the British. Despite turning Jamaica into a profitable colony, continued harassment by a group of ex-slaves - brought over throughout the Spanish period and set free during their retreat - and their descendants dogged the British until they relented and granted emancipation to all remaining plantation laborers in 1838. The Maroons, as this small army was known, are still revered today as some of the most brave and noble figures in the history of Jamaica.

The history of Jamaica after emancipation saw a gradual shift away from a plantation-based to a more diverse economy. Work in other industries, especially in mining, encouraged an influx of settlers from new regions like India and China. With this diverse assemblage of people ready for self-governance, Jamaica achieved its independence from Britain in 1962. Soon after, tourism replaced agriculture as Jamaica's main source of revenue and continues as such today, where an eclectic gathering of three million inhabitants awaits another one million visitors each year.

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