View from hill top in the parish of Hanover

Jamaica : History

Jamaica is a large island in the Caribbean Sea. It lies 630 kilometres north-east of mainland Central America. Its close neighbours are Haiti, to the east, and Cuba, to the north. There are mountains and plateaus to the interior and east of the island. It is surrounded by coastal plains, with sandy beaches and many natural bays.   

Key facts

  • Region: Caribbean and Americas 
  • Population: 2.9 million (2018) 
  • Area: 11,000 square kilometres 
  • Capital: Kingston 
  • Joined Commonwealth: 1962, following independence from Britain 
  • Commonwealth Youth Index: 12 out of 49 countries 

Secretariat support for Jamaica 


Jamaica received Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) Initiative training in May 2018. Its election officials improved their knowledge of campaign and party financing, women’s participation and new media. 

Countering violent extremism 

In 2018, a Secretariat project encouraged partnerships and dialogue in Jamaica to prevent violence and conflict. The project focused particularly on women and young people. 

The Secretariat's Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) project helped Jamaica prepare a Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  

The Secretariat helped senior officials in Jamaica strengthen their skills, systems and processes to tackle violent and extremist views. The focus was on the country’s prisoners. 

Youth and education 

The Secretariat Youth Programme helped Jamaica increase youth employment and encouraged young people to set up businesses. 

The Secretariat helped Jamaica with recommendations to improve boys’ education. 


The Secretariat helped Jamaica develop a Maritime Hub Strategy. This involved analysis of bunkering (the supplying of fuel for ships) and dry docking (a narrow basin that is flooded to allow a load to be floated in, then drained to allow that load to rest on a dry platform). Jamaica attracted US$20 million in investment as a result. 

Sustainable development 

The Secretariat advised Jamaica on managing its petroleum and mining sector resources more sustainably. It helped the country negotiate a new production sharing contract. 

Climate change 

Jamaica used the Commonwealth’s Climate Finance Access Hub to access money from international projects and funds to help it tackle climate change. 

Blue Charter

Jamaica is a member of the Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods and Marine Protected Areas Action Groups.

Connectivity Agenda

Guyana is a member of the Regulatory Connectivity clusters of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda. The Connectivity Agenda is a platform for countries to exchange best practices and experiences to trade and investment and undertake domestic reform.

Jamaica in the Commonwealth 

Four Jamaican women have won Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes: Olive Senior in 1987 (Best Book); Erna Brodber in 1989; Alecia McKenzie in 1993; and Vanessa Spence in 1994. 

The Commonwealth Library Association has its secretariat at the Mona, Kingston, campus of the University of the West Indies. 

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