Jamaica. According to COUNTRYAAH, Jamaica has a population of 2.935 million (2018). Violent clashes broke out in Kingston in May between security forces and supporters of drug king Christopher “Dudus” Coke. Over 70 people were killed during four days of fighting, including three soldiers. The violence erupted since the authorities issued an arrest warrant against Coke, which the United States had requested extradition in August 2009. According to the authorities, Coke was the leader of gangs that engaged in drug and arms smuggling and committed a large number of murders in the United States and Jamaica. However, many residents of Kingston, and especially in the Tivoli Gardens district, regarded Coke as a benefactor to the area’s poor. Coke was also considered to have strong ties to politicians, not least to the JPL (Jamaica Labor Party) and Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
A state of emergency was introduced in parts of Kingston and the concern was great that the important tourism industry would suffer. The opposition brought a distrust vote against the prime minister for the government’s way of handling the unrest. Golding managed by a slight margin.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the two letter abbreviation of JA stands for the country of Jamaica in geography.
In late June, one month after the outbreak of violence, Coke was arrested at a roadblock. He was soon extradited to the United States, where he risks life imprisonment.
According to softwareleverage, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a loan of nearly US $ 1.3 billion over two years to help Jamaica reduce its sovereign debt and accelerate growth following the global financial crisis. In the second half of the year, the tourism industry showed a strong upswing.
Jamaica is an island in the Greater Antilles, the third largest after Cuba and Hispaniola. 90% of the country is inhabited by a population of African origin. The island is formally a parliamentary monarchy (since it is part of the Commonwealth and is subject to the British Crown) and its internal institutional set-up is that of a typical democratic system with a bicameral structure. The Jamaican system is characterized by two original elements: a House of Representatives directly elected by the people and a Senate whose 21 members are appointed by the prime minister (13 members) and the opposition leader (8 members). The country is led by the People’s National Party (PNP) of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller who, in the December 2011 elections, it won the majority of seats (42 out of 63 available), arousing great hopes and expectations. Jamaica suffers from serious socio-economic problems: corruption, a weak administrative and judicial structure, high unemployment (15% in 2015), inflation (5%, but falling) and poor economic growth.
The need to reform public finances and restructure the huge public debt (although slightly down in the long-term forecasts, should amount to 124.8% of GDP), has forced the government to launch austerity policies and to request the intervention by the International Monetary Fund to avoid bankruptcy. In February 2010, the Fund had already intervened with a loan of 1.27 billion dollars, to which in May 2013 an exceptional loan of 932 million was added, intended to promote the reforms necessary to revive the economy. The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank have also recently intervened in support of Kingston, which have allocated loans and aid for 1 billion dollars.
More than on traditional sugar production, Kingston’s economy is supported today on bauxite reserves (the fourth in the world: they contribute to the formation of almost 30% of GDP) and on tourism (10% of GDP). Both sectors were severely shaken by the 2009 international crisis, which brought down commodity prices and deterred visitors. Remittances, which represented around 15% of GDP ($ 1.7 billion) in 2010, also suffered a decline due to the crisis, but are starting to increase again thanks to the economic recovery, particularly in the US and the UK. where the majority of Jamaicans residing overseas live. From an energy point of view, Kingston suffers from the shortage of hydrocarbon fields and depends on imports, which cover 82% of its consumption.
As far as international relations are concerned, Jamaica, which traditionally maintains an isolationist attitude, retains a close dependence on the USA, to which it is linked by commercial, tourist and migratory relations. Both domestic politics and national foreign policy are influenced by the overwhelming presence of organized crime, which uses the island as a focal point for international drug trafficking. Jamaica is among the countries with the highest homicide rate by population (39.3 per 100,000). The figure is even more alarming if we consider the impact of the phenomenon on the national economy. According to the World Bank, violence produces an annual loss of 5% of GDP and the calculation does not even include the expenses incurred by the state to fight crime.