Arawak Indians in Jamaica

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The original settlers of Jamaica were the Arawak Indians. Their colony revolved around simplicity based on fishing and hunting. In 1494 when Columbus and his people arrived the Arawak population was generally wiped out. The Spanish disrupted the economy and brought new diseases to the island. Jamaica wasn’t really a significant place to the Spanish, because they were disappointed by the lack of gold and other riches. They basically used the area as a ‘home base’ while they explored other areas such as Mexico, where gold and silver could be found. In 1655, The British took over the island, and the Spanish did little to stop this from happening.

During the eighteenth century, the need for slaves was great because of the sugar production on the island. At that point, Jamaica became the center of the English slave trade because of a treaty (Treaty of Utrecht) signed by British, France, and Spain, ending a war. As the sugar gradually gained value and quantity, the ratio of black people (slaves) to white people because fifteen to one ( The laws on the island supported slavery, and the sugar production dominated the economy. After awhile, the slaves started running away to live in small bands in the mountains. These people were referred to as ‘Maroons,’ meaning wild men of the Mountains. Eventually, slavery was abolished in Jamaica.

For the most part, the Jamaican people followed the Church of England. They did however allow greater religious freedoms than England itself. The plantation owners thought it would be smart to allow the African slaves to practice their own religions incase of a revolt. A religion called ‘Revivalism’ is actually a mix of Christian and

African beliefs. Surprisingly, there was also a small Jewish population on the island as well. They initially struggled under the Spanish rule, but eventually built one of the first synagogues in the region.

Jamaica had both natural and genetic resources. For...
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