The island of Jamaica is very rich in culture and has many historic turnabouts throughout the years. The country has a rich and complex history including being the first country to have Arawak and Taino Indians settle there.
The Arawak Indians of South America were the first people to settle in Jamaica the named the island Xaymaca meaning land of wood and water. Christopher Columbus’ first arrival was in 1494. Christopher Columbus’ son settled in Jamaica in 1509. During Spain’s occupation on the island beginning in 1510 the Arawaks were killed off by disease, war and slavery. Seven short years later the Spaniards brought the first African slaves to Jamaica. The king of Spain deeded the island to Columbus’ family in 1536 until the 1620’s Spain reclaimed the island. The first European settlement was called Sevilla Nueva located near St. Ann’s Bay, the town was abandoned in 1538 and moved to Spanish Town. About 100 years later Great Britain stepped in and seized control of the island. The settlers from Great Britain moved to Villa de la Vega, now known as Spanish Town. Jamaica was the site of a lot of fierce uprisings, for years the Maroons; descendants of slaves freed by the Spanish in 1655 and runaway slaves form British rule fought against plantation owners and British forces. The largest revolt of them all occurred in 1831 when an initially peaceful protest against working on Christmas turned violent. The response convinced the British parliament to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire in 1834. Emancipation of the slaves took place in 1838 and the indentured labour from India and China. Jamaica was granted freedom from the UK in 1947 then later in 1958 after years of violence and suffrage came the formation of two political parties, JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) led by Sir Alexander Bustamante and PNP (People’s National Party) led by Norman Manley. Jamaica also joined the West Indies Federation; internal self-government was introduced in 1959. Jamaica then withdrew from the WIF following a vote, a year later the country attained complete independence from Britain on August 6, 1962. Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services. The island was one of the most valuable for more than 150 years because of sugar. The country has many strengths such as natural resources, agriculture, and tourism; membership in various regional organisations and support from the US and the UK especially in the area of drugs. Weaknesses include its vulnerability to natural disasters, mostly hurricanes, energy dependence, critical state of public finances, dependence on the US, and deficiencies in education, poverty and health care. The language of Jamaica is one that is very complex some classify it as Creole, Black English, broken English, or Jamaican Patois. The author of Understanding Jamaican Patois states that none of those terms are accurate in describing Jamaican dialect. Creole is more of a mix between African and European language and patois refers to any broken or degraded language in the world. People prefer to use the term Jamaican when describing the language because it is more accurate. In the middle of the language scale there is a term used to describe the Jamaican language by author Frederic Cassidy called ‘Jamaicanism’, which he classified into five categories; retention, new formations, borrowings, onomatopoeic echoisms, and usage of words that are preferred on the island. In May 2001 it was brought to the Joint Select Committee of the Parliament of Jamaica that it should be included in the Charter of Rights that Jamaican citizens shouldn’t be discriminated against on the grounds of language because many citizens lack competence in English which is the language most services provided. The main ingredients of Jamaica’s language are a mixture of Spanish, African, English, Irish, British and American idioms, and Rastafarian. In some places your shoes would be referred to as the Spanish word ‘zapatos’ or eat being...
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