Pirates, Plantations, Political Activists and Pot

jamaican flag on truck runaway bayMusician Bob Marley, pirate Henry Morgan, Olympic bobsledders, rebel leader Marcus Garvey,explorer Christopher Columbus and sprinter Usain Boldt all play a role in the colorful history of Jamaica. Everyone here is an immigrant. The motto of Jamaica is “Out of many, one people.”

History of Jamaica- Abridged version

4000  BC- arrival of the Ciboney people in Jamaica from the eastern Yucatan- cave dwellers who fished

300 AD- Igneris tribe of the Arawak people arrive  from South America- skilled at ceramics their pottery shards can still be found on the island

650 and 900- Tainos also of the Arawak people come from South America in two groups- name the island Xaymaca- meaning ‘land of wood and water’- farm, fish, make crafts- invent the hammock

1494-Christopher Columbus arrives and claims Jamaica for Spain

1509-1655- Spanish Occupation- all of the Tainos people die of disease or overwork as Spanish slaves. Spanish establish plantations in Jamaica to supply food for Spanish ships sailing between Europe and America. Bring the first African slaves to Jamaica. Spanish bring Jews to Jamaica as indentured servants. Many remain when freed.

1655-1670- Fighting between the British and Spanish for control of Jamaica.  British buccaneers like Henry Morgan use Jamaica as a base to attack Spanish ships carrying gold and silver from Central and South America to Spain. Buccaneers’ loot is stored in Jamaica. Morgan even serves as Jamaica’s governor for a time. Some African slaves escape to the interior and begin a resistance group called the Maroons which continues to challenge the British for 200 years.

1670- Jamaica officially ceded to the British.

1670-1838- Slave economy with the production of  sugar, cocoa and cotton. More than 2 million slaves from Nigeria, Ghana and Central Africa are sent to Jamaica. 

1838- Slaves emancipated

1838-1938- Many former slaves become farmers- grow bananas, coffee and sell logwood. The first Indians arrive in Jamaica in 1845 as indentured servants and in 1854 the first Chinese arrive as indentured servants.

1938-1962- Inspired by the ideas of political activist Marcus Garvey Jamaica moves towards independence and decolonization. America replaces Britain as Jamaica’s chief trading partner. The export of bauxite and tourism replace agriculture as the economic base of the country. Thousands of Jamaicans become migrant laborers in other countries.

1962-2013- Jamaica becomes known for its reggae music because of musicians like Bob Marley. While marijuana is still illegal in Jamaica it is the perfect place to grow it and apparently tours of secret plantations have become a big tourist attraction. The Jamaican bobsledding team makes headlines when they qualify for the Olympics in 1988 and the movie Cool Runnings brings their story to the Hollywood screen. Sprinter Usain Boldt puts Jamaica on the map when he wins six Olympic gold medals and becomes the first man ever to earn gold medals in both 100 and 200 meter races in consecutive Olympics (2008 and 2012). Jamaica welcomes 2.5 million tourists each year.

Other posts about Jamaica………

Jamaican Introductions

Acquiring a Taste for Jamaican Food

Dead Yard Party

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