In 1493-1494 on his second voyage, which was much larger and more of a colonisation expedition, Columbus explored further and discovered the island of Jamaica (Arawak for well watered), which is 90 miles south of the island of Cuba and he used this island as his family private estate.
In 1509 the island was fully colonised by the Spanish and the native Arawak tribe on the island suffered to the point of extinction from European diseases and enslavement by the new visitors. African slaves were brought to the island to work sugar plantations as the native Arawaks slowly died out and through this method the island was re-populated.
In 1655 the British captured the island from the Spanish and made the island an important base in the Caribbean area. The British abolished slavery in 1838 and introduced Banana plantations, which along with sugar beet production plantations, employed the ex African slave labour descendants who worked in these major industries in the region.The British, as the slave trade had evaporated, brought Indian and Chinese servants to the island thus increasing the working population rapidly.
In 1938 there was a general economic depression and rioting took place on this peaceful island. Mr Norman Manley formed the Peoples National Party.
In 1944 a constitution for the island was formed and the first free election process took place.
In 1958 Jamaica joined the West Indies Federation (a union of nine British territories) but only stayed until 1961 when a vote by the islanders rejected the membership.
In 1959 Self Government for Jamaica was achieved.
In 1962 the island achieved independence from Britain, but chose to remain within the British Commonwealth of ex British Empire nations, with Mr Alexander Bustamante of the Jamaica Labour Party being the Prime Minister of Jamaica island government. (Queen Elizabeth the II of the United Kingdom, remains to date the nominal Head Of State.) [ More]
Jamaica history notes
1493 to 1962