Jamaica's economy is mainly based on tourism, bauxite and
aluminum production, bananas and sugar. In the 1970s, the
authorities sought to create a more socialist society, with
land reforms, nationalizations and more welfare schemes,
etc. on the program. Growing financial problems, however,
put an end to this experiment, and to overcome the financial
problems. the substantial government debt and high
inflation, a tight monetary and fiscal policy was
subsequently implemented, privatization of state
A large proportion of the population lives below the
poverty line and the country has a relatively low purchasing
power domestic market, which hinders economic development.
Other problem areas are a poorly developed infrastructure,
drug traffic and corruption. In addition, low prices on the
world market come for the important products bauxite and
aluminum, as well as the lack of new investment and unstable
weather conditions affecting sugar and coffee production.
However, a bright spot in the economy is a positive
development in the tourism industry. In 2003, service
industries contributed just over 60% of both GDP and
In 2002, agriculture (including fisheries) contributed
just over 5% of GDP and employed just under 20% of the
working population. Agriculture still plays an important,
but declining, role in the country's economy. Agriculture
has repeatedly been severely hit by devastation associated
with hurricanes. by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, when nearly
2/3 of coffee crops were destroyed.
Most of the cultivated land belongs to plantations, and
approx. 75% of farmers are small farmers. Both small and
large farms produce for export. Sugarcane is the most
important export growth, and is grown especially on the
coastal plains. Raw sugar production was 153,540 tonnes in
2003 (against 355,000 tonnes in 1975). Other important sales
growths are bananas, which are especially grown on the humid
northeast coast, as well as citrus fruits, coffee and cocoa.
Some spices are also grown; Jamaica is the world's largest
producer of all kinds. For local consumption, i.a. corn,
root vegetables (sweet potatoes, yams, cassava), tobacco and
coconuts. It encourages the cultivation of rice and fruit,
both to reduce food imports and to vary agricultural
exports. Jamaica is not self-sufficient with food grains and
other basic foods. Goats, cattle and pigs are most important
in animal husbandry. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Jamaica.
Timber production in 2001 was 874,000 m. Forest covered
16% of Jamaica's total area in 2000. This was a decrease
from 23.5% ten years earlier. Deforestation in the country
is happening at a pace that is among the highest in the
world. Fishing has little economic significance
Jamaica is one of the world's leading manufacturers of
bauxite. Bauxite is the most important raw material in
aluminum production. Production of bauxite (13.4 million
tonnes in 2003) and alumina contributed in 2003 with approx.
65% of the country's total export revenue. Employment is of
less importance to the industry; Mining in 2003 employed
only 0.4% of the working population.
Limestone, some plaster and marble are also mined. Gold
The industry is largely based on the processing of
bauxite and agricultural raw materials, especially sugar.
The manufacture of food and beverages and tobacco accounts
for approx. 70% of total industrial production. Especially
in the metropolitan area, a versatile consumer goods
industry has grown, where the products range from textiles
and footwear to metal products and building materials.
However, parts of this industry face strong competition from
cheap imports of goods from low-cost countries in Asia.
In an effort to promote industrial development, economic
fronts have been established at Kingston, Montego Bay and
Spanish Town, aimed at establishing foreign companies.
However, the new industries have been less able to improve
the economic situation in the country. In 2003, the industry
(including mining) contributed just over 30% of GDP and
employed approx. 18% of the working population.
Tourism makes an important contribution to the economy.
The industry is sometimes hit by periods of political and
social turmoil. In 2003–04, 1.4 million tourists visited the
island, excluding cruise ship tourists. About. 70% of
tourists come from the United States. Most tourist
destinations are along the north coast; in Montego Bay, Ocho
Rios and Port Antonio are a number of luxury hotels
Since the mid-1970s, Jamaica has had a trade deficit
abroad. The imbalance is due to both reduced prices of the
country's export products (bauxite and sugar) and rising
imports. At the same time, the dramatic devaluation of the
country's currency in the first half of the 1980s increased
import costs. Exports, which were previously dominated by
sugar and bananas, now consist primarily of alumina and
bauxite (8%). In 2003, sugar accounted for only 5% of
Jamaica is a member of the Caribbean common market
CARICOM, but the main buyer of exports is the United States,
then Canada and the United Kingdom. Other EU countries and
Norway are also important recipients of exports. Main import
goods are machinery and transport equipment, fuel,
chemicals, food and various consumables. The majority of
imports come from the United States (44%), secondly from
CARICOM countries and elsewhere in Latin America.
In the latter part of the 1980s, it was estimated that
the value of illegal marijuana trafficking (both domestic
and transit sales) exceeded the value of all legal exports.
Transport and Communications
The island has a relatively well-developed road network
that follows the coast around the island, which cuts through
the island in the north-south direction where the mountains
make it possible. A smaller railway, approx. 200 km,
Kingston connects with Montego Bay on the northwest coast,
and with Port Antonio on the northeast coast. International
airports can be found at Palisadoes (Norman Manley) 22 km
outside Kingston and at Montego Bay (Sangster). Main port
cities are Kingston, Montego Bay and Port Antonia.