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Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean. The population of Jamaica is 2,799,000 (2015 estimate), and its capital is Kingston. Jamaica has become Britain’s most valuable Caribbean colony. This entry explores the history of Jamaica, from early settlers and explorers through the colonial era and independence.

The Taíno occupied the island before 1000 BCE and were still present when Christopher Columbus claimed the island in 1494. The Spanish settled on the island in 1509, establishing a colony called Santiago. The Taíno population started to decline shortly after settlement, as Spanish slavers kidnapped them to work in Hispaniola and Cuba. Spanish occupation brought epidemic illness as well, most notably a 1520 epidemic that decimated the native population. It is likely that the colonists married Taíno women ...

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