Political Status: Independent member of the Commonwealth since August 6, 1962; under democratic parliamentary regime.

Area: 4,411 sq. mi. (11,424 sq. km.).

Population: 2,607,632 (2001C); 2,681,000 (2007E).

Major Urban Center (2005E): KINGSTON (575,000).

Official Language: English.

Monetary Unit: Jamaican Dollar (market rate November 1, 2008: 75.83 dollars = $1US).

Sovereign: Queen ELIZABETH II.

Governor General: Kenneth Octavius HALL; sworn in February 15, 2006, succeeding Sir Howard Felix Hanlan COOKE.

Prime Minister: Orette Bruce GOLDING (Jamaica Labour Party), named party president April 21, 2005; succeeded Portia SIMPSON MILLER (People's National Party) as prime minister on September 11, 2007, following balloting on September 3, 2007.

The Country

Jamaica, whose name is derived from the Arawak Indian word Xaymaca, is a mountainous island located 90 miles south of Cuba. The third-largest island in the Caribbean, it is the ...

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