In terms of size, Jamaica is the third largest of the Caribbean islands, and it is located relatively close to the coast of the United States of America. It covers an area of 11,420 square kilometres (4,410 square miles), with a mountainous core and a flat coastal strip that is ten miles wide. Because the primary source of income in Jamaica is the production of agricultural products for export, the majority of the country's population is concentrated along this coastal strip. The climate is warm and humid, and despite the fact that Jamaica is located within the volcanic belt of Central America, there has not been a major volcanic eruption since 2007. 

Rainfall can be particularly heavy in the interior of the island, particularly in the mountains, where temperatures can also be extremely low, though the average temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius and annual rainfall is approximately 200 centimetres (80 inches). The majority of Jamaica's population is descended from Africans who were brought over to work on the sugar plantations as slaves in the eighteenth century, and while there are other races present, such as Chinese and East Indians, the descendants of the Africans and marriages between slaves and English sugar planters predominate. 

The Panama Canal, which links the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans
The Panama Canal, which links the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans

Jamaica continues to be plagued by an employment crisis, as evidenced by the large number of Jamaicans who leave the country each year in search of work. Currently, the main sources of employment in Jamaica are still sugar plantations, which are as important to the island's economy today as they were during the eighteenth century, and other agricultural products, some of which are by-products of the sugar industry, such as molasses; the banana crop is also a significant source of employment in the country. Other important export crops for Jamaica include citrus fruits, cocoa, coffee, and ginger, and the rum produced from the country's sugar cane is widely regarded as some of the best in the world. In 1973, the world's sugar production totaled 342,000 tonnes. 

Beef cattle are also raised, including a local breed known as the Jamaica Hope, which is used for beef production. In contrast to this, the most valuable of Jamaica's industries is no longer produced by sugar plantations; rather, the island is now the world's largest producer of the valuable mineral bauxite. The mining industry is so valuable that the output of the mines accounts for approximately 70% of Jamaica's total foreign currency earnings in a year. Industrial Development Corporations in Jamaica provide financial incentives and encouragement to businesses looking to establish themselves in the country. There are already clothing, textile, and building materials factories in the area, as well as an important porcelain factory and a large oil refinery for Esso. 

As a result of the amount of development taking place in Jamaica, there has been a natural increase in the amount of construction work done. This has provided a ready market for the goods produced by the factories and has encouraged the expansion of industrial production in the country as a whole. Jamaica's natural beauty and climate, on the other hand, are the country's most valuable assets. Since the fifteenth century, the island has been a popular tourist destination because of the ridge of the Blue Mountains that rises above the coastal plain. The island was first visited by Christopher Columbus in 1494, and it was later occupied by the Spanish and then by the British, who captured it in 1655. 

Port Royal was known as 'the wickedest city on earth' during the reign of Henry Morgan, the notorious pirate, who lived there in the second half of the seventeenth century. At the time, it was the capital of Jamaica and was known as 'the wickedest city on earth' during his lifetime. When it was at the height of its notoriety as a centre of piracy in the Caribbean, it was engulfed by an earthquake in 1692, it received its just reward. During his service with the British Navy in the Caribbean, Lord Nelson spent some time in Jamaica, and the names Benebow and Rodney are also associated with the port city of Port Royal. 

Kingston, the new capital, which was established following the earthquake in Port Royal, has grown into a sprawling metropolis with a quarter of the country's total population - residing within its borders. Montego Bay and Spanish Town are the other major cities in the area. The vast majority of the population continues to reside in small towns and villages scattered throughout the island. Jamaica, with its rich historical heritage and natural beauty, is rapidly developing a thriving tourist industry in the Caribbean. Bahamas, Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago are some of the most important Commonwealth West Indian islands in the Caribbean. In many ways, they are similar to the people of Jamaica in terms of their way of life.