Jamaica lies 145 km. (90 mi.) south of Cuba and is strategically located less than 600 miles from the world’s most significant market – the United States. At 11,000 sq. mi. is the third largest Caribbean island and the largest of the English speaking islands. The capital is Kingston situated on the southern end of the island and is Jamaica’s major commercial centre and also has the world’s seventh largest harbour – Kingston Harbour. Its highest peak, the Blue Mountains is 2,256 metres.
The second major city is Montego Bay on the northwest coast of Jamaica, with the Sangster International Airport located nearby, which plays a major role in the advancement of the country’s tourism product as a gateway to the island’s major resort facilities in Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios. An estimated 1.3 million foreign tourists visit Jamaica every year.
Jamaica’s population is 2,825,928 and English is the official language. The currency, the Jamaican dollar (J$) trades at US $1.00 for J$71.19.
The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on tourism, bauxite/alumina and services which account for approximately 60% of GDP. Tourism and Mining are the island's main foreign exchange earners.
Since the first quarter of 2006, the economy has undergone a period of staunch growth. With inflation for 2006 down to 6%, unemployment down to 8.9%, the nominal GDP grew by an unprecendented 2.9%.
In spite of a diversified economy, a series of currency devaluations in previous decades have had a negative impact on the island and Jamaica is now in the process of consolidating its economic stabilization programme. After years of contractions in the economy, Jamaica was able to raise GDP in 2006.