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Hiv - Aids in Jamaica

Essay by   •  May 9, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,980 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,493 Views

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Jamaica

"Out of many-One People"

Jamaica, a marvelous island full of warm welcoming people, is beautiful, tropical, relaxing, hot, sunny, a beloved home, a tourist destination, desperately poor, heavily indebted and struggling with a HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The island of Jamaica, the third largest in the Caribbean Sea is about 90 miles south of Cuba and 100 miles west of Haiti. It is nearly the size of the state of Connecticut. Jamaica is mountainous with the highest elevations in the east, The Blue Mountains reaching 7,402 ft. The other large mountains in the southwestern part of Jamaica are The Don Figuerero, Santa Cruz and Mayday Mountains. White and yellow limestone form ridges, depressions and sinkholes throughout the island with many rivers, streams, waterfalls (Dunns River Falls) and caves. The coastal plains that are almost continuous around the island create accessible white sandy beaches that attract tourists from around the world (World Factbook). Jamaica does not face any immediate environmental crises. How ever air pollution in Kingston because of the vehicular emissions, coastal waters polluted by industrial waste and heavy rates of deforestation are major environmental issues. Jamaica deals with these issues by implementing plans and establishing Millennium Development Goals, which are presented to the UN Economic and Social Council. Jamaica has agreed to and ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

Christopher Columbus first discovered Jamaica in 1494 and claimed it to be a Spanish colony. The first inhabitants of the island were Arawak/ Taino Indians. The Arawak/ Taino Indians were largely fishermen, hunters, and farmers. Enslaved by the Spanish, they were later destroyed by disease, mistreatment, and destruction of their native agriculture. Within 70-80 years after the Spanish first appeared on the island, the Arawak/ Taino Indians disappeared from the island and nothing remains of them, their culture, or any other influence on the island (Essix, Jamaicans.com). The Spanish were seeking spices and gold but Jamaica's natural resources are bauxite, gypsum and limestone. As a result of not finding gold, the Spanish never considered Jamaica a major colony. Instead only a few activities were undertaken including mining, hunting, farming and the supplying of Spanish ships that were sailing to other parts of the Caribbean and South America. In spite of this, the Spanish did introduce slaves to the island, but not in large numbers as demonstrated by the census count of the island taken in 1611. At that time there were 558 slaves (Campbell, Mavis 1990).

In 1655, the British conquered the island, ordered the Spanish to leave Jamaica and proceeded to turn the island into a sugar factory. Using 200,000 slaves to produce 50,000 tons of sugar annually, Jamaica was considered one of England's prized possessions (Spielvogel, Jackson Western Civilization). In the years between 1655 and 1838, Plantation Slavery created an economy that brought enormous wealth and prosperity to the plantation owners, the cities that were involved in this trade and to the international economy. The system ended when the Emancipation Act was passed in 1833 abolishing slavery. After this the country developed small farmers, landowners and other classes. There was also a movement towards independence and away from Britain. Between 1833 and 1962 when political independence was finally granted, the economy of Jamaica moved from the singular dominance of sugar to a more diverse economy centered on tourism, banana, cocoa and bauxite (Essix, Jamaicans.com).

When political independence was granted, the form of government that was developed was a "constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm" (The World Factbook). The chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II, appoints a Governor General as her representative. There is a Prime Minister, who is the head of the Majority Party or the leader of the Majority coalition in The House of Representatives and who appoints the members of the Senate. In addition there are two bodies of Parliament a Senate, a House of Representatives and further a Judicial Branch. The current leaders of Jamaica are Dr. Patrick Allen, the Governor General and Portia Simpson- Miller, the Prime Minister. Jamaica's capital is Kingston and the country is divided into 14 parishes that are the administrative divisions. These are Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, Manchester, Portland, Saint Andrew, Saint Ann, Saint Catherine, Saint Elizabeth, Saint James, Saint Mary, Saint Thomas, Trelawny and Westmoreland.

In the years since independence, there has been a decline and reversal in the economic conditions of Jamaica. Initially, there was a boom economy fueled by exports, mining, tourism, manufacturing, agriculture and others. However beginning in 1972 there were political changes in Jamaica, which led to the reduction of capital, and private investment in the country. In turn, the country's economy suffered and the government borrowed heavily and became involved with the IMF and the World Bank. Today Jamaica is heavily in debt and its debt is in fact the fourth highest in the world on a per capita basis (World Factbook). Payment of their debt consumes over half of the 2009/10 budget (National report of Jamaica Millennium Development Goals). According to this report and others, Jamaica relies heavily on imports and its economy is dependent on services, which makes the economy vulnerable to other countries and to the world economy. The recession accruing around the world, the closing of the bauxite companies and the losses from tourist's money have all had an enormous impact on the economy. In addition, Jamaica exports 1.376 billion dollars of aluminum, bauxite, sugar, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, wearing apparel, and mineral fuels to the U.S., Canada, Norway, U.K., NETHERLANDS and others. It imports 4.581 billion from the U.S., Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, China and other food, consumer goods, industrial supplies, fuel parts and accessories of capital goods, machinery and transport equipment and construction materials (World Factbook). These economic facts portray a country in desperate need, but Jamaica has a National Development Plan and a vision for the future that includes a great many goals that they are trying to achieve.

According to the World Factbook, the country of Jamaica stands thirty three in the world in the adult prevalence rate of AIDS, with 32,000 people living

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