Jamaica is a country and island located in the west-central Caribbean, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.

Population estimate (2019): 2,903,539

Capital City: Kingston

Currency used: Jamaica Dollar

Gross National Income per capita (2013) (PPP international $): 8,480

Time zone: GMT – 5

Population growth rate (2019): 0.26%

Total fertility rate per woman: 1.96

Languages: English is the official language in Jamaica, but Jamaican Patois is the most widely spoken with over 90% of the population speaking Patois.

Key ethnic groups: 76.3% Jamaicans of African descent, 15.1% African-European descent, 3.4% East Indian and African-East Indian, 3.2% Caucasian, 1.2% Chinese.

Religion: 64.8% Protestant, 2.2% Roman Catholic, 1.90% Jehovah’s Witness, 1.1% Rastafarian, 6.5% other and 21.3% reporting no religion.

Literacy: 88.7%

Climate: The climate in Jamaica is tropical and hot all year round, with slight seasonal changes. During the rainy season (late April to October) it is hot and humid, with rainfall usually occurring in the form of thunderstorms. Generally it rains more in the northern and mountainous areas compared to the south, where Kingston is located. Temperatures along the coast of the island range between 22 and 31ºc, and are just slightly lower inland. Sea water temperatures range from 26 to 29ºc.

Health statistics:

Life expectancy at birth (2016): 74/78 (male/female)

Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years: 165/98 (per 1000 population, 2016)

Total expenditure on health per capita (2014): $476

Number of doctors per 1000 population (2008): 0.411

Nursing and midwifery personnel density (per 1000 population, 2008): 1.092

Neonatal mortality rate (per 1000 live births, 2015): 11.6 [6.9-18.7]

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100.000 live births, 2015): 89 [70-115]

Births attended by skilled health personnel (2011): 98.6%

Top 10 causes of death:

Diabetes mellitus: 2,577 people / 15.04% of total

Stroke: 2,474 / 14.44%

Coronary heart disease: 2,045 / 11.94%

Violence: 983 / 5.74%

HIV/AIDS: 874 / 5.10%

Prostate cancer: 820 / 4.79%

Hypertension: 717 / 4.19%

Influenza & pneumonia: 568 / 3.32%

Lung disease: 504 / 2.94%

Lung cancers: 430 / 2.51%

Healthcare system

The healthcare system in Jamaica consists of a public and a private sector. Facilities include 330 health centres, 24 public hospitals, the University Hospital of the West Indies, 10 private hospitals and 495 pharmacies. Public hospitals are categorised as A, B or C depending on the services and facilities offered. The 24 public hospitals provide approximately 5,000 beds in total, while the private hospitals provide around 200 beds. The government offers universal healthcare, including free prescription drugs, to all citizens and residents. However, the standard of public facilities can vary widely, and the number of facilities available also depends on location. For example, comprehensive emergency care is only available in the cities Kingston and Montego Bay. Overcrowding and long waiting lines are common problems, and underfunding has resulted in a scarcity of qualified healthcare professionals as well as drug supplies.  

The private sector, which consists of private hospitals and clinics, offers higher standards of care and more comfortable environments. Private healthcare and private health insurance are too expensive for the majority of the population, however. Most people who can afford private healthcare usually chose this over public services.