The island of Jamaica is found in the Caribbean Sea and is 146 miles long and 50 miles wide. This tropical island makes up part of the arc of islands that stretch from Cuba to Trinidad and Tobago.
The first settlers in Jamaica were the Arawaks. These inhabitants for the first seven or eight centuries were driven from their home and enslaved by Spanish invaders around 1510. Due to being overworked and sicknesses brought to the island by the Spanish invaders, the Arawaks were completely destroyed. By 1515, there were so few Arawaks left the Spanish began to import African slaves.
In 1655, the English took over the island, followed by a British takeover, which was made possible by the aid of pirates who were privately being supported by their government. The British government officially received possession when they made a treaty with Spain in 1674.
Sugar and slavery were two main markets of commodity for this island until the slave trade was abolished in 1807. Emancipation for the Jamaican slaves only came after another rebellion in 1838. In 1958, Jamaica joined the West Indies Federation and in 1962, full independence was granted.
With this history as a backdrop, this unit study will help students explore the economy, culture, and traditions that define Jamaica through educational projects and activities. Each subject will have an accompanying activity to help your child dive into learning about this island and its people.