- Jamaica’s first known inhabitants were the Tainos of the Arawak people and they settled around 600 AD. The Tainos were stone-age people who migrated to Jamaica from the Northern coast of South America.
2. Who were the first colonizers in Jamaica? When did they colonize? What is the treaty of Madrid?
- The first colonizers in Jamaica was the Spanish colony; it was colonized in 1655.The treaty of Madrid was a document signed by Ferdinand VI of Spain and John V of Portugal on January 13, 1750. The purpose of the document was to end conflict over a border dispute between the Spanish and Portuguese empires in South America. The treaty provided Spain with the control it sought over the River Plate and gave Portugal expansion of its base in Rio Grande, Brazil.
3. When did the first Africans arrive in Jamaica and with whom?
- The first Africans arrived in 1513 from the Iberian Peninsula after having been taken from West Africa by the Spanish and Portuguese. Africans were servants, cowboys, herders of cattle, pigs, and horses along with being hunters. Africans were later freed by the Spanish when the British captured Jamaica in 1655 which they immediately fled to the mountains to maintain their freedom and became known as “Maroons”.
4. Where did the majority of the Afro-Jamaicans come from?
- Afro-Jamaicans of the African ancestors came from West Africa. Enslaved Jamaicans tended to come from the Akan, Igbo, Fon, and Kongo people.
5. What was the Jamaicans major agricultural product?
- The Jamaicans had many agricultural products such as bananas, coffee, citrus, and yams; but the major agricultural product was sugarcane. The sugarcane plant was the main crop produced on the numerous plantations throughout the Caribbean through the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. These plantations produced 80-90% of the sugar consumed in Western Europe.
6. Who were the maroons? What was their status and how did they become? Who was Queen Nanny?
- The maroons were escaped slaves. These slaves ran away from their Spanish-owned plantations when the British captured the Caribbean island of Jamaica in 1655. The word maroon comes from the Spanish word cimarrones which meant mountaineers. The Africans fled to the mountains to maintain their freedom and formed independent communities as free men and women. Queen Nanny or nanny was a Jamaican national hero well known as the leader of the Jamaican maroons. In her lifetime and after, she became a symbol of unity and strength for her people…