The south coast of Jamaica was the most populated, especially around the area now known as Old Harbour. Ann's Bay was named "Saint Gloria" by Columbus, as the first sighting of the land. One and a half kilometres west of St. Ann's Bay is the site of the first Spanish settlement on the island, Sevilla , which was established in and abandoned around because it was deemed unhealthy.
Jago de la Vega, around at present-day St. The Irish in Jamaica also formed a large part of the island's early population, making up two-thirds of the white population on the island in the late 17th century, twice that of the English population.
They were brought in as indentured labourers and soldiers after the conquest of Jamaica by Cromwell's forces in The majority of Irish were transported by force as political prisoners of war from Ireland as a result of the ongoing Wars of the Three Kingdoms at the time.
Others were part of the Iberian colonisation of the New World, after overtly converting to Catholicism, as only Catholics were allowed in the Spanish colonies. By , Jamaica had become a refuge for Jews in the New World, also attracting those who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal.
An early group of Jews arrived in , soon after the son of Christopher Columbus settled on the island. Primarily working as merchants and traders, the Jewish community was forced to live a clandestine life, calling themselves "Portugals". After the British took over rule of Jamaica, the Jews decided the best defense against Spain's regaining control was to encourage making the colony a base for Caribbean pirates.
With the pirates installed in Port Royal , which became the largest city in the Caribbean, the Spanish would be deterred from attacking. The British leaders agreed with the viability of this strategy to forestall outside aggression. The Jamaican Maroons fought the British during the 18th century. Under treaties of and , the British agreed to stop trying to round them up in exchange for their leaving the colonial settlements alone, but serving if needed for military actions.
The name is still used today by modern Maroon descendants, who have certain rights and autonomy at the community of Accompong. During its first years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar -exporting, slave-dependent colonies, producing more than 77, tons of sugar annually between and After the abolition of the international slave trade in ,  the British began to "import" indentured servants to supplement the labour pool, as many freedmen resisted working on the plantations.
After slavery was abolished, workers recruited from India began arriving in , Chinese workers in ,  as many freedmen resisted working on the plantations. Many South Asian and Chinese descendants continue to reside in Jamaica today. Although the UK had outlawed the importation of slaves, some were still smuggled in from Spanish colonies and directly. While planning the abolition of slavery, the British Parliament passed laws to improve conditions for slaves. They banned the use of whips in the field and flogging of women; informed planters that slaves were to be allowed religious instruction, and required a free day during each week when slaves could sell their produce,  prohibiting Sunday markets to enable slaves to attend church.
Members then restricted to European-Jamaicans claimed that the slaves were content and objected to Parliament's interference in island affairs.
Slave owners feared possible revolts if conditions were lightened. Following a series of rebellions on the island and changing attitudes in Great Britain, the British government formally abolished slavery by an act, beginning in , with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in The population in was ,, of whom 15, were white, 5, free black; 40, 'coloured' or free people of color mixed race ; and , were slaves. These included the Castleton Botanical Gardens , developed in to replace the Bath Botanical Gardens created in which was subject to flooding.
It became a staple in island diets. Other gardens were the Cinchona Plantation , founded in , and the Hope Botanical Gardens founded in In , Kingston was designated as the island's capital.
After Kenya achieved independence, its government appointed him as Chief Justice and he moved there. Independence Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Jamaica in Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom.
Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in The optimism of the first decade was accompanied by a growing sense of inequality among many Afro-Jamaicans, and a concern that the benefits of growth were not being shared by the urban poor. They tried to implement more socially equitable policies in education and health, but the economy suffered under their leadership. Due to rising foreign and local debt, accompanied by large fiscal deficits, the government sought International Monetary Fund IMF financing from the United States and others.
Economic deterioration continued into the mids, exacerbated by a number of factors. The first and third largest alumina producers, Alpart and Alcoa , closed, and there was a significant reduction in production by the second-largest producer, Alcan.
Reynolds Jamaica Mines, Ltd. There was also a decline in tourism, which was important to the economy. Independence, however widely celebrated in Jamaica, has been questioned in the early 21st century.