01.01.02. Key geographical and demographic characteristics | Jamaica

01.01.02. Key geographical and demographic characteristics | Jamaica

23 Sep 2022

Jamaica has a total surface area of 11,424 km2 with a population density of 271 persons per square kilometre of land area (Inter-American Culture and Development Foundation, 2011). Jamaica is located 150 km south of  Cuba and 160 km west of Haiti. Volcanic in origin, Jamaica has three landforms: the eastern mountains, the central valleys, and plateaus, and a narrow, discontinuous coastal plain where agricultural production is concentrated. The Blue Mountain Peak, the island’s highest point, has an elevation of 2,256m and is famous for its coffee.

The island is divided into three counties – Cornwall, Middlesex, and Surrey – which are subdivided into 14 parishes (JIS, 2018). Each parish has a capital town, which is typically the centre of commerce. Two parish capital towns, Montego Bay in St. James, and Kingston, have city status. Kingston, located on the island’s southeast end, is Jamaica’s capital (JIS, 2018).

Jamaica’s 2011 population census estimated that approximately 54.0% of the population resides in urban areas, reflecting a growth in urban population rates of 7.2% compared to the previous census conducted in 2001. As of 2018, the largest proportion of the population lived in the Kingston and St. Andrew parishes (24.6%), with St. Catherine (the capital of which is Spanish Town) ranking second (19.0%) (STATIN, 2018). Recently regarded as an archipelagic state by the Maritime Areas Act, Jamaica’s territory extends beyond its coastline to comprise some 66 islands, rocks, and cays (JIS, 2018).


Inter-American Culture and Development Foundation. (2011). Atlas of Cultural Heritage and Infrastructure of the Americas: Jamaica. http://www.jnht.com/documents/atlas_jm.pdf

Jamaica Information Service (JIS). (2018). Parish Profiles, Overview of Jamaica. Available from: https://jis.gov.jm/information/parish-profiles/

Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN). (2018). End of Year Population by Parish. https://statinja.gov.jm/Demo_SocialStats/EndofYearPopulationbyParish.aspx