Jamaica's Timeline


The First Jamaicans

600 A.D. - 1494

The first population to inhabit Jamaica were the Taino Indians. These stone-age people migrated to the islands from the coasts of South America. Within 50 years of Spanish exploration, this civilization was wiped out.

Spanish Conquest

May 3, 1494 - 1510

Christopher Columbus was the first European to explore Jamaica and named it Santiago; which the natives referred to as "Xaymaca". To the people, it meant "Land of wood and water". Columbus lived on the island for a year looking for gold and when none was found the Spanish came to retrieve him.

Colonization of Jamaica

1510 - 1865

Claimed by Spanish crown thanks to expolorer Jaun de Equival. The Spanish set out for "Santiago" because of the exotic crops and food Colombus raved about.

British Seize Jamaica

1655 - 1833

Admiral William Penn led the navy to seize Jamaica from Spanish control. The United Kingdom influenced Jamaican culture, economy, and government until their liberation in 1833.

African Slaves

1655 - 1739

During the transition of Spanish to British rule, many African slaves took refuge in Jamaica. West Africans formerly owned by Spain initiated the 200 years slave resistance that occurred in Jamaica. Modern day West Africans still reside in Jamaica as a testament to their ancestor's tenacity.

The Maroon Treaty of 1739

March 1, 1739

This day in history marks when the British and the Maroons, the West African slaves in Jamaica, signed a peace treaty. This marked the end of conflicted between the two groups ("Embassy Of Jamaica,").

Western Liberation Uprising

January 1832

Sam Sharpe led the largest mass rebellion against slavery in 1832. This rebellion lasted 10 days as the British attempted to regain order. The rebellion began as a peaceful workers strike among the enslaved and evolved into the burning of houses and buildings. This was a major turning point in ending British slavery ("Embassy Of Jamaica,")

Morant Bay Rebellion

October 11, 1865

Preacher Paul Bogle led a march to the courthouse protesting injustices and extreme poverty but was halted by the militia. After 25 of the hundreds of peasants were killed, the protesters fought back against the armed forces and burnt down the courthouse ("Embassy Of Jamaica,").

New Constitution


Colonial office approved the new Jamaican Constitution in 1884. This restored elected representation is given up by the Assembly in 1866 and the Governor was given the power to over-rule the Legislative Council in matters of “paramount public importance” ("Embassy Of Jamaica,").

Jamaican Independence

August 6, 1962

This day marks the day Jamaica became an independent nation ("Embassy Of Jamaica,").