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Country Information


The Jamaican Dollar, ISO Code JMD, is the official currency of Jamaica. The Jamaican dollar is divided into 100 cents. As of May 2005, the exchange rate was 61.040 Jamaican dollars to the US dollar. The first money in Jamaica was Spanish copper coins called Maravedis. Later, other silver coins were implemented, as the British began to rely on Jamaica to a large extent. Spanish pesos, reales, and British pounds, were all at one time circulating in Jamaica. In 1839, Parliament passed a law that disallowed all currencies, except for British coinage, as legal tender. From 1904, the first government distributed and authorized banknotes were introduced. In 1960, the Bank of Jamaica was given the sole responsibility of producing coins and banknotes. In the late 60's, the currency was decimalized, introducing a currency that was divided into 100 cents, and worth 10 shillings.

Sovereign Ratings for Jamaican

Moody's Rating

B3, 02 Mar 2010

S&P Rating


What does it look like?

Political Structure

The Jamaican government is a constitutional parliamentary democracy. It has 14 parishes, and the Queen (Queen Elizabeth II since 1952) heads its executive branch. The Governor General, who appoints the cabinet on the advice of the prime minister, represents the Queen. There are no elections, because the monarch is hereditary. The Queen on the advice of the prime minister appoints the Governor General. The prime minister is usually, the majority leader, following an election. The legislative branch is a bicameral Parliament that includes the Senate (21 member body appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister and the leader of the opposing party) and the House of Representatives (60 member body elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms). The last election was held in October 2002, while the next election will be held in 2007. The Judicial branch includes the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeals. The governor general, on the recommendations of the prime minister, appoints judges.

Prominent Figures

Chief of State Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Dr. Patrick L. ALLEN (since 26 February 2009) Head of Government Prime Minister Bruce GOLDING (since 11 September 2007) Cabinet Cabinet is appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister Elections the monarch is hereditary; governor general is appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Representatives is appointed prime minister by the governor general; the deputy prime minister is recommended by the prime minister

Key Economic Factors

Jamaica relies heavily on services, which make up 70% of the GDP. The country gets most of its profits from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Economic letdowns in the United States led to a decline in tourism; however, 2003 saw huge increases. Despite this, Jamaica has been plagued by high interest rates, increased foreign competition, sliding exchange rate, widening trade deficit, and a growing internal debt (ratio of debt to the is close to 150%) that has caused problems for various government sectors, especially the financial center. Government fiscal regulation has helped to slow inflation; however, it has consequently helped to reduce growth (1.5% in 92 to .5% in 95). Jamaica has to depend upon investment in the private sector, maintaining a solid exchange rate, stabilizing the labor environment, and regulating the rest of the fiscal problems in the country.

Exchange Rates



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