Jamaica is divided into three counties:

  • Surrey, 2,124 sq km (820 sq miles), the eastern county
  • Middlesex, 5,248 sq km (2,026 sq miles), the middle county
  • Cornwall, 4,053 sq km (1,565 sq miles), the western county

The counties are divided into fourteen parishes.

Surrey has four parishes:

  • Kingston (including Port Royal)
  • St. Andrew
  • St. Thomas
  • Portland

Middlesex has five parishes:

  • St. Catherine
  • St. Mary
  • Clarendon
  • St. Ann
  • Manchester

Cornwall has five parishes:

  • St. Elizabeth
  • Trelawny
  • St. James
  • Hanover
  • Westmoreland

According to the Revised Preliminary Figures from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, the population of Jamaica numbered 2,391,273 on April 7, 1991.


The parish and city of Kingston together cover area of over 25 sq km (10 sq miles) and a population of 100,637. It is the capital of Jamaica. Laid out as a city in 1693 the year after the destruction of Port Royal by earthquake, it became the capital in 1872.

Kingston is the capital of Jamaica because it is the centre of communications in the island with the outside world. The main roads from the north, the east and the west converge naturally on the Liguanea Plain on which the city is built. The railway has its main terminus in the city. Kingston's large sheltered harbour has made it possible for the city to be a major shipping for over three centuries. Esso Standard Oil Company built an oil refinery at the western end of the harbour. It was later purchased by the Government of Jamaica in 1982. The Norman Manley International Airport (formerly the Palisadoes International Airport), one of the two international airports in the island, is equipped to receive the most modern types of aircraft.

Kingston is a modern city built on a plain gently sloping upwards from the shores of the harbour northwards to the hills of St. Andrew. It is the seat of government and the centre of industry, commerce and culture for the whole island. The City of Kingston embraces the urban centres of St. Andrew, and is administered locally by the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC).

The city has numerous suburbs, and is steadily expanding northwards as a residential area, westwards and beyond, and eastwards as both residential and industrial districts, with special emphasis as both residential and industrial districts. There has been special emphasis on large residential developments across the harbour from Kingston.

As Kingston steadily expanded, New Kingston, an extensive commercial centre, was built on what had been the Knutsford Park Race Course, midway between Cross Roads and Half-Way-Tree. Many commercial high-rise buildings have been erected for commercial firms, banks and insurance companies. A shopping centre, a supermarket and a drive-in cinema were added. There are two modern high-rise hotels in the area, the Wyndham, Kingston, and the Pegasus, the latter leased to the Trust House Forte Ltd of Great Britain for management purposes. New Kingston continues to expand to meet the growing needs of business and commerce,

Kingston's parochial buildings used to be looked after by two public bodies, the Kingston General Commissioners and the Mayor and Councillors, but these have given place to a single authority, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation. The Chairman of the Council is also the Mayor of Kingston. The Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation came into being on May 1, 1933, when the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew were amalgamated in order to secure better management of the affairs of both. Since then Kingston and St. Andrew have been called the Corporate Area. The combined population of Kingston and St. Andrew is 644,119, of which 562,073 live in the metropolitan area, that is Kingston and urban St. Andrew.

Port Royal, formerly a separate parish but now part of Kingston, stands at the western end of the Palisadoes. The town has considerable historical and cultural significance.

The parish of St. Andrew has an area of 455 sq km (181 sq miles) and a population of 540,715. It lies north of Kingston and stretches into the Blue Mountain.

St. Andrew has no large towns. Cross Roads, Half-Way-Tree and Constant Spring are important commercial centres but may be regarded as suburbs of Kingston. West St. Andrew is a populous residential area. The remainder of the parish is given over to agriculture, its principal products being coffee, vegetables and ground provisions. South of Papine and seven miles north-east of Kingston is the University of the West Indies, occupying 260 hectares (640 acres) of the Liguanea Plain at the foot of Long Mountain. Nearby is the College of Arts, Science and Technology which has now become the University of Technology.

In St. Andrew, bordering on Western Kingston, there is an industrial estate established by government to encourage the movement of industrial plants from the business areas of Kingston and to facilitate the establishment of new industries with local and overseas capital. The Industrial Estate is over 120 hectares (300 acres) in size. Gypsum occurs in large quantities in eastern St. Andrew. The largest deposits are in the area of Bull Bay, within a mile and a half of the coast .

The Right Excellent George William Gordon (d.1865), one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, was born in this Parish.

The parish of St. Thomas is situated at the eastern end of the island, south of Portland, with the Blue Mountains forming its northern border. It has an area of 750 sq km (300 sq miles) and 85,079 inhabitants. Morant Bay which lies on the coast road from Kingston, is its capital, chief town and shipping port. It has a population of 9,762. The bay is an open roadstead where large vessels can anchor safely. Eleven kilometres (7 miles) east of Morant Bay is the town of Port Morant, which has a safe harbour with a deep-water pier on its eastern side at Bowden.

The town of Bath is famous for its sulphurous hot mineral spring. Other principal towns and villages are Seaforth, Yallahs, Golden Grove, Cedar Valley, Easington and Trinityville. An area of 175 sq km (70 sq miles) from Silver Hill Gap in north St. Andrew to the coast of St. Thomas is administered by the Yallahs Valley Land Authority. There are two sugar factories in the St. Thomas. The parish produces chiefly bananas. coffee, coconuts and sugar.

The Right Excellent Paul Bogle (d. 1865), one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, is believed to have been horn in this parish.

The parish of Portland, which lies north of St. Thomas, extends from the highest peaks of the Blue Mountains down to the north coast. It is noted for its fertile soil, beautiful scenery and abundant rainfall. Port Antonio is its chief town and capital with a population of 13,205. It has two fine harbours, the western one being sheltered h a small islet called Navy Island. The town is divided into Upper and Lower Titchfield. Upper Titchfield occupies the peninsula and is the residential area; Lower Titchfield extends along the shore where the commercial section and municipal buildings are situated. Port Antonio is regarded as the cradle of the tourist industry in Jamaica.

St. Margaret's Bay and Buff Bay, which lie on the railway line between Kingston and Port Antonio are thriving townships. Manchioneal lies on the northeastern coast and is important mainly for bananas and coconuts.

The chief product of Portland is the banana. It was in this parish in 1868 that the banana trade with the United States was first started. Coconuts are grown extensively. Nanny of the Maroons, one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, is believed to have been born in this Parish. Portland has an area of 820 sq km (328 sq miles) and a population of 70,067.


The parish of St. Catherine, which lies west of St. Andrew and south of St. Mary and St. Ann, is the largest parish in the island with an area of 1,260 sq km (483 sq miles), and a population of 383,317. Its capital is Spanish Town, originally built by the Spaniards who named it St. Jago de La Vega. The name was changed by the British troops when they invaded the island and claimed it for England. The town was the capital of Jamaica until 1872 when Kingston became the capital. Spanish Town is built on the Rio Cobre Plain and is situated where the old route from St. Ann's Bay joins the southern plains. The present population is 112,767.

Spanish Town, which has a Mayor, is of great historical significance. It contains what remains of the ancient government buildings, the former Court House, House of Assembly and the facade of the original King's House (the Governor's residence) in the square dedicated to Admiral Rodney. There is also an impressive statue of Rodney who saved Jamaica from invasion by the French. The archives of Jamaica and the Registrar General's Office are in Spanish Town.

A four-lane highway connects Spanish Town with Kingston. Portmore, connected to Kingston by a causeway across Kingston Harbour, has a population of 100,214 compared to 73,426 in 1982. The northern road from Spanish Town passes through the picturesque gorge of Bog Walk, by-passes the township of Linstead and then continues to the bauxite town of Ewarton at the foot of Mount Diablo. On the southern road from Spanish Town is the town of Old Harbour which has 17,883 people. On the coast five kilometres (3 miles) from Old Harbour is Old Harbour Bay, the largest fishing village in Jamaica. It has a fine harbour with one of the best deep-water piers in the island. The main generating power plant of the Jamaica Public Service is in Old Harbour Bay.

Port Esquivel, at which alumina is shipped from the island, Lluidas Vale, Troja and Glengoffe in the hills and Port Henderson and Passage Fort on the coast, are important areas. Many new industrial plants have been established in this Parish. The plains of St. Catherine, which provide numerous grazing pens, are largely given over to sugar and rice cultivation. The Rio Cobre Canal irrigates about 7,200 hectares (18,000 acres) of the St. Catherine Plains. The chief products of the parish are: sugar, rum, coffee, bananas, rice, citrus, tobacco and cocoa. Recently, fish farming has been introduced on an extensive scale. There are five sugar factories, an alumina plant at Ewarton, a citrus processing factory, a condensery and a pineapple-canning factory at Bog Walk (an important citrus area), a textile mill, a bagasse plant and a steel mill just outside Spanish Town. Bodles Agricultural Station is situated between Old Harbour and May Pen. The Soya Bean Processing Plant is situated between Old Harbour and May Pen.

The parish of St. Mary has an area of 634 sq km (254 sq miles) and some 109,386 inhabitants.

The capital of St. Mary is Port Maria, a town of 7,113 people. The Chairman of the Parish Council is the Mayor. Port Maria has a good harbour partially sheltered from the 'northers' by Cabaritta Isle which acts as a breakwater. Annotto Bay is on both the main road and the railway line between Kingston and Port Antonio. The town is intersected by three slow rivers which create swamps in the surrounding area. There is a sugar factory at Gray's Inn to the west of Annotto Bay.

Oracabessa, which has a small but secure harbour, was once important as a banana port. The township of Highgate is situated almost 13 kilometres (8 miles) from Port Maria on the road to Richmond. West of Port Maria, the area between Boscobel and Tower Isle has been developed into an important tourist resort.

The parish has a good variety of agricultural resources. The principal products are bananas, sugar, citrus, pimento, cocoa, coconuts and coffee. Copra is produced in fairly large quantities. The botanical gardens at Castleton are near the southern boundary of the parish. The principal rivers from east to west are the Dry River, the Wag Water, the Rio Nuevo and the White River.

The parish of Clarendon has an area of 1,167 sq km (467 sq miles). With a population which numbers 215,515, it is one of the most populous parishes in the island. The capital, May Pen, with a Mayor and a population of 49,928, is situated on the banks of the Rio Minho about 44 km (35 miles) from Kingston. Four Paths is on the main road 6.5 km (4 miles) west of May Pen. Frankfield is the centre of a large and flourishing agricultural district. It has a railway station, which is the terminus of a 38.5 km (24 mile) long branch from May Pen to Frankfield and is the most important centre for buying bananas in the parish. Chapelton is the principal town of northern Clarendon.

Spaldings is a thriving township with a healthy climate near the borders between Clarendon and Manchester. Alley is a small town on the banks of the Rio Minho; its economy depends almost entirely on the nearby sugar estates. The village of Lilac River stands on the banks of the river whose name it bears; the Milk River Bath with its health-giving mineral springs is on the west bank of the river, five km (3 miles) from the village.

Bauxite mining has been established in the parish by JAMALCO and ALCOA. JAMALCO is an enterprise owned by the Jamaican Government and the Aluminium Company of America (ALCOA).

The Bull Head Mountains, rising to a height of about 851 metres (2,800 ft) near the northern boundary of the parish, mark the centre of the island. Some of the island's tobacco is grown in Clarendon. The best sugar-cane cultivation may be seen in this parish, which produces the largest amount of sugar. May Pen is an important citrus packing centre. Copper-mining at Provost Keys and Retreat has been carried on intermittently. The Denbigh agricultural showground is a short distance from May Pen. The Bustamante Highway, connects May Pen to Mandeville.

The parish of St. Ann, called 'the Garden Parish of Jamaica' on account of its extreme beauty, has an area of 1,200 km (481 sq miles) and a population of 152,967. Bauxite and tourism play a major part in the economic life of the parish. The capital town is St. Ann's Bay which has a Mayor and a population of 11,066. Less than a mile west of the town is the site of the first capital of the island, Sevilla la Nueva founded by Juan de Esquivel, the first Spanish Governor of Jamaica, in 1509. A shrine in honour of Christopher Columbus has been erected near there. The world-famous Dunn's River Falls are located in this Parish.

Ocho Rios, about seven miles east of St. Ann's Bay is an important tourist resort. Its harbour affords good shelter for ships, and has fine deep-water piers for cruise ships and bauxite export. Its population in 1991 was 8,509. Discovery Bay, formerly called Dry Harbour, is the place where Columbus is reputed to have landed when he first anchored in Jamaica. It possesses a magnificent natural harbour. It is here that Port Rhoades has been built by Kaiser Company for the shipment of bauxite.

The road to Moneague in the interior passes through the celebrated Fern Gully. Brown's Town is the largest town in the interior of St. Ann with a population of 6,739. The township of Clarendon once derived its importance chiefly from the nearby bauxite mines. The agricultural products of the parish are chiefly bananas, pimento, sugar, coconuts and coffee. The soil is suitable for citrus and in the drier parts, sisal is cultivated. Pimento grows abundantly in the parish which is also noted for cattle rearing. The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey (d. 1940), one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, was born in St. Ann's Bay.

The parish of Manchester which lies between Clarendon and St. Elizabeth, has an area of 850 sq km (339 sq miles) and a population of 162,135. The parish offers a considerable variety of climate, vegetation and scenery. Mandeville, the capital and chief town of the parish, now has a Mayor. It is situated at an elevation of 626 metres (2,061 ft) and is readily reached from all parts of the island. The town is noted for its natural beauty and salubrious climate and is considered a fine health resort. It has a population of 30,485.

Christiana, 28 km (14 miles) north of Mandeville, is the second largest town of the parish. It is the centre of a large banana and ginger-growing district. The Christiana Land Authority assists agricultural development in the region. Irish potato is grown considerably in the Christiana area. Porus, on the plain near the eastern border of the parish, is a populous town on the railway line and the main road to the west.

Because the parish is extremely mountainous, there is no large-scale cultivation of crops such as sugar cane which require large tracts of flat land. Bananas, coffee and pimento are grown; the parish is noted for its oranges and ortaniques. There are no rivers in this parish and the southern districts often suffer drought.

The Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley (d. 1969), one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, was born in this parish.


The parish of St. Elizabeth, situated between Manchester and Westmoreland has an area of 1,185 sq km (474 sq miles) and a population of 144,384. Its capital and chief shipping port is Black River, a town of 3,427 people situated at the mouth of the river whose name it bears. The principal towns are Lacovia, Santa Cruz, Newmarket, Siloah, Malvern and Maggotty. On the northern boundary of the parish is Accompong, a Maroon settlement.

The northern and north-eastern section of the parish are mountainous. The central and southern sections form an extensive plain divided by the salubrious Santa Cruz Mountains. Although a large part of the lowlands is covered by morass, it provides some of the finest grazing land in the island. The Savannah of St. Elizabeth produce fine horses and mules.

Bauxite occurs in large deposits. Port Kaiser, near Alligator Pond, has a leading deep-water pier for bauxite export. A huge $124 million alumina plant has been constructed at Nain. There are two sugar factories in the parish and a tomato canning plant at Bull Savannah. Fishing is a major industry in the parish and rice cultivation has developed.

The parish of Trelawny has an area of 880 sq km (352 sq miles) and extends from the Cockpit Country to the north coast between St. Ann and St. James, with a population of 72,124. The capital is Falmouth, a well laid-out town with a population of 8,066 It has a large harbour, the entrance of which has been enlarged. The town has a constant supply of water from the Martha Brae river.

Clark's Town, ten miles from Falmouth, and Stewart Town, near the eastern border of the parish, are important centres of trade in produce from the interior. Rio Bueno has one of the deepest harbours in the island. Duncans, near the coast, and Albert Town and Ulster Spring in the interior, are places which have grown in importance. Troy, Wait-a-Bit and Warsop are thriving villages in the Cockpit Country.

The only river of importance in the parish is the Martha Brae. The Dornoch water supply, one of the most successful water schemes established in the island, furnishes a large area of the lowlands with a good and wholesome supply of water.

Rum and sugar are Trelawny's principal products. There are two sugar factories in the parish. Other products are pimento, ginger and dye woods. Some bananas are also grown.

The parish of St. James has an area of 600 sq km (240 sq miles) and 127,894 inhabitants. Its capital, Montego Bay, has been named a city. It has a population of 85,503 and its residential areas are rapidly expanding.

The bay is an open roadstead, opening to the west and protected by low hills from the trade winds. It is partially exposed to the 'northers' between November and March. An elaborate deep-water pier has been constructed on reclaimed land which took in the area of the Bogue Islands. The city may be roughly divided into two sections: the tourist area, occupying the northern section of the bay along the shore line, and the commercial and industrial sections which are second only to Kingston in size and volume of trade. The sea-bathing beach at Doctor's Cave is internationally famous.

Montego Bay is the most important centre of Jamaica's tourist industry, and many modern hotels have been erected on the coast. North of the town is the Sangster International Airport.

Cambridge is next in importance to Montego Bay. Ducketts, Seven Rivers and Chesterfield, which are in an area of considerable rainfall, have large estates in banana cultivation. Adelphi, Montpelier and Catadupa are important townships. The products of the parish are chiefly sugar, bananas and coffee

The Right Excellent Samuel Shape (d. 1833), one of Jamaica's Seven National Heroes. was born in this parish.

The parish of Hanover at the western end of the island, north of Westmoreland, is the smallest parish in the island with the exception of Kingston. Hanover is 442 sq km (177 sq miles) in area. It has 67,176 inhabitants. It is mountainous and well-watered parish, although its rivers are small. The highest point in the parish is the Dolphin's Head, which serves as a landmark for ships at sea. The beautiful beaches of Hanover offer considerable scope for the expansion of the tourist industry.

The capital town, Lucea. with a Mayor and population of 5,739 has a good harbour, narrow at the entrance but opening into a wide basin capable of receiving large vessels. It is almost completely landlocked. Green Island is a small shipping port. The village of Hopewell, about 24 km (15 miles) east of Lucea, is a major tourist resort.

Hanover is celebrated for its fine breeds of cattle. It produces chiefly bananas, ginger, sugar and rum, pimento, yams and arrowroot.

The Right Excellent Sir William Alexander Bustamante, (d. 1977), one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, was born in this parish. His birthplace at Blenheim has been converted into a National Shrine.

The parish of Westmoreland, the most westerly in Jamaica, has an area of 800 sq km (320 sq miles) and a population of 129,596.

Its capital and principal town is Savanna-la-Mar. with a population of 16,370. It is a shipping port and an important commercial centre. Little London, Petersfield, Bethel Town, Williamsfield and Darliston are the leading townships. Fishing is carried on at Bluefields. Little Bay, Negril, Cave and White House.

With its fertile soil and regular rainfall, Westmoreland is well suited for agriculture. It is watered by numerous rivers, chief of which are the Cabaritta, Roaring, Great, Negril and New Savannah. About 4,400 hectares (11,000 acres) of the parish were once covered with morass lands which provided pasture for cattle in the dry season. In the recent past, the Government spent millions of dollars draining the vast areas in the vicinity of Negril. Roads. water and other facilities have been put in to provide for extensive tourist and other development. Nearly a quarter of the parish consists of alluvial plains suited for sugar cane while the remainder consists of hills of moderate elevation.

Sugar is the chief industry of the parish, with the main centre at Frome where there is a large central sugar factory. Next to sugar and its by-product rum, is the cattle industry. Rice-growing is also important, especially on the marsh land at the Paul Island district. Other products of the parish are bananas, ginger, pimento, logwood and honey.

(Population Figures are taken from the April 7, 1991 Census as set out in the Revised Preliminary Figures put out by the Office of the Statistical Institute)