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Jamaica's Rural Areas

Like all developing countries, the distinction between rural areas and urban areas is prominent. The difference in wage earnings among Jamaican people is alarming. Those who have a profession make around thirty times as much as those who do not. Nearly half of all Jamaicans make less than twenty-five dollars per week.

Jamaica is the 3rd largest island in the West Indies, at one-hundred-and-fifty miles across and fifty-two miles wide. Jamaica's subtropical weather doesn't create the extremes in the types of conditions found within the US. Jamaica is extremely beautiful with its many rivers and mountainous terrain.

There has been a tradition of migration from Jamaican rural areas since the nineteenth century. The waves of emigration to Panama, Costa Rica, Cuba, the United States and Britain during the first sixty years of the nineteenth century represent the route taken by the more privileged workers to escape rural poverty. The less privileged have moved from rural areas to Jamaica’s cities. The growth of unionism in the sugar fields and government schemes to redistribute lands proved unsuccessful in stopping the poor from being forced to move into urban areas.

Housing conditions for Jamaicans in some rural areas can be quite poor. City life for Jamaicans in these areas can be dificult at best. Jobs are difficult to come by and food and cleanw ater can be costly. Jamaicans living in the countryside fare slightly better in some ways, since they have easier access to reletively clean water and wild fruits and vegetables, however, less than a third of Jamaicans living in the countryside have access to conveniences such as electricity and clean running water.

Before Jamaica was granted indepandence from Britain in the 1960's, most of the cultivatalble land was owned by large companies or wealthy individuals. This made it very difficult for Jamaicans to live in the countryside, and forced many to live in squallor in slum-like conditions within the city. Since Jamaica's independence was granted, some lands have been returned to many native Jamaicans, however life in the countryside can still be a struggle, and is anything but idealic.

There are obvious differences between the rural and urban settings in Jamaica in which Rastafarians call home. Sometimes Jamaicans are forced to live in the city because that is where they are born and are stuck there. Other Jamaicans are born in the country and move to the city because of the opportunities that exist. Some Jamaicans are born and raised in the country and decide to stay there and live with nature. For some Jamaicans where they call home is their choice and for others it is not. The four examples in this paper show the Jamaicans having a choice as to whether they were going to live in the country or city.


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