Looking back: Jamaica in the last 50 years

Today is the official date celebrating 50 years of independence for Jamaica. The country has see many changes since that historic day in 1962, when the Union Jack flew for the last time and was replaced by the new Jamaican gold, green and black flag at midnight, 6 August. 


Here is a look back at some of the memorable events that have occurred since then: 

1962 – Jamaican Independence: Jamaica becomes independent within the British Commonwealth. Alexander Bustamante is elected Prime Minister. The George VI Memorial Park has its name officially changed to the National Heroes Park. 

After 99 years of being a Jamaican dependency, the Cayman Islands opt to remain a dependent of Britain. A Jamaica Coat of Arms is presented to Jack Rose, the Administrator of the Cayman Islands. Mr. Singh, a representative from Jamaica, expresses the hope that the close association which exists between the peoples of Cayman Islands and Jamaica will be strengthened in the future. 


1969 – Opening of Jamaica State Park, comprising of 772 acres. 


1972 – Michael Manley becomes prime minister following an impressive victory by the Peoples National Party in the general elections and pursues a policy of economic self-reliance.  


1980 – Edward Seaga becomes Prime Minister and the United States grants government substantial aid as the country distances itself from Cuba. 


1981 – Bob Marley dies. 

1988 – Jamaica is badly hit by Hurricane Gilbert causing billions of dollars worth of damage and killing over 40 people. 


1989 – Peoples National Party ousts Jamaican Labour Party in elections, returning Michael Manley as prime minister. Manley, however, chooses to continue Seaga’s policy course.  


1992 – Manley retires on health grounds and is succeeded by Percival J Patterson.  


2002 – Opening of Jamaica’s Emancipation Park. The park was created to be a symbol of Jamaica’s freedom to “Hope, to Excel and to Be.”  


2004 September – Hurricane Ivan hits, one of the most intense hurricanes in Jamaica’s recorded history. 

2006 February – Local government minister Portia Simpson Miller is elected as head of the ruling People’s National Party. She succeeds Patterson to become Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister in March.  


2007 September – Jamaica Labour Party wins general elections, Bruce Golding becomes Prime Minister.  


2011 December – Portia Simpson-Miller from the People’s National Party wins a snap general election.  


2012 January – On taking up office, Mrs. Simpson-Miller says that 50 years after Jamaica gained its independence from Britain; it is time for the country to break with the British monarchy and become a republic. 

Jamaica hairstyle hairdo

Ann Marie Tomlinson is celebrating Jamaica’s 50 years of independence with a unique hairstyle featuring Jamaican coinage as well as the Jamaican flag. Photo: Eugene Bonthuys

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