General information on Jamaica

Jamaica is a proud nation characterised by a strong sense of cultural identity. Well-known figures such as Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey or sportsman Usain Bolt have made this laid-back Caribbean island popular all across the globe. However, the image that is often portrayed in the international media contrasts with widespread poverty, unemployment and high crime rates. SOS Children's Villages has been supporting the country's young people and children since the 1970s.

Economic problems mark the lives of the population


A young person in our care shows off his reggae dance moves (photo: SOS archives)

Jamaica is an island nation that forms part of the Greater Antilles. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, where it represents the third largest island after Cuba and Hispaniola. It was discovered by Columbus in 1494 and initially settled by the Spanish. The native Indians who once inhabited present-day Jamaica were gradually extinguished and replaced by African slaves.


Children use the computer lab to do research for their school homework (photo: SOS archives).

Thanks to substantial improvements in the field of child healthcare, Jamaica's under-five-mortality rate has dropped slightly since the 1990s. However, around 15 per cent of Jamaican children live in crippling poverty. Many of these children head households at an early age and grow up without parental support. Roughly 73,000 children on the island are orphans who have either lost one or both their parents.