Structure and development of Kingston, Jamaica





Social aspects



Urbanization problems

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References and links


Urbanization problems

Unemployment and poverty

The rate of unemployment in Jamaica is 17.5%.  The Government does devote a considerable part of its budget to education, and the literacy rate above the age of 15 is 85%, however, there is little foreign investment into the economy due to high crime rates, congested road system, and the shortage of a skilled labor.

Within the labor force, where the total is 1,062,100, 41% is involved in services, 22.5% is involved in agriculture and 19% is involved in industry.

Most of the unemployed population within Kingston can be found in the squatter settlements and ghettos of the inner city.

Squatter settlemetns in Kingston, Jamaica

Within these communities, organizations such as KRC (Kingston Restoration Corporation), are involved in empowerment projects, which have goals of community upliftment.

An individual may be classified as living in poverty if he or she earns less than J$38,409.15 per year.  Of the total percentage of people living in poverty, 50.7% are male and 49.3% are females. This almost fifty-fifty cut has been the result of women at larger number completing higher levels of education whereas in most counties the females are more disadvantaged than the males.

Only 47% of the total percentage of people living below the poverty line is a part of the labor force (ages 15 – 64). In the Kingston Metropolitan area, 18.2% contribute to this percentage.

There is a high level of inequality in where the wealthiest 20% of the population controls 46% of the national consumption, while the poorest 20% controlled only 5.3% of the national consumption.  Thus the wealthiest 10% consumed more that 12.5 times of the poorest 10%.

Civil conflict in Kingston, Jamaica


Criminal activity

With inequalities such as this, it is not too hard to believe that Kingston’s reputation as a place of violence ranks third in the world. Gang violence and shootings occur regularly in inner-city areas of Kingston. Some inner-city neighborhoods are occasionally subject to curfews and police searches. Impromptu street protests sometimes occur, during which demonstrators often construct roadblocks or otherwise block the streets.

The Honorable Percival Patterson - Prime minist of Jamaica 1992-PresentThe Prime Minister of the Island, The Honorable Percival Patterson, aimed to curb violence with several crime fighting plans.  One of these plans include a “Crime Stop” operation where the communication with the public and the police is increased.  This program rewards persons who inform the police on criminal activity that leads to an arrest.

The need to decrease the number of guns smuggled and circulated into the country is also another angle that the authorities seek to deal with the issues of criminal activity in Jamaica.  The heightened security with smuggling of weapons from the USA is one way that the Government of Jamaica seeks to curb the influx of weapons, in return for increased efforts to help with drug trafficking in the states. These are a few of the ways that the Ministry of security seeks to end the violence in the countries capital.


Overcrowding is one of the other problems that the urban center of Jamaica faces.  With the importation of a high level of Japanese used cars (deportees) that are sold for relatively cheap, the number of cars on the roads greatly contribute to the damage of roadways, and the congestion within the city.  The improvement of public transportation is one means of decreasing the high volumes of traffic on the roads.

Since a major natural disaster by means of hurricane Gilbert in 1988, Kingston has had its share of flooding and such, but nothing related to the massive earthquakes of the early 1900s.