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The colonial period was marked by conflict between white absentee owners and local managers and merchants and African slave laborers.

After independence, there was conflict between plantation and industrial economic interests and those of small, peasant cultivators and landless laborers.

Plantation houses were built with stone and wood, and town houses typically were built with wood, often on a stone or cement foundation.

The black demographic category includes the descendants of African slaves, postslavery indentured laborers, and people of mixed ancestry.

The East Indians and Chinese arrived as indentured laborers. The official language is English, reflecting the British colonial heritage, but even in official contexts a number of creole dialects that reflect class, place, and social context are spoken. The national motto, which was adopted after independence from Great Britain in 1962, is "Out of many, one people." In the national flag, the two black triangles represent historical struggles and hardship, green triangles represent agricultural wealth and hope, and yellow cross-stripes represent sunshine and mineral resources. Jamaica was a Spanish colony from 1494 to 1655 and a British colony from 1655 to 1962.

The Spanish wrote the name used by the native Taino, "Yamaye," as "Xaymaca." The Taino word is purported to mean "many springs." The abbreviated name, "Ja" and the Rastafarian term "Jamdung" (Jamdown) are used by some residents, along with "Yaahd" (Yard), used mainly by Jamaicans abroad, in reference to the deterritorialization of the national culture. Jamaica, one of the Greater Antilles, is situated south of Cuba.

In 1872, Kingston, with a quarter of the population, became the capital. The population is 90 percent black, 1 percent East Indian, and 7 percent mixed, with a few whites and Chinese.

Jamaica has never experienced entrenched ethnic conflict between blacks and Indians or Chinese.

Settlement patterns were initiated by plantation activities.

As soon as the Chinese finished their indentured contracts, they established small businesses.

East Indians have been moving gradually from agricultural labor into mercantile and professional activities.

Jews came as indentured servants to help establish the sugar industry and gradually became part of the merchant class.

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