Jamaica came under British control in 1655 when it was captured from the Spanish. The colony was mainly used to produce sugar, relying heavily on the work of African slaves until emancipation in 1838.
Over the next century, Britain invested in infrastructure, but was criticized for repression of black activists who rebelled over high food prices and poor treatment.
Jamaica moved toward independence in the 1940s, when Britain enacted policies to give its Caribbean colonies greater economic and political autonomy.
At midnight on Aug. 6, 1962, in the national stadium, the flag of the British empire was lowered for the final time and replaced by the gold, black and green Jamaican flag that flies today.
Since then, the island has become a hothouse for world-class athletes and musicians, even while struggling with intermittent political violence and other difficulties.
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