On 6 August, Jamaica celebrates its independence from the British Empire, which took place on that date in 1962.
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Jamaica was long inhabited by Arawak and Taino peoples, but the Spanish wiped out most of them within 50 years of making Jamaica a Spanish colony in the early 1500’s. After the local Indian labour was depleted in this way, the Spanish imported African slaves to take their place. However, Jamaica remained mostly an outlying military base for the Spanish rather than a “major” colony.
The British invaded Jamaica in 1655 and seized it from Spain. In all the confusion, large numbers of slaves escaped and fled to the forests and mountains of the interior, where they joined up with and intermarried with surviving Taino Indians. This was how the “Maroons” came to exist. It took two wars before raids by Maroons were finally put to an end by the British rulers.
Later, in 1834, slavery was abolished in the British Empire. However, it took decades more before black Jamaicans gained equal rights. After World War II, an independence movement sprang up, which culminated in the granting of independence by the British on 6 August, 1962.
On Independence Day, Jamaicans take part in huge street parades, don clothing coloured like the Jamaican flag, and put on all manner of cultural displays. The overall event is termed “Jamaica Festival”.