After a long period of British rule, Jamaica became independent on August 6, 1962. This meant that Jamaicans achieved full self-government. The last Governor of Jamaica became the first Governor General of Jamaica. Jamaica became a nation and was now free to elect her own political leaders. Sir Alexander Bustamante became the Prime Minister of Independent Jamaica. The British flag, the Union Jack, was lowered and the new black, gold and green flag symbolising Jamaica’s independence was hoisted.
Independence Day is a public holiday celebrated on August 6. We remember that on August 6, 1962 Jamaica gained the right to make decisions as a nation. This means that we are fee to choose our own Prime Minister and leaders to represent us; they make decisions on behalf of the Jamaican people.
Independence for other Caribbean Countries
At the same time that Jamaica was struggling for independence from Britain, other Caribbean nations were struggling for Independence from their colonial governments.
In Caribbean territories people were unhappy about poverty and their lack of rights. They formed their own political organisations and struggles with their European rulers for the right to take charge of their own affairs. Independence means gaining the right to rule one’s own country or nation.
Independent and dependent countries
Today countries of the Caribbean region can be grouped according to how they are governed. Independent nations choose their own head of state and have their own national symbols. However, some small territories have chosen to continue to be ruled by another country. They are called dependent territories as they depend on another country for leadership.
Did you know?
Caribbean countries that were once part of the British Empire whose people speak English and share a common historical background, belong to an organization of 52 independent countries known as the Commonwealth. The Queen of the UK is the head of the commonwealth.
The Heads of Government of these commonwealth countries meet every two years. They promote values such as human rights and try to achieve goals such as peace among people of the world and better living conditions for their people.