HURRY, Entries Close In

Is Jamaica an island or country?

is jamaican an island or country
Google Map Photo

Answered by Aneisha Dobson, Associate Writer

If you are asked this question, “Is Jamaican an island or a country?”, what would be your answer?

The first thing that would probably come to your mind is the Caribbean islands. Then your answer most likely will be, “Jamaica is an island!”

But wait, hold on… haven’t you heard Jamaica being referred to as a country as well?


So, is it an island, or a country?

This certainly is a peculiar question? I’m sure my geography friends will find it rather appealing to solve this mystery :-).

Well for starters, we must fully understand what is meant by a “country” and an “island”. Then, we need to highlight Jamaica’s unique characteristics and see whether they classify it as a “country” or an “island”?

Are you ready? Okay… let’s go!

What is an island?

An island is defined as a land mass, smaller than a continent, that is completely surrounded by water.

Thus, the main characteristics of an island, as identified in the definition, are:

  • Very small land mass
  • Surrounded by water

And note that there are two main types of islands:

  1. Continental islands – These islands were once connected to some continent, but they now lie on the continental shelf of a continent.
    These islands were formed due to a rising sea level causing parts of the continent to be cut off.

  2. Oceanic islands- Unlike Continental islands, these islands do not sit on continental shelves. Instead they rise to the surface from the floors of the ocean basins. Oceanic islands are usually of volcanic in origin.

From the facts above, does Jamaica qualify as an island?

Despite being the largest English speaking island in the Caribbean, compared to the rest of the world, Jamaica is considered to be rather small, having an area of only 10911 km2.

Additionally, Jamaica is nested in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Lastly, Jamaica is classified as an oceanic island, due to the fact that it does not sit on continental shelves and it is volcanic in origin.

So judging from the facts, Jamaica fits the criteria of being classified as an island. Don’t you agree?

But What is a country?

Firstly, you should know that another word for country is “State”. In fact, the word “State” is commonly used in political science due to the fact that the word “country” can be referred to as a rural area.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a country as “a nation with its own government occupying a particular territory”.

However, a country (or State) is truly defined by four main characteristics.

These four main characteristics are:

  1. Population - A country must have people within its borders. The amount of people in this population has little significance.

  2. Territory - A country must have an established territorial boundary. These territorial boundaries determine the country’s size and the area it has control over.

  3. Sovereignty - A country must have full and absolute power to impose laws and establish foreign policy. This gives the country the right to govern activities without interference.

  4. Government - A country must have an organized government. This government is responsible for making pertinent decisions which affect the lives of all the people living in the country.

Okay, now let’s see.

Firstly, Jamaica has a population. In fact, approximately, 2.881 million (2016) people live on this little island. Jamaica also has a territorial border, and as stated above, it has an area of 10911 km2.

In addition, Jamaica has a government that passes laws and legislations and it is independent in making decisions.

Well, Jamaica seems to satisfy the criteria of what constitutes a country.

But looking at both definitions, you will notice that Jamaica has elements of both a country and an island.

Then can it be that Jamaica is a combination of both?
Well, it’s true!

Jamaica is best defined as an, drum roll please :-) ...

...An island country

An island country is defined as a country whose territory comprises of one or more islands or parts of an island.

But, Jamaica isn’t the only one. The Caribbean Islands are also referred to as island countries.

Here is a video showing more information about island countries.

So there you go, question answered!

Remember knowledge is power. So please share this your new found knowledge with other Jamaica enthusiasts.



Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to JamaicaQuestions.

New! Talk To Me
Was the information helpful? Something needs changing? I welcome your feedback here.

Read More ...

Recommended For You ...

And, Before You Go!

Here (below) are some sweet deals on matching products at Amazon that you might have otherwise missed., by the way, is the internet's most reputable retailer and usually showcases only the best products that are related to your search. Be sure to check them out.

Note: If link does not show, please click here to be redirected to our page at

Great Articles You Might Have Missed

data-matched-content-rows-num="2" data-matched-content-columns-num="3"

Please help me get the message out by sharing this article with your friends on social media (links below). Thnx ;-)

Also connect with on Social Media: 
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

Thank You!

P.S. Didn't find exactly what you were looking for? Still need help?

Click Here to try our dependable and effective Site Search tool. It works!

Or, simply click here and here, to browse my library of over 500 questions and answers! Chances are someone already asked (and got an answer to) your question.

About The Author

wellesley gayle - booking link

A patriotic Jamaican who adores his culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' - since April 2007.  

To date, he serves over 8,300 unique readers / viewers per day.

His efforts have earned him featured positions in local publications, including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers, as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies and universities.

He invites you to join his friends list and stay updated on all the latest. You are also invited to join his exclusive patron community

Top Of Page
Wellesley Gayle

New Here?

I recommend you START HERE to enjoy the best of this website!

What's New?

Click Here to see the VERY latest articles and features.

Trending Now

Site Sponsors


Our Preferred Sponsors  & Friends (below)

(Our Sponsorship Policy)

Builders in Jamaica - Building Contractors
Recommended Building Contractors In Jamaica Photographers in Jamaica
Wedding Photographers
Cars For Sale In Jamaica
Cars For Sale


Click Here to Visit Our Sponsors' Page

Top Articles

What's New?

Below is a list of the very latest articles I posted on the site.

Recent Articles

  1. Jamaican Style Rice Porridge Recipe

    Aug 25, 19 02:53 PM

    Jamaican Style Rice Porridge Recipe || Jamaican Recipe Contest Entry #9 Ingredients Overnight White Rice (as Jamaicans say) or rice cooked the same

    Read More

  2. Jamaican-Styled Brunswick Tuna And Spaghetti Spicy Dish

    Aug 24, 19 02:14 PM

    Brunswick Tuna And Spaghetti Spicy Dish Recipe || Jamaican Recipe Contest Entry #8 Ingredients Brunswick Tuna Frankfurters Spaghetti Tomato Onion Escallion

    Read More

  3. Jamaican Sweet Potato Smoothie Recipe

    Aug 24, 19 01:18 PM

    Jamaican Sweet Potato Smoothie Recipe || Jamaican Recipe Contest Entry #7 Ingredients 1 cup cooked and cooled sweet potato 1.5 cup milk 3 tbs sugar a

    Read More

  4. Our Wedding and Holiday In Jamaica was a dream come true!

    Aug 22, 19 03:41 PM

    Hello, I have been to your country twice now! Once in Montego Bay and stayed at the RUI Hotel. We went to Bob Marley's resting place and his little house

    Read More

New!  I've created a Welcome Audio. Just click the Play button below to listen.

Please subscribe here to get my latest updates.