Prime Ministers of Jamaica
The Arawak and Taíno indigenous people, originating in South America, settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494, there were more than 200 villages ruled by caciques (chiefs of villages). The south coast of Jamaica was the most populated, especially around the area now known as Old Harbour. The Taino still inhabited Jamaica when the English took control of the island in 1655.
Spanish rule (1509–1655)
Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain after landing there in 1494.
The capital was moved to Spanish Town, then called St. Jago de la Vega, around 1534 (at present-day St. Catherine).
Jamaica had British rule from 1655–1962 and gain Independence in 1962.
Jamaica has traditionally had a two-party system, with power often alternating between the People’s National Party (PNP) and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). The party with current administrative and legislative power is the Jamaica Labour Party, with a one-seat parliamentary majority as of 2016.
Below are the nine Prime Ministers of Jamaica after Jamaica gain independence.
- Sir William Alexander Clarke Bustamante GBE PC (24 February 1884 – 6 August 1977) was a Jamaican politician and labour leader who in 1962 became the first prime minister of Jamaica. He founded the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union following the 1938 labour riots, and the Jamaican Labour Party in 1943. Bustamante is honoured in Jamaica with the title National Hero of Jamaica in recognition of his achievements. Elected August 6, 1962 and left office February 23, 1967
- Sir Donald Burns Sangster (26 October 1911 – 11 April 1967) was a Jamaican solicitor and an old boy of the prestigious Munro College in St. Elizabeth, and the second Prime Minister of Jamaica He became Acting Prime Minister in February 1964 when Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante became ill. He succeeded Bustamante as Prime Minister on 23 February 1967 only to die in office on 11 April 1967, after suffering a subarachnoid haemorrhage. His face appears on the Jamaican one hundred dollar banknote. He also has an airport in Jamaica named after him (Sangster International Airport (MBJ)).
- Hugh Lawson Shearer ON OJ PC (18 May 1923 – 5 July 2004) was a Jamaican politician and trade unionist, who served as the third Prime Minister of Jamaica, from 1967 to 1972.
- Michael Norman Manley ON OCC (10 December 1924 – 6 March 1997) was a Jamaican politician who served as the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1980 and from 1989 to 1992. Coming from a prosperous background, Manley was a democratic socialist.
- Edward Philip George Seaga ON, PC; born 28 May 1930) is a former Jamaican politician and statesman. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Jamaica, from 1980 to 1989, and the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party from 1974 to 2005. He served as leader of the opposition from 1974 to 1980, and again from 1989 until January 2005. His retirement from political life marked the end of Jamaica’s founding generation in active politics. He was the last serving politician to have entered public life before independence in 1962, as he was appointed to the Legislative Council (now the Senate) in 1959. Seaga is credited with building the financial and planning infrastructure of the country after independence, as well as developing its arts and crafts, and awareness of national heritage. As a record producer and record company owner, Seaga also played a major role in the development of the Jamaican music industry.
- Percival Noel James Patterson, ON, PC, QC (born 10 April 1935), is a former Jamaican politician who served as the sixth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1992 to 2006. He was the leader of the People’s National Party from 1992 to 2006 and as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Westmoreland South Eastern from 1970 to 1980 when he lost to the Jamaica Labour Party Euphemia Williams, and again from 1989 to 1993. Following a constituency reorganization, he served as the MP for Westmoreland Eastern from 1993 to 2006. He retired from all of these positions in March 2006. He was married to Shirley Field-Ridley (d. 1982) with whom he had two children, Richard and Sharon.
- Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller, ON, MP (born 12 December 1945), is a Jamaican politician. She served as Prime Minister of Jamaica from March 2006 to September 2007 and again from 5 January 2012 to 3 March 2016. She is the leader of the People’s National Party and the Leader of the Opposition, a position she previously occupied between September 2007 and January 2012. On 25 February 2016, the People’s National Party lost the general election to the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party. While serving as Prime Minister, Simpson-Miller retained the positions of Minister of Defence, Development, Information and Sports. She has also served as Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sport, Minister of Tourism and Sports and Minister of Local Government throughout her political career. Following her second election win in December 2011, when her party defeated the Jamaica Labour Party, she became the second individual since independence to have served non-consecutive terms as prime minister, the first having been Michael Manley.
- Orette Bruce Golding (born 5 December 1947) is a former Jamaican politician who served as eighth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 11 September 2007 to 23 October 2011. He is a member of the Jamaica Labour Party which he led from 2005 to his resignation in 2011.
- Andrew Michael Holness, ON, MP (born 22 July 1972) is a Jamaican politician who has been the Prime Minister of Jamaica since 3 March 2016, following the 25 February 2016 general elections. Holness previously served as Prime Minister from October 2011 to January 5, 2012. He succeeded Bruce Golding as Prime Minister and decided to go to the polls in the 29 December 2011 general elections in a bid to get his own mandate from the Jamaican electorate. He failed in that bid, however, losing badly to the Portia Simpson Miller-led People’s National Party, with the PNP gaining 42 seats to the JLP’s 21. Following that defeat, Holness served as Leader of the Opposition from January 2012 to March 2016, when he once again assumed the position of Prime Minister. Holness is the youngest person to become Prime Minister in Jamaica’s history, as well as the country’s ninth Prime Minister overall. He is the also first prime minister to be born post-Jamaican independence in 1962.