Happy Jamaican Independence Day 2018: How the Caribbean island got its flag

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A report by Georgia Chambers for London’s Evening Standard.

Today Jamaica celebrates 56 years of independence from British rule.

Since 1962 – when Jamaica first gained independence – the island’s spirit, rhythm and passion for life has infected everything from music to the food. The cultural influence of this Caribbean gem is undeniable.

But how did Jamaica become independent and what’s the story behind their iconic yellow, black and green flag?

Here’s everything you need to know:

How did Jamaica become independent?

The drive for independence was largely born out of “homegrown” responses to economic, social, and political pressures on the island.

Jamaica had been a British colony since 1655, and eventually became a hub of sugar production during the slave trade.

After the Act of Emancipation went into effect in 1834, one of the colonial government’s main form of control over newly freed slaves was through a carefully constructed education system which was meant to prepare them for employment as estate workers.

During the 1930s, Jamaica experienced an economic depression, which led to the labour riots in 1938 over working conditions.

In 1938, Norman Manley formed the People’s National Party and would later become Jamaica’s first Prime Minister.

In 1961, a referendum was called to determine whether or not the people of Jamaica should remain part of the Federation.

The Jamaican people voted for Independence and on August 6, 1962, the British flag was lowered to make way for the new Jamaican flag.

What is the meaning behind the Jamaican flag?

The Jamaican flag is black and green with a yellow cross.

“The sun shineth, the land is green and the people are strong and creative” is the thinking behind the flag’s symbolism.

The black represents the strength and creativity of the people, gold signifies natural wealth and the beauty of sunlight, whilst green symbolises agricultural resources and hope.

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