Jamaica lies in the Caribbean Sea in the west of Hispaniola and south of Cuba. With an area of 10, 990 square kilometers, the country is the third-largest island in the region. It has a population of about 2.9 million, making it one of the populated nations in the Americas.
Jamaica’s economy relies heavily on services, contributing 60% of the country’s GDP. Remittances, tourism, and exports of bauxite and alumina also generate revenue, although the bauxite /alumina industry was impacted by the economic downfall. Meanwhile, the tourism industry remained resilient which accounts for 10% of GDP. Jamaica’s economy is challenged by corruption, high crime and unemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of over 120%.
To reduce the annual debt, the Jamaica government initiated the Jamaica Debt Exchange or the JDX in 2010. In that same year, it signed a Standby Agreement with the IMF worth $1.27 billion. However, the government still lacks the ability to invest in infrastructure and social plans because of these debt servicing costs as well as the downturn of the global economy.
Since 1969, the country has been using the Jamaican dollar as its national currency with its first banknotes issued in 50 cents, 1, 2, and 10 dollar denominations. Common to their obverse designs is a portrait of a prominent Jamaican figure and the national emblem while their reverse depicts economic activities, lifestyle, and culture of Jamaica.
When the nation experienced inflation in 1980, the Bank of Jamaica introduced a set of notes in higher denominations in 50 and 100 dollars. In June 1994, a 500-dollar banknote was issued. The 2000-2004 issues of Jamaican dollar banknotes have a hummingbird and a star design for its watermark but this was replaced with the person featured on the note on the 2005-2009 issues.
Recent Jamaican dollar banknotes have similar designs as the previously issued notes but with Hybrid substrate and Giesecke & Devrient’s Laser Originated Optical Key. These banknotes are in 50, 100, 500, and 1000 dollars.