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Serving Jamaica, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands

The UNDP Multi Country office in Jamaica serves Jamaica, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands – all located within the north Caribbean. All territories are small island developing states which are vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change including natural hazards. Exposure to increasingly stronger and more frequent natural hazards negatively impacts infrastructure, employment, economic growth and standards of living. This vulnerability belies their high human development ranking, and in many cases, the rate of poverty is not as visible or recognized because of the high GDP and GNI per capita rates in four of the five nations. 

Browse country summaries and key human development data

JAMAICA

Sources: World Bank, Encyclopedia Britannica and Human Development Report

Jamaica is the largest island in the English-speaking Caribbean, and the most populated with 2.93 million people. Like its neighbors, Jamaica is vulnerable to natural disasters - such as hurricanes and flooding - and the effects of climate change. It is an upper middle-income economy impacted by low growth, high public debt, and exposure to external shocks.

Jamaica’s economy is mixed but increasingly based on services, notably tourism and finance. Since independence in 1962, the country has developed markedly but unevenly. Mining and manufacturing became more important to the economy in the latter part of the 20th century, while the export of agricultural commodities declined. Starting in the 1980s, the state reduced its role as a major player in the economy, partly because structural adjustment and economic liberalization favoured private enterprise as the engine of economic growth.

Finance, tourism, and other services are huge components of the island’s economy, providing about half of both the GDP and employment. Jamaica has attempted to increase its share of the Caribbean region’s burgeoning service sector by promoting information technologies and data processing, principally for North American and European companies.

Between 1990 and 2019, Jamaica's HDI value increased from 0.645 to 0.734, an increase of 13.8 percent.

Between 1990 and 2019, Jamaica's life expectancy at birth increased by 1.3 years, mean years of schooling increased by 3.8 years and expected years of schooling increased by 1.9 years. Jamaica's GNI per capita increased by about 30.0 percent between 1990 and 2019. Jamaica’s Multidimensional Poverty rate is 4.7% when last recorded.

2.96 M

Population

12.6%

Poverty Rate

9319 USD

GNI/Capita

74.48

Life Expectancy

The Bahamas

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Human Development Report and IADB

The Bahamas, archipelago and country are on the north-western edge of the West Indies. Formerly a British colony, The Bahamas became an independent country within the Commonwealth in 1973. Lying to the north of Cuba and Hispaniola, the archipelago comprises nearly 700 islands and cays, only about 30 of which are inhabited, and more than 2,000 low, barren rock formations. It stretches more than 500 miles (800 km) southeast-northwest between Grand Bahama Island, which has an area of 530 square miles (1,373 square km) and lies about 60 miles (100 km) off the south-eastern coast of the U.S. state of Florida, and Great Inagua Island, some 50 miles (80 km) from the eastern tip of Cuba.  

In spite of the concentration of the population in urban centres (especially Nassau and Freeport) that are devoted to tourism, the traditional pattern of small farming and fishing prevails in some villages, notably in the southeastern islands. The Bahamas has a predominantly market economy that is heavily dependent on tourism and international financial services.  

According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), extreme poverty in The Bahamas was in the range of 1 to 2 percent of the population and fell to 1.1 percent in 2014 (compared to 1.4 percent registered in 2011 and 2 percent recorded in 2012). Poverty levels also decreased, from 5.3 percent of the population in 2011 to 4.4 percent in 2014.

Although poverty levels are low compared to those of other countries in the Caribbean region, they are more than twice the poverty rate typically recorded in other high-income countries. Vulnerability declined more modestly, from 17.6 percent in 2011 to 16.7 percent in 2014. On the upper end of the income distribution, approximately 16 percent of the population was consistently living on more than US$62 dollars per day over the period of study. This is substantially higher than other high-income countries in the Caribbean.
Between 2000 and 2019, Bahamas's HDI value increased from 0.797 to 0.814, an increase of 2.1 percent.

Between 2000 and 2019, Bahamas's life expectancy at birth increased by 2.0 years, mean years of schooling increased by 0.5 years and expected years of schooling increased by 0.8 years. Bahamas's GNI per capita increased by about -16.4 percent between 2000 and 2019.

400,516

Population

4.4%

Poverty Rate

31 200

GNI/Capita

73.92

Life Expectancy

BERMUDA

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Country Reports.org

Bermuda is a self-governing British Overseas Territory with a democratic parliamentary government. The territory consists of seven main islands connected by bridges and more than 100 smaller islands, with a combined land area of approximately 53 km2. The territory is divided into nine parishes. The capital, Hamilton, is in Pembroke, the most densely populated parish. 

During the latest census, in 2016, the population was 63,917, slightly below that of the 2010 census, with 93 males to every 100 females. Fifty-three (53) per cent of the population identifies as black, followed by 31 per cent white and 9 per cent mixed. The Bermuda-born population made up 70 per cent of the total, with the United Kingdom and the United States each responsible 6 per cent. 79 per cent of the population had Bermudian citizenship. Life expectancy at birth in 2016 was 81.2 years (77.5 in men and 85.1 in women) and the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 1.3 in 2018. By the end of the century, the population is expected to have decreased to less than 35,000.

Bermuda has a predominantly market economy based on tourism and international finance. The gross national product (GNP) is growing more rapidly than the population, and the GNP per capita is one of the highest in the world. The territory has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, with a GDP per capita of USD 81,797 in purchasing power parity and expressed in constant 2017 international dollars in 2019, primarily due to a very large and active financial sector. Other important sectors include tourism, and construction. In 2019, tourism made up 18.7 per cent of the total economy.  Tourism and international financial services account for the major share of the GNP and employ virtually all the workforce directly or indirectly.  

61 825

Population

11%

Poverty Rate

86 450

GNI/Capita

81.87

Life Expectancy

Summary

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, MacroTrends, PAHO, Country Poverty Assessment 

Turks and Caicos Islands, overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the West Indies. It consists of two groups of islands lying on the southeastern periphery of The Bahamas, of which they form a physical part, and north of the island of Hispaniola. The islands include eight large cays and numerous smaller cays, islets, reefs, banks, and rocks. Cockburn Town, on Grand Turk, is the seat of government and main commercial centre.  

Turks and Caicos underwent rapid economic growth in the two decades between the mid-1980s and the early 21st century, which was reflected in an average annual increase of 8 percent in its gross domestic product (GDP) during that period. The major factor contributing to this burgeoning prosperity was the rise of tourism and offshore financial services, two sectors on which the economy now relies heavily. Growth was enabled by large foreign investment and commercial land development, much of which has taken place on Providenciales.

The 2012 Country Poverty Assessment found that the poverty rate was 22% for the population and 16% for households. Providenciales had a much lower rate of poverty (17% of the population and 12% of households) but because three-quarters of the territory’s population lives in Providenciales, that island concentrates the majority of poor persons (60%). In the islands of Middle Caicos, North Caicos, and South Caicos, the poverty rate was over 40%. The Poverty Assessment also showed that, by nationality, Haitian nationals had the highest poverty rates, at 35%, and comprised 56% of those who are characterized as poor. The majority of undocumented immigrants in the territory are reportedly Haitian nationals. Turks and Caicos Islands nationals had an 18% poverty rate and they comprised 34% of the poor population. Nationals of the Dominican Republic and Jamaica had poverty rates of 13% and 8%, respectively, and each made up 3% of the poor population.

42 953

Population

22%

Poverty Rate

30 700

GNI/Capita

80.6

Life Expectancy

CAYMAN ISLANDS  

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, PAHO, CCA

The Cayman Islands is a self-governing British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea that consists of three main islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Grand Cayman is home to the bulk of the population (67,676 people), while the Sister Islands were home to 2,238 people in 2019.

The territory has one of the highest levels of GDP per capita of any jurisdiction in the world, which stood at USD 88,432 per capita in current dollars in 2019 . On a per capita basis, economic growth has been mostly stagnant in constant prices after falling substantially as a result of the global financial crisis in 2007/08. By 2019, GDP per capita had been mostly constant for around ten years, after falling by a little over 10 per cent in two years. Two sectors are the key drivers to the economy of the Cayman Islands: financial services and tourism. They account for 43 per cent and 17 per cent of exports respectively in 2018, but were also directly responsible for 7.4 per cent and 12.4 per cent of employment, respectively
The chief occupations on the Cayman Islands are in clerical and service work and in the construction trades. Agriculture occupies only a small number of Caymanians, and most of the islands’ food must be imported. The main crops are citrus fruits and bananas, as well as mangoes, plantains, coconuts, sweet potatoes, yams, and tomatoes. Some livestock is raised, chiefly cattle and poultry. Turtles raised on a government-operated turtle farm provide food, shells, and leather.

Exports are few. The major imports are machinery and transport equipment, other manufactured items, fuels, and foods. The United States is the Caymans’ primary trading partner in both imports and exports; other major sources of imports are Jamaica, the United Kingdom, and Japan. The United Kingdom and Jamaica are the Cayman Islands’ other major export destinations.

69 656

Population

1.9%

Poverty Rate

Summary

59 380

GNI/ Capita

Summary

82.3

Life Expectancy

82.3

Life Expectancy