Jamaica (pronounced /ˈdʒəˈmeɪkə/} is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, 234 kilometres (145 mi) in length and as much as 80 kilometres (50 mi) in width situated in the Caribbean Sea. It is about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 190 kilometres (120 mi) west of the island of Hispaniola, on which Haiti and the Dominican Republic are situated. Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs". Formerly a Spanish possession known as Santiago, it later became the British West Indies Crown colony of Jamaica. It is the third most populous anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada.
The Arawak and Taino indigenous people originating from South America settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494 there was already an established government with a Cacique or chief as the head who was supported by a group of nobles. In addition the island was divided into districts and regional chiefdoms. The Taino population was largely increasing when the Spanish arrived. Although some claim they became virtually extinct following contact with Europeans, others claim that they survived for a while. It has been proposed[by whom?] that the Taino bloodline has been absorbed into the population..The Jamaican National Heritage Trust is attempting to locate and document any evidence of the Taino/Arawaks.