For a large part of its post-independence life, Jamaica has been an economic conundrum: The official data showed for years a country that was hardly growing. However, on the ground there were always signs that Jamaica was not an economic wasteland.
That, in part, reflected huge economic inequalities, which left some with a great quality of life while some Jamaicans lived in poor and very difficult situations.
Those in greatest difficulty were in the rural areas and in the urban inner-city areas, especially near downtown Kingston. There, large inflows of people from the late 1950s/early 1960s squeezed themselves into a geographic space not ready for them in terms of available housing, and squatting and crowded living became the norm.