St. Catherine was created in 1867 when four smaller parishes were joined together, and is named for Katherine (Catherine) queen of Charles II.
The parish, which is dominated by the St. Jago Plain in the south, has long been a site of human settlement. The pre-Columbian Taino lived there followed by the Spanish, who made their capital at St. Jago de la Vega (present day Spanish Town). Today, St. Catherine is the fourth largest and second most populous parish. It is also the most rapidly growing parish, with large manufacturing and agriculture industries. The Office of the Registrar General is still located in Spanish Town, as is the historic Emancipation Square.
Sugar cane production is an important activity in the parish. The St. Jago Plain provides the ideal conditions for the successful cultivation of the crop with its extensive flat lands drained by the Rio Cobre. Other crops grown include citrus, cocoa, and coffee. The Rio Cobre also provides hydroelectric power for Spanish Town, Linstead, Riversdale, Old Harbour and urban sections of Kingston and St Andrew.
Mineral deposits found in the parish include bauxite, copper, limestone, commercial marble, clay, sand, and gravel. Jamaica’s largest fishing beach, Old Harbour Bay, is located in the parish. Wetland areas like the Hellshire swamp, the Great Salt Pond and Hunts Bay/Dawkins Pond between Kingston and St Catherine also play an important role in the fishing industry.
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