St. Catherine – Overview
St Catherine is bordered by St. Andrew in the east, Clarendon in the west, and by St. Mary and St. Ann in the north. It is ranked as Jamaica’s third largest parish with an area of 1,197.2 sq km, smaller only than St. Ann and St. Mary. It is one of the most highly populated parishes, with 18.5% of the country’s population.
The parish is home to the most populous residential community in the Caribbean, Portmore. Portmore has seen outstanding growth over the years. Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica show that the population in Portmore moved from 5,000 in 1970 to its most recent population figure of 159,974 (Census 2001 figures). There have been large increases in other towns as well. Old Harbour, Linstead, Bog Walk and Ewarton together account for 12.4% of the total population of the parish.
The Mandela Highway, a four-lane roadway connects Spanish Town with Kingston. Portmore is connected to Kingston by a section of Highway 2000, a 23-kilometre tolled motorway which connects Kingston, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, sections of Hanover, Westmoreland, Manchester and St Elizabeth. Spanish Town connects with Bog Walk via the picturesque Bog Walk Gorge. North of Bog Walk are the towns of Linstead (population 15,046 – Census 2011 figures) and Ewarton (population 10,699) and the towering Mount Diablo.
East of Spanish Town is the town of Old Harbour (population 23,610 – Census 2011 figures). The Bodles Agricultural Station is located on the outskirts of Old Harbour. Five kilometres (3 miles) from Old Harbour is lies Old Harbour Bay, the largest fishing village in Jamaica. The area has been upgraded recently. Alumina is shipped from Port Esquivel which is located near the border of St. Catherine and Clarendon.
Portmore became a municipality by an Act of Parliament on June 19, 2003, before which the area was administered by the St Catherine Parish Council. Municipal status allows for the mayor to be directly elected by the people.