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Manchester is Jamaica's sixth-largest parish, much of its land located at relatively high altitudes with three mountain ranges: the May Day Mountains, the Don Figuerero Mountains, and the Carpenters Mountains, where the highest peak in the parish stands at 844 meters. Any approach to Mandeville, the parish capital, entails steep climbs, which fortunately feature some of Jamaica's most well-maintained roads.

Manchester has been at the center of Jamaica's bauxite industry, led by Jamalco (Alcoa-Jamaican government joint venture), which has massive mines around Mandeville. It also has processing facilities across the border in Clarendon, as well as in St. Elizabeth, where Port Kaiser along the coast west of Little Ochie is an important export terminal.

The parish was named by the Duke of Manchester, who served as Governor General 1813\1821, after his eldest son, William de Mandeville. The small city of Mandeville was at one time a British enclave where colonial government officials preferred to spend their summers in the high altitude's relatively cool climate.

The 1970s destroyed Mandeville as the gentry left when Manley came into power (they were scared off by his socialist lean). Bauxite has benefited the local economy and has created an income for skilled workers since the industry was established in the 1950s. The bauxite industry has trained and paid many Jamaicans while the lucky were educated at the Belair School, which remains one of Jamaica's best preparatory institutions.