The modern Caribbean state of Jamaica, born from the slave trade and colonial activities of European nations, is today a country of 2.8 million people that has been independent since 1962, first from the British Empire and then the Federation of the West Indies. The island's indigenous inhabitants were ultimately wiped out when the Spanish Empire conquered it in the sixteenth century. In 1655, the British Empire seized control, but maintained the slave trade that the Spanish began. Ultimately, most of the population would be the descendants of African slaves brought to work on the sugar, coffee and cocoa plantations. These people developed a distinctive creole language, popularly known as Patois, which is today spoken alongside English.