Jamaica lies 90 miles south of Cuba and 120 miles west of Haiti.
Jamaica is 150 miles long and about the same size as the state of Connecticut.
Jamaica has 3,000,000 people, 700, 000 of whom live in the capital city, Kingston.
Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and the third most populous English speaking country in the Americas after the United States and Canada.
Jamaica’s motto, “Out of many one people,” is the same as that of the United States, and like the US, its people come from every corner of the globe.
Kingston harbor, the 7th largest natural harbor in the world, is 10 miles long and two miles wide.
Port Royal, located in Kingston harbor, was a haven for pirates until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692. Henry Morgan was the most notorious resident of Port Royal while at the height of its pirate fame.
The original inhabitants of Jamaica were the Taino and Arawak peoples. They called it Xaymaca which means “land of wood and water.” However, in 1494 Christopher Columbus began the Spanish occupation of the island which lasted until 1655 when the Spanish were driven out by the British. Jamaica gained its independence from Britain 307 years later in 1962.
Tourism is Jamaica’s largest industry. The main resorts are found on the north coast of the island facing the Caribbean Sea. Jamaica’s stunning, white sand beaches, with gentle waves and soft breezes are located in and around the towns of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril and Port Antonio. The capital, Kingston, lies on the south coast facing the turbulent Atlantic.
Jamaica is rippled with mountains. Just outside Kingston the majestic Blue Mountains begin, so-called because they are often shrouded in mist thanks to their abundant rainfall, up to 300 inches a year. The rainforests of the Blue Mountains are covered with spectacular, towering trees and more than 500 species of flowering plants. They are home to the world’s second largest butterfly.
The Blue Mountains range up to a mile and a half in height. All the land above one mile in elevation is set aside forever as a nature preserve. The world famous Blue Mountain coffee, said by many to be the best in the world (80% is exported to Japan), is cultivated at elevations from a half mile to a mile. These towering mountains are laced with wondrous hiking trails.
Bob Marley is perhaps the most famous Jamaican. He popularized the island’s Reggae music which began in Kingston in the 1960s after the rise of earlier music called ska and rock steady. But the original folk music of Jamaica is mento. Recall Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song, “Day Oh! Daylight come and me wan’ go home.” His album with that tune was the first million selling album in recording history.
Well, this was just a very brief glimpse of the history, people and culture of the wonderful Caribbean island of Jamaica. If you have any questions, no problem. Write us and we’ll get back to you. Until then. . .
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