The Caribbean Island Of Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater
Antilles, 234 kilometres (145 mi) in length and as much as 80 kilometres (50 mi) in width
situated in the Caribbean Sea. It is about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 190
kilometres (120 mi) west of the island of Hispaniola, on which Haiti and the Dominican
Republic are situated. Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island
Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs".Formerly a Spanish
possession known as Santiago, it later became the British Crown colony of Jamaica. It is the
third most populous anglophone country in North America, after the United States and Canada.
It remains a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State.
The Arawak and Taino indigenous people originating from South America settled on the island
between 4000 and 1000 BC. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494 there were over 200 villages
ruled by chiefs or caciques, with the south coast of Jamaica being the most populated, especially
around what is now known as Old Harbour. The Tainos were still inhabiting Jamaica when the British
took control of the island. The Jamaican National Heritage Trust is attempting to locate and
document any evidence of the Taino/Arawaks.
Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain after landing there in 1494. Columbus'
probable landing point was Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. St. Ann's Bay was the "Saint
Gloria" of Columbus who first sighted Jamaica at this point. One mile west of St. Ann's Bay is the
site of the first Spanish settlement on the island, Sevilla, which was abandoned in 1554 because of
numerous pirate raids.
The capital was moved to Spanish Town, now located in the parish of St. Catherine, as early as
1534. It was then called "Villa de la Vega". Spanish Town has the oldest Cathedral in the British
colonies. The Spanish were forcibly evicted by the English at Ocho Rios in St. Ann. However, it was
not until 1655 that, at Tower Isle, the English took over the last Spanish fort in Jamaica. The
Spaniard Don Arnoldo de Yassi kept Tower Hill (the site of Tower Isle) from the English for five
years, before escaping to Cuba. The site of his departure was fittingly called "Runaway Bay", which
is also in St. Ann. The name of Montego Bay, the capital of the parish of St. James, was derived
from the Spanish name manteca bahía (or Bay of Lard) for the large quantity of boar used for the
The English Admiral William Penn (father of William Penn of Pennsylvania) and General Robert
Venables seized the island in 1655. As early as the 1670s, blacks formed a majority of the
population. During its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading
sugar-exporting, slave-dependent nations, producing more than 77,000 tons of sugar annually between
1820 and 1824. After the abolition of the slave trade (but not slavery itself) in 1807, the British
imported Indian and Chinese workers as indentured servants to supplement the labour pool.
Descendants of indentured servants of Asian and Chinese origin continue to reside in Jamaica
Economic deterioration continued into the mid-1980s, exacerbated by a number of factors; The
first and third largest alumina producers, Alpart and Alcoa, closed and there was a significant
reduction in production by the second largest producer, Alcan. In addition, tourism decreased and
Reynolds Jamaica Mines, Ltd. left the Jamaican industry.
Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean. The island is home to the Blue Mountains
inland and is surrounded by a narrow coastal plain. Most major towns and cities are located on the
coast. Chief towns and cities include the capital Kingston, Portmore, Spanish Town, Mandeville,
Ocho Ríos, Port Antonio, Negril, and Montego Bay. The Kingston Harbour is one of the largest
natural harbours in the world. There are several tourist attractions scattered across the country,
including Dunn's River Falls in St. Ann, YS Falls in St. Elizabeth, the Blue Lagoon in Portland,
and Port Royal, which was the site of an earthquake that helped form the island's Palisadoes.
Jamaica's Ethnic origins
According to the 2001 census, Jamaica's
population mainly consists of people of African descent (referring to those who have origins
mainly from Africa), comprising 80.5% of the demographics. Multiracial Jamaicans make up 7.2%
of the population, and "other or unknown" Jamaicans (including Indian, Chinese, British, Irish,
and German Jamaicans) make up 2.6% of the population. Immigration has been greatly rising from
China, Haiti, Cuba, Colombia, and other Latin American countries; 20,000 Latin Americans
currently reside in Jamaica. 7,000 Americans also reside in Jamaica.
The official language of Jamaica is English. Informally, Jamaican is more commonly spoken by a
majority of the population. Although British English or, "The Queen's English," is the most obvious
influence on Patois, the language includes words and syntax from various African languages (namely
Akan, Igbo, Wolof and Twi); [verification needed] other European languages (Spanish, Portuguese,
and French); Pre-Columbian Caribbean languages (Arawakan); and
Asian languages (Hindi, Hakka and Cantonese), evidence of historical admixture. In
general, Patois differs from English in pronunciation, grammar, nominal orthography and syntax,
having many intonations to indicate meaning and mood.
The Rastafari movement was founded in
Jamaica. This Back to Africa movement believes that Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was God incarnate,
the returned black messiah, come to take the lost Twelve Tribes of Israel back to live with him in
Holy Mount Zion in a world of perfect peace, love and harmony.
Bob Marley, a convert to the faith, spread the message of Rastafari to the world. There are now
estimated to be more than a million Rastafarians throughout the world. Though a small nation,
Jamaica is rich in culture and has a strong global presence. The musical genres reggae, ska, mento,
rocksteady, dub, and, more recently, dancehall and ragga all originated in the island's vibrant,
popular urban recording industry.
Jamaica also played an important role in the development of punk rock, through reggae and ska.
Reggae has also influenced American rap music, as they both share their roots as rhythmic, African
styles of music. Some rappers, such as The Notorious B.I.G. and Heavy D, are of Jamaican descent.
Internationally known reggae musician Bob Marley was born in Jamaica and is very respected
Many other internationally known artists were born in Jamaica including Lee "Scratch" Perry,
Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Big Youth, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Desmond Dekker, Beres Hammond,
Beenie Man, Shaggy, Tami Chynn, Tessanne Chin, Grace Jones, Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Buju Banton,
Sean Paul, I Wayne, Bounty Killer and many others. Famous band artist groups that came from Jamaica
include Black Uhuru, Third World Band, Inner Circle, Chalice Reggae Band, Culture, Fab Five and
Morgan Heritage. The genre jungle emerged from London's Jamaican diaspora. The birth of hip-hop in
New York also owed much to the city's Jamaican community.
The island is famous for its Jamaican jerk spice which forms a popular part of Jamaican cuisine.
Jamaica is also home to the world-renowned Red Stripe Beer and Jamaican Blue Mountain
Jamaica National symbols
* National Bird - Doctor Bird (Green-and-black Streamertail, Trochilus polytmus)
* National Flower - Lignum Vitae (Hibiscus elatus)
* National Tree - Blue Mahoe (Guaiacum officinale)
* National Fruit - Ackee
* National Motto - "Out of Many, One People." (Unity among many cultures and
The Jamaica National Flag and Coat of Arm
The Jamaican Flag is One of the most
popular national symbols of Jamaica, The Jamaica National Flag was first
raised on Independence Day, August 6, 1962. It signifies the birth of our
nation. The Flag brings to mind memories of past achievements and gives
inspiration towards further success. It is flown on many triumphant occasions,
showing the pride that Jamaicans have in their country and in the flag
The Jamaican Coat of
The Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many One People’, based on the
population’s multi-racial roots. The motto is represented on the Coat of Arms,
showing a male and female member of the Taino tribe standing on either side of a
shield which bears a red cross with five golden pineapples. The crest shows a
Jamaican crocodile mounted on the Royal Helmet of the British Monarchy and
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Jamaica has 14 parishes which are divided into 3 Counties as follows
Cornwall has 5 - St. Elizabeth, Trelawny, St.
James, Hanover and Westmoreland.
Middlesex has 5 - St. Catherine, St. Mary, Clarendon,
St. Ann and Manchester.
Surrey has 4 - Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Thomas and
Each parish has its own parish council which is given limited powers. Each parish has a capital
St. Elizabeth: Named in honour of
Elizabeth, wife of a former Governor. St. Elizabeth is known for its farming activities and is
called the “feeding basket” of Jamaica. It is Jamaica’s third largest parish. St. Elizabeth is a
major producer of bauxite. There are two sugar factories in the parish and a number of crops (among
them cassava, peas, pimento, tobacco). This parish is also the producer of livestock. The capital
town is Black River. ........Read more
Entry Regulations & Departure Tax
When you arrive in Jamaica, you'll be required to present a few documents before you may start
exploring the island, including an onward or return ticket and a valid passport.
Citizens of the United States and Canada are required to submit proof of citizenship, such as a
government-issued photo ID. A passport is strongly recommended, however, particularly for U.S.
residents, who will need to show a valid passport in order Coatto re-enter the country after their
stay in Jamaica or elsewhere in the Caribbean. This requirement applies to all travelers entering
or re-entering the U.S. so international visitors are advised to bring a passport, even if it is
not needed to enter Jamaica.
After all travelers, items are checked, officials in Jamaica will issue you a tourist card valid
for six months for $27(USD). When leaving the island, tourists must return the tourist cards and
pay a departure tax of $27(USD) in cash. Since some airlines include the departure tax in the price
of the ticket, look over what your airfare includes to determine if you can spend that last
$27(USD) on a souvenir or if the money will be used toward getting you home.
Visas are not required from citizens of Australian, British, Canadian, European Union, Japanese,
and U.S. nations. However, if you will be traveling to Jamaica on business, the application
requires the following materials: one passport-sized photo and valid passport, $25 fee plus $5 for
return postage expenses, completed application form, proof of sufficient funds, travel itinerary
and a letter from your institution or company for students and business professionals. Completing
the visa paperwork requires two working days. Consult the your nation's embassy or the Jamaican
embassy for further information on passport and visa requirements and stipulations.
Getting Married in Jamaica
Visitors can be married just 24 hours
after arriving in Jamaica providing prior application has been made for a marriage license.
Cost of a license is JA$4,000 . Peforming officers fees starts at US$100 depending on the
There are also non-denominational Jamaican Marriage Officers who can perform weddings at their
offices, in their homes or at places chosen by the couples, and can provide witnesses for the
Legal Wedding Requirements
Proof of citizenship - certified copy of birth certificate
* Parent's written consent if under 18
* Orginial certificate of divorce, if applicable
* Certified copy of death certificate for widow or widower
* Italian nationals must notify their embassy
* French Canadians need a notarized, translated English copy of all documents
and a photocopy of original documents in French.
Some hotels will make all the wedding arrangements for you. Special package prices include
performance of ceremony, government taxes, transportation costs, and expenses incurred plus any
other special request.
Image standing on a pristine white sandy beach in Jamaica at a resort that will organize your
wedding with your family and close friends. Envision after your wedding ceremony enjoying the
closeness and romance of your day with your spouse while listening to the sound of crashing waves
outside of your own private seaside room or honeymoon villa.
It can be grand wedding affair or an intimate one the choice is yours should you choose to get
married in Jamaica.
Parishes in Jamaica
Visiting Jamaica: 4 Reasons to Visit Jamaica's Smaller
Things To Do In Jamaica