Jamaica is about the size of Connecticut in the United States. Jamaica is one of the three islands in the Northern Caribbean forming the Greater Antilles. It is the largest English-speaking country/island in the Caribbean Sea measuring about 4,400 square miles (11,400 square kilometers). Jamaica lies 700 miles South East of Miami and 90 miles South of Cuba. She stretches 146 miles from East to West and varies between 22 and 51 miles from North to South. At sea level, temperatures average about 86 F year round, falling steadily with increasing altitude to about 60 F in the higher elevations.
It has rugged mountain ranges, with Blue Mountain Peak, the highest point, soaring 7,402 feet. It has miles of white beaches, bordered by the blue Caribbean Sea. It has 120 rivers flowing from the mountains to the coast. And it has great central plains, fertile agricultural lands, towering cliffs, magnificent waterfalls, dense tropical forests and eternal summer.
Christopher Columbus rediscovered Jamaica in May 1494 during his second voyage to the New World. During this time Arawak Indians inhabited the island. The original inhabitants of the island, the Caribbean (Taino) Indians have been on the island since the year 650- with the original name the Xaymaca. The Spaniards enslaved the Arawak and later brought Africans to the island as slaves. Jamaica thereafter became a neglected colony under the Spanish.
The British arrived in the island in 1509 and not long after invaded Jamaica in 1655 from the Spaniards. Jamaica was under the British rule during the 17th and 18th centuries and they brought African slaves in the island. Which the British continually fought the African slaves called the Maroons. They escaped into the hills when the British came. The Maroons eventually defeated the English and were granted self-government along with the lands they inhabited. In 1738 the British and Maroons signed a peace treaty.
In the late 1830's the plantation system collapsed with the abolition of slavery (1838). Most freed slaves becoming farmers. With slavery out of the picture, the English brought in the Indians and Chinese to help the mainly African population work the plantations. Over the years new people arrived from England, France, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Syria and Nepal. These produce a unique and exciting mixture of races, including Jews.
A peasant revolt occurred in 1865 called the Morant Bay Rebellion. After the revolt, Jamaica became a crown colony, governed by Britain. In the 1930's Jamaican labor leaders wanted more political power for the Jamaican people. By 1944, Britain gave Jamaica a new constitution that provided for some self -government. Full internal government was obtained in 1959, and in 1962 Jamaica became an independent county in the common wealth.
Because of our history we have several different religions such as Anglican (Episcopalian), Baptist, Jewish, Methodist, Moravian, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, United Church (Presbyterian and Congregational), and Rastafarian. (Rastafarians believe in the divinity of Haile Selassie, late Emperor of Ethiopia.)
Our past is reflected in our exotic and often spicy foods. Our national favorites include ackee (from Ghana) and saltfish with a side dish of roasted breadfruit. Curried goat with white rice, oh that is tempting and Escovetiched Fish served with bammy or harddough bread. An absolutely irresistible Pepper Pot soup with some callaloo and other green leafy vegetables. Oh I almost forget the spicy jerk pork and chicken, a Jamaican invention that's become a worldwide favorite. At the same time, in keeping with our history, Jamaican menus are very likely to include boeuf fondue, fettucine or fried wonton.
You're in luck. Our exotic fruits have names like paw paw, star apple, sour sop, sweetsop, ortanique and stinking toe. Hey, don't they sound a bit outlandish but in fact they are 'normal' fruits as papaya, pineapples, oranges, bananas, mangos and peaches.
The spicy flavour of Jamaica is captured in a number of exotic sauces and seasonings, relished by gourmets around the world. Brand names include Spices of Walker's Wood. Busha Browne. And Pickapeppa Sauce, bottled high in the Don Figuerero Mountains of Mandeville.
Hey I am forgetting the main export crops of the island, Blue Mountain Coffee from the famous Blue Moutain Peak, bananas, mangoes, citrus fruits, spices, sugarcane and cocoa.
While our official language is English, most Jamaicans speak a Creole patois (patwa)– a mixture of Elizabethan English and West African that's often hard to understand, but always absolutely charming. It is hard to understand because people tend to think that we deh spek too fast and dem nuh understand wha we a say. (If you understand all that then you can understand patois)
Jamaica is the island where reggae was born - created by the late, great Bob Marley, one of the island's blessed sons. The type of music from that era is termed reggae- now there are different varietals of this music- there is ska, crossover reggae, dub, rockers and dancehall reggae.
You can listen to artists such as Bob Marley, Shaggy, Prince Buster, Lee "Scratchy" Perry, Beenie Man… and the list goes on and on.
FAMOUS TOWNS AND CITIES OF JAMAICA
MONTEGO BAY (MoBay)
Montego Bay is the second largest city in Jamaica and has its own International airport. Montego Bay is the capital of St. James Parish. The population is over 70,000 Montego Bay's tourism dates back to 1924 when its first hotel was built. Today, the city boasts a wide range of hotels and guesthouses ranging from the super luxurious to the modest. The area has three championship golf courses, tennis facilities, numerous attractions, restaurants and entertainment spots. There is ample opportunity for water skiing, sailing, deep sea fishing, snorkeling and Scuba diving. The city of Montego Bay has excellent shopping, local crafts, famous brands of liquor, china, glassware, perfumes, and English cashmere's. It has a modern cruise ship pier and Freeport.
Cornwall Beach Party: Evening entertainment on the beach with dinner, music and Jamaican folklore show.
Doctor's Cave Beach: White sand, clear water beach believed to be fed by mineral springs.
Evening on the Great River: Canoe trip up torch-lit river. Dinner, open bar, music and folklore shows. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Greenwood Great House: Built by Elizabeth Browning family. Said to have ghosts in residence. Daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Rose Hall Great House: 1760 plantation where legend has it that Annie Palmer the White Witch ruled with cruelty and met a violet death. Daily from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.
OCHO RIOS (Ochee) & RUNAWAY BAY
Ocho Rios is in the middle of the island's long north coast. Like Montego Bay, Ocho Rios boasts a wide range of visitor accommodations. It's particularly noted for spectacular waterfalls, working Plantations, beaches, busy modern cruise ships and beautiful tropical gardens. Nowhere else on the island is there such a rich profusion of hibiscus and poinsettia.
At nearby Runaway Bay, slaves escaped from the island in canoes. In this town are the intriguing limestone Green Grotto Caves which lead to an underground lake. Further along the coast, the Seville Estate is the site of Sevilla Nueva, the first Spanish settlement in Jamaica. Runaway Bay is considered today as the newest resort area with hotels, restaurants and souvenirs.
Dunn's River Falls: 600 feet of gently terraced cascades for climbing. A feast on the beach every Wednesday at 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
Fern Gully: 4 mile road built in an old river bed that winds through a lush valley of ferns.
Jamaica Night on the White River: Canoe ride up a torch-lit river to the sounds of drums. Forklore show, dinner and open bar. Tuesday and Sunday 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
Prospect Plantation Tour: Daily tours of a working plantation in an open jitney ... bananas, sugar cane, coconuts and breadfruit. Tours daily.
Shaw Park Gardens: Tropical gardens with waterfall overlooking the town of Ocho Rios. Open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.
Interesting Attractions, Runaway Bay
Columbus Park: Open-air park exhibiting relics of Jamaican history. Landmark of where Columbus landed on Jamaica.
Chukka Cove Farm Ltd.: The newest and most complete equestrian facility in the Caribbean.
Circle "B" Plantation: Walking tour of a small working plantation. Lunch available.
Negril is at the western tip of the island and extends from Half Moon Bay in Hanover, to the Negril lighthouse in Westmoreland, enclosing seven miles of white sand beach. Calico Jack, the most notorious pirate in Jamaica's history was captured on the beach of Negril.
Negril has a carefree ambiance and a wide range of accommodations, ranging from modest Jamaican homes to all-inclusive resorts. By law, no building is higher than the tallest palm tree.
Booby Cay, the island off the northern end of the beach, was used in filming the south sea scenes in Walt Disney's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."
Rick's Cafe: World-famous restaurant and bar known for its spectacular Caribbean sunsets.
Seven Mile Beach: The longest white sand beach in Jamaica.
PATRICK EWING, Basketball Player, New York Knicks
GEN. COLIN POWELL, Army stuff…
HON. LOUISE BENNET-COVERLY, Folklore, Ambassador, Educator
DIANA KING, Singer
JIMMY CLIFF, Singer, Songwriter
SUPERCAT, Reggae Artist
BOB MARLEY, you can guess what he was noted for
NAOMI CAMPBELL, (Jamaican mother) Model
BUJU BANTON, Conscious Reggae Artiste
PRINCE BUSTER, Reggae Artist
MARCUS GARVEY, Printer, Visionary, Hero
LEE "SCRATCHY" PERRY, Dub Master
DONOVAN BAILEY, Athlete
GRACE JONES, Singer, Actress
BOUNTY KILLA, Reggae Singer
SANDRA DENTON "PEPA", Rapper of the group Salt 'n' Pepa, Actress
SHAGGY, Reggae Singer
HARRY BELAFONTE, American Folk Singer, Actor, Producer
DEVON WHITE, Baseball Player, LA Dodgers
RACHEL, Model, Host- Caribbean Rhythms
LENNOX LEWIS, Boxer
MADGE SINCLAIR, Actress, Trapper John, M.D.
TYSON BECKFORD, Super Model
PATRA, Dancehall Queen
HEAVY D, Rap Entertainer, Actor
HON. LOUISE BENNETT -COVERLY, Folklore, Ambassador, Educator
JIMMY CLIFF, Singer, Songwriter
CLAUDE McKAY, Poet
LOUIS SIMPSON, Teacher, American Poet, 1964 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
More to come…
Here are some snapshots of some of the Island's beautiful scenery.