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Saint James JAMAICA

  • When the Spanish occupied Jamaica, Montego Bay was an export point for lard, which was obtained from wild hogs in the forests. In many of the Jamaica's early maps, Montego Bay was listed as "Bahia de Manteca" (Lard Bay). The parish was given the name "St James" in honour of King James II by Sir Thomas Modyford, the island's first English Governor. At the beginning of the English rule, the parish was one of the poorest; it had no towns, few inhabitants and little commerce, except for the exported lard. However, after the treaty with the Maroon in 1739, St James became one of the most important sugar producing parishes.

    Annually, more that 150 ships arrived in Montego Bay bringing slaves and supplies, and taking sugar. Commerce developed as wealthy merchants and planters erected many elaborate town houses. In 1773 Montego Bay had the only newspaper outside of Kingston - The Cornwall Chronicle.

  • A fire, in 1795 and again in 1811, destroyed many parts of Montego Bay. After being rebuilt, it was again destroyed in 1831 by a rebellion led by Sam Sharpe. This rebellion was as a result of the slave owner's reluctance to free the slaves, even after England proposed that they end slavery. Sam Sharpe, at first, tried to advocate passive resistance, but a group of slaves became violent and began setting fire to buildings and the surrounding plantations and cane fields. As a result of being the main planner of the rebellion, Sam Sharpe was hanged in the Montego Bay market place, which is today known as Sam Sharpe Square.
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  • After emancipation in 1834, the fortunes of the town and parish declined until the banana trade was promoted by J E Kerr and Co. This prompted the start of tourism in Jamaica. A Freeport was construcyed in the 1960s, and later, a cruise ship terminal was opened.

    Montego Bay was accorded city status on May 1, 1980. The Sangster International Airport, one of the two on the island, is the hub for the national airline, Air Jamaica.

    Tourism is the main source of employment in the parish; one in four persons are employed in tourism. Over 500,000 tourists annually visit St James, and this accounts for one-third of the revenue generated by tourism islandwide.

    St James is noted for its fine beaches. These include Greenwood, Rose Hall, Ironshore, Mahoe Bay, Walter Fletcher, Doctor's Cave, Cornwall Beach, Montego Freeport, and Spring Gardens jamaican flag