This post is also available on: Deutsch
Jamaica- the pearl of the caribbean
Jamaica has gone through a very turbulent history through the centuries. Many things changed again and again. Rarely it did improve the living conditions of the inhabitants until the island finally became independent on 06.08.1962. Since then a lot has changed again of course. But let’s also take a quick look at the general info like the history and weather of Jamaica.
Jamaica is an island country in the Caribbean. It is the third largest island in the Greater Antilles and has an area of about 10,900 square kilometers. The island is located about 145 kilometers south of Cuba and 191 kilometers west of Hispaniola. The interior of the island is dominated by mountains such as the Don Figuerero, Santa Cruz and May Day Mountains in the west, the Dry Harbour Mountains in the center,vthe John Crow Mountains and the Blue Mountains. There are several alternative names for Jamaica. The indigenous people call it Xaymaca in their language, which means “land of wood and water” or “land of springs”.
Jamaicans refer to the island as “Rock” hence slang names like “Jamrock.” The island has two major cities: The capital Kingston on the south coast and the business center Montego Bay as one of the main tourist destinations is located on the north coast. Kingston Harbor is the seventh largest natural harbor in the world which contributed to the city’s designation as the capital in 1872.
The island has five national symbols:
The national bird, Pennant Tail (Trochilus polytmus), also called ‘Doctor Bird’, The national flower Tree of Life (Guiacum officinale), the national tree Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus elatus), the national fruit locally known as Ackee (Blighia sapida) and finally the national motto ‘Out of Many One People’.
The majority of Jamaicans are of African descent from sub-Saharan countries. However there are also a significant number of minorities of European, East Asian (especially Chinese), Indian, Lebanese, and mixed descent. Even then it is unusual for Jamaicans to identify themselves by race as is the case in other countries such as the United States. Instead most Jamaicans identify as “Jamaican,” regardless of ethnicity. On the other hand due to the high rate of emigration for professional reasons since the 1960s, there is a majority of Jamaican diaspora in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. As such the country has a global influence due to the emergence of the Rastafarian religion, music genres such as ska and reggae, and its importance in international sports, particularly cricket, sprinting and athletics. More information about climate, infrastructure etc. can be found further down on this page.
Jamaica is not only a beautiful island with a great landscape and good weather. The history of the island is also exciting and offers much to discover for anyone interested.
The Maroons are an integral part of Jamaican history and not insignificant in the liberation of Jamaica are often forgotten. Accompong Town is not far from us.
The South Coast
Depending on the locality Jamaica is more or less developed for tourism. The south coast here is one of the original areas away from mass tourism – the ‘Real Jamaica’!
The pirates of Jamaica
Everyone knows “Port Royal” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Did you know that this legendary buccaneer port from the movie is based on the port off Kingston in Jamaica?
Art & Culture
Jamaica- the island of artists. Here you can find information from the musician to the painter even the woodcarver and draftsman. Culture and crafts are closely linked and in Jamaica a colorful mix of different regions of the world.
Everyone associates Jamaica with music especially reggae which was taken out into the world by artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. But Jamaica has much more music to offer Jamaica is the island of music
Video – Tips
There are countless vacation films as well as documentaries about Jamaica. We have listed a few for you here so that you can quickly get an overview.
To have a carefree stay and an uncomplicated journey to Jamaica inform yourself about the applicable rules. If you have any questions we will be happy to help.
Events in Jamaica
There are countless events and happenings throughout the year in Jamaica. From the small party in the rum bar around the corner to the international festival. You’ll find some worth seeing here but events are a dime a dozen.
Since we always get requests in this regard whether we know a good forum where you can exchange and inform. We are working on it and will present a German/ Engish forum as soon as possible.
More info about Jamaica
Jamaica is a middle-income country. The country’s economy is mainly dependent on tourism as the island averages 2.5- 4 (2019) million tourists annually. The island is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The Governor General is nominated by the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the entire Cabinet and then officially appointed by the Monarch. The country is divided into 14 so-called ‘Parishes’ (districts) which are grouped into three historical counties. However these districts have no administrative significance.
Climate and wildlife in Jamaica
The climate of the island is tropical with hot and humid weather although the higher inland regions are more temperate. Some areas on the south coast such as the Liguanea Plains and the Pedro Plains are relatively dry rain shadow areas. The island is located in the hurricane belt of the Atlantic Ocean and is therefore occasionally hit by severe storms. In 1951 and 1988 the island was hit by hurricanes Charlie and Gilbert, respectively which caused great damage and loss of life. In the 2000s Hurricanes Ivan, Dean and Gustav also caused severe storms on the island.
The climate of the island favors a diverse ecosystem that is home to numerous plants and animals. Over the years the flora of the island has changed a lot. Before the Spanish invasion the island was heavily forested. However these trees were cut down for the construction of ships and supplies and to create land for intensive agricultural cultivation. During this period many plants such as sugar cane, bananas and citrus trees were introduced to the island. Currently there are over 3,000 species of natural flowering plants on the island. Thousands of non-flowering plants and over 20 botanical gardens some of which are several hundred years old. Bamboo, ferns, ebony, mahogany and rosewood are mined in the rain-fed areas of the island.
The island is also home to a diverse wildlife. As in most oceanic islands bat species make up a large proportion of the terrestrial mammals. The only extant native mammal that is not a bat is the Jamaican piglet rat (Geocapromys brownie), also known as coney. Introduced mammals such as the wild boar and small Asian mongoose and more recently deer are also common. Jamaica is also home to about 50 species of reptiles of which the American crocodile is the largest. However it is found only in the Black River and some other areas. Lizards such as anolis, iguanas, and snakes such as the racer snake and the Jamaica boa (the largest snake on the island) are common in areas such as Cockpit Country. None of the eight snake species found in Jamaica are venomous.
Jamaica is a bilingual country with two main languages- English and Jamaican Patois. English is the official language used in all public institutions such as the government, the legal system and the education system. Jamaican patois, an English-based creole is the main language spoken. Despite the similarities between the two languages there are obvious differences such as language register. A 2007 survey by the Jamaican Language Unit found that 17.1% of the Jamaican population is monolingual Jamaican Standard English, 36.5% is monolingual Patois, and 46.4% is bilingual. Only recently has the Jamaican education system begun to offer formal instruction in patois although JSE is maintained as the official language of instruction.
Jamaica is a majority Christian country. It holds the Guinness World Record for the most churches in one country. About 70% of Jamaica’s population is Protestant while 2% is Roman Catholic. The largest Protestant denominations include the Church of God, Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Anglicans, United Church, Methodists, Mennonites, and Plymouth Brethren. Bedwardism is another form of Christianity native to the island considered by some to be a faith in its own right.
Christianity gained importance on the island after the British invasion. The Rastafarian movement is also a popular religion on the island. A 2011 census showed that the movement has 29,026 adherents of whom 25,325 are men and 3,701 are women. The faith which emerged in the 1930s has its roots in Christianity but is strongly Afrocentric. He reveres figures such as Marcus Garvey, a fighter for independence and freedom of Jamaica, and Haile Selassie, the former emperor of Ethiopia. Since then the religion has spread worldwide especially in areas with a large black or African diaspora. Other African-influenced religions such as Kumina, Convince, Myal and Obeah are also practiced on the island.
Although Jamaica is a small country its culture is very present worldwide especially through its music. His genres such as ska, mento and reggae are still popular around the world and have influenced numerous genres such as punk rock. If you are interested in music you can find more info here. More about music…
The island is famous for its Jamaican jerk seasoning, curries and rice and red beans which are an integral part of Jamaican cuisine. Jamaica is also the home of Red Stripe beer and Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. We will elaborate on this in another post.
Sports are an integral part of Jamaica and athletes perform at their best. One of the most popular sports in Jamaica is cricket but the country is best known for its exemplary performance in athletics. Jamaicans begin athletics at a very young age and most high schools maintain rigorous athletics programs with top athletes participating in national competitions and international competitions. Young athletes are mentioned in the press and achieve national fame even before they enter the international athletics stage. Over the years the country has produced world-class sprinters like Usain Bolt who is the world record holder in the men’s 100m and women’s 200m. In 2021 Elaine Thompson Elaine-Herah set an Olympic track record.
Jamaica has a well-connected infrastructure consisting of roads, railways and air transport.
Since the late 1990s the Jamaican government has been working with private investors to implement infrastructure projects such as building highways that provide quick access to various parts of the island. The road network of the island consists of almost 21,0000 kilometers of which more than 15,000 kilometers are paved.
The railroad no longer has the importance in Jamaica that it once had. They have been largely replaced by the road network as the main means of transportation on the island. Although there are about 272 kilometers of railroad in Jamaica, only 57 kilometers of it are in operation.
The island has three international airports: The Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, the Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel and the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The third is the largest and busiest airport on the island. All three airports have modern terminals, long runways and the navigation equipment required for modern air traffic. In addition there are other local commuter airports that provide internal transportation on the island such as Tinson Pen, Port Antonio and Negril. Rural centers within the island serve as private airstrips on sugar plantations.
Ports, shipping and lighthouses
Jamaica experiences a brisk traffic of shipping containers. This is due to its location on the Caribbean Sea and its proximity to major markets in North America and emerging markets in Latin America. Over the years the capacity of the container terminal at the Port of Kingston has been expanded to accommodate the growth of recent years and projected growth. Montego Freeport in Montego Bay also handles a wide range of goods. There are several other ports on the island. To support shipping Jamaica has nine lighthouses maintained by the Port Authority of Jamaica.
The island depends on oil imports to meet its national needs. Several test wells were drilled to explore for oil, but unfortunately no commercially viable quantities were found. The majority of oil imports come from Mexico and Venezuela. Most of the island’s electrical power is generated by diesel generators located in Old Harbour. There are also other smaller power plants that support the island’s power grid. But electricity is also generated with hydropower and renewable energy sources and fortunately the amount is increasing every year.
Jamaica has a fully digital telephone system with mobile penetration of over 95%. There are two mobile operators at the moment: FLOW Jamaica and Digicel Jamaica.