The indigenous people of Jamaica are the Tainos, who were part of the larger group of Arawak people in the Caribbean that originated in South America. The name Jamaica comes from the Arawakan word Xaymaca, which means "land of wood and water".
European explorers arrived in the early 1500s, with one of the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Shortly after his stay on the islands, the Spanish colony of Santiago was established on Jamaica beginning in 1509. The colony was headquartered in Villa de la Vega, later known as Spanish Town after the arrival of English explorers many years later. The English took over the island by 1655, though the Spanish refused to accept this defeat until sparking the Anglo-Spanish War, and eventually signing a treaty in 1670 that officially handed the land over to the English.
Under English control, the island was plagued by attacks from pirates, including Captain Henry Morgan. As a British colony, the land was used for sugar cane and coffee production, and slaves were introduced to the island from Africa. Those who escaped slavery in Jamaica were known as Maroons, and many fought against British rule and were sent away from the island. The movement for abolition gained traction in the early 1800s, and along with the rest of the British Empire, slavery was abolished in 1834.
Jamaica became a crown colony in 1866, and about a century later, the people of Jamaica gradually increased their rights to self governance, becoming independent in 1962.
Neighboring Countries :
Jamaica is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea, and is part of the Greater Antilles. Jamaica is situated nearest to Cuba, and the island of Hispaniola, which contains Haiti and Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands.
- Major Cities
- Kingston (capital)
- Spanish Town
- Montego Bay
- Ocho Rios
Jamaica is an island nation, and its territory includes many small cays and islets just off the coast of the main island. These smaller landforms include Morant Cays, the Port Royal Cays, and Alice Shoal.
The northern coast is characterized by soft white sands and reefs, while the southern coast features black sand beaches and coastal plains. The black sand is formed from the volcanic materials deposited on the land at its formation. The volcanoes also formed Jamaica's Blue Mountains, which are home to the highest peak on the island at 2,256 meters (7,402 feet) above sea level. The other major mountain range in Jamaica is the John Crow Mountain range.
The main water features of Jamaica, aside from the many miles of coastline, are the many inlets and rivers around the country. Some of the main rivers in Jamaica are the Black River, Rio Nuevo, and Rio Grande.
Points of Interest :
The capital, Kingston, is the major city on the island, and offers museums featuring Jamaica's historical artifacts, and art galleries, and historic sites from Jamaica's colonial period. Kingston is home to the sites made famous by Caribbean pirates like Captain Morgan. Port Royal is one of these sites, where visitors can walk along the harbor where pirates once prospered.
Montego Bay is another popular destination for visitors, with clear blue waters and beautiful beaches, offering water activities like scuba diving and kite boarding. Negril is another beach town, which offers a less touristy town, warmer waters, and whiter sands. There are many beach resorts in Negril as well as some nightlife hot spots.
On the northeastern coast, Ocho Rios is another prime vacation destination, with outdoor recreation like Dunn's River Falls and rafting down the river, an amusement park called Rainforest Adventures Mystic Mountain, and more beaches.
The main airports in Jamaica are the Norman Manley International near Kingston and the Donald Sangster International in Montego Bay. To get around the island, there are flights between these two cities, as well as distance buses to some parts of the island. Taxis are available in cities, as well as “route taxis,” which are regular vehicles with red license plates, and function as shared taxis. This is the cheaper option, but it is less flexible than the private taxis. There are car rental agencies on the island, but roads are not always maintained and many are narrow and curvy.
Last Updated : July 16, 2018