Jamaica: The Land of Wood and Water
The South American Taino people called the island Xaymaca, which means Land of Wood and Water, when they found Jamaica over 6,000 years ago. The Spanish called the island, Santiago, when they found it in 1494.
Jamaica sits 80 miles south of Cuba, and 120 miles west of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This 145 mile long, 50 mile wide island is a Parliamentary Democracy, and Constitutional Monarchy that still considers Queen Elizabeth II their Monarch. The island is divided into 14 parishes located in three counties. Most of the major cities are located on the coast. Kingston is the capital; Kingston harbor is one of the largest harbors in the world. Jamaica is the fourth largest country and the third largest island in the Caribbean; over 2.8 million people call Jamaica home. The major towns on the island are: Ocho Rios, Port Antonia, Negril, Montego Bay, Mandeville, Portmore, Spanish Town and of course Kingston.
There are tourist attractions scattered all over the island. In St. Ann, Dunn’s River Falls is great, and YS Falls in St. Elizabeth is also a popular tourist destination, and so is the Blue Lagoon in Portland. Port Royal is another tourist destination thanks to an earthquake that formed Jamaica’s Palisadoes, which are thin stretches of sand that serve as natural protection for the island’s harbors. There are plenty of excursions in Jamaica so make a list of the things you want to see.
About Jamaica Today
Over 1.3 million tourists a year enjoy the Red Stripe Beer, Blue Mountain Coffee, and listen to the sounds of Reggae, ska, mento, dub and rocksteady, which all originated in Jamaica. Visitors can’t get enough of the Jamaican cuisine thanks to the Jamaican jerk spice, which gives this island’s food such a unique flavor. Jamaica’s economy is rebounding thanks to its agricultural exports of coffee, rum, sugar and bananas. Inflation and unemployment figures are shrinking due to an increase in mining efforts and tourism, but the cost of living continues to increase.
The official language is English, and the Jamaican Dollar is the island’s currency. About 98% of the island’s residents are from African descent, so an English-African dialect known as Jamaican Patios is frequently used, especially in their Reggae music.
Jamaica in a few Words
Jamaica may not be an island that everyone wants to visit, but for those who do visit it’s a life changing experience. The rich history and the colorful and exciting culture of Jamaica can only be experienced; words don’t do it justice. On one hand there’s a 17th century pirate mystique that surrounds the island, and on the other hand there’s the sophistication of the English nobility. In between those hands is an unforgettable beach experience, which lives on long after you return to the daily routine of earning a living. The ambience and the character of Jamaica can not be bottled or boxed, it can only be lived. You find your self talking the language of Reggae in your sleep, as the steel drums and salt water breeze, whisper your name.