Jamaica : Land We Love
Jamaica is the 3rd largest island in the Caribbean and is situated in the Greater Antilles, South-East of Cuba, South-West of Haiti, and East of the Cayman Islands.
Capital ~ Kingston (1872) – previously Spanish Town (1534-1872)
Currency ~ Jamaican Dollar (JMD) – the US dollar is also accepted
Timezone ~ EST – Eastern Standard Time (No daylight savings time)
Area Code ~ (876)
Language ~ English, English Patois
Electricity ~ Voltage (110V) / Frequency (50 Hz)
Highest Point ~ Blue Mountain Peak (2256m/7402 ft.)
Type of Government ~ Constitutional Parliamentary Democracy
Regions of Jamaica
Jamaica is divided into 3 counties with 14 parishes. The 3 Counties are Cornwall , Middlesex and Surrey . Below are are the names of the parishes with their capitals in parentheses:
- Hanover (Lucea)
- St. Elizabeth (Black River)
- St. James (Montego Bay)
- Trelawny (Falmouth)
- Westmoreland (Savanna-la-Mar)
- St. Mary (Port Maria)
- St. Elizabeth (Black River)
- St. Catherine (Spanish Town)
- Manchester (Mandeville)
- Clarendon (May Pen)
- Kingston (Kingston)
- Portland (Port Antonio)
- St. Andrew (Half Way Tree)
- St. Thomas (Morant Bay)
Public Holidays Observed
New Year’s Day
Emancipation Day (1834)
Independence Day (1962)
National Heroes’ Day
Jamaica’s National Flag
Jamaica’s Coat of Arms
Jamaica’s National Fruit – Ackee
National Bird ~ The Doctor Bird (Trochilus Polytmus or Red-billed Streamertail)
Jamaica’s National Flower – Lignum VitaeNational Flower ~ Lignum Vitae (Guiacum Elatus)
Jamaica’s National Tree – Blue MahoeNational Tree ~ Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus Elatus)
Population ~ (est. 2012) 2.712 Million
Urban Population ~ (est. 2010) 52% of total population
Gender Statistics (est.2011)
** 0-14 yrs. – 30.1% (male 438,888/female 424,383)
** 15-64 yrs. – 62.3% (male 882,548/female 904,242)
** 65 yrs. and older – 7.6% (male 97,717/female 120,602)
Life Expectancy ~ 73.45 yrs.
Literacy ~ 87.9% of total population
- Sir Alex Bustamante (1977)
- Paul Bogle (1865)
- Norman Washington Manley (1969)
- Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1940)
- George William Gordon (1865)
- Samuel Sharpe (1832)
- Nanny of the Maroons (1733)
The average temperature in Jamaica ranges between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. The Environment feels tropical, hot, and humid. July and August are the hottest months with February being the coolest. Temperatures are also lower at higher altitudes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with August and September being the peak months. Generally the island is not hit, but does experience increased rainfall and tropical storms.
Jamaica has more churches per square meter than any other island in the Caribbean. Christianity is Jamaica’s primary religion (80%), as well as Rastafarian-ism which is indigenous to the island. Other religions include Anglicans 38%, Baptists 18%, Catholics 8%, Methodists 6% , Presbyterian 5%, Pentecostals, Quakers and Christian Scientists, Kumina ( a belief with origins from Africa), Pocomania ( a type of religion of the spirit) and Garveyism ( a veritable black nationalist cult).
Jamaica has more than 200 species of flowering plants. Among indigenous trees you will find cedar, ebony, mahoe, logwood, mahogany, rosewood, pimento (allspice) , coconut palm, and palmetto palm. Trees introduced to Jamaica are widely cultivated and found through out the island. These trees include breadfruit, banana, mango, and plantain.
Jamaica’s diverse wildlife includes the Iguana, Crocodiles, Mongoose, Coney or Jamaican Huita (a distant relative to the guinea pig). More than 200 species of birds, 25 which are native to the island and 21 sub species found nowhere else. Over 100 different types of butterflies including the giant Swallowtail butterfly which is the largest butterfly in the western world. There are 25 species of harmless bats, as well as various Sea Turtles (Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green Turtle, and Leatherback) and Manatees, which are now an endangered species. The two native parrots, the Yellow-billed and Black-billed, are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, as well as the Endangered Species Act.
Called the “Island of Springs”, Jamaica can be seen in this east-northeast-looking view. The island of Jamaica is 146 miles (253 km) long from east to west,
and a maximum width of 51 miles (82 km) from north to south. It is the third largest island in the West Indies. Jamaica is largely hilly or mountainous.
Limestone-covered hills and plateaus, occupying more than half of the country’s surface, dominate the central and western parts (center and lower left
of image) of the island at an average elevation of 1500 feet (460 meters). In the middle of this limestone area is a wild almost
inaccessible “Cockpit Country”, a high dissected plateau of 500 sq. miles (1300 sq. km), replete with gorges, springs, streams, underground caverns,
and small, deep circular basins known locally as cockpits. In eastern Jamaica, the forested Blue Mountains rise to 7402 feet (2256 meters).
The mountains are known for the premium quality coffee grown on their slopes. Narrow coastal plains reach their greatest width in the south.
The coastal lowlands and interior valleys, covered by alluvial soils, are intensively cultivated and densely populated.
The last major hurricane to hit Jamaica was Hurricane Gilbert in September, 1988, a powerful hurricane that devastated the island.
The musical genres reggae, ska, mento, rocksteady, dub, and, more recently, dancehall and ragga all originated in the island’s vibrant,
popular urban recording industry. Jamaica also played an important role in the development of punk rock, through reggae and ska.
Reggae has also influenced American rap music, as they share roots as rhythmic, African styles of music.
The actor Errol Flynn lived with his third wife Patrice Wymore in Port Antonio in the 1950s.
He helped develop tourism to this area, popularising trips down rivers on bamboo rafts.
A look at delinquent youth in Jamaica is presented in the 1970s musical crime film The Harder They Come,
starring Jimmy Cliff as a frustrated (and psychopathic) reggae musician who descends into a murderous crime spree.
The American film Cocktail (1988), starring Tom Cruise, is one of the more popular films to depict Jamaica.
Another popular Jamaican-based film is the 1993 comedy Cool Runnings, which is loosely based on the
true story of Jamaica’s first bobsled team trying to make it in the Winter Olympics.
While the most popular local sport is cricket, on the international stage Jamaicans have tended to do particularly well at track and field athletics. Over the past six decades Jamaica has produced dozens of world class sprinters including Olympic and World Champion Usain Bolt, world record holder in the 100m for men at 9.58s, and 200m for men at 19.19s
Other noteworthy Jamaican sprinters include Arthur Wint – the first Jamaican Olympic Gold Medalist, Donald Quarrie – Olympic Champion and former 200m world record holder, Roy Anthony Bridge, part of the International Olympic Committee, Merlene Ottey, Delloreen Ennis-London, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – the current World and Olympic 100m Champion, Kerron Stewart, Aleen Bailey, Juliet Cuthbert, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Yohan Blake, Herb McKenley, George Rhoden—Olympic Gold Medalist, Deon Hemmings – Olympic Gold Medalist as well as former 100m world record holder and 2x 100m Olympic finalist and Gold medal winner in the men’s 2008 Olympic 4x100m Asafa Powell.
Netball is also very popular on the island, with the Jamaica national netball team called The Sunshine Girls consistently ranking in the top five in the world.
The Rastafari movement is an African-based spiritual ideology that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica. It is sometimes described as a religion but is considered by many adherents to be a “Way of Life”. The Rastafari way of life encompasses the spiritual use of cannabis and the rejection of the degenerate society of materialism, oppression, and sensual pleasures, called Babylon. It proclaims Zion, in reference to Ethiopia, as the original birthplace of humankind, and from the beginning of the way of life calls for repatriation to Zion, the Promised Land and Heaven on Earth. Literally, moving to Ethiopia physically, but mentally and emotionally repatriating before the physical. Rastafari also embrace various Afrocentric and Pan-african social and political aspirations.
Many Rastas eat limited types of meat in accordance with the dietary Laws of the Old Testament; they do not eat shellfish or pork. Others abstain from all meat and flesh whatsoever, asserting that to touch meat is to touch death, and is therefore a violation of the Nazirite law. (A few make a special exception allowing fish, while abstaining from all other forms of flesh.) However, the prohibition against meat only applies to those who are currently fulfilling a Nazirite vow (“Dreadlocks Priesthood”), for the duration of the vow. Many Rastafari maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet all of the time. Food approved for Rastafari is called ital. Visit the Rastafarian Indigenous Village to get an in depth understanding of the movement of Jah people. Thank you for reading.