Jamaica is one of my favourite destinations in the Caribbean. Known for its tropical weather, breath-taking natural scenery and laid back atmosphere, the island has a lot to offer. If you are considering visiting Jamaica, check out these interesting facts about its geography, history, food, culture, music and more! They will certainly inspire you to visit this beautiful island!
Fascinating Geographical Facts About Jamaica
- Jamaica is the third-largest Caribbean island, covering an area of 4, 411 square miles (11,424 square kilometres). It is 146 miles (235km) long, with widths varying between 22 and 51 miles (35-82km).
- The island is divided into 3 counties and 14 parishes, each of which has its own capital town.
- More mountainous than most Caribbean countries, nearly half of Jamaica sits over 1,000 feet (305m) above sea level.
- The longest mountain range in Jamaica is the Blue Mountains. Blue Mountain Peak is the highest point on the island, with an elevation of 7,402 feet (2,256m).
- Due to its location in the Atlantic hurricane belt, Jamaica is quite vulnerable to damage caused by hurricanes.
- Jamaica has a tropical climate with humid weather and temperatures averaging 27ºC. The hottest months are during the summer from June through August, and the coolest months are January and February. Areas at higher elevations are much cooler, such as the Blue Mountain Peak which has an average annual temperature of 13ºC.
- The average rainfall in Jamaica is 78 inches, and while that seems like a lot, the bulk of the rain falls on the island’s hilly interior. October is the wettest month on the island, averaging around 7 inches of rainfall.
- Jamaica’s warm tropical climate is ideal for farming. The island’s original inhabitants, the Tanio, cultivated corn and yams. Today, they primarily grow sugar cane, bananas and mangoes, all of which are non-indigenous to the area.
- There are an estimated 120 rivers in Jamaica, most of which flow outwards from the central mountain ranges. The longest river on the island is the Rio Minho while the widest river is the Black River.
- There are several mineral baths and hot springs in Jamaica which are said to have therapeutic properties. Five of these legendary locations have been developed as tourist attractions, featuring facilities for bathing and/or accommodation. One is connected to the Couples Sans Souci Resort, another is at the Bath Fountain Hotel & Spa in St. Thomas and the other three are public. They are the Bath Mineral Spring in St. Thomas, the Milk River in Clarendon and the Rockfort Mineral Bath in Kingston.
- The Milk River Bath is known to be the most radioactive mineral spa in the world with radioactivity levels of 16m curries per litre. It’s recommended to spend no more than 20 minutes in this mineral spa at a maximum of three times per day.
- In 2019, the population of Jamaica was 2,907,300, making it the 138th most populous country in the world.
- Kingston Harbour in Jamaica’s capital city is the seventh-largest natural harbour in the world.
- The Blue Mountains in Jamaica got their name from the blueish mist that covers its peaks.
Fascinating Facts about Jamaican History
- The original inhabitants of Jamaica, the Taino, were Arawak people who came from South America. They named the island “Xaymaca,” which is Arawakan for “Land of Wood and Water”.
- The Taino nearly died out due to slavery and disease after Jamaica was conquered by Spain.
- Christopher Columbus landed in Jamaica during 1494, after learning about the island from the Taino in Cuba. He referred to it as “the fairest isle that eyes ever beheld”.
- Jamaica became a colony of Spain in 1509 and remained so until 1655 when the British attacked the island and won.
- In 1655, the British freed the Spanish-owned African slaves and brought in their own slaves (who were also African) to work on the plantations. The freed slaves fled into the mountains and established their own independent groups called the Maroons.
- The rum brand Captain Morgan is named after British pirate Henry Morgan who was arrested in 1672 after his successful assault on Panama. Two years later he was knighted and officially appointed deputy governor of Jamaica.
- Port Royal, Jamaica was a pirate-haven nicknamed “the wickedest city on Earth”. In 1692, it was destroyed by a massive earthquake and tidal wave.
- With African slaves making up the majority of the population in Jamaica, there were several major uprisings. These ceased once the British abolished slavery in 1808.
- During the major slave uprising known as the Maroon War, a woman named Nanny led the Maroons in plantation raids to free slaves. She is the only national heroine of Jamaica.
- Jamaica became the first British colony to establish a postal service.
- In 1845, Jamaica was the first Western country, outside of Europe and North America, to build a railroad.
- In 1962, Jamaica became the first Caribbean country to gain independence from the United Kingdom. It remained as a member of the British Commonwealth, with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state.
- Jamaica’s national motto “Out of Many, One People,” became official in 1962.
- Jamaica became the first country in the world to impose economic sanctions against South Africa for their apartheid regime.
Fascinating Facts About Jamaican Culture
- Jamaica is the largest English speaking island in the Caribbean. However, Jamaican Creole or Patois is widely spoken by most of the population.
- The majority of Jamaicans are Christian. In fact, Jamaica has more churches per square mile than any other country in the world.
- All children who attend public schools in Jamaica are taught about God and the bible. They are also required to recite The Lord’s Prayer each morning.
- There are more than 100 Christian denominations in Jamaica. The largest ones are the Seventh-day Adventist, Pentecostal, Church of God and Baptist.
- Although it is a mostly Christian country, the Jews were among some of the first residents on the island.
- Obeah is a form of voodoo that was introduced to the island by African slaves. Similar to Haiti’s Voodoo, it’s believed that evil spirits can be used to bring good or bad luck to others. Although Obeah is now illegal, it is still practiced in secrecy on the island.
- The Rastafari movement began in Jamaica in the 1930s. Today, only 5% of the island’s population practices the religion.
- Jamaicans are typically very laid back people. So much so in fact that they have coined the phrase “No Problem Mon.”
- Jamaican families are typically close-knit, with a wide network of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.
- There are more twins and triplets born in Jamaica than anywhere else in the world.
- In Jamaica, it’s traditional for families to bury a baby’s placenta and then plant a tree on top of it. The placenta is said to nourish the roots of the tree, which is then gifted to the newborn child.
- Rum fruit cake is a traditional staple at Jamaican weddings. Guests who are unable to attend the festivities usually receive a slice by mail.
- African slaves believed that it took a person’s spirit nine days to travel home to Africa, and for that reason whenever someone dies in Jamaica, their wake (also called “Nine Night” or “Set Up”) lasts for nine days. During this time, and on the final night especially, family and friends gather at the dead person’s home to celebrate the life of the deceased.
- In Jamaica, they drive on the left-hand side of the road.
- In Jamaica, the proper way to greet someone is with a firm handshake, direct eye contact and a warm smile.
- It is considered polite to wait until invited before using people’s first names. New acquaintances should be addressed as “Mr.” or “Ms.” followed by their surname.
- The UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) was founded by Jamaican national, Marcus Garvey.
- Jamaica has several newspapers including the Daily Star, The Gleaner, the Jamaica Herald, the Jamaica Observer, The Jamaica Star and the Royal Gazette.
Fascinating Facts About Tourism in Jamaica
- The most important industry in Jamaica is tourism.
- Popular tourist season Jamaica runs from mid-December to mid-April. The temperatures range from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the chance of rain is low.
- In 2018, Jamaica set a record for overall visitor growth, welcoming over 4.31 million tourists.
- In 1994, Jamaica became the first Caribbean nation to launch its own website – www.jamaicatravel.com.
- With 50 public beaches, Jamaica is one of the top vacation destinations in the Caribbean.
- Jamaica is home to the Sandals only all-butler resort, Sandals Royal Plantation. See how this amazing couples-only all-inclusive resort compares to other its neighbour, Sandals Ochi, here.
- Jamaica’s currency is the Jamaican Dollar (JMD). There are 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents 1 dollar, 10 dollar and 20-dollar coins. Banknotes are issued for the amounts of $50, $100, $500, $1000.
- US Dollars are accepted and often preferred, by hotels, restaurants and shops across the island.
Fascinating Facts About Music & the Arts in Jamaica
- While Kingston, Jamaica is known to be the reggae capital of the world, there is a lot of other music indigenous to the island. Popular genres include ska, rocksteady, folk, drum and bass, soca, reggae-gospel, festival, calypso, and dancehall.
- Reggae has been used by the Rastafari to preach their social and political views.
- The most popular type of music in Jamaica is dancehall.
- Rihanna, UB40, Harry Belafonte, and many other foreign artists launched their music careers in Jamaica.
- Shaggy is the richest living Jamaican reggae artist, with an estimated net worth of 12 million dollars.
- The famed reggae artist, Bob Marley, was born in Nine Mile, Jamaica. Die-hard Marley fans can take a tour of the town, see where he grew up, and even meet some of his childhood friends.
- The Bob Marley museum in Kingston is situated in the Marley family home.
- The world’s highest-selling reggae album is Bob Marley’s “Legend”.
- Bob Marley became increasingly devoted to political activism, and supported various peace movements worldwide.
- Jamaican DJ, Kool Herc, is credited with helping start rap and hip-hop music.
- British author, Ian Fleming penned all 14 of the James Bond thrillers at his private home (which was fittingly named Goldeneye) in Jamaica. Now a villa available for rent, the property features a private beach, a pool, tropical gardens and sweeping views of the coast.
- The James Bond thrillers Casino Royale, Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun all feature Jamaican scenery.
- A popular attraction on the island is Jamaica Swamp Safari. This crocodile farm was the filming location of the stunt in Live and Let Die where Bond ran on top of the crocodiles.
- Jamaica’s third international airport was named after the famed author Ian Fleming.
- James Bond’s namesake was an American ornithologist with whom Ian Fleming crossed paths in Jamaica.
- Poet Louise Bennett-Coverly (Miss Lou) is one of the most noteworthy Jamaican writers. Often referred to as a cultural hero, she presented her poetry, folk songs and stories in Patios and worked tirelessly to preserve the Patois language.
Fascinating Facts About Food & Drinks in Jamaica
- Ackee and Saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica. It is most often served for breakfast alongside fried or boiled dumplings. Other famous Jamaican foods include jerk chicken, curried goat or mutton, and oxtail with broad beans.
- Although ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, it was imported to the island from Africa. It is cooked and used as a vegetable, however, it is a fruit.
- Chicken is the most popular meat amongst Jamaicans.
- Rum is the national drink of Jamaica. In fact, there are more rum bars per square mile on the island than anywhere else in the world.
- Jamaica was the first island to produce rum commercially for export in the days before piracy.
- One of the world’s strongest liquors, John Crow Batty Rum, is made in Jamaica. It is 160 proof with an alcohol content of 80%.
- Appleton Estates 50-Year Rum is one of the most expensive rums in the world, costing over $5000 USD for a 750ml bottle.
- Jamaica is the exclusive producer of Mountain Coffee. It is one of the rarest and most sought-after coffees in the world.
Fascinating Facts About Jamaican Plants and Wildlife
- There are over 200 species of orchid which grow in Jamaica, 73 of which are indigenous to the island.
- The largest butterfly in the western hemisphere, the Giant Swallow Tail butterfly, is found only in Jamaica. The island is also home to the most unusual butterfly in the world, the “Zebra” butterfly. Striped black and yellow, they have a strange habit of forming large swarms on the same tree or branch every evening.
- The national flower of Jamaica is the Lignum Vitae, which translates to “Tree of Life”. It was used widely as medicine in the past and is currently of high value to furniture manufacturers and sculptors.
- Seeing any of the 8 species of snake indigenous to Jamaica is a rare occurrence. Most have been killed off by the mongoose.
- Twenty-three species of cave-dwelling bats are found in Jamaica.
- Of the more than 252 bird species found in Jamaica, 27 of them are found nowhere else in the world.
- The national bird of Jamaica is the streamer tailed hummingbird or Doctor Bird. Four varieties are now found on the island.
- Mongoose were imported from India in 1872 by the government with the purpose of eradicating the large rats which wreaked havoc in the sugar cane plantations.
- Allspice is native to Jamaica. Although its name suggests a mixture of spices, it is actually a pungent and aromatic dried berry from the pimento tree.
Fascinating Facts About Athletics in Jamaica
- In 1997, Jamaica became the first English-speaking Caribbean country to compete in the World Cup soccer tournament.
- The Manchester Golf Club was established in 1865. It is Jamaica’s oldest golf course and the oldest in the western hemisphere.
- Jamaica is home to the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt.
- Jamaicans are so fast because they come from a genetic pool of naturally athletic west Africans. It is also rumoured that the bauxite-rich soil yields crops with high amounts of aluminum. When these are ingested by a pregnant woman, they stimulate the development of fast-twitch muscle fibres in the fetus.
- In 1988, Jamaica sent their bobsled team to Calgary, Canada, becoming the first tropical country to take part in the Winter Olympics. The Disney movie, Cool Runnings, was inspired by their story.
More Fascinating Facts About Jamaica
- Founded in 1534, Spanish Town was the capital of Jamaica for over 300 years.
- Jamaica is one of the world’s largest producers of Bauxite, which is a sedimentary rock from which aluminum is made. Of all the minerals mined on the island include gypsum, marble, alabaster and limestone.
- The American phone company, AT&T, copied Jamaica’s phone system.
- The national flag of Jamaica has 3 colours, green, black and yellow. The black represents hardship, green stands for hope and agriculture, and yellow is for natural wealth and the beauty of sunlight. It is one of two countries in the world that has no colours in common with the US flag.
- Cranberries are considered a delicacy in Jamaica. The juice is especially popular as it is both a great thirst-quencher and one of the best rum chasers.
- Jamaica is home to some of the most beautiful women in the world. Famous models such as Naomi Campbell, Grace Jones, Jourdan Dunn, and Tyson Beckford all have Jamaican heritage. Jamaica has also won the Miss World contest four times; 1963 with Carole Crawford, in 1976 with Cindy Breakspeare, in 1993 with Lisa Hanna, and in 2019 with Toni Ann Singh.
- In Jamaica, there are different emergency numbers for different situations. If you need the police, dial 119. If you need a fire truck or ambulance, dial 110.
Now that you’ve read all the facts and know just how fascinating Jamaica is, start planning your vacation here.
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