Jamaica

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Jamaica is an island nation in the Caribbean, located to the south of Cuba and to the west of the island of Hispaniola.

Population: 2,909,714 people
Area: 10,991 km2
Highest point: 2,256 m
Coastline: 1,022 km
Life expectancy: 73.44 years
GDP per capita: $9,300
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  • Winery Winery

About Jamaica

History

The Arawak and Taino indigenous people originating from South America settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC.

Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain after landing there in 1494. Columbus' probable landing point was Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. St. Ann's Bay was the "Saint Gloria" of Columbus who first sighted Jamaica at this point. The Spanish were forcibly evicted by the British at Ocho Rios in St. Ann and in 1655 the British took over the last Spanish fort in Jamaica. The Spanish colonists fled leaving a large number of African slaves. Rather than be re-enslaved by the English, they escaped into the hilly, mountainous regions of the island, joining those who had previously escaped from the Spanish to live with the Taínos. These runaway slaves, who became known as the Jamaican Maroons, fought the British during the 18th century. During the long years of slavery Maroons established free communities in the mountainous interior of Jamaica, maintaining their freedom and independence for generations.

During its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar-exporting, slave-dependent nations. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the British imported Indian and Chinese workers as indentured servants to supplement the labour pool. Descendants of indentured servants of Indian and Chinese origin continue to reside in Jamaica today.

By the beginning of the 19th century, Jamaica's heavy reliance on slavery resulted in blacks (Africans) outnumbering whites (Europeans) by a ratio of almost 20 to 1. Even though England had outlawed the importation of slaves, some were still smuggled into the colonies.

In the 1800s, the British established a number of botanical gardens. These included the Castleton Garden, set up in 1862 to replace the Bath Garden (created in 1779) which was subject to flooding. Bath Garden was the site for planting breadfruit brought to Jamaica from the Pacific by Captain William Bligh. Other gardens were the Cinchona Plantation founded in 1868 and the Hope Garden founded in 1874. In 1872, Kingston became the island's capital.

Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom and in 1958, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies before attaining full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.

Climate

The climate in Jamaica is tropical, with hot and humid weather, although higher inland regions are more temperate. Some regions on the south coast are relatively dry rain-shadow areas. Jamaica lies in the hurricane belt of the Atlantic Ocean; as a result, the island sometimes experiences significant storm damage.

Activities

Hiking, camping, snorkelling, zip-lining, horse back riding, backpacking, swimming, jet skiing, sleeping, scuba diving, kite surfing, visiting the Giddy house, drinking and swimming with dolphins.

Dunn’s River Falls is a must see and do if visiting Jamaica. It is located in Ocho Rios. The 600 feet cascading falls are gorgeous. You can actually climb right up the falls. It’s an amazing experience! Give it a try if you're up for a breathtaking challenge.

Mystic Mountain has a bob-sledding ride combined with options for ziplining, a water slide and an aerial tram. The aerial tram is slower method to learn about the rainforest canopy.

Going zip-lining in the Jamaican jungle is incredibly exhilarating. Most touring companies as well as cruise liners will have companies that they work with regularly.

Marriage

Over the past several decades, with the rapid growth of the tourism industry, "hotel marriages" have become a significant contributor to the total number of marriages occurring in the island. Hotel marriages are any marriage occurring in the island, performed by a certified marriage officer of the island.

The following is what you need to know or provide for your marriage in Jamaica:

1. Proof of citizenship - certified copy of Birth Certificate, which includes father’s name.

2. Parental consent (written) if under 18 years of age.

3. Proof of divorce (if applicable) - original Certificate of Divorce.

4. Certified copy of Death Certificate for widow or widower.

5. French Canadians need a notarised, translated English copy of all documents and a photocopy of the original French documents.

6. Italian nationals celebrating their marriage in Jamaica must notify their embassy for legalization and translation.

Food

Jamaican food is a mixture of Caribbean dishes with local dishes. Although Jamaican food gets a reputation for being spicy, local trends lean towards more versatile food variety. Some of the Caribbean dishes that you'll see in other countries around the region are rice and peas (which is cooked with coconut milk) and patties (which are called empanadas in Spanish speaking countries). The national dish is Ackee and saltfish, and MUST be tried by anyone visiting the island. It is made with the local fruit called Ackee, which looks like scrambled eggs, but has a unique taste of its own and dried codfish mixed with onions and tomatoes. You probably won't get a chance to try this food anywhere else, and if you really want to say that you did something uniquely Jamaican, then this is your chance. Freshly picked and prepared ackee is 100 times better than tinned ackee, but must be harvested only when the ackee fruits have ripened and their pods opened naturally on the large evergreen tree on which they grow: unripe ackee contains a potent toxin (hypoglycin A) which causes vomiting and hypoglycemia . Don't worry. locals are expert at preparing ackee and will know how to pick it safely.

Another local food is called bammy, which was actually invented by the Arawak (Taino) Indians. It is a flat floury cassava pancake normally eaten during breakfast hours that kind of tastes like corn bread. There is also hard-dough bread (locally called hard dough bread), which comes in both sliced and unsliced varieties. Try toasting it, for when it is toasted, it tastes better than most bread you'll ever eat. If you are looking for dishes with more meat in them, you can try the jerk flavoured foods. The most popular is jerk chicken, although jerk pork and jerk conch are also common. The jerk seasoning is a spice that is spread on the meat on the grill like barbecue sauce. Keep in mind that most Jamaicans eat their food well done, so expect the food to be a bit drier than you are accustomed to. There are also curries such as curried chicken and curried goat which are very popular in Jamaica. The best curried goat is made with male goats and if you see a menu with curried fish, try it.

You may even want to pick up a piece of sugar cane, slice off some pieces and suck on them.

Fruit and vegetables in Jamaica are plentiful, particularly between April and September, when most local fruits are in season. The many mango varieties are a 'must have' if you are visiting during the summer months. If you have not tasted the fruit ripened on the tree, then you are missing out. Fruit picked green and exported to other countries does not compare. Try drinking 'coconut water' straight out of the coconut. This is not the same as coconut milk. Coconut water is clear and refreshing, not to mention the fact that it has numerous health benefits. Pawpaws, star apples, guineps, pineapples, jackfruit, oranges, tangerines, ugli fruit, ortaniques are just some of the wonderful varieties of fruit available here.

Locally grown fruits and vegetables are inexpensive. Visitors may well find that imported produce such as American apples, strawberries, plums etc. tend to be more expensive than in their home country. Grapes in particular tend to be very expensive on the island.

Chinese food is available in many places from Chinese takeaway stores and has a distinct Jamaican taste.

It is recommended to sample the local fruit and vegetables. If unfamiliar with a particular fruit it can pay to ask a local about which parts can be eaten. Local and imported fruits are available from road-side vendors. If the fruit is to be eaten immediately the vendors can generally wash the fruit for you on request.

Finally, there is the category of "ital" food, the domain of practising Rastafarians, who abide by strict dietary guidelines. This type of food is prepared without the use of meat, oil or salt, but can still be tasty due to the creative use of other spices. Ital food is not generally on the printed menus in the upmarket tourist restaurants and can only be found by going to speciality restaurants. You may have to ask around to find an establishment that serves Ital food as it is not very common.

Drinks

There are many drinks in Jamaica. Standards such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola can be found, but if you want to drink local soda, you can try Bigga Cola, Champagne cola or grapefruit soda called "Ting" and also Ginger beer. Also, try any soda by Desnoes & Geddes, typically labelled as "D&G." "Cola champagne" and "pineapple" are popular flavours that you won't find anywhere else. Since the turn of the century, the majority of soft drinks are bottled in plastic instead of glass. You can try the local lager called Red Stripe (which is exported to many countries in the west, so there is a good chance you have already tasted it) and Dragon Stout. Most beers can be found in Jamaican pubs and hotels. A local hard drink is Jamaican Rum, which is made from sugar cane. It normally tends to be overproof and drunk with cola or fruit juice. Drink with caution! It's not designed for someone who is drinking it for the first time. It is not unheard of to have 75% proof Jamaican Rum. Since Jamaica was colonized by Britain, the drinking laws are 18 and over, but they don't generally enforce it as strictly as it would be in the US. Guinness is popular and the export 7% proof has a kick.

Shopping

The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar ($, J$, JA$) with the unambiguous ISO 4217 currency code of JMD. It comes in notes of JMD50, 100, 500, 1,000 and 5,000. Coins in circulation are JMD20, 10, and 5 (with smaller coins being almost worthless).

Jamaica's economy has not been well run and the Jamaican dollar has steadily depreciated from the rate of USD1 = JMD0.77 that obtained when it dropped the connection to the pound sterling upon decimalisation in 1968.

In September 2013, the exchange rate hovered around (a rather convenient for mental arithmetic) USD1 = JMD100

The US dollar is widely accepted in places most tourists visit. Indeed, all hotels, most restaurants, most shops, and almost all attractions in major cities will accept the US dollar. However, be aware that some places accept US dollars at a reduced rate (although it still may be a better rate than exchanging money beforehand). While it is possible for someone visiting only touristy places or for a few hours to not see the Jamaican currency at all, be advised that US dollars won't be accepted at a lot of "local" shops on the outskirts of cities and in rural areas.

Always stay up-to-date on the exchange rate and carry a calculator. Some places might try to make you pay ten times as much if you pay in US dollars. The cost of living in Jamaica is comparable to the United States.

US dollars, Canadian dollars, UK pounds, and euros are easily converted to Jamaican dollars at forex cambios and commercial banks island wide.

Buy products made on the island as they are cheap and you are supporting the local economy.

Prices are usually higher in tourist areas like Negril and Ocho Rios. Shops in "tourist traps" usually have higher prices than native ones, and you'll see the same items on offer in them.

Credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard and to a lesser extent American Express and Discover are accepted in many business establishments, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants in Kingston, Montego Bay, Portmore, Ocho Rios and Negril and most other major towns. A curious exception is petrol stations which mostly require cash. There are a few petrol stations in uptown Kingston that will accept a credit card, but most will not

Cash advances from your MasterCard, VISA, Discover or American Express credit card will be quickly available at commercial banks, credit unions or building societies during normal banking hours. For cash advances on a non-Jamaican bank issued MasterCard or VISA cards or any American Express or Discover card, be prepared to show your foreign issued passport or overseas drivers license.

A bit of advice if you are paying for "fully inclusive" when you arrive or any other big ticket item such as tours, when you are there, take travellers cheques in USD. There is something like a 4% additional charge on a Visa or MasterCard transaction. Hotels and resorts usually charge the highest exchange rates.

ATMs are called ABMs in Jamaica and are widely available in every parish and almost all ABMs in Jamaica are linked to at least one overseas network such as Cirrus or Plus and sometimes both. Indeed, the safest way for a visitor to transact business in Jamaica is to use an ABM to withdraw your daily cash requirement directly from your overseas account in local currency, as flashing foreign currency, foreign credit cards or large quantities of cash might draw unwanted attention, and will almost certainly be disadvantageous when bargaining for the best price.

Don't be alarmed if you go to an ATM and you find an armed guard as he is there to protect you.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Jamaica on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Jamaica

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Montego Bay, commonly referred to as MoBay, is the second largest city in the island nation Jamaica, a member of the British Commonwealth. Montego Bay is the capital of St. James Parish, one of the 14 parishes in Jamaica.

Interesting places:

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  • Sam Sharpe Square
  • Harbour Street Craft Market
  • Museum of St. James
  • Saint James Parish Church
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Ocho Rios is on the northeastern shore of Jamaica. Commonly referred to as Ochi it is a popular destination for cruise ships and tourists alike. It features a bulk of resorts and tourist attractions. There are many conveniences, such as supermarkets and restaurants.

Interesting places:

  • Turtle Beach
  • Dunn\'s River Falls
  • Reggae Xplosion Museum
  • Island Village
  • Taj Mahal Mall
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Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is located on the southeastern coast of the island. There are two major sections to this city: 'downtown' and 'uptown,' also referred to as 'New Kingston.'

Interesting places:

  • Emancipation Park
  • University of the West Indies
  • Centre Stage Theatre
  • Sunshine Amusement Complex
  • Saint William Grant Park
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Port Antonio is in Jamaica. Tucked away on the eastern point of the island, Port Antonion is still relatively unknown by most tourists, but it has for years been the hideaway of royalty and stars alike. It is easy to see why. Its seclusion is what gives this town its charm. The beaches are beautiful, albeit a ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Port Antonio Square
  • Portland Parish Church
  • Fort George
  • Boston Bay Beach
  • Blue Lagoon
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Interesting places:

  • Billy Bay Beach
  • Calabash Bay
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Falmouth is a town in Jamaica.

Interesting places:

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Ocho Rios is on the northeastern shore of Jamaica. Commonly referred to as Ochi it is a popular destination for cruise ships and tourists alike. It features a bulk of resorts and tourist attractions. There are many conveniences, such as supermarkets and restaurants.

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Interesting places:

  • Mayfield Falls
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Ocho Rios is on the northeastern shore of Jamaica. Commonly referred to as Ochi it is a popular destination for cruise ships and tourists alike. It features a bulk of resorts and tourist attractions. There are many conveniences, such as supermarkets and restaurants.

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Interesting places:

  • Parrotee Pond Mangroves
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Ocho Rios is on the northeastern shore of Jamaica. Commonly referred to as Ochi it is a popular destination for cruise ships and tourists alike. It features a bulk of resorts and tourist attractions. There are many conveniences, such as supermarkets and restaurants.

Interesting places:

  • James Bond Beach
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Ocho Rios is on the northeastern shore of Jamaica. Commonly referred to as Ochi it is a popular destination for cruise ships and tourists alike. It features a bulk of resorts and tourist attractions. There are many conveniences, such as supermarkets and restaurants.

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Interesting places:

  • Green Grotto Caves
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Negril is in Jamaica Negril is famous for its 7 miles of cool, white sand beaches and another 7 miles of 40' cliffs. One of the most beautiful towns in Jamaica, it has a more laid back atmosphere than that of Montego Bay and is more touristy than Ocho Rios. When you stay at a hotel on the beach you are ... (read more)

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panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Jamaica

Visit Nine Mile where Bob Marley was born and now buried. The journey up into the mountains lets you experience the heart of the country. Spend a day at Negril 7 mile beach and finish off at Rick's Cafe for a spectacular sunset and watch even more fantastic cliff diving.

Turtle Beach - Ocho Rios

Doctor\'s Cave Beach - Montego Bay

Negril Hills Golf Club - Negril

Emancipation Park - Kingston

Port Antonio Square - Port Antonio

YS Falls - Santa Cruz

Mayfield Falls - Lucea

James Bond Beach - Oracabessa

Peter Tosh House - Savanna la Mar

Luminous Lagoon - Falmouth

Parrotee Pond Mangroves - Black River

Billy Bay Beach - Treasure Beach

Fort Clarence Beach - Portmore

Castleton Gardens - Castleton

Green Grotto Caves - Discovery Bay

Reach Falls - Reach

Dunn\'s River Falls - Ocho Rios

Reggae Xplosion Museum - Ocho Rios

Island Village - Ocho Rios

Sam Sharpe Square - Montego Bay

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

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