Where Is Jamaica and What Is It Famous For?
Jamaica is an island state in the West Indies situated in the Caribbean Sea. Capital, Kingston; area about 11000 sq km (4250 sq miles), it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola). It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494 and occupied by the Spaniards until seized by Britain in 1658.
It became part of the Federation of the West Indies (1958-1962) before gaining independence in 1962. It retains links with Britain since many Jamaicans have emigrated there to find work. Jamaica is largely mountainous–very rugged in the Blue Mountains–with small but fertile plains and a coastal strip.
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taíno peoples many of which were killed or died of diseases to which they had no immunity. So the people were brought by force from Africa to work the sugar plantations, and this led to Jamaica being overpopulated, sugar is still the main crop, as it was in colonial times.
Other export crops are bananas, coffee, cocoa, fruits and nuts. There are good fisheries off the coast and valuable timber in the forests. Tourism is also important. Jamaica is an upper-middle income country with an economy heavily dependent on tourism; it has an average of 4.3 million tourists a year.
Politically it is a Commonwealth realm, with Elizabeth II as its queen. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica, an office held by Patrick Allen since 2009. Andrew Holness has served as Prime Minister of Jamaica since March 2016.
Jamaica is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with legislative power vested in the bicameral Parliament of Jamaica, consisting of an appointed Senate and a directly elected House of Representatives.
The country has a global influence that belies its small size; it was the birthplace of the Rastafari religion, reggae music (and associated genres such as dub, ska and dancehall), and it is internationally prominent in sports, most notably cricket, sprinting and athletics. Things Jamaica Is Known For.
#1 Reggae Music
Jamaica can boast that it has created not one but more than five genres of music. The most famous, of course, is reggae, but a few others are ska, mento, dub, and dancehall. Jamaican music is known worldwide and it’s uncanny how such a small island has had such a big impact on the world’s musical stage.
Reggae originated in the late 1960s and was preceded by ska, rocksteady, and mento. Reggae legends such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Beres Hammond, Jimmy Cliff, and Dennis Brown helped to shape the Jamaican music we hear today. Reggae music is usually linked with the Rastafarian religion but it has spread to many other countries in the world incorporating local instruments and fusing with other genres.
Reggae’s influence nowadays can be heard in mainstream songs such as Rhianna’s work. Without a doubt, reggae has left an indelible imprint on the musical landscape.
#2 Bob Marley
This legend is definitely Jamaica’s greatest musical export. No matter where you travel when you say you are from Jamaica, the first thing anyone says is “Bob Marley”. Bob Marley’s contribution to reggae music has been locally and internationally recognized. In 1981 Bob Marley was awarded Jamaica’s third-highest honor the Order of Merit.
Internationally his albums have sold over 15 million copies and he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. TIME magazine also named his album Exodus the best album of the 20th century. His song One Love was adopted by the BBC as its millennium anthem.
#3 Fastest Sprinters in the World
Jamaica is known as the sprinting capital of the world. Three of the world’s four fastest 100-meter men sprinters are from Jamaica. On the women’s side, two of the four fastest times ever run in the 100 meters were achieved by Jamaicans.
Most people only know about Usain Bolt, but Jamaica has an illustrious history in sprinting that dates back to 1948 when Arthur Wint won a Gold medal in the 400 meters race. Other trailblazers such as Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell Brown, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Elaine Thompson, and Shelly-Ann Fraser have put Jamaica on the map when it comes to sprinting.
#4 Jerk Meat
Food is an integral part of any culture and Jerk is one of Jamaica’s most famous food exports. More specifically, Jerk Chicken and Jerk Pork; however, it is not uncommon to find jerk lobster, fish or lamb. To prepare jerk, meat is marinated with a jerk sauce or seasoning that usually contains the following ingredients: thyme, pimento, onion, garlic, scallion, and scotch bonnet peppers. The meat is then slow-cooked over pimento wood.
Rastafarianism, also known as Rastafari is an Abrahamic religion that emerged in Jamaica in the 1930s. Its practitioners are known as Rastas, Rastafarians or Rastafari. They believe in a single god known as Jah, who partially resided in each individual.
Rastas consider Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974 as an incarnation of Jah, while others believe he is a human prophet. Rastas place emphasis on what they regard as living naturally or having “ital” dietary requirements, twisting their hair into dreadlocks and following patriarchal gender roles.
#6 Beautiful and Diverse Scenery
For such a small island Jamaica has very diverse scenery. In the east, you have a lush rainforest leading down to hidden beach coves. In the south-eastern part of the island, you have the capital city, which has the seventh-largest natural harbor in the world and the world-famous Blue Mountains its backdrop.
To the south-western part of the island, you have Treasure beach, which has a rustic, desert-like atmosphere with cozy black and brown sand beaches. Here you will have the opportunity to experience a number of small fishing villages. To the west of the island, you can expect to see white powdery sand beaches in the beach town of Negril.
As you move along the northern coast of the island, expect to see white sand beaches backgrounded by beautiful mountains. And because of its mountainous terrain and over 120 rivers, Jamaica has plenty of waterfall attractions.
Some of the famous waterfall attractions are the Blue hole, Dunns river falls, and YS Falls. As you head inland to the center of the island, you will come into cockpit country, where the land is marked by steep-sided hollows divided by conical hills and ridges.
To the east of cockpit country, you have the Blue Mountains, where you will find the highest point in Jamaica at 2,256 meters.
#7 Blue Mountain Coffee
Blue Mountain coffee is one of the rarest and most expensive coffees in the world. Coffee Connoisseurs rate these Jamaican beans as some of the best in the world. Only coffee grown in the Blue Mountains at an elevation of 3,000 to 5,000 ft. (910 – 1,700 meters) and 5,500 ft. (1,700 meters) is given the precious title of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.
Interestingly, the upper regions of the Blue Mountains are home to the Blue and John Crow Mountain Park, the first site in the Caribbean to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage Mixed Site for both natural and cultural riches.