Flag of Jamaica

Jamaica

Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles situated in the Caribbean Sea. It lies 635 km east of the Central American mainland, 150 km south of Cuba, and 180 km west of the island of Hispaniola, on which Haiti and the Dominican Republic are situated. Formerly a Spanish possession known as Santiago, then the British West Indies Crown colony of Jamaica, its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning either the 'Land of Springs', or the 'Land of Wood and Water'. It is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada.

Although the island is famous as the home of Bob Marley, there's much more to it than just reggae and Rastafarians. The third largest island in the Caribbean has everything - wonderful white-sand beaches, mountains, waterfalls, wildlife and the best coffee in the world. Kingston is its lively capital, surprising visitors with elegant, old colonial houses against the stunning backdrop of the Blue Mountains.

The two main tourist resorts are Negril and Montego Bay, Jamaica's second city - known to one and all as Mo' Bay. Negril boasts one of the longest beaches in the country, some 11 km (7 miles) of it, with all the watersports one would expect in a lively resort. But just a little way along the coast, one will find 'the real Jamaica' with fishing villages such as Treasure Beach, Port Antonio and Oracabessa providing quieter retreats.

Although Jamaica has gained a reputation for violence (and there certainly are no-go areas in Kingston), most Jamaicans are overwhelmingly friendly and fun-loving. Tourism has continued to grow over the years, encouraged by the governing People's National Party. Many visitors return as they succumb to Jamaica's charms, the beautiful scenery, the warmth of the people, and of course wherever you go there is always music, music, music.

Map of Jamaica