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Jamaica Country Guide


Jamaica is a narrow portion of a submersed mountain range, and the third largest island of the Caribbean islands. Jamaica boasts of many tourist facilities, some of the best coffee in the world, waterfalls, mountains, white beaches and wildlife.

A range of mountains reaching heights of seven thousand feet cross the island. The Blue Mountain Peak lies in the east and some spurs and forested gullies on its north and south. Beaches are found mostly in the north and west coasts while you find the best of tropical vegetation throughout the island.

The ads for tourism in Jamaica tantalize with waterfalls, beaches and the reggae theme song "One love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright."

However, Jamaica, named after the Arawak Indian word for "land of wood and water," is much more than sun-baked white beaches, calypso sound and tropical paradise dreams. It's much more than Bob and Ziggy Marley. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell honors his Jamaican heritage.

Jamaica is where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels in a place called "Goldeneye" that is now a world-famous resort in Oracabessa. It's the country in which Marcus Garvey--born in St. Ann, the largets parish in Jamaica--established the United Negro Improvement association and spoke of "the enlightenment of minds. It's the country in which Prime Minister Norman Manley founded the People's National Party and paved the way for Jamaioca's sovereignty and self-determination. It's the childhood home of the late humanitarian Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., a two-time Nobel Prize nominee whose discoveries changed immunology, endocrinology and diagnostic medicine forever. The heroes of Jamaica's multilayered and often turbulent past live on.

Through Christopher Columbus' discovery of Jamaica in 1494 to the Spanish occupation and two centuries of a colonial slave economy and later a peasant economy, Jamaica's unique character developed, and flourished in the twentieth century during the many movements for political independence. Today, Jamaica is both a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy that achieved independence from Britain in 1962 but still salutes Queen Elizabeth II as a Commonwealth realm.

Visitors to Jamaica will find many impressive manor houses and former sugar plantations, such as the notoriously haunted Rose Hall in Montego Bay, that reflect Jamaica's colonial past. In Ocho Rios, culture vultures can visit the home of playwright Noel Coward. Cultivated botanical gardens and natural wonders such as Dunn's River Falls and the Fern Gully show off the lushness of the island. Eco-tourists will be thrilled with the chance to visit Jamaica while still preserving the environment. Then there's Mandeville on the South Coast, where all but two of Jamaica's native bird species can be found. Don't miss the famous "Lover's Leap".

Tour Negril, where pirate (and governor after his infamous sea career) Henry Morgan founded the historic town of Bluefields. You can take full advantage of Negril's spectacular beaches. Hike to the valley communities of Port Antonio and meet the descendants of slave rebellion leader "Queen" Nanny of the Maroons (believed to have mystical powers in her day).

Visit the capital, Kingston, and immerse yourself in history. Tnd tour the Bob Marley Museum (respect, mon), soak in the Rockford Mineral Baths, which were formed after a 1907 earthquake). Stay at the posh Strawberry Hill or Mayfair Hotel (which is right next to the Governor-General's residence). Stroll the waterfront, the commercial center of Kingston. And don't miss the fishing village of Port Royal. Imagine yourself back in time, "Pirates of the Caribbean"-style.

Things to do in Jamaica

While surfing and bathing are the best on its north coast, you find long lines of breakers rolling into Boston Bay on the East of Port Antonio. Port Antonio is surrounded by the Blue Mountains and offers sights worth visiting like Mitchell’s Folly and the ruins of the 60 room Great House.

The hotels in Jamaica hire out windsurfing, sailfish and sunfish boards while divers are attracted to the close to shore wrecks, underwater caves, coral reefs and sponge forests Jamaica has to offer.

While you're exploring all the many fascinating facets of Jamaica, don't forget to enjoy a dish of ackee fruit and salt cod, Jamaica's national dish.

The beautiful scenery, warmth of people, rum and music is what brings tourists back to Jamaica year after year after year.

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