|Government||constitutional parliamentary democracy|
|Currency||Jamaican dollar (JMD)|
|Area||total: 10,991 sq km |
land: 10,831 sq km
water: 160 sq km
|Population||2,680,029 (July 2002 est.)|
|Language||English, patois English|
|Religion||Protestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Baptist 8.8%, Anglican 5.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Brethren 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other, including some spiritual cults 34.7%|
Jamaica is an island-nation in the Caribbean, located to the south of Cuba and to the west of the island of Hispaniola
Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes:
- Saint Andrew
- Saint Ann
- Saint Catherine
- Saint Elizabeth
- Saint James
- Saint Mary
- Saint Thomas
Many detailed maps at http://www.myhq.com/public/r/o/rootsgrrrl/#11107685021718493
- Kingston, the capital, is located on the southeastern coast of the island. There are two major sections to this city: 'downtown' and 'uptown.' It is in the area considered 'uptown' on Hope Road to be precise that the Bob Marley museum is located. Kingston was for sometime Jamaica's only city and is still the commercial capital of Jamaica. You will notice that the city is assigned the equivalent of zip codes, (Kingston 5, Kingston 10, etc.) which is a good representation of how truly large this city is, especially for an island such as Jamaica.
Kingston offers much in the way of tourism, but this is generally overlooked by those who see Jamaica only as a destination of beaches. This is definitely the cultural capital of Jamaica, with its theatres, museums, art galleries to name a few of the city's interesting offerings just waiting to be explored.
It should be noted, however, to exercise general safety precautions while in Kingston. Like any large city anywhere in the world, it is home to a higher number of crimes than the rest of the island. Common sense and precaution should ensure a pleasant experience.
- Montego Bay (commonly referred to as Mo Bay) on the island's north shore, is the second city in Jamaica, after Kingston. Montego Bay has long since earned the title of 'tourist capital of Jamaica.' It receives the bulk of international flights, being home to Sangster International Airport, the larger of Jamaica's two main international airports.
Today the city is known for its large regional hospital (Cornwall General), port facilities, second homes for numerous upper class Jamaicans from Kingston as well as Americans and Europeans, fine restaurants, and shopping opportunities. Surrounding coast land is occupied by numerous tourist resorts, some newly built, some occupying the grounds of old Sugar Cane plantations with some of the original buildings and mill-works still standing. The most famous of these are the "White Witch's" Rose Hall and Tryall - both of which now sport world-class golf courses.
- Negril is famous for its miles of white sand beaches. One of the most beautiful towns in Jamaica, it has a more laid back atmosphere than that of Montego Bay. A popular tourist attraction here is Rick's Cafe, which is known for the cliffside it is built upon, where tourists can take a courageous leap into the Caribbean Sea below. However, the Cafe is currently inaccessible; during Hurricane Ivan, the cafe slid off the cliffside into the sea below. It is slated to be rebuilt and to reopen at a date yet to be determined. Be wary in Negril. Higglers and hustlers all but outnumber the (frequently burnt-out and dissipated-looking) tourists.
- Ocho Rios (commonly referred to as Ochi) is located on the northeastern shore of Jamaica. 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. A local airport provides charter plane access from the larger airports in Montego Bay and Kingston. Ocho Rios is also home to the world renowned Dunns River Falls, a beautiful falls that visitors can pay to climb.
- Port Antonio on the eastern point of the island, 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 bit rocky. However the seclusion from throngs of other tourists is a huge payoff. The people are extremely friendly, and the whole city rings with a unique character all its own.
Some tourists visiting Jamaica prefer to stay at resorts. A number of these resorts are all-inclusive, meaning that a single fee pays for just about everything including room, food, drink, and activities.
Some well known resorts:
- Hedonism II - Negril
- Hedonism III - Runaway Bay
- Grand Lido
- Sandals and Beaches Resorts Negril, Dunns River, Montego Bay, Whitehouse
- Couples - A wonderful Honeymoon destination
It is always wise to check out good travel books and find an alternative to all-inclusives. Tipping is not permitted at all-inclusives, and the people who work there are paid very little. Guests are driven to shops and attractions which have made a deal with the resorts' owners, so there is rarely an opportunity to explore the real Jamaica and meet the people.
- Both Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay receive hundreds of international flights daily. There are smaller airports in Negril and Ocho Rios, which can be accessed by smaller aircraft, such as Air Jamaica's shuttle and private and hired out aircraft.
Jamaica has about 250 route miles of railroad, of which 77 is currently active to handle privately operated bauxite (aluminum ore) trains. Passenger and public freight service ceased in 1992, but increasing road congestion and poor highway conditions have caused the government to re-examine the commercial feasibility of rail operations.
- Jamaican roads are not renowned for their upkeep. Roads in and around major cities are generally overcongested, and rural roads can be dangerous, especially in inclement weather. Alert and courteous driving is advised at all times. There are very few north-south routes as well, so travel from the north to the south can involve treks on mountain roads. These trips can induce nausea in the more weak of stomach, so it is advisable that if you suffer from motion sickness to bring dramamine or similar medication. Roads can be very narrow, and be especially alert when going around bends.
Jamaica, as a former British colony, drives on the left. Make note of this when driving, especially when turning, crossing the street, and yielding right of way.
There are relatively few stoplights. These only are generally found in major city centers, such as Montego Bay, Kingston, and Ocho Rios.
Renting a car is easily done, and it is advised to go through a major international car rental company such as Hertz or Avis, but good Jamaican rental companies exist, such as Island Car Rental http://www.islandcarrentals.com/ Do your research before renting and driving.
- Once you arrive on the island by plane, you will travel by bus to your resort destination. Be prepared to offer a tip to the luggage handlers that load your luggage into the bus. The ride is much different than you are probably used to. Many resorts offer excursions by bus. Check with the resort's office that is in charge of planning day trips for more information.
- Wyndham Rose Hall Jamaica Resort & Country Club (http://www.wyndham.com/hotels/MBJRH/main.wnt?aff=wyn11) The island resort by Montego Bay was a legendary sugar plantation during the 18th century.
- Yoga Hotel $20USD per night in Negril http://www.negrilyoga.com/index.php
- Hotel Gloriana $30 USD in Montego Bay http://hotelgloriana.com/Home2.htm
- Chelsea Hotel in Kingston $40 USD per night http://www.discoverjamaica.com/gleaner/gateway_ads/chelsea/chelsea.html
- Evelyn's in Whitehouse near Montego Bay - Far from palacial, very reasonable prices, right on the beach, and the food is heavenly!
- Tryall Club Villas (http://www.villagems.com/tryallvillas/Index.html) - Villas at the Tryall Club near Montego Bay.
Wide selection of luxury villas and charming cottages at Silver Sands, Duncans, Trelawny. On-line availability.