Jamaica is one of the most famous Caribbean destinations. The landscape meets all expectations: from abundant coral reefs to white-sand beaches to impressive waterfalls and misty rainforests. Finally, the music is mesmerizing.
The Arawak Indians, the first residents who arrived from South America in the 650 BC, called Xaymaca Island or “the Land of Wood and Water”. The Spaniards lost the island to the British in 1655. Today, Jamaica is an independent country, completely self-governing since 1962 when the island ceased to be a British colony. After independence, Jamaica chose to join the British Commonwealth and keep the Queen of the United Kingdom as its constitutional monarch. In Jamaica, the Governor General, who is appointed by His Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, represents the Queen.
The Jamaican population, with its African, Chinese, Indian, British and German origins, is one of the most diverse in the Caribbean. Almost all races are represented. They have come to conquer, colonize, forcibly or in search of a better life and over time have come to call Jamaica their home. They mingled, merged and created the most extraordinary race and unparalleled cultural mix, the Jamaicans.
Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and has six main regions: Montego Bay, Negril, Mandeville, and the South Coast, Kingston, Port Antonio, and Ocho Rios. There are many quiet places to explore: The Blue Mountain Peak, which rises to over 2,200 m, is a challenge for all experienced hikers. Ocho Rios mainly hosts cruise ships but also presents a succession of bays and beaches; the most notable is Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay. Inland are the Dunn Falls, whose images have traveled around the world. Montego Bay is a paradise for water sports: navigation, diving, jet skiing, parasailing, big game fishing, and glass bottom boat trips are all part of the program. Shoppers will head to Gloucester Avenue for zero-rated stores, gift shops, restaurants, and bars. Negril, a favorite destination for backpackers in search of an idyllic getaway in the 1960s and 70s, still retains its nonchalant atmosphere. You can visit many plantations such as Rose Hall and Greenwood Great House and discover the Hampden Great House rum. Like many islands in the West Indies, Jamaica produces excellent rums including that of the Appleton brand.
Airport: Norman Manley International Airport (KIN), 20 km from Kingston, also 2 hours from Port Antonio and the south coast. Sangster International Airport (MBJ), 3 km from the center of Montego Bay, also 1½ hours from Ocho Rios and Negril.
Area: 10,991 sq. km.
Business: The business culture in Jamaica is based on respect and formalities of politeness. A suit, jacket and tie are required in the meetings. Punctuality is sought, appointments preferable and business cards are expected during meetings.
Climate: Tropical and warm climate. On the coasts, the temperatures vary between 22 ° C and 31 ° C with mornings and cool evenings denote the winter. The high season runs from mid-December to mid-April when the crowds rush to the beaches. The wettest months are May and October, but showers can happen at any time. Between June and November, it is hurricane season.
Clothing: Lightweight cotton and casual linen are recommended. Light woollens are also suggested for parties when mosquitoes make wearing long sleeves more enjoyable than wearing beach clothes. Sunglasses and hats are handy throughout the year. Even if nudity or monokini is allowed on some beaches, it is not practiced at all by the local population.
Currency: Jamaican Dollar (JMD, symbol J $).
Customs: It is possible to bring duty free products to the island up to 200 cigarettes (or 225 grams of tobacco or 50 cigars).
Economy: The two most important economic sectors are tourism and mining. Agriculture and industry also contribute to the economy.
Electricity: No standard. 110 volts (other 220), 50 cycles, 60 Hz. American type (2 plugs) or English (3 plugs).
Entry and Exit Requirements: Please consult the official website of the Jamaica Tourist Board.
Health: Basic medical care varies widely across the country’s 16 public and 6 private hospitals. Far from the main cities, the medical centers are often devoid of resources because they are not very subsidized. Health insurance is strongly recommended because medical treatments can be expensive. Major hotels often have a doctor or dentist on request 24 hours a day.
Public holidays: New Year’s Day (01 January), Ash Wednesday (February), Good Friday and Easter Monday (March-April), Labor Day (May), Emancipation Day (August), Day of Easter Independence (August), Heroes’ Day (October), Christmas (December 25-26).
Languages: English. Creole is also spoken, a mixture of English and African dialects.
Political Status: Independent Nation and Commonwealth Member.
Population: 2.8 million (2007 est.).
Religion: Religion is ubiquitous in Jamaica. The Christian religion predominates with large groups of Baptists, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics. Other religions, such as Islam and Judaism are also represented on a smaller scale. Across the island, there are communities of Rastafaris (from Ethiopia).
Security: Travelers should be aware that the level of crime and violence is high in Jamaica, particularly in the Kingston area. On the other hand, some roads are avoided.
Shopping: Duty-free stores offer crystal, leather goods, perfumes, and gold jewelry. The best Jamaican products are carved wood and batik fabrics. The best prices for Blue Mountain coffee and High Mountain rum are found in supermarkets.
Service Fees and Taxes: Tipping is generally between 10 and 15%. Departure taxes for Montego Bay and Kingston airports (non-domestic flights) are the US $ 25. The tax is payable in cash only.
Telecommunication: The international calling code is +1 876 followed by seven digits.
Time: GMT -5 times all year. No change to summer/winter time.
Transportation: Driving is on the left in Jamaica. International driving licenses are often required at car rental agencies.