Jamaica is an island country of the West Indies. The national capital is Kingston.
It is the third largest island in the Caribbean Sea, after Cuba and Hispaniola (consisting of Haiti & Dominican Republic). It is about 146 miles (235 km) long and varies from 22 to 51 miles (35 to 82 km) wide.
Dunn’s River Falls Near Ocho Rios.
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taíno peoples, the island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus who first sighted the island in 1494.
He called it Santiago, but the original indigenous name of Xaymaca, has persisted. Columbus considered it to be “the fairest isle that eyes have beheld,” and many travellers still regard it as one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.
Many of the indigenous people were either killed or died of diseases to which they had no immunity, and the Spanish thus forcibly transplanted large numbers of African slavesto the country as labourers.
The island remained a possession of Spain until 1655, when the British conquered it, renaming it Jamaica. Under British colonial rule it became a leading sugar exporter, with a plantation economy dependent on the African slaves and later their descendants.
The British fully emancipated all slaves in 1838, and many freedmen chose to have subsistence farms rather than to work on plantations.
The island’s various Spanish, French, and English place-names are remnants of its colonial history.
Jamaica became independent from the United Kingdom in 1962 but remains a member of the Commonwealth.