Jamaica – The ultimate cultural paradise

Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and is 4,320 square miles and a population of about 3 million people.  This island nation boasts a beautiful coastline, a majestic mountain range and a rich and diverse history, culture, flora and fauna. It is an amazing place to spend your vacation if you love beaches and are also looking for a unique cultural experience. The Jamaican national motto, “Out of Many, One People” reflects the racial mix of the country which is a mix of African, European, Indian, and Chinese races. And this diversity is reflected in all aspects of life in Jamaican food, language, music and lifestyle which are a potpourri of many rich traditions.   While the official language of Jamaica is English, it is interwoven with local patois words and phrases to create a uniquely and very identifiable “Jamaican” dialect.  The Jamaican dialect has influences of West African, Spanish, French mixed into the British-English base. It is spoken very fast and to the uninitiated, may sound like a completely different language   Tourism is the main industry in Jamaica welcoming an average of 4.3 million tourists a year via one of its three major airports. The majority of leisure visitors explore the north coast where world class hotels, luxury resorts and quaint boutiques welcome them from Port Antonio in the East to Negril in the west.  

The Cuisine

  The food in Jamaica is naturally a mixture of the island’s history, that is so rich and delicious!! Exploring these native delicacies will have you tasting jerk chicken or pork, a signature Jamaican dish where the meat is marinated with a unique spice mix including scotch bonnet, thyme, pepper and grilled over pimento woodchips or sweet wood. Ackee and saltfish is another national dish of Jamaica and served predominantly as a popular breakfast dish. No trip through Jamaica’s culinary experience would be complete without a lunch of Jamaican Beef Patties which are sold everywhere and paired perfectly with a Red Stripe beer or fresh coconut water, with or without one of Jamaica’s local, award winning rums.   And for your sweet tooth, there are desserts aplenty. Ice creams are made in local flavors like mango, soursop, and rum & raisin; Gizzada, also referred to as pinch-me-round, a tart in a small, crisp pastry shell with a pinched crust and filled with a sweet and spiced coconut filling; or Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding, a special and well-loved dessert, known for its taste as much as the love and time it takes to make it.  

Religion and Beliefs

  Jamaica’s predominant religion is Christianity and it is a sight to behold families dressed in their best to attend one of the numerous churches on Sundays and religious holidays. Rastafarianism is a religion which originated in Jamaica and is the second most prevalent faith on the island.  Religious tolerance and diversity is evident on the island with Jewish, Islamic and Hindu communities living side by side in harmony.  

Jamaican Music

  Jamaica is know the world over, despite its relatively small size and population, in no small part due to Bob Marley, who made reggae music a global sensation. And the whole month of February commemorates Jamaica’s contribution to and love of reggae with “Reggae Month” in honor of Bob Marley’s birthday – February 6th.   Music is a huge part of Jamaican life and the sounds of the island can be heard every day, not just at internationally known fetes like Montego Bay’s annual SumFest and St. Ann’s Rebel Salute. From reggae, Dancehall has evolved as the modern sound of Jamaican music with internationally recognized artists like Shabba Ranks and Beanie Man and visitors can hit the party scene and the dance clubs of Kingston (Capital of Jamaica) to experience the Dancehall culture in all its glory.  

The Glorious Jamaican Beaches

  One of the biggest attractions in Jamaica is the natural beauty of the beaches which offer a slice of paradise for all visitors.   Frenchman’s Cove is featured in several Hollywood films and is a perfect spot for swimming while Boston Bay Beach is great for surfing and is also infamously the origin of the famous jerk recipe. Mammee Bay is a hotspot for windsurfing and other water sports and Seven Mile Beach is renowned as a serene stretch of clean and white sand and calm blue waters in Negril.  Snorkeling is a highlight at Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay and Bamboo Beach, previously known as Reggae Beach is where you can enjoy live music complete with bonfires. Regardless of which beach you choose, during the day it is likely to be the party location.   And when the sunsets, the parties continue with rich nightlife from Ocho Rios in the east, through to Montego Bay and west to Negril.  Jamaica’s rich history and naturally beautiful location allow you to enjoy wonderful warm weather, feast on the delectable food, relax in the sun with a cold drink in hand or dance to the liveliest music ever.   Enjoy exploring the rich culture of Jamaica!

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