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About Jamaica

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Geography

Jamaica is the third biggest island in area (10 991 km) as a part of Great Antilles, located southwards from Cuba and westwards from Haiti. Outstretch of the island from west to east is 225 km and from north to south — from 35 to 82 km, length of coast line — 1022 km.

In ancient times Jamaica was inhabited by the Indians. The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494. Columbus named it after one royal couple – Ferdinand and Isabella. But this name didn’t take on and the island preserved its local name – Jamaica. Spanish people founded their first settlement on the island in 1509.

jamaica map

Cliffed, slightly rugged northern coast is famous for Jamaican Riviera (narrow strip of sandy beaches). Severe rugged southern coast has good harbors but it is skirted by reefs. Bigger part of Jamaican territory lies on limestone plateau of 500—1000 meters high and in some places even higher. Blue Mountains, 2 256 meters high, are in the east of the island. Karst erosions are developed. Along southern and western coasts there are alluvial low-grounds.

Timing difference with Moscow is -8 hours.

Moscow (-8 h)

Rich history

Before the arrival of Spanish Jamaica was inhabited by Arawakan Indians, their population reached about 60 000 people. For the period of Spanish reign in Jamaica Indians almost completely disappeared. And by the year 1611 there were only 74 Indians on the island. In the beginning of XVIth century, as manpower Spanish people started to bring to Jamaica black slaves from Africa. However, for one and half centuries they didn’t colonize the island very actively and in 1655 it was conquered by Englishmen (officially Jamaica was declared an English colony in 1670).

Port-Royal

On the coast of vast natural harbor, not far from the present Kingston, the Englishmen constructed a naval station. Port-Royal started to grow near this naval station. Soon it gained fame as “the most sinful town in all Christian world” because “the capital” of pirates was moved there from Tortuga Island. At the end of XVIIth 8 000 people lived in Port-Royal and 1 500 of them were pirates.

Currency

State currency is Jamaican dollar. In theory one dollar contains 100 cents but in practice 25-cent coins are used very rare. Exchange rate in relation to main currencies varies almost every day and for present January, 2011 amounts to 85 Jamaican dollars for $1 US.

All large banks actively imitate credit cards of such card schemes as Visa, MasterCard, AmEx. Almost in every village on the island you can find a cash machine.

Population

Population of Jamaica is about 2,8 million people (by experts estimations for July 2011). Majority of population (92%) is represented by black people and about 6% are mulattoes. People of Jamaica are mostly Protestants.

Official language of the country is English. Most part of population also speaks African Patwa.