About Jamaica


History of Jamaica
Travel Tips
General Information

History of Jamaica

"Jamaica" is derived from the Arawak Indian word "Xaymaca" meaning land of wood and water. Arawaks were Jamaica's native inhabitants, peaceful people and skilled artisans. They migrated from South America in 600 B.C. and tread the land until 1600 when decimated by the Spanish.

The lack of silver and gold caused the Spanish to quickly lose interest in the land, and soon thereafter, English forces easily took over. The island, however, and especially Kingston, turned wicked; it was filled with plundering pirates and buccaneers. In 1692, an earthquake and fire brought Kingston to ashes and Jamaica was in absolute peril.

Slavery developed in the 1700's giving rise to Jamaica's famous sugar plantations. Not all slaves in Jamaica took the treatment lightly. Many ran off and settled in the Blue Mountains. In the mid 1800's the historical Sam Sharpe's Rebellion led to emancipation of all Jamaican slaves and the tide was turning.

Jamaica was a British possession without political freedom until 1865 when the Morant Bay Rebellion turned Jamaica into a Crown Colony under full British rule. Full internal in-dependence came into being in 1962 when Jamaica became a democracy in the British Tradition and a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Travel Tips

GETTING THERE: First Class Travel makes it "No Problem" getting to Jamaica. We arrange complete vacation packages from any gateway in the world.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Jamaica has over 154 hotels and guest houses plus over 840 cottages.

DEPARTURE TAX: $400 Jamaican dollars per person including security/agriculture; at time of printing approximately $14 U.S dollars.

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM: 110 Volts 50 cycles is standard, 220 volts is available at some hotels.

IMMIGRATION REGULATIONS: U.S. citizens: proof of citizenship such as a passport, valid or expired one year. Birth certificate with a raised seal, or naturalization papers must be accompanied by photo ID. Non U.S. citizens should contact the nearest Jamaican Consulate for a Visa. NYC consulate (212) 935-9000. Los Angeles consulate (310) 559-3822.

SIGHTSEEING: One of the best methods for taking in the great number of Jamaican attractions is to take a tour. First Class Travel can help you arrange a wide variety of tours.

General Information

CLIMATE: 80 to 86 degrees at sea level year round. Monthly temperature range is less than 6 degrees. Nights and heights are always cooler

FOOD: Jamaican food is somewhat spicier than American-similar to the Cajun dishes found in New Orleans. One popular dish is called "jerk" which is a spicy chicken, pork or fish barbecued over wood. Other dishes you may want to try are curried goat, ackee and salt fish, rice and beans, beef patties or a refreshing rum punch drink!

GEOGRAPHY: Jamaica is slightly smaller than Connecticut 150 miles long and 50 miles north to south. Its mountains run throughout its length; highest point 7,402 feet.

LANGUAGE: English is spoken; however the local dialect is patios, a combination of English and Creole. If someone says Wha a hoppin' (what's happening), you just say irie (everything is cool). Some of their expressions are quite interesting i.e., a sleeping policeman is a speed bump.

MARRIAGE: You need birth certificate, divorce papers or death certificate of former spouse, parental consent if under 21. Applicants must be on island 24 hours prior to making application for license.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: There are facilities in all major resort areas, and drug stores for pharmaceuticals. Private doctors and dentists are also available throughout the island. Most large hotels have a resident doctor on call.

SHOPPING: Crafts Markets: woods, straw, beads, embroidery. In Bond: gold, silver, China, electronic equipment. Other: Jamaican rum, liqueur, perfumes, Blue Mountain coffee