Virtual Vacations: Jamaica, island in the Caribbean Sea
Posted on: January 31, 2021.

There are few incredibly beautiful places on Earth, so remotely located, that they are physically difficult to travel to. Such trips are highly challenging, at times logistically, at times financially—at times both.

While digitally scouting for a location to write about for this week’s ‘Virtual Vacations’, Jamaica captured our interest making us zero in on the place.

The Virtual Vacations article this week is the third such location in the Yokibu Editorial Special Series that promises to be both entertaining and informative, vividly descriptive, and vibrantly narrative.

Geographic highlights of Jamaica

The island is located in the Caribbean Sea, about 600 miles south of Miami in the the U.S. state of Florida. Kingston is the capital city of Jamaica which is a mountainous island.

“The Greater Antilles” is a chain of Caribbean Sea islands of which Jamaica—along with Cuba and Puerto Rico—is a geographical part. The island is actually the tip of a mountain rising from the sea floor.

About 25 million years ago, the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates collided, and consequently, the island of Jamaica was formed—half of the island is more than 1,000 feet above sea level.

Tourist Highlights

Wildlife

  • The largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere—the Jamaican Swallowtail—is larger than many of the island’s birds, by virtue of the butterfly’s 6-inch wingspan.
  • Nowhere else on Earth, but only in Jamaica, can be seen 26 species of bird among the 250 bird species that can be seen on the island—a birdwatcher’s paradise.
  • Jamaica is home to the world’s second smallest bird—the Vervain—which is a tiny hummingbird only 2.5 inches long.
  • Scissor-Tail Hummingbird—of long tail feathers and a scarlet bill—is the National Bird of Jamaica.

River-Rafting

  • Jamaica popularized the leisure sport of river-rafting which is one of the most popular activities in the Caribbean.
  • Man-made bamboo rafts were transported along river streams using poles. Passengers kick back and watch the scenery go by.

Blue Mountain Coffee

  • One of the most sought-after and expensive coffees in the world.
  • Grown, produced and packaged in Jamaica, the coffee brand is named after the largest mountain range in Jamaica, the Blue Mountains, where the coffee is grown.

Natural Features

  • Fire Water Pond — Windsor Mineral Spring. Can actually make fire, believed to be caused by a high concentration of sulfur in the water, which also has healing and rejuvenating properties.
  • Luminous Lagoon — Normal during day. Phosphorescent phenomenon caused by microorganisms that glow at night, giving off a luminous effect—one of only three of its kind in the world.
  • Reach Falls — luxurious eco-attraction hidden in the lush forests. Natural holes carved out by water—”Rabbit Hole”, the most terrifying—leads to a secret underwater cave.

Cultural and demographic highlights

Most Jamaicans live in the island’s cities, of which 33% live in Kingston, the capital city. Africans form more than 90% of the population while people from China, India, Germany, and Syria form the rest.

More than 2.8 million culturally-diverse people have made Jamaica their home. Reggae Music originated in Jamaica in the 1950s and ’60s, while Bob Marley became the most famous reggae music star of that time.

Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam are the religions followed by Jamaicans who are a spiritual people. However, a civil rights movement that spread in the 1930s resulted in a significant turn of events.

Most Jamaicans became Rastafarians by faith, following the crowning of Ras Tafari Makonnen as Negus “King of Kings” of Ethiopia. A huge part of Jamaican culture is prominently influenced by Rastafarianism.

Historical Highlights

Before becoming known to the world in its present name, the island was originally called Xaymaca by the Tainos people of South America who inhabited the island in the 7th century AD and became indigenous to it.

Dense green forest and hundreds of fast-flowing streams that covered the landscape gave it its Arawakan name of Xaymaca “land of wood and water” or “land of springs”.

Jamaica was called “the fairest island that eyes have beheld” by Christopher Columbus—the first European to visit the island—in 1494. Subsequently, the Tainos were taken as slaves.

Disease, or harsh treatment, wiped them out by 1600 AD. African slaves brought into Jamaica by the Spanish made the island one of the largest slave markets for the Western Hemisphere by the late 1700s.

“Xaymaca” was renamed “Jamaica” when it was captured by the British from the Spanish in 1655. Jamaica became one of the world’s leading exporters of sugar, when under the English rule.

In 1962, Jamaica became the first English-speaking Caribbean island-country to gain independence from the British. Presently, Jamaican English is the official language of the island.



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