Fun Facts about Jamaica
The flag of Jamaica, seen above, is one of two flags in the world that have no color in common with the flag of the United States. No red, no white and no blue. Black stands for hardship. Green represents agriculture and hope. Yellow stands for the sunshine and wealth of the island. (The other country, in case you are wondering, is Mauritania - but you have to look up where it is located.)

Jamaica was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain on his second voyage to the New World in 1494. He said it was "the fairest isle that eyes ever beheld." England seized the island in 1655. Jamaica gained independence in 1962 and was the first Caribbean country to gain independence from the United Kingdom.

Jamaica remains a part of the British Commonwealth. So, Queen Elizabeth II is still their head of state.

Kingston is the capital and largest city in Jamaica.

Agricultural products from Jamaica include bananas, coffee, sugar and mangoes. None of these were native to the island. The original inhabitants, the Taino, had a diet of yams and corn. They lived across present day Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles. Their name for the island was "Xaymaca" which meant "land of wood and water".

The Taino did not do well after the European arrival. They came dangerously close to extinction due to slavery and disease.

During the 18th century, much of Jamaica was populated by freed African slaves from Spanish and British countries.

Jamaica is also known for its reggae music, which Bob Marley helped introduce to the world. Perhaps the most famous export of all is their track and field team. Usain Bolt is considered by many to be the fastest man in the world and the fastest sprinter of all time. His career spanned three Olympics.

Tourism is the most important industry in the country. More than a million travelers a year come to Jamaican shores.

Speaking of the Olympics, there may be no snow in Jamaica, but it is the first tropical nation to send a bobsledding team to the Olympics.

The official language of Jamaica is English. In fact, it is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean. However, Jamaican Patois (or Jamaican Creole) is widely spoken. Patois, a mix of English with a West African influence, is spoken but not written. It is not a written language.

The national drink is rum. If you plan to buy any, you will use Jamaican dollars. Rum is made from sugar grown locally. Another juice, not grown locally but considered a luxury, is cranberry juice. And another claim to fame, chocolate milk was invented in Jamaica.

Ian Flemming wrote all of his James Bond novels, 14 of them, while he was living in Jamaica. The name of his home was "Golden Eye".

Copyright 2019 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.