Welcome to the glorious island of Jamaica. Whether your in the mood for diving fishing, golf, hiking, birdwatching, visiting national parks or horticultural sites, photograph, racing,theater, and sailing, this island is the place for you. Through the hard work of students, you will be able to learn about Jamaica and its secret wonders.
The first inhabitants of Jamaica were the Arawak tribe. On his second voyage Christopher Columbus landed on Jamaica and it became a Spanish colony in 1509. was The first settlement and the capital of Jamaica was founded about 1523 which was Saint Iago de la Vega. Since the Spanish were ruling at that time colinization was very slow. The Arawak tribe quickly disappeared and died out as a result of harsh treatment and diseases. African slaves were imported to replace the Arawak tribe.
In 1655, Jamaica was captured by an English naval force under Sir William Penn. In 1670, the island was formally transferred to England. When the Englissh started coming to Jamaica in the 17th century the sugar and cocoa market expanded greatly as well as the need for importing slaves. With all the growth and expansion, Jamaica became a major tradeing port. In 1692 a major earthquake shook Jamaica and caused great damage. On August 1, 1838 slavery was abolished by an act in the Parlimentary Legislation. Not only did this act give Africans their liberty, but this act made a $30 million available as compensation to the owners of the nearly 310,000 liberated slaves.
With the large number of free slaves out of a job, they quickly settled in Jamaica's interior causing severe damage. An economic crisis had resulted due to labor shortages, bankrupt plantations, and declining trade. Jamaica, now one of the british colonies, was included in the Federation of the West Indies on January 3, 1958. There was disagreement over which role Jamaica should play and on August 6, 1962, the island gained independence. In April 1962, The JLP won the elections and their leader ,Sir Alexander Bustamante, became prime minister. In 1967 he retired and was replaced by Hugh Lawson Shearer. In 1968 Jamaica became an important founding member of the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA). In the 1972 elction, Michael N. Manley came to lead the country. He had been a labor leader who promised a regain of economic growth. In 1980, he was voted out of office because of his sneeky policies and close friendship with the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro which resulted in violence that polarized the population and as of all of these mistakes, he proved that he was unable to rebuild the economy.
And then a good samairitain by the name of Edward Seaga of the JLP, a former finance minister, came to help Jamaica by forming a government. Refusing socialism, he halted relations with Cuba, drew close ties with the United States, and tried very hard to attract foreign capital though weak prices for Jamaica's mineral exports obstructed economic recovery. Tragedy struck Jamaica in September 1988 when Hurricane Gilbert caused an estimated $8 billion in property damage and left some 500,000 Jamaicans homeless. In 1989,he PNP won a parliamentary majority which resulted in returning Manley to power. He also introduced some moderate free-market policies before resigning in March 1992 due of poor health. Percival J. Patterson, a succesful prime minister and PNP leader, easily won reelection a year later.
The national gallery on the Kingston Waterfront has a vast collection of many important Jamaican paintings and works of art. An annual exhibition of new works is held here annually which gives the "new artists" of Jamaica and other countries a chance to make it big. There are many private galleries, where you can view exhibitions and purchase pieces, listed in the Yellow pages of the telephone directory. As a famous historian said "The movement in the 1930s and '40s toward self-government which gave birth to modern Jamaica, paid much attention to cultural expression, and since then successive governments have undertaken to nurture the arts throughout the country". Established in 1879, The Institute of Jamaica includes: the National Library of Jamaica, which contains the largest collection of West Indian material in the world. It also contains the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica(ACIJ) not to mention a cultural programfor youth, conducted through junior centers. A fine place to visit is the National Gallery of Jamaica, which houses the national collection of art.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture is responsible for: the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, a modern program which supports the Jamaica Schools of Art, Music, Drama and Dance. Not only is it one of the most modern, but it is the only one of its kind in the English Speaking Caribbean. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission puts together many competitions in the arts and the cultural activities. Displays and exhibitions in these areas help interpret part of the annual Independence celebrations. The Jamaican art movement goes back as far as to the early part of the century. Today, many Jamaican artists are internationally praised enthusiastically. Among these are fantastic discoveries are the late Edna Manley (1900-1987), who emerged as a visionary mother of art in Jamaica, and as a teacher and role model to other artists. Other discovered Jamaican artists include Basil Watson and Cecil Baugh. Watson, the founder of the Contemporary Jamaican Artists Association in Kingston is known for his exceptional murals and special portraits. Baugh, a true example of a class or type of true craftsmanship, is known for his work in ceramics and pottery.
Jamaica's popular music has accomplished world fame through the output of reggae, a music form that emerged from traditional innate Jamaican music with African and Black American roots. Many reggae artistes have won international fame for original compositions, for both their recordings and their performances--especially the late Robert (Bob) Marley. Marley, for his cultural contributions, received Jamaica's third highest national honour--the Order of Merit and although he died in 1981, this legendary Jamaican still lives on as one of the greatest musical philosophers of all times, proven by the fact that his name was recently enshrined in the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Since the addition of the reggae category in the United States Annual Grammy Awards organized by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1989, several Jamaican artistes such as the Melody Makers, Black Uhuru, Shabba Ranks and Shaggy "Mr. Boombastic" have won the award sometimes more than once. Sly Dunbar and Robby Shakespeare were the 1999 winners. Jamaica's folk music is said to have its origin in West Africa. So technically, it is both African and Jamaican. Soca/Calypso has been adopted from the Eastern Caribbean and it has become very popular especially since the introduction of the Jamaica Carnival.
Imagine traveling through Fern Gully or coming face to face with "Jack in the Bush." You can have that experience outside Ocho Rios and more! Fern Gully is a magnificent "fern national park" with over 500 species of ferns winding up the coastline. An interesting aspect of Jamaica is "Jack in the Bush." He can be seen throughout Fern Gully. A native Jamaican, not just one but many, dress up in braches attached to their body. They hang out on the side of the road and come out to greet you when you pass them. Though they never actually say anything, they are a very interesting sight. But if you take their picture, you have to pay them money or they get beligerent. After all, this is how they make a living.
Jamaica is fairly inexpensive compared to other Caribbean islands, though how much you spend depends greatly on the style in which you travel. Travelers on a budget will need around US$25-30 per day, while those staying in comfortable hotels and eating at tourist restaurants will need at least US$75 per day but add another US$50 per day if you hire a car. Jamaica is a year-round destination thanks to its ideal tropical maritime climate. Seasons are technecally non-existent and day time maximum temperatures along the coast constantly get up between 80 and 86°F (27 and 30°C). And even up in the Blue Mountains temperatures are only just under 68°F (20°C) for most of the year. If you plan on spending time on the east coast or in the Blue Mountains, you may wish to take into account of the so-called rainy season, which lasts from May to November with two peaks: May/June and October/November. Although this time of year is a little more humid than others, rain usually falls for short periods (normally in the late afternoon) and it's very possible to enjoy the glorious vitamin D enriched sunshine for most of your visit.The tourists come and swamp Jamaica are usually between mid-December to mid-April, with Christmas and Easter the busiest weeks. During this period the resort areas of the island are flooded with foreign tourists and hotel prices are at their highest. You can save truck loads of money (40% or more at some hotels) by visiting during the less-crowded low season which lasts from May to November.