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General Information :: Island Facts

 

Almost 90% of the island's population is of African descent. There has been much intermarriage between the races over the centuries, and this is reflected in the diverse physical appearance of Jamaicans and their unique motto, 'Out of Many, one People.'


The official language is English, however, may Jamaicans speak patois, a mixture of French, Spanish, English and African dialects forming words such as "boonoonoous" (meaning the best, delightful) and "Irie" Kingston is the largest English-speaking city south of Miami. The majority of the population is Christian, with small Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Bahai communities. Jews are among the oldest residents of Jamaica. Some Jewish families have been on the island since the earliest Spanish settlements.

During the 1960's, Jamaican music merged with rock and other influences to create a distinctive national sound called reggae. It has been popularized through the Rastafarian cult and the late reggae superstar, Bob Marley.

Jamaica is 4411 square miles and is divided into three counties and 14 parishes. It is 146 miles long with widths varying between 22 and 51 miles, third largest of the Caribbean islands. The average annual rainfall is 78 inches, directly affecting its 120 rivers, The highest point is Blue Mountain Peak at 7402 feet (2256m), and about half of the island is above 1000 feet (304.8m).'

Today, tourism is the key to Jamaica's economy. The island has rapidly become a prime destination. Cannons of yesteryear are museum pieces and decorations. The crystal clear waters are sporting grounds rather than battleground, and the mountains harvest world-class coffee.

Come, discover Jamaica. See why it's boonoonoonoous, and feel irie.

Area:

10,991 sq km (4244 sq miles).

Population:

2,530,000 (1995).

Population Density:

230.2 per sq km.
Capital: Kingston. Population: 643,801 (1991).

Geography:

Jamaica is the third-largest island in the West Indies, a narrow outcrop of a submerged mountain range. The island is crossed by a range of mountains reaching 2256m (7402ft) at the Blue Mountain Peak in the east and descending towards the west with a series of spurs and forested gullies running north and south. Most of the best beaches are on the north and west coasts. The island's luxuriant tropical and subtropical vegetation is probably unsurpassed anywhere in the Caribbean.

Government:

Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from the UK in 1962. Head of State: HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor General Sir Howard Cooke since 1991. Head of Government: Prime Minister P J Patterson since 1992.

Language:

The official language is English. Local patois is also spoken.

Religion:

Protestant majority (Church of God, Anglican, Baptist and Methodist) with Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Bahai communities. Rastafarianism, a religion based on belief in the divinity of the late Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie (Ras Tafari), is also widely practiced.

Time

GMT - 5.

Electricity

110 volts AC, 50Hz, single phase. American 2-pin plugs are standard, but many hotels offer, in addition, 220 volts AC, 50Hz, single phase, from 3-pin sockets.

Communications:

Telephone: Full IDD is available. Country code: 1 876. There are no area codes. Outgoing international code: 011.

Mobile telephone:TDMA, CDMA, GSM network, compatible. Handsets can be hired from Cable & Wireless and Digicel Dealers (check Yellow Pages for dealers).

Fax:. Widely available in most hotels and offices.

Internet/E-mail: There are a few Internet kiosks at shopping centers in Kingston; more should soon be available. Cybercafs also exist in Kingston and other towns. ISPs include Cable & Wireless and other third party company. Available in most hotels and offices

Telegram: Facilities are widely available.

Post: Airmail available. Post office hours: 0830-1630 Monday to Friday.

Press: Daily papers are The Gleaner,The Daily Star and The Jamaica Observer.

 

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