Jamaica is an island in the West Indies, 90 mi (145 km) south of Cuba and 100
mi (161 km) west of Haiti. It is a little smaller than Connecticut. The island
is made up of coastal lowlands, a limestone plateau, and the Blue Mountains, a
group of volcanic hills, in the east.
Travellers have regarded Jamaica as one of the most alluring of the
Caribbean islands. Its beaches, mountains and carnal red sunsets regularly
appear in the sort of tourist brochures that promise paradise.
Unlike other nearby islands, it caters to all comers: you can choose a
private villa with your own private beach; laugh your vacation away at a
party-hearty resort; throw yourself into the thick of the island's life, or
concentrate on experiencing the three Rs: reggae, reefers and rum.
Jamaica's character arises from its complex culture, which aspires to be
African in defiance of both the island's geography and its colonial history.
Jamaicans may have a quick wit and a ready smile, but this is not the
happy-go-lucky island of Bacardi adverts and Harry Belafonte tunes. The island's
sombre history is rooted in the sugar-plantation economy, and the slave era
still weighs heavily on the national psyche. Rastafarianism may mean easy
skankin' to some, but its confused expression of love, hope, anger and social
discontent encapsulates modern Jamaica - a densely populated, poverty-ridden
country that is struggling to escape dependency and debt.
Montego Bay was once unashamedly Jamaica's tourist capital. Hundreds
of Jamaica visitors flooded in every day, seduced by a heavily marketed
Caribbean dream of swaying palm trees, lilting reggae and cocktails at sunset.
In recent years the steady flow of tourists has moved on to the more expansive
Jamaica charms of Negril or laid-back Treasure Beach. In many ways though,
Montego Bay still delivers; sitting pretty in a sweeping natural harbor, hemmed
in by a dazzling labyrinth of protected offshore reefs, and cradled by a
majestic arc of hills...
The 4,400 square mile island of Jamaica is
completely ringed by the Caribbean Sea. Lying 90 miles south of Cuba it is the
third largest island in the Caribbean. Each area of this vast island is
completely different... from the dramatic Blue Mountains in the eastern interior
to the limestone caves on the west coast. The one thing in common, north, south,
east and west, are the sandy beaches. With so much to choose from, most people
find one area and settle in, but if you wish to explore, the variety of the
scenery is a treat... grassy farmland, jungles, waterfalls, plantations,
rainforest, a bit of everything can be found on this lush island.