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It’s no secret that Jamaica is an incredibly captivating nation with plenty of fun and interesting facts to explore. From its beautiful sandy beaches, stunning mountain ranges, and reggae music that will make you want to get up and dance – Jamaica has a whole lot going for it.
So if you’re looking for some fun facts about Jamaica, then we’ve got the perfect selection for you.
While certain symbols come to mind when thinking about Jamaica (think amazing beaches, coconuts and rum), there’s so much more beyond these stereotypes that make this destination an absolute must-visit if you haven’t been already.
Dive into the vibrant culture of Jamaica with this list of interesting facts about Jamaica its history, people, flag, reggae music and more. Uncover some weird and funny tidbits as we explore this Caribbean nation.
Fun Facts about Jamaica
1. TripAdvisor’s List of Best Destinations
Earning the #1 spot on TripAdvisor’s list of best Caribbean destinations to visit and an incredible #14 on worldwide.
2. Home To The Fastest Man in the World Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt is widely regarded as the world’s fastest man and Jamaica, his motherland, has been praised for its contribution to this claim.
He is an eight-time Olympic medalist and held records for both 100m and 200m sprints until his retirement in 2017.
Follow teammates – Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell are other meritorious Jamaican sprinters who also contribute to the country’s status of harbouring some of the swiftest men worldwide; many attribute their speed to a combination of Jamaican food and links with local traditions.
3. Once A Spanish Speaking Country
From 1509 to 1655, the beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica was under Spanish rule. Jamaica’s capital was known as Villa de la Vega and nicknamed Spanish Town by the English.
Even today there are many towns that hold on to their Spanish heritage with names inspired by their former colonisers for example Ocho Rios.
Additionally, many buildings built during this period still remain today – a testament to the cultural impact and legacy left behind by the Spaniards.
For more inspiration read my guide on things to do in Montego Bay Jamaica
Tourists flock to these historical sites for a glimpse into Jamaica’s past; delighting in both their construction and stylings. In 1655 when Britain took control of Jamaican soil, it ushered in an entirely new era for all inhabitants.
4. Largest English Speaking Caribbean Country
Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean Sea, with locals speaking their own versions of English known as Jamaican Patois.
This Creole and West African-influenced language was popularised by Louise Bennett Coverly (a national hero) who saw it as a legitimate way to communicate and gained recognition for her role in promoting Jamaican culture.
Fascinatingly, even though Jamaican Creole or Patois are often spoken in Jamaica, it is not written languages.
5. National Language
English is the official language of Jamaica, and its national language is the beloved Jamaican Patois.
6. Jamaica’s Bobsled Team
In 1988, Jamaica made history when it became the first tropical country to join in the wintertime festivities by sending a group of bobsledders to compete at the Winter Olympics.
Bobsledding is an exhilarating sport that consists of two or four teammates racing down icy tracks inside a sledge while being timed and navigating sharp twists and turns.
Their combined times are used to determine their final score. There was even a movie called “cool runnings” made about the Jamaican bobsled team.
For more inspiration read my guide on things to do in Jamaica
Geography Facts about Jamaica
7. Third Largest Island in the Caribbean
Although Jamaica is one of the most renowned Caribbean escapes, it’s merely the third largest island in this region. Cuba, Hispaniola, which consists of the Dominican Republic and Haiti and Jamaica are the top three largest islands to be discovered here.
8. A Part Of The Greater Antilles
Journey to Jamaica, a beautiful mountainous island located 600 miles (965 kilometres) south of the vibrant city of Miami, Florida. Jamaica is embedded in the chain of Caribbean islands known as the Greater Antilles alongside Cuba, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico is this gem that was created millions of years ago when two tectonic plates collided – North America and the Caribbean.
Historical Facts about Jamaica
9. Taino People
In the seventh century, the Taino/Arawak people settled in Xaymaca (the Arawak word Jamaica is derived) which they aptly named the “land of wood and water” or, alternatively, the poetic phrase “Land of Springs” due to its lush greenery and numerous rivers coursing throughout. The island was a paradise for them with its dense forests and abundant streams that were so plentiful then.
10. Original Inhabitants of Jamaica
Sadly, once Jamaica was conquered by Spain, the Taino people who were the original inhabitants of Jamaica, nearly became extinct due to slavery and disease.
11. Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was the first European to visit Jamaica in 1494 and called it “the fairest island that eyes have beheld.” He promptly enslaved the Taino people and by 1600 were wiped out by disease or harsh treatment.
12. Jamaica’s Population
Jamaica is a vibrant country where the majority of its citizens inhabit cities and one-third dwell in Kingston, the capital.
With over 90% originating from African descent and others coming from places such as China, India, Germany and Syria to seek employment opportunities; it’s no surprise that Jamaica embraces its motto “Out of Many, One People” due to its multi-racial roots.
For more inspiration read my guide on things to do in Ocho Rios
13. Jamaica Gained Independence
After surviving three gruelling centuries under British rule, Jamaica finally obtained its autonomy in 1962. Becoming the first Caribbean nation to break free from British rule and declare its independence.
Every year on August 6th – Jamaica’s Independence Day, Jamaicans come together to celebrate their independence with an abundance of street parties and other festive activities, it’s truly a scene right out of any Caribbean island movie. Despite gaining sovereignty, this vibrant nation still holds Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state while being part of the Commonwealth.
14. Railroad in Jamaica
Although Britain was the first nation to begin constructing railroads, most people don’t know that Jamaica soon followed suit. Astonishingly, in 1845 they constructed a fully functioning railway system. This accomplishment made them the first Western country outside of Europe and North America.
For more inspiration read my guide on the best places to visit in Jamaica
15. Driving in Jamaica
As a remnant of its colonial history, Jamaica still maintains various British laws and customs. For example, driving on the left side of the road is one such quirk that has endured to this day.
16. First Caribbean Country To Qualify For World Cup
By qualifying for the World Cup in 1997, Jamaica made international waves as the first English-speaking Caribbean country to achieve this remarkable feat.
17. Rastafarian Movement
The Rastafarian movement began in Jamaica back in the 1930s and has since spread across the globe. This religious practice is a combination of Protestant Christianity, and mysticism, as well as some aspects of pan-African political awareness.
As part of their faith, they believe that Haile Selassie the Emperor from Ethiopia between 1916 – 1974 is their saviour. Men within this religion do not cut or trim their hair; instead opting to keep it in dreadlocks while wearing clothes with colours associated with the Ethiopian flag (red, gold & green).
Despite its origin being Jamaica, the population of Rastafarians in Jamaica is there are only estimated at less than 5% of Jamaican.
For more inspiration read my guide on the best beaches in Jamaica
Facts about Jamaica Culture
18. Kingston The Country’s Capital City
With Kingston Harbor as the seventh-largest natural harbour in the globe, it is unsurprising that Jamaica’s capital city bustles with people and activity.
Make sure to explore renowned attractions such as Bob Marley Museum located inside his former home; Devon House, Hope Botanical Gardens & Zoo; and Port Royal – praised for its past of being a thief’s paradise and call “the wickedest city in the world”.
Port Royal in the Caribbean became renowned as a haven for pirates and trading ships during the 17th and 18th centuries. Its infamous visitors included the notorious Captain Henry Morgan, Blackbeard, and Calico Jack.
19. Jamaica Has the Most Churches per Square Mile
Jamaica boasts the world record of having the most churches per square mile in its small town with an impressive 2.75 churches to every square mile, as attested by The Guinness World Book of Records and the National Library of Jamaica combined.
With over 1600 places of worship scattered across that area, Jamaicans certainly take their faith seriously, though not exclusively so since many also practice Catholic, Baptist and Pentecostal beliefs among others.
Facts about the Jamaican Flag
20. Jamaican Flag
Jamaica’s flag was created in celebration of the nation’s newly won independence from Britain and came out of a nationwide design competition. Its iconic colours – gold for Jamaica’s sunshine, green for hope and agriculture, and black to represent its people’s strength – are proudly displayed everywhere you look throughout the country.
Uniquely, Jamaica’s national flag is the only flag in the world that does not share any colours with the American flag.
Interesting Facts About Jamaica
21. Largest Butterflies in the World
With a wingspan of no more than 6 inches, the Homerus swallowtail is among the 12 largest butterfly species across the world. Found exclusively in Jamaica, its caterpillar state emits an unpleasant smell as a defence mechanism to protect itself from potential predators.
22. Jamaica Is the Top Consumer of Cranberries per Capita
Cranberry is a luxurious fruit that is extremely popular amongst Jamaicans, since it does not grow natively in the region and must be imported. Not only do people savour its unique taste, but they also use cranberries for medicinal purposes such as relief from sicknesses, improved digestion and strengthened immunity systems.
For more inspiration read my guide on Is Drinking Water Safe in Jamaica?
23. Milk River Spa
People travel from far and wide to experience the remarkable healing powers of Milk River, Jamaica’s marvellously radioactive spa. These mineral-rich hot springs are said to have therapeutic effects on a variety of ailments; however, visitors can only soak for up to twenty minutes at a time due its radioactivity levels.
It is truly an incredible phenomenon – many individuals who visit testify that they feel refreshed and healed after spending time within these “healing waters”.
24. Ian Fleming & James Bond Series Written in Jamaica
During his time as an operative for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division, Ian Fleming had a project known as “Goldeneye” located in Jamaica. Intrigued by the country and its culture, he decided to extend his stay there and eventually bought land on which to live.
It was here that Fleming drew inspiration for the James Bond series, writing all 14 of his James Bond novels, plus it even served as the setting for the filming of the first-ever 007 movies.
25. First Caribbean Country to Launch a Website
In 1994, the vibrant and alluring island of Jamaica was introduced to the world by creating www.jamaicatravel.com. A website dedicated to providing travel advice, experiences and knowledge about this tropical paradise.
Facts about Jamaican Food
26. The Most Rum Bars per Square Mile
Jamaica is renowned for having the highest concentration of rum bars per square mile, due to its early production and export of this spirit before piracy. The islanders use it not only for drinking but also cooking and first aid needs. It’s important to remember that Jamaican rum can be particularly potent, even banned in certain areas.
Additionally, Jamaica boasts a rare gem among rums: Appleton Estate 50-Year Rum which costs an impressive $4,000 USD per 750ml bottle – making it one of the most expensive alcoholic drinks globally.
27. National Drink
Since the 17th century, rum has been an integral element of Jamaican culture and is celebrated as the country’s national drink.
28. Country’s National Dish Ackee and Saltfish
Boasting a diverse cultural heritage, Jamaica’s cuisine is shaped by global influences. The beloved Ackee and saltfish dish remains a crucial part of the islanders’ diets, while Jerk chicken and curried goat or mutton are both regional favourites.
29. Blue Mountain Coffee
Blue Mountain Coffee from Jamaica is one of the most sought-after coffees in the world, yet it’s also one of its rarest. Blue Mountain Coffee’s exquisite flavour and strength make it worth every penny for coffee lovers, despite its steep price tag. People long to get their hands on this unique brew to experience a taste sensation like no other.
Facts about Jamaican Music
30. Kool Herc Jamaican Hip Hop Pioneer
Kool Herc, a Jamaican innovator and pioneer of rap and hip-hop music, jumpstarted the genre we all know and love today. To honour his influence on hip-hop culture, Google celebrated its 44th anniversary with an unforgettable home page Doodle on August 11th 2017.
31. Reggae Music
Jamaica is renowned as the birthplace of Reggae, or “Ragged Music,” which drew influence from mento, ska and rocksteady styles in the 1950s and 60s.
Amongst the genre’s most iconic names are Bob Marley and his backing band The Wailers; Desmond Dekkar; Jimmy Cliff; Peter Tosh; Burning Spear all of whom made significant contributions to popularising this timeless sound across cultures worldwide.
32. Bob Marley
Establishing its place in history, Bob Marley’s “Legend” is the most sought-after reggae album of all time.
Fun Facts about Jamaica for Kids
33. National bird
Jamaica is home to the diminutive Vervain, the world’s second-smallest bird. Measuring a mere 2.5 inches (8 cm) in length, this hummingbird is an astonishing sight.
The island nation proudly boasts its diverse aviary life with its national bird the Streamertail Hummingbird or “Doctor Bird” featuring distinctive long tail feathers and a vivid scarlet bill.
34. Snake Indigenous to Jamaica
Jamaica is home to a mere 8 species of snake, none of which are poisonous.
35. Birds In Jamaica
Birdwatchers from around the world are drawn to this tropical island paradise, as they can observe an impressive 250 bird species – 26 of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
That wraps up our look at some fun facts about Jamaica. From its captivating wildlife to its unique culture, there’s no doubt that this beautiful island has plenty to offer visitors from around the world. So why not plan your next vacation to Jamaica? You won’t regret it.