"Tis the fairest isle eyes have ever seen" (Christopher Columbus 1494)
Jamaica - the very word conjures up images of sun-drenched beaches, pulsating sounds of reggae music and the lilting accents of its people. It is an island famed for its stunning natural beauty, rich culture and gifted people. Known as the 'land of wood and water', the island is approximately 11,000 square kilometres (4,250 square miles) with the majestic Blue Mountain Peak rising to over 2,260 metres (7,400 feet), from which, on a clear day, you can see Cuba.
The island is divided into 14 parishes and has a population of more than 2.9 million people, 55% of whom live in the urban areas. The principal economic activities are tourism, bauxite/alumina mining and agriculture. Jamaica is the home of Blue Mountain Coffee, perhaps the most exquisite of all coffees and certainly one of the world’s most expensive. Jamaica is perhaps better known as the birthplace of Bob Marley whose vision and message of hope and justice calls out to oppressed people everywhere.
Jamaica is a popular tourist destination for sun, sand and sea, but there is also the undiscovered Jamaica — the Jamaica that takes you on hiking trails high in the mountains and down into hidden grottoes. It is the Jamaica of community tourism where one visits with the locals, drinks a Red Stripe beer and shares in the 'cool runnings'. It hosts festivals that celebrate food and culture — Yam, Shrimp, Jerk, the Festival of Independence and also Carnival — Jamaican style. The diversity of Jamaica is what sets it apart from other Caribbean islands. The major cities and towns offer variety to visitors and citizens alike.