For centuries, Jamaica has welcomed settlers from all around the world. This small island has played host to the Amerindians who discovered it, to Europeans who fought to own it, to Africans forced to call it home, and to Asians, Indians and Middle Easterners searching for a better life. Each group carried with it a story and tradition, throwing everything into Jamaica's melting pot. After centuries of brewing, all have blended together to give the island its rich history and heritage - an international smorgasbord of legends, cultures and customs, all displayed right here against the background of Jamaica’s beautiful mountains and valleys. Jamaica doesn’t mix easily with the rest of the Caribbean, it is historically and culturally different.
Negril's casual, laid-back pace, sandy beaches and natural beauty are a feast for the eyes and soul. Here, anything goes and everyone’s welcome.
Energetic, stunning and exciting, Montego Bay summons the hedonist, gourmet and golfer in all of us to come out and play. Journey into the 18th century and tour the elegant town homes of the plantation era in one of Jamaica's best-preserved historic towns.
Ocho Rios is a favourite destination for cruise ships. Fun and excitement blend with rest and relaxation within this astoundingly beautiful garden parish.
A picture-perfect display of nature’s finest works with dazzling walls of green mountainside slipping into crystalline waters. Port Antonio’s quiet charm casts a romantic spell that’s sure to enchant you.
The epicentre of Jamaica’s arts and cultural landscape, Kingston is always abuzz with a robust vibrancy befitting the island’s political, economic and social capital.
The Appleton Rum Estate has been blending rums since 1749. The Rum Distillery is sited beside the Black River in one of the most beautiful valleys in Jamaica, south of Montego Bay. You can savour these rums after you tour the distillery and learn the details of the distilling process from sugarcane, molasses, sugar, to wine and rum.
Jamaica’s first inhabitants were the Tainos, an Arawak-speaking people, believed to be originally from South America. The Tainos called the island "Xaymaca" meaning "land of wood and water". These peaceful, seafaring people greeted Columbus when he first visited the island in 1494.
Columbus described Jamaica as "the fairest isle mine eyes ever beheld …" His arrival marked the beginning of nearly 500 years of European occupation and governance. Initially, the Spanish settled near St Ann's Bay at "Sevilla Nueva" (New Seville), but eventually moved to "Villa de la Vega" (the city on the plains), now called "Spanish Town". Their new city swiftly flourished, becoming the island's centre of activity.
At Rio Nuevo in 1658, the most definitive battle between the English and the Spanish over the control of Jamaica took place and, as a result, after 150 years of Spanish rule, the British were able to capture the island. In a last-ditch attempt at defiance, the Spanish settlers freed and armed their slaves, who sought refuge in the island’s interior.
Under British rule, Jamaica became a busy and wealthy colony. By the 18th century, the island was "the jewel of the British crown", producing 22 percent of the world's sugar on large, lucrative plantations. This success came at great cost to the African people, thousands of whom were forcefully brought to the New World as slaves.
As a result of the cruel and oppressive slavery system, Jamaica had more revolts than other West Indian islands. Reports of frequent slave uprisings and other forms of resistance, coupled with brutal planter-militia reprisals, troubled the European conscience. In time, anti-slavery sentiments grew strong in Europe, culminating in the Emancipation Act of 1834.
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