August 13, 2022

Jamaica [jaˈmaɪ̯ka]/[dʒ-] (English Jamaica [ʤəˈmeɪkə]) is an island country in the Caribbean. The capital, Kingston, is also the country's largest city. The former British colony is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name derives from the Arawak Xaymaca or Chaymakas, which means something like "source country" or "wood and water country". The music styles ska and reggae originated on the island. The Rastafari faith also has its origins in Jamaica.



Jamaica is the third largest island in the Greater Antilles. It is 145 kilometers south of Cuba and - separated by the Jamaica Channel - 160 kilometers west of Hispaniola (Quisqueya) with the states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Central American mainland is 635 kilometers from the western tip. With a length of 235 kilometers and a width between 35 and 82 kilometers, the main island occupies an area of ​​10,991 square kilometers. Off the south-west coast is the Pedro Bank, a submarine elevation covering an area of ​​8000 square kilometers with a water depth of less than 100 meters. Within the bank are the Pedro Cays, a group of islands totaling 23 hectares. In addition to the main island and the Pedro Cays, the national territory of Jamaica also includes the archipelago of the Morant Cays, located about 60 kilometers to the south-east. The atolls of Serranilla Bank, Bajo Nuevo and Alice Shoal (the latter an undersea reef) lie in the marine area jointly administered by Jamaica and Colombia.

Emergence of the island

The Caribbean is one of the most geologically complex regions in the world. Many details of Jamaica's formation are unknown or disputed. The most common theory is that western Jamaica and the Blue Mountains to the east met in different regions about eight million years ago. The Blue Mountains in the east are part of a mountain range whose mountain ranges can also be found in Cuba and Hispaniola. The geological structures are identical to those there. The mountains were lifted out of the water at the end of the Eocene and have been above sea level ever since. A land bridge to Hispaniola may have briefly existed around 35 million years ago. The western parts of Jamaica and the Pedro Bank were originally part of the submarine Nicaragua Ridge, from which they split 40 million years ago. During the Cretaceous period, a number of underwater volcanoes formed in the region, some of which probably broke through the sea surface for a short time. The oldest rock found on the island is solidified lava from this period. The entire block was lifted above the surface in the late Eocene by tectonic movements aided by a sharply falling sea level. At that time, at the latest, most of the volcanic activity ended. After another five million years, the rising sea level covered large parts of the area again. As a result, a limestone shell several hundred meters thick was formed, which today still covers almost the entire west. There are indications that some higher parts have subsequently been above the water surface several times. The last major uplift began eight million years ago, coinciding with the encounter with the Blue Mountains.

Geology and Landscape

Jamaica lies on the northern edge of the Caribbean Plate, which slides under the North American Plate just offshore. The proximity to the plate boundary repeatedly leads to strong earthquakes, such as the one that destroyed Port Royal in 1692. The west and center of the island are dominated by layers of limestone several hundred meters thick, covering about two-thirds of the surface. In the center they form mountain chains up to 900 meters high. In the soft rock