Jamaica is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea just south of Cuba. The island was a British colony from 1665 to 1962.
The island belongs to the archipelago of the Greater Antilles, and is the third largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba and Hispaniola. The country also includes some small, uninhabited islands in the south. The first inhabitants of Jamaica were Taino people, Indians related to the Arawaks. Their name on the island was Xaymayca.
Cristopher Columbus was the first European to come to Jamaica in 1494. His name on the island was Santiago.
Jamaica is part of the ridge of an underwater mountain range. Half the area is covered with thick limestone layers. There are several parallel mountain ranges in the west-east direction. The highest peak is Blue Mountain Peak, located 2256 meters above sea level. The mountains are located in the middle of the country and are framed by a narrow coastal strip. Most of the beaches, which are white and pretty, are located on the north and west coasts.
In the lowlands and on the coast there is a tropical climate, in the heights it is more temperate. Eastern and southeastern winds can from August cause tropical storms, which can wreak havoc.
Much of the original vegetation has been wiped out in the lowlands, and previously a lot of forest grew here. In the northern part of the island there are rainforests, but further down much of the rainforest has been replaced by banana plantations. There are over 3000 flower species in Jamaica.
The only native land mammals still found on the island are 24 species of bats and the hutia Geocapromys brownii. The hutia is a large rodent in the beaver rat family, and was previously sought after because of its flesh. Five recently extinct mammal species, the monkey Xenothrix mcgregori and the rodents Oryzomys antillarum, Clidomys osborni, Xaymaca fulvopulvis and one rodent that has not been scientifically described. In 1872, Indian mungo was introduced, as part of the fight against snakes and against the rats that had previously accompanied humans here.
Jamaica has about 200 bird species.
90.9% of Jamaica's population has an African background. Other population groups on the island are East Indians (1.3%), Caucasians (0.2%), Chinese (0.2%) and Lebanese (0.1%). Other peoples make up a total of 7.3%.
The official language of Jamaica is English. Informally, Jamaican patois (pronounced patwa) is used by a majority of the population. Jamaican patois is mainly based on British English (or "The Queen's English"), but you can also find words from several African languages (including Akan, Ewe and Yoruba), from other European languages (Spanish, Portuguese and French). , from pre-Columbian languages (arawak) and from Asian languages (hindi and hakka). This linguistic diversity is representative of the diversity of Jamaica's population. In general, patois differs from English in pronunciation, grammar, orthography and syntax, with many different intonations that indicate different meanings and moods. The language is characterized by special pronunciation (/ θ / as [t] and / ð / as [d]), and has some special consonant sounds, most noticeable by / h /. For example, the word "there" is pronounced [ˈdɪeɹ]. Several linguists classify Jamaican Patois as a separate language, while others view it as an English dialect.
Jamaicans have emigrated, especially to the United States, Britain and Canada. The emigration rate has leveled off more in recent years. However, many Jamaicans live abroad and have become known as "the Jamaican diaspora". It has also emigrated some Jamaicans to Cuba. Foreign Jamaicans live in ghettos in several major cities in the United States, including New York, Buffalo, Miami's metropolitan areas, Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Hartford and Los Angeles. In Canada, the Jamaican population is centered in Toronto, and there are smaller groups in cities such as Montreal and Ottawa. In Britain, there are Jamaican communities in most major cities