Jamaica is the largest English-speaking Caribbean island and the third largest in the region.
The island is divided into three counties – Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey – which are subdivided into 14 parishes: Kingston, Saint Andrew, Saint Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, Saint Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, Saint James, Trelawny, Saint Ann, Saint Mary, Portland and Saint Thomas. Kingston is Jamaica’s capital.
The National Bird is the indigenous ‘Doctor Bird’ or Swallow-Tail Humming Bird (Trochilus Poltmus).
The National Fruit is the Ackee (Blighia sapida), which originated from Africa.
The National Tree is the Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus Elatus).
The National Flower is that produced by the Lignum Vitae Tree (Guiacum officinale).
The National Flag was first raised on Independence Day, August 6, 1962. Each of the colours has a specific meaning: black – hardships overcome and to be faced; green – hope and agricultural resources; gold – natural wealth and beauty of sunlight. This was also expressed as “Hardships there are, but the land is green and the sun shineth”.
The National Coat of Arms: the Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many One People’, and is based on the population’s multi-racial roots. The motto is represented on the Coat of Arms, showing a male and female member of the Taino tribe standing on either side of a shield which bears a red cross with five golden pineapples. The crest shows a Jamaican crocodile mounted on the Royal Helmet of the British Monarchy and mantling.
The traditional folk dress is another well loved costume of Jamaica. It is a beautiful outfit of red and white plaid cotton material which is worn for Independence Galas and other holidays in Jamaica by ladies. There have been various designs of this costume worn by all Miss Jamaica World Contestants but the one constant is the bandana skirt and the bandana head tie in red and white plaid. Jamaican men also wear this costume in a shirt with white pants and a bandana head tie.
A few historical moments (pre-Independence)
May 1494: Christopher Columbus arrived in Jamaica (the Spanish formed settlements in 1509)
May 1655: Great Britain took control of Jamaica from the Spanish
1692: Port Royal earthquake
1831: Christmas Revolution
August 1834: Emancipation proclamation was read
1947: Autonomy from Britain was granted
1958: Jamaica became a key member of the British-sponsored West Indies Federation
August 1962: Jamaica gained Independence from the British
A few historical moments (post-Independence)
November 1963: Carol Joan Crawford was the first Jamaican to be crowned Miss World
January 1965: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jnr. Delivered the University of the West Indies valedictory address
April 1966: His imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, visited the island
1968: Air Jamaica was formed
1978: Bob Marley concert
1980: Merlene Ottey was the first female Caribbean athlete to win an Olympic medal
1986: Mother Theresa visited Jamaica
1991: Nelson Mandela visited Jamaica
1998: the Reggae Boyz was the first English speaking Caribbean nation to qualify for the World Cup finals
2000: Highway 2000
2003: Emancipation Park was created
June 2004: Asafa Powell recorded his first sub-10 100 m race time
2008: Usain Bolt was first man in Olympic history to win both the 100m and 200m races in world record times
On A Mission, Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary official theme song