Jamaica conjures images of idyllic beaches, the Blue Mountains, rum, reggae, Bob Marley and Rastafarians. The famous Blue Mountains form part of a range that bisects the island east to west. Some 120 rivers and numerous waterfalls tumble from the mountains to the coast, particularly in the north, which is cooler and greener than the south (with its wider coastal plains). Areas such as Ocho Rios offer visitors beautiful beaches, resort accommodations and stunning waterfalls. Jamaica has tropical scenic beauty and a tourist infrastructure capable of handling a wide spectrum of travelers. The capital city is Kingston. Popular resort areas include Runaway Bay, Montego Bay and Negril.

Temperatures are warm throughout the year, roughly 27-32 C (80-90 F), though the heat is relieved by the trade winds. Tropical showers fall mainly in May and October but can occur year round.

Jamaica's history includes hundreds of years of domination by the Spanish and English, who exploited African slaves, before the island-nation gained independence in 1962. The European-rule and slavery influences are reflected in Jamaica's language, food and people, as most Jamaicans have African, Afro-European or East Indian ancestry. Small minorities also trace roots to the United Kingdom, India, China, Syria, Portugal or Germany. English is the official language.

Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy, with an elected House of Representatives and a nominated Senate. The head of state is the British monarch. The head of government is the prime minister.

Cruises to Jamaica are a popular way to discover the island. Cruises departing from various American ports offer day or extended stay trips to Jamaica. Popular choices include Royal Caribbean Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruises.

Visitors to Jamaica have a wide variety of recreational activities to choose from in the Caribbean paradise. Visitors can tours colonial towns or quaint fishing villages. All inclusive packages are available from tour operators. Outdoor activities on the island include all beach related recreation, golf, snorkeling, sailing, tennis and hiking. The nightlife in Jamaica is varied. There are Reggae clubs and discos. Dining options include restaurants serving everything from traditional Jamaican dishes like jerk chicken to world-class seafood at the resorts.

Road conditions are average. The communications infrastructure is modern, with international direct dialing available. There are two airports, Sangster International and Norman Manley International. Air Jamaica is a popular carrier.

Jamaica has one of the highest crime and murder rates in the Caribbean. Travelers who stay within resorts are generally not bothered, but those venturing outside of resorts expose themselves to overly aggressive vendors and possible violent crime.





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