7 Facts You Never Knew About Jamaica

Jamaica is a land with a very distinct personality, so much so that much of its culture has filtered down to some of the smaller islands of the Caribbean; everything from the music to the fashion and lingo.

Jamaican culture has also gone international, seen in the most significant way on the entertainment scene, with international musical acts being influenced by Jamaican Dancehall and Reggae. The result being an ever-evolving musical contribution that is a fusion of places, cultures, and people. Aside from music, some of the other things Jamaica is known for are sports, amazing beaches, its abundance of waterfalls, and so much more. 

Read on to find out more about the top 7 things Jamaica is most known for. This list should give you a broad idea what Jamaica is about and what you can expect when traveling there.

1. Jamaica Has the Most Churches per Square Mile

Within my small beach suburban community of fewer than 1,000 residents, there are four churches within a half-mile radius of my house. According to the National Library of Jamaica, there are approximately 2.75 churches per square mile, a fact recognized by the “Guinness World Book of Records.” There are also churches in people’s backyards and living rooms that haven’t been taken into consideration.

Bethabara Moravian Church Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Jamaica is a very Christian country, which heavily influences its educational, political, and social systems. All schools in Jamaica have a Christian devotion in the morning before classes begin.

There are over 100 different Christian denominations in Jamaica. The most popular ones being Baptist, Catholic, Anglican, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, New Testament, Church of God, and Pentecostal. You also have the less popular ones such as Mormon and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

There are also churches that still incorporate elements of African culture such as the Poco and Revival churches. No matter what faith they belong to, almost every Jamaican believes in spirituality, the continuance of life after death, and a final judgment day.

 2. The James Bond Series Was Written in Jamaica

While working for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division, Ian Fleming was in charge of a covert operation called Goldeneye, giving him real-life inspiration for his world-famous Bond series. Fleming later bought a 15-acre piece of land (which used to be a donkey racecourse!) in Jamaica and named it Goldeneye. Former British Prime Minister Anthony Eden and other celebrities were also known to spend time at GoldenEye.

Ian Fleming got the name James Bond from an American ornithologist of the same name who frequented Jamaica and was an expert on Caribbean birds.

The first James Bond novel to be completed in Jamaica was Casino Royale, and three other Bond novels (and movies)—Dr. NoLive and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun—feature Jamaican scenery. Dr. No, the first James Bond movie, was filmed in Jamaica. The crocodile farm where Bond ran on top of the crocodiles is still in operation and is popular among tourists.

The late Mr. Flemming has since had a private airport named after him in Jamaica.

“I wrote every one of the Bond thrillers here.”

— Ian Fleming

3. The Healing Waters Of Jamaica

The Windsor Mineral Spring (more commonly known as “Fire Water”) is a small pool of water with a very unusual quality. The pool contains water which can catch fire!

The pool is about the size of a large Jacuzzi, and possessed a spectacular property seen very rarely – the pool is filled with water can set on fire. This special wonder is thought to happen due to the high Sulphur levels in the water.

The mineral water is constantly pumped up from below the ground, and contains a plug that needs to be pulled to avoid the water overflowing. The temperature of the water is lukewarm, and it is said to have a salty and bitter taste.

You can participate in a fire massage, where you lie in the water and, using a towel that is placed in the flames after being submerged in the water, you get massaged. The high level of Sulphur and other minerals in the pool are said to have mystical healing powers, where some claim they have been cured of skin infections and arthritis by soaking in the water. Most visitors claim to experience some degree of healing and rejuvenating effects.

The pond was used for many centuries by slaves living in the nearby areas simply for is medicinal effects, but its fiery properties were only discovered roughly eighty years ago by Mehala Smith, who is better known as Granny May.

4. Beautiful Women

The beauty and charm of Jamaican women is evident wherever in the world they go.

A beautiful Jamaican woman

 The Jamaican woman is known for her beauty as is evidenced by the multiple Miss World wins (Carole Crawford, Cindy Breakspeare, Lisa Hanna and Toni-Ann Singh) and top five finishes in both the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants over the years.

5. Reggae

Bob Marley Photo via Instagram

Jamaica is home to so many big names in Reggae including Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Greggory Issacs, Shaggy, and Sean Paul, that you might even say Reggae music was born in Jamaica. Reggae legend Bob Marley for example has many popular international hits such as ‘One Love’, ‘Three Little Birds’, and ‘Redemption Song’. Reggae music has always served as a tool for empowerment, and expression of political and social views. It is connected to the Rastafari movement, which began in the 1930s in Jamaica.

While in Jamaica, visitors have a chance to learn about the beginnings of Reggae music, to experience the entertainment scene of which Reggae is a huge part, and even to embark on rum and Reggae tours, or visit the popular Bob Marley Museum where there are opportunities to take a closer look at the life of the revered Jamaican musician.

6. Home to some of the world’s fastest sprinters

There’s gotta be something in the water in Jamaica that causes the small island to keep producing some of the best athletes in the world. This Caribbean nation is known to be the birthplace of several world-renowned sprinters, including the fastest runner in the world, Usain Bolt. Bolt is a three-time Olympic Champion and former World Record Holder.

Usain Bolt Image via Instagram

Other famous sprinters from Jamaica include former 200m World Champion Merlene Ottey, two-time 200m Olympic Champion and 100m World Champion Veronica Campbell, former 100m World Record Holder Asafa Powell, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who at 21 years old in 2008 became the first Caribbean woman to win 100m gold at the Olympics. Fraser-Pryce won the 100m and 4 x 100m relay titles at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships held in Doha, Qatar.

Another Jamaican sprinter to watch is Elaine Thompson who at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro won double gold, in the 100m and 200m some years ago. Elaine Thompson as it stands now is One of the greatest female sprinters of all time, she is a five-time Olympic champion, the fastest woman alive, and the second-fastest in history over both distances.

7. Legalization of Cannabis

Despite Jamaica’s reputation as a cannabis haven, Jamaica only relaxed its laws in 2015. Currently, possessing small amounts of cannabis for personal use has been decriminalized. If caught with under 56.6 grams of cannabis and without a prescription, the possessor will be fined 500 Jamaican dollars (about $5 USD). Jamaicans can also have up to five cannabis plants in their homes for personal use.

Meanwhile, the marijuana legalized in Jamaica is intended for medical, therapeutic or religious reasons. This includes the purchase of cannabis when the plant was prescribed in another country. Jamaican doctors will issue medical marijuana cards for a far wider range of conditions than doctors in other jurisdictions. Anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain are all legally treatable with cannabis under Jamaican law. Therefore, the answer to the question, “Is weed legal in Jamaica,?” if you have a medical prescription, is a resounding yes. 

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