The Jamaica Portal

Location of Jamaica

Jamaica (/əˈmkə/ (listen); Jamaican Patois: Jumieka) is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola). Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola (the island containing the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic); the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands lies some 215 kilometres (134 mi) to the north-west.

With 2.9 million people, Jamaica is the third-most populous Anglophone country in the Americas (after the United States and Canada), and the fourth-most populous country in the Caribbean. Kingston is the country's capital and largest city. The majority of Jamaicans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, with significant European, East Asian (primarily Chinese), Indian, Lebanese, and mixed-race minorities. Due to a high rate of emigration for work since the 1960s, there is a large Jamaican diaspora, particularly in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The country has a global influence that belies its small size; it was the birthplace of the Rastafari religion, reggae music (and associated genres such as dub, ska and dancehall), and it is internationally prominent in sports, most notably cricket, sprinting and athletics. Having punched so highly above its weight, Jamaica is often considered the world’s least populous cultural superpower. (Full article...)

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Golden Clouds aerial view.jpg
Golden Clouds was the name given by Ruth Bryan Owen, the first female US ambassador, to her house in Oracabessa, Jamaica. It is situated between Goldeneye, where Ian Fleming wrote many of the James Bond novels, and Noël Coward's Firefly Estate. The ocean front 12-bedroom estate is on 7 acres (2.8 ha) of manicured lawn and gardens with over 500 feet (150 m) of shoreline and its own private beach. (Full article...)
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Richard Patrick Bennett OD, better known by the stage name Charlie Chaplin, is a Jamaican dancehall and ragga singer and deejay. It was common for Jamaican deejays of the era to name themselves after film stars or characters. Bennett, however, had been nicknamed after the comedian since his youth. His career began in 1980 when he began working with U-Roy's Stur-Gav Hi-Fi collective. He became extremely popular throughout Jamaica, memorable for his focus on cultural and social themes instead of the "slack" (rough, violent) lyrics that were popular at the time. His popularity as a live performer prompted Roy Cousins to produce some recording sessions with the young DJ. Chaplin's debut album was the Cousins-produced Presenting Charlie Chaplin in 1982, with several albums following for the producer over the next three years.

The contrast between Chaplin's "culture" lyrics and the other major deejays of the day led to the 1984 "clash" album with Yellowman Slackness Vs Pure Culture. (Full article...)

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Portrait in the style of Peter Lely, c. 1680
Portrait in the style of Peter Lely, c. 1680

Sir Henry Morgan (Welsh: Harri Morgan; c. 1635 – 25 August 1688) was a Welsh privateer, plantation owner, and later, Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica. From his base in Port Royal, Jamaica, he raided settlements and shipping on the Spanish Main, becoming wealthy as he did so. With the prize money from the raids, he purchased three large sugar plantations on the island.

Much of Morgan's early life is unknown. He was born in an area of Monmouthshire that is now part of the city of Cardiff. It is not known how he made his way to the West Indies, or how he began his career as a privateer. He was probably a member of a group of raiders led by Sir Christopher Myngs in the early 1660s during the Anglo-Spanish War. Morgan became a close friend of Sir Thomas Modyford, the Governor of Jamaica. When diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of England and Spain worsened in 1667, Modyford gave Morgan a letter of marque, a licence to attack and seize Spanish vessels. Morgan subsequently conducted successful and highly lucrative raids on Puerto Principe (now Camagüey in modern Cuba) and Porto Bello (now Portobelo in modern Panama). In 1668, he sailed for Maracaibo and Gibraltar, both on Lake Maracaibo in modern-day Venezuela; he raided both cities and stripped them of their wealth before destroying a large Spanish squadron as he escaped. In 1671, Morgan attacked Panama City, landing on the Caribbean coast and traversing the isthmus before he attacked the city, which was on the Pacific coast. To appease the Spanish, with whom the English had signed a peace treaty, Morgan was arrested and summoned to London in 1672, but was treated as a hero by the general populace and the leading figures of government and royalty including Charles II. (Full article...)

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Buju Banton performing at New York
Credit: Gregg
Buju Banton performing at New York's Apollo Theater during the 26th International Reggae & World Music Awards, 2007

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Stamp and Go and callaloo fritters
Stamp and Go and callaloo fritters
Stamp and Go is a fish fritter made with salt fish in Jamaican cuisine. It is part of a Jamaican breakfast. It is referred to as one of the original fast foods in Jamaica. The unusual name is supposed to have derived from the 18th-century British sailing ships. If an officer wanted something to be done in a hurry the order was "Stamp and Go!". These bite-sized, salty delights are a favorite at cocktail parties served with tangy dips. The larger ones are popular for breakfast, and were very popular as "journey" food many years ago. (Full article...)

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