6 Interesting Facts You’ll Want to Know Before You Go To Jamaica
Cheerful people, warm weather and laid-back beaches all naturally spring to mind when thinking about Jamaica. Some of you may even know that the capital of this lively island nation is Kingston. However, the curious traveller might be interested in learning a few more interesting facts about this Caribbean destination before hopping aboard a flight. Here are six lesser-known Jamaica facts you can take with you to enrich your holiday experience.
1. Jamaica has competed in the Winter Olympics
We’ve all become used to Jamaican sprinters like Usain Bolt earning the admiration of the world by dominating sprint events in athletics. Did you know, however, that four guys from the island switched the warm weather in Jamaica for the harsh conditions of Calgary to compete in the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988?
It all started with the notion that a great athlete can do any sport and the gauntlet was thrown down. The team didn’t do brilliantly in the first two heats, but in the third they began to silence the doubters until an unfortunate crash on a bend. The team stoically went on to push their bobsled to the finishing line.
2. Rum is Jamaica’s national drink
Do you want to ingratiate yourself with the locals? Then enjoy a glass of rum – their national drink. Ranging from dark to light in colour, it’s more Jamaican to blend the drink with other spirits and ingredients rather than enjoying it neat. Coconut water and rum go especially well together.
Other tasty Jamaican tipples include Tia Maria – a famous liqueur made from coffee beans, rum, vanilla and sugar – plus the light, refreshing lager Red Stripe. Drinks like these are the pride of Jamaica.
3. Blue Mountain Coffee is one of the most expensive in the world
Cultivated in the valleys of the Blue Mountain range, Blue Mountain Coffee is one of the most expensive in the world (following closely behind kopi luwak). The coffee sells at a starting price of around €44 per pound, and its main importer is Japan, surprisingly.
The Blue Mountains are approximately 3 hrs 30 minutes away from Montego Bay by car, so get up early if you want to see them. The highest peak in the range is the Blue Mountain Peak itself, which reaches for the skies at 7,402 feet.
4. Ackee and saltfish is the national dish
Jamaica is famed for jerk chicken, which is admittedly delicious, but the national dish of the island is actually ackee and saltfish. Ackee is a nutritious fruit combining a buttery and nutty flavour.
The ackee is boiled and then sautéed with the saltfish (usually a salt-cured cod) along with tomatoes and onions. You’ll see the Jamaicans eating it for breakfast!
5. The island was first sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1494
Intrepid explorer Christopher Columbus first spotted the island of Jamaica in 1494 during his second voyage. He had originally set out on a search for gold along the Cuban coastline.
Columbus named the island Santiago, however, the indigenous name of Jamaica — also Xaymaca — eventually won out as the name of the island. Columbus quite liked the island and thought of it as ‘the fairest isle that eyes beheld’.
6. Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean
If you have any worries about getting by in the language, you can dispense with these. Jamaica is the largest English-speaking nation in the Caribbean, so you’ll be able to make yourself understood wherever you go. Besides, Jamaican people are so laidback and affable that you’ll be understanding each other in no time!
Now it’s time to pack your bags and get yourself on a flight to Jamaica. Fresh with these facts about the island, you can really soak up the culture and make the most of your holiday.