Culture

In Jamaica, you are greeted with a naturally warm and friendly people, complemented by a vibrant and unique culture. As a tourism mecca, celebrated for its people, music, food, sport and art, Jamaica is the “Home of All Right.”

National Flower

Jamaica is famous for its flora, having the greatest number of plant species of any nation of comparable size. Among these floral treasures is the Lignum Vitae (Guiacum Officinale), meaning “wood of life” Aside from its beauty, it has many medicinal and practical uses. The body, gum, bark, fruit, leaves and blossom all serve some useful purpose. The gum (gum guaiac) obtained from its resin was used as a purgative and also exported to Europe from the early sixteenth century as a remedy (combined with Mercury) for both syphllis and gout. The wood was used as propeller shaft bearings in nearly all the ships sailing the “seven seas”. The Lignum Vitae is also used for items such as mortars, pulleys, batons carried by policemen and furniture.

NATIONAL BIRD

Jamaica is a naturalist's dream, with a remarkably high proportion of plants and animals, not found anywhere else on the planet. Among its 28 endemic bird species are the Red-billed Streamertail, which is the most abundant and widespread hummingbird in Jamaica, and the Black-billed Streamertail, a far less common hummingbird found only in the eastern part of the island. The local name for the Streamertail is “doctor bird.” The male's outer tail feathers, which are longer than the bird itself, along with its black crest, reminded Jamaicans of the top hat and coattails of an old-time doctor. The Arawak Indians, who were early inhabitants on the island, referred to the Streamertail as the “God bird,” since they believed these hummingbirds had magical powers and were the reincarnation of dead souls. This snazzy hummingbird has also caught the eye of visitors. In Ian Fleming's James Bond short story, For Your Eyes Only, the first line reads, “The most beautiful bird in Jamaica, and some say the most beautiful bird in the world, is the streamer-tail or doctor humming-bird.”

Sports

Over the years, Jamaica’s fame as an island that produces stellar sportsmen and sportswomen has grown immensely. Our athletes have performed on the world stage in track and field, swimming, football, cricket and netball and their achievements have brought positive global recognition to the island. Our incredible love for sports is a unifying element and significant part of Jamaican culture. From living legend and three times Olympics champion Usain Bolt to cricketers George Headley and Courtney Walsh, our athletes have achieved significant feats and left a great legacy to inspire other Jamaicans and the rest of the world.

Music

Jamaican music is world famous, and has beautifully evolved from the early genres of folk, ska and rocksteady to the more contemporary genres of reggae and dancehall. Drawing from several different influences, our music reflects the tides of the time with the sounds and rhythms each possessing its own distinctive beat. Jamaican music plays an irreplaceable role in our culture with its ability to shake social barriers and unify our nation with its intensity and ingenuity. Its power to heal and inspire makes it an essential part of the Jamaican identity.

Cuisine

Things are just sweeter and more flavorsome here on the island, and whether it be the sun, or the love we put into our dishes, there is a little bit of magic in our cuisine. With influences from all over the globe, you’ll taste a fusion of flavors derived from the early inhabitants of the island- Tainos, Europe, Africa and India. Immerse yourself in a world of flavor and spices, and taste something new.

Source: Visit Jamaica

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