Jamaica

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Living in Jamaica

When you think of life in Jamaica, the constant sunshine and reggae music might be the first things to spring to mind, but living there is about much more than that tourist stereotypes. Check out our expat guide to Jamaica for a deeper insight into the “Land of Wood and Water”.
Jamaica's green, black, and yellow flag represents the sun, the land, and the hardships the people have overcome, past and present.

Hurricanes and Sunshine

The island’s climate is probably one of the main draws for people dreaming of visiting or living in Jamaica. Jamaica’s tropical climate makes for wonderful holidays in the sun, with temperatures rarely falling below 20°C, and facilitates many diverse ecosystems.

Although the constant sunshine is a great selling point for tourism, the novelty might wear thin if you’re intending to live in Jamaica for an extended period of time. Prepare yourself for the high level of humidity, which can be oppressive and tiring if you’re not used to it.

The country is also located in the Atlantic hurricane belt, meaning that Jamaica is at risk of hurricanes from June to November every year, with the peak season from August to October. However, it’s important to note that the country is only hit directly by a hurricane every eleven years, on average, so your chances of being affected are fairly slim. Most recently, Jamaica was heavily affected by Hurricane Sandy, which caused 100 million USD worth of damage in 2012. Fortunately, however, it was mostly spared by other devastating storms in the region, such as Hurricane Matthew in 2016 or Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. 

 

The Jamaican Population

With just under three million people, Jamaica’s population is small, and only the capital city of Kingston has over 200,000 residents: most of the country’s metropolises would therefore be considered medium-sized neighbourhoods in other expat magnets around the globe.

The vast majority of the population today is of African ancestry. There are also smaller demographic groups of Jamaicans with Indian and Chinese heritage, and with increasing immigration to the country, the numbers of US American, Canadian, and British people living in the country are also on the rise.

A Brief History of “Xaymaca”

Jamaica has an eventful and fascinating history. Populated by the Arawak and Taíno indigenous people for thousands of years, the island was colonised by Spain in 1509 and subsequently Britain in 1655. The island experienced centuries of slavery, becoming one of the world’s leading slave-dependent sugar exporters in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, the slave trade was declared illegal in 1807, and slavery itself was abolished about 30 years later. After that, many owners of sugar plantations hired workers from abroad, especially from India and China, adding to Jamaica’s ethnic heritage.

It was only in the 20th century that Jamaica achieved independence from the UK. It became a country of its own in 1962. Today, it remains a Commonwealth realm, and therefore Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and reigning monarch.

A Culture of Music and Good Food

Music is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of cultural life in Jamaica, and the country is internationally renowned for its reggae, dub, and dancehall genres, and for famous singers like Bob Marley. It has also popularized the Rastafari culture and religion, the trademarks of which are a traditional dreadlock hairstyle and a green, gold, and red pattern used on clothing. Rastafari is often associated with Jamaica and popularly perceived as a symbol of the country’s culture, but in reality only around 1% of Jamaicans follow this religion, Christianity is a far more popular choice, followed by almost 70% of the country’s population.  

Of course, Jamaican culture is about more than just music. The island is also known for its cuisine, which frequently uses local ingredients, and is influenced by a variety of the cultural heritages that make up Jamaica, such as Spanish, British, Indian, and Chinese. Jamaica’s best-known dish is jerk chicken, and the famous jerk spice is sold all around the world. Seafood dishes are also particularly popular, especially ackee and saltfish.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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