Discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the West Indies in 1494, the island was immediately claimed for the Spanish Crown. Within a few years of Spanish arrival, the inhabitants, the Tainos, a peaceful, gentle people were subjugated and forced to into labor. With little or no resistance to European diseases, they were soon decimated.
By 1513, the first Africans were brought to the island as slaves, as the Spanish sought to replace the Tainos on their farms and plantations.
As the island’s importance to Spain grew, her chief rival at the time, England, soon saw opportunity. In 1655, the English navy attacked, capturing the island and forcing the Spanish to flee to neighboring Cuba. In the ensuing confusion, African slaves fled to the surrounding mountains, eventually becoming “Maroon” run-aways, guerrilla fighters who later fought valiantly against English imposed slavery.
Today, most Jamaicans, 90%, are of African ancestry. Over the years, other ethnic groups have come including East Indians, Chinese, Germans, Jews, and Syrians/Lebanese. All have been instrumental in the nation’s development, creating the unique cultural and ethnic mix summarized by the country’s national motto: “Out of Many, One People”.
Jamaica is in the West Indies, which is an archipelago of islands between southeast United States and northern South America. The island is in the Northern and Western Hemispheres and is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.
Some Local foods
Jamaica is an exciting culinary destination. Each ethnicity that has made the island “home”, has invariably brought something to the “table”.
“Must try” Jamaican dishes include: Ackee and Saltfish, Johnny Cakes, Boiled Green Bananas, Rice and Peas, Jerk Chicken and/or Jerk Pork, Fried Breadfruit, Jamaican Red Peas Soup, Stewed Oxtail and Beans, Curry Goat, Jamaican Beef Patty, Escovitch Fish, Fried Bammy, Pepper Pot Soup and Manish Water Soup to name just a few.