The Caribbean island of Jamaica is just south of Cuba, with a population of about three million. Originally inhabited by Arawak Indians who were wiped out by Europeans, the island was part of the English and Spanish empires. In the seventeenth century Jamaica was the world center of piracy, hiding colorful pirates like Captain Morgan. It later became a slave trade center, and many escaped West African slaves made their home in the rugged hills, to become known as the Maroons. The Maroons were a fierce and hearty group, essentially unconquered by the various empires, who today are an autonomous nation within Jamaica.

Jamaica won independence from England in 1962. The Jamaican culture is a rich blend of African, Indian, English and Caribbean peoples, with a strong rebel spirit and fierce pride, tempered by modern poverty. At the start of the 21st century, Jamaica is rebounding from a tough spell of revolutions and vicious politics, and maintains its position as a popular tourism destination. This is fitting, because the island is blessed with breathtaking beauty, from pristine tropical beaches to lush mountain regions. Jamaica's most famous resident is the musician/prophet Bob Marley.

We recommend that you research important Jamaican figures like Nanny and Marcus Garvey for a more thorough understanding of Jamaica.