Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jamaica!

Today is Independence Day in Jamaica

Oh, Jamaica.  For those of us who cruise the Western Caribbean, it's at least somewhat familiar.  But, how much do you actually know about Jamaica?

For instance... today is Jamaica's Independence Day.  August 6, 1962 was the day that the island nation, which had been under the rule of Great Britain, gained full independence.  As such, it was the first Caribbean island nation to do so.  Happy Fifty First Birthday, Jamaica!

Being such a special day, it's also a good one to pass on a few random facts about the country.  So, here are a few things you'll be able to impress your cruise mates with the next time you're fortunate enough to enjoy Ocho Rios, Falmouth, or Kingston as a port of call.

Jamaican Lighthouses
 Plumb Point Lighthouse,
via Wikimedia Commons
There are eleven lighthouses in Jamaica. Nine of these are on the Jamaican mainland, and two are on small cays out in the Caribbean Sea.

The country's port authority reports that the lamp in the Plumb Point Lighthouse, near Port Royal, has gone out just once since the structure was erected in 1853.  That one outage was during an earthquake that struck the area in 1907.

Other Random Facts about Jamaica
  • The land mass we call Jamaica is actually the third largest island in the Greater Antilles.
  • Kingston boasts the seventh largest natural harbor in the world.
  • Not surprisingly, rum is the national drink.
  • Reggae music originated there in the 1960's.
  • The movie Cool Runnings, about a Jamaican bobsled team that had no snow to train on, yet made it to the Olympics is actually based on fact.  
  • Last year on August 6, 20125,  one U.S. dollar was worth about 86 Jamaican dollars.  This year, it would be worth about 99.  
  • That right now, means their $20.00 coin (yes, there is one) is roughly equivalent to an American nickel. 
Here's a page where you can enjoy a few images of Jamaica, and vote for your favorite.