Frequently Asked Questions About Jamaica

If you’re a Jamaican living abroad you’ve no doubt been at one time or another bombarded with random questions about the island from a curious foreigner. These questions are usually normal everyday musings but some of them can get pretty strange and are often nonsensical. Nevertheless, as the good spirited Jamaican that you are, you try to answer them. Here is a list of 21 random questions about Jamaicans and their answers for the curious among us.

1.Is Jamaica In Africa?

Well the majority of our country’s people are of African descent but no, Jamaica is not located on or near the African continent. Jamaica is one of the larger English speaking islands that is located in the Caribbean sea.

2. What Does Jamaica Mean?

The officially recognized meaning for Jamaica is the “Land of Wood and Water”. 


  1. How Did Jamaica Get Its Name?

Before the 1494 invasion of the island by Spanish colonizers, Jamaica was known to its Taino inhabitants by the Arawak name “Xaymaca”. After taking over the island, the Spanish named it Jamaica – which was basically a corruption of the Taino name.


  1. When Was Jamaica Discovered?

Technically the island was discovered by the original Taino inhabitants centuries ago, but the politically correct answer to this question is that the island was ‘discovered’ by the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the region on May 5th,1494.


  1. How Was Jamaica Formed?

After the island’s alleged discovery by Christopher Columbus, the nation operated as a colony of Spain until it was captured by the English in 1655. It then became a British colony operating with a faux democratic structure until independence was obtained in 1962 and the island became a free democratic nation. Jamaica has a Prime Minister, who is the head of state and a two party political system with general elections every five years. 


  1. When Did Jamaica Gain Independence?

Jamaica obtained its independence on August 6, 1962 after more than 400 years of colonization and rule by foreign powers.


  1. What Is Jamaica Good for?

Too many things to name here, however, Jamaica is most popular worlwide for its Reggae music of which Bob Marley was a popular figure. Jamaican people excel in many sports such as netball, cricket and athletics. In athletics particularly, we hold many world records and the fastest man in the world – Usain Bolt, is one of our many talented sportsmen. Our unique culture and tasty food offerings are also renowned worldwide.

8. What Does Jamaica Export?

In past years, Jamaica was a major exporter of bauxite; decreased demands for the product have however lessened exports of the commodity. Currently, we export sugar, coffee, bananas and rum, among a few other manufactured commodities.  


  1. Is Jamaica Bigger Than Cuba?

No, Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean sea. Cuba, which just happens to be located only a few miles away from us, is the largest island.


  1. What Do Jamaicans Do for Fun?

Well pretty much the same things that others enjoy elsewhere. In the daytime Jamaicans enjoy going to the beach, playing sports, enjoying music and good food. Jamaica has a vibrant nightlife, especially in the city and town areas. Jamaican parties usually include lots of alcohol and the indigenous dancehall music.


  1. Is Jamaica A Poor Country?

Yes, Jamaica is considered a third world country and a poor one. There is a huge disparity between the rich and the poor however, and there are many wealthy Jamaicans living in areas often referred to as “uptown”.


  1. Where Do Jamaicans Live?

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t all live next to the ocean. Shocking right?

The common Jamaican lives in a regular house, made of blocks or wood and not in huts with thatched roofs or any other fancy ideas that you might have had about life in the tropics.


  1. Is Jamaica Safe?

Though Jamaica does have pockets of violence, the country is mostly safe. Like any other country, there are areas that are considered as hotspots for crimes that any well-thinking individual would try to avoid.

14. Is It Legal To Smoke Weed In Jamaica?

This is indeed a tricky question. Technically, the possession of marijuana is still not legal in Jamaica, however, if you are caught with small amounts for personal use then you will not be considered a criminal. If your intent is resale or distribution however, then you are liable for criminal charges. Having more than 2 ounces of marijuana is prosecutable by the law.


  1. Is Jamaica In the Bahamas?

No, Jamaica is not located in the Bahamas. Again Jamaica is one of many islands located in the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean sea.


  1. Is Jamaica Good for Vacation?

Absolutely! Jamaica is one of the most popular vacation spots in the Caribbean. The island offers great hotels, lovely beaches and unmatched entertainment and sightseeing opportunities. Jamaica’s unique culture and hospitable people make the island a unique vacation spot.


  1. Is Jamaica A Third World Country?

Yes, Jamaica is currently at a state in its development where the island is considered a part of the theoretical “third world”. Development across the island is unequal. There are highly developed suburbs with ultra modern amenities next to slums with little or basic living amenities. 


  1. Does Yam Really Make Jamaicans Run Fast?

Despite reports that the Jamaican yam has contributed to the natural prowess of our sprinters (specifically Olympian Usain Bolt), there is no scientific evidence to support these hypotheses. Yams are however a great source of nutrition and are exceptionally tasty too!


  1. Is Jamaica In The US?

Well there are indeed thousands of Jamaicans living in the United States but no, Jamaica is not located in the USA.


  1. Why Don’t All Jamaicans Wear Dreads?

Though it is now a popular hairstyle among many black people, dreads are generally worn by individuals who are a part of the rastafarian lifestyle. All Jamaicans don’t wear Dreads because all Jamaicans are not rastafarians or we just don’t find the particular hairstyle to be attractive. 


  1. When Jamaicans Dance, Why Do They Jump Off Speakers?
    Surprisingly, not all of us Jamaicans jump off speakers. Some of us don’t even dance.

In the dancehall arena however, stunts are a regular part of the performance. The more daring the stunts, the more ‘ratings’ the dancer gets. Jumping off speakers is just one of many stunts that the most daring dancers have mastered.


Of course, there are many more questions about the island that this list has not touched but hopefully this article helped to shed some light on at least one question that you had. To learn more about Jamaica and Jamaicans, click here!

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