amaica is more than sugar-white sands, deluxe all-inclusive resorts and warm turquoise waters. Dive the reefs at Runaway Bay, learn about Kingston’s history and culture, shop in the Negril craft market or visit an old plantation home such as the Rose Hall Great House.
With 2.8 million people, Jamaica is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. It remains a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State.
History. Arawak Indians inhabited Jamaica when Columbus explored it in 1494 and named it St. Iago. It remained under Spanish rule until 1655, when it became a British possession. Buccaneers operated from Port Royal, also the capital, until it fell into the sea in an earthquake in 1692. During its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world’s leading sugar-exporting, slave-dependent nations. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the British imported Indian and Chinese workers as indentured servants to supplement the labour pool. Descendants of indentured servants of Asian and Chinese origin continue to reside in Jamaica today.
Jamaica’s climate is tropical, supporting diverse ecosystems with a wealth of plants and animals.
Jamaican waters contain considerable resources of fresh-and saltwater fish. The chief varieties of saltwater fish are kingfish, jack, mackerel, whiting, bonito, and tuna. Fish that occasionally enter freshwater include snook, jewfish, grey and black snapper, and mullet. Fish that spend the majority of their lives in Jamaica’s fresh waters include many species of live-bearers, killifish, freshwater gobies, the Mountain Mullet, and the American Eel. Tilapia have been introduce from Africa for aquaculture, and are very common.
Among the variety of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems are dry and wet limestone forests, rainforest, riparian woodland, wetlands, caves, rivers, seagrass beds and coral reefs.
Citizens of the USA, including those visiting by cruise ship, require only identification, no visa is required. If you travel by plane, the passport book is required by the US for travel; otherwise it is possible to use a US passport card.
Permanent Residents of the USA (ie, Green Card holders) can also visit Jamaica without a visa, even if otherwise they would require a visa. They typically need to present a valid passport of their country of citizenship and their valid Green Card or Re-entry Permit issued by the USCIS.
Canadian citizens require
• a passport or
• a birth certificate and ID card.
Passports can be expired and still be considered valid to enter Jamaica. However, they cannot have been expired for more than year to still use them to travel to the island. No visa is required for a stay of up to six months.
Citizens of countries in the Commonwealth of Nations require a passport valid for at least 6 months, a return ticket, and sufficient funds. No visa is required except for citizens of Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone.
Japanese citizens can stay for 30 days without a visa.
German and Italian citizens can stay for 90 days without a visa. Similar terms apply to other countries in the Schengen union; French and Czech citizens can stay for 30 days without a visa, and Hungarian citizens get a visa on arrival.
Most other nationalities need visas, either prior to arrival or on arrival.