It's easy to wax lyrical about Jamaica, the famous island in the north Caribbean. From the glorious glow of its sunsets, to the unique and engaging ways of its people, its alluring white sandy beaches, lush green mountains and sparkling waterfalls - these stunning features can inspire the poet in anyone. The beauty of this island paradise has drawn visitors for centuries.
Historically, it was the wealthy few who were privileged to enjoy the unspoilt tropical delights of Jamaica, but today the northern and western coastlines of the island are stacked with tourist resorts and 'all-inclusive' hotels. Natural attractions have been commercialised to cope with the crowds, but somehow this commercialisation has not spoiled Jamaica. It still presents a magnificent kaleidoscope of colour and beauty that makes holidaymakers sad to leave, and vow to return.
The name Jamaica originates from the pre-colonial native inhabitants of the area, the Arawak Indians, to whom Xaymacameant 'land of wood and water'. There is little left of the Indian culture: after being discovered by Columbus in 1494, Jamaica was ruled by the Spanish for 150 years and then by the British for the next 300 years. Independence came in 1962 to the Jamaican people, who are now a warm blend of different cultures and nationalities, though significantly African-based due to the number of imported slaves who endeavoured to keep their home traditions alive while being forced to work on the plantations.
There is, however, a little trouble in this island paradise: the Jamaican people on the whole are poor, and very reliant on tourism for their living. Some visitors object to being harassed by vendors, unlicensed taxi drivers, hair-braiders and the like. Petty crime is also a problem. These minor irritations, however, should not keep anyone away from savouring the spirit of Jamaica, which is as rich as the lilt of the local patois and the rhythms of the reggae music for which the island is famous.
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