600 miles south of Miami, Florida lies Jamaica, an island country full of contrasts. Tourists love to visit Jamaica for its beautiful, white beaches, lush rain forests and relaxed way of life. Tourists enjoy listening to reggae music, which can be heard all over the island. However, tourists don’t usually see the people who live in tiny shacks made from wood, metal scraps and even cardboard. In crowded shanty towns, violence and drug trafficking is common.
Jamaica Facts for Kids
- Located in the Caribbean Sea.
- Capital: Kingston.
- Official language: English.
- Currency: Jamaican dollar.
- National dish: Ackee and saltfish.
- Became independent: August 6, 1962.
- Former British colony.
- Famous for reggae music.
- Birthplace of Bob Marley.
- Popular for Blue Mountain coffee.
Reggae music, a significant facet of Jamaican culture, is not just a genre but a lifestyle and a medium of expression for many Jamaicans, making it essential for youngsters to learn about. Emerging in Jamaica during the late 1960s, this music form gained worldwide recognition primarily due to the iconic reggae artist, Bob Marley, whose heartfelt lyrics about peace and love resonated globally.
A typical reggae composition features a unique blend of instruments such as the guitar, bass, drums, and a melodic keyboard, creating a distinct, relaxed, slow-tempo beat that induces an irresistible urge to sway. As a testament to its universal appeal, reggae music has left a significant impact on various global music styles, proudly reflecting Jamaican heritage.
Jamaica, globally renowned for being the birthplace of the legendary musician Bob Marley on February 6, 1945, has significantly influenced his unique reggae music style. Marley’s songs, deeply rooted in Jamaican culture and lifestyle, often illustrated the challenges and daily life of Jamaican people, thereby drawing international attention to the island.
Recognized as a national hero in Jamaica and an international symbol of Jamaican music and culture, Marley’s legacy continues to thrive. His Kingston residence, now transformed into a museum dedicated to his life and work, continues to captivate thousands of visitors annually, further cementing his influence and significance.
Jamaican cuisine, known for its delectable fusion of diverse culinary traditions, offers a plethora of flavors that are sure to delight kids. High on the popularity list is the jerk chicken or pork, a dish that owes its unique taste to a blend of spices including allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers, and its tenderness to the slow-cooking process over a wood or charcoal fire.
The national dish, Ackee and Saltfish, prepared from the ackee fruit and salted cod, is another crowd-pleaser. Jamaican patties, savory pastries filled with a variety of options like beef, chicken, or vegetables are also a must-try.
To end the meal on a sweet note, the Jamaican fruit cake, a rich, dried fruit and rum-infused delicacy, is recommended. It’s worth noting that many Jamaican dishes are known for their spicy punch, so it’s advisable to request for less spice if your palate isn’t accustomed to it.
Originating in Jamaica in the 1930s, Rastafarianism is a distinctive religious movement that has become globally recognizable through its vibrant red, green, and gold colors, iconic dreadlocks, and reggae music.
This religion, which reveres Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as divine, places great importance on natural and peaceful living. Rastafarians are notable for following ‘ital,’ a diet devoid of processed foods, and many also avoid alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes.
Reggae music, a major part of Rastafarian culture, has been popularized worldwide by the Jamaican singer Bob Marley and often carries messages of peace, love, and social justice.
The Blue Mountains, a captivating natural spectacle in Jamaica, are sure to enthrall children with their grandeur. As the longest mountain range on the island, the Blue Mountains extend over 28 miles and tower to a staggering peak of over 7,400 feet, the highest point in all of Jamaica.
The mountains serve as a sanctuary for a myriad of unique plant and animal species, adding to their allure. They are famed for producing the globally celebrated Blue Mountain Coffee, grown in the range’s fertile, high-altitude terrain.
Besides the well-known coffee, the mountains are also a sought-after destination for hiking and bird-watching, offering breathtaking views and opportunities to witness Jamaica’s distinctive wildlife.
Jamaican Creole (Patois)
Jamaican Creole, widely recognized as Patois, is an intriguing language predominantly used in Jamaica, characterized by its vibrant and unique amalgamation of English, African languages, Spanish, and French.
The evolution of this language is deeply rooted in the nation’s history of colonization and slavery, stemming from the interactions between English and African languages. Despite English being the official language imparted in Jamaican educational institutions, it’s Patois that plays a pivotal role in everyday communications, musical expressions, and local media.
Therefore, for anyone contemplating a visit to Jamaica, mastering a handful of Patois phrases could serve as an entertaining means to delve deeper into the rich local culture.
Kingston, the capital
Kingston, Jamaica’s vibrant capital, is packed with intriguing aspects that pique the interest of young minds. As the island’s largest city, Kingston stands out for its deep-rooted history, pulsating music culture, and mouthwatering local cuisine.
Established in 1692 following an earthquake that annihilated the former capital, Port Royal, Kingston is now adorned with a plethora of museums and historical landmarks. These include the Bob Marley Museum, the National Gallery of Jamaica, and remnants of historic Port Royal. The city is the birthplace of the world-renowned reggae music, a genre that kids might associate with Bob Marley.
Its culinary scene is equally impressive, with jerk chicken being a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Kingston is nestled against the stunning Blue Mountains, offering not only a breathtaking backdrop, but also thrilling hiking experiences.
Born in Sherwood Content, a small town in Jamaica, Usain Bolt, often hailed as the ‘fastest man alive,’ has left an indelible mark on the world of athletics with his blazing speed and agility. With his unparalleled prowess in sprinting, he has set world records in both the 100-meter and 200-meter races, earning him a place in history as one of the most decorated athletes, boasting a total of 8 Olympic gold medals. Interestingly, Bolt’s journey to athletic stardom was not linear.
As a child, he was more inclined towards cricket and football. However, his remarkable speed did not escape the notice of his cricket coach, who encouraged him to venture into track and field. Bolt’s astounding achievements have elevated him to the status of a national hero in Jamaica, thus inspiring a generation of young Jamaicans to chase their athletic dreams.
Jamaican bobsled team
The Jamaican Bobsled Team, an intriguing part of Jamaica’s cultural narrative, offers an interesting tale that is sure to captivate young minds. In defiance of its tropical setting and lack of snow, Jamaica etched its name in winter sports history by introducing its bobsled team at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
This extraordinary journey, which inspired the globally acclaimed movie ‘Cool Runnings,’ may not have garnered any medals but it succeeded in winning the admiration of millions worldwide. Today, the Jamaican Bobsled Team continues to participate in competitions, serving as a testament to the unyielding spirit and resilience of the Jamaican people.
Independence from Britain
Jamaica, a picturesque island nation nestled in the Caribbean Sea, is renowned for its lively culture, breathtaking beaches, and distinctive music genres such as reggae. Yet, not everyone is aware that this tropical haven once fell under British rule. In fact, the British colonization of Jamaica began in 1655 and persisted for over three centuries.
However, a significant shift occurred on August 6, 1962, when the Jamaicans achieved independence from Britain. This momentous occasion in the nation’s history is commemorated annually as Jamaica’s Independence Day, a festive national holiday marked by parades, dancing, and an abundance of traditional Jamaican cuisine.
Despite its status as an independent nation, traces of British influence are still evident in Jamaica, particularly within its legal and educational frameworks.
Jamaica was first settled in the 7th century by the Taino people, who sailed from South America. Christopher Columbus landed on Jamaica in 1494. The Taino people were taken as slaves. Many of them died from diseases or mistreatment. The entire group was wiped out by 1600. The Spanish ruled Jamaica until 1655 when Great Britain gained control. Slaves from Africa were brought here to work on huge sugar plantations. They were cruelly treated and often fought against their owners. Slavery was finally abolished in 1838 and the country gained its independence in 1962.
Fun Facts about Jamaica for Kids
- 2,780,132 people live in Jamaica.
- Jamaica has 4,181 square miles of land.
- 87 percent of adults can read.
- People living here can expect to live for 75 years.
- The official language of Jamaica is English.
- Jamaica is still a member of the British Commonwealth and recognizes Queen Elizabeth. Jamaica has a prime minister and elected officials.
- About 56 percent of Jamaicans are Christian. Other religions include Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. Many people belong to the Rastafarian religion, which is a Christian religion that began in the 1930s. Rastafarians do not believe in violence. They often wear their hair in long dreadlocks and wear red, yellow and green – the colors of the Ethiopian flag.
- Drug trafficking: selling drugs illegally
- Violence: deliberate harm to other people or property
- Plantation: large farm
- Abolish: outlaw; do away with
All About Jamaica Video for Kids
Check out this cool video about Jamaica for kids:
This is a video documentary about the music, sports and culture of Jamaica.
Question: What do people in Jamaica do for a living?
Answer: Some people farm, but most people live in the cities. Kingston is the largest city. Here, people work in finance, technology and manufacturing. Tourism is also a big industry, as is bauxite mining. Bauxite is used to make aluminum.
Map of Jamaica
Here’s a map of the country of Jamaica and all its cities and villages. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see other countries around Jamaica! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the cities of Jamaica, as though you are actually there!
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