Geography of Jamaica
A brief look at the structure of a tropical island in the Caribbean...
The Geography of Jamaica is an interesting study in change and tropical growth: not to mention the fantastic tropical plants and the mixture of wonderful people.
Jamaica sits nearly in the center of the Caribbean Sea in the Greater Antilles. The geography of Jamaica is similar to the other three islands of the Greater Antilles: Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba.
A mountainous island about the size of the state of Connecticut, Jamaica is the third largest island of the Greater Antilles and part of a submarine land mass suspected to at one time have formed a land bridge from Central America to Venezuela. Jamaica’s semi-tropical climate supports lush forest and a wide variety of agricultural pursuits.
There are three main regions to the geography of Jamaica: the central Blue Mountain range of igneous and metamorphic rock; the sandy coastal plains of the northern and southern shores; and the limestone hills of the Cockpit country.
The limestone hills are pocked with caves and springs that contribute to the plentiful water on the island, which flows into 120 rivers, most of which are not navigable. More than 3000 varieties of trees and plants grow on Jamaica, 800 of which are native to the island including: pimento, mahoe, rosewood, ebony, palmetto palm, cedar, mahogany and coconut palms
Bromiliads, ferns and evergreen trees grow in the rain forested mountains and over 200 species of orchid exist on Jamaica.
Jamaica’s original inhabitants, the Arawak Indians named the island "Xaymaca", or "land of wood and water", and over 1000 kilometers of coastline fringe the island.
To the north a coral reef protects the beaches providing crystal clear, shallow surf. The savanna like southern beaches with darker volcanic sand and the low growing acacia trees and towering cacti further varies Geography of Jamaica. Tainos Indians inhabited the south coast in 700AD and remnants of their pottery can still be found in the region.
Roughly half of Jamaica is currently under cultivation with the parish of St. Elizabeth considered the nation’s "breadbasket", for its prolific crop production.
Virtually any plant will grow on Jamaica. Geography, climate and plentiful water combine to make the temperate and semi-tropical central and northern regions ideal for cultivation. The drier south receives less than half the rainfall of the central mountains and is still highly fertile.
The location of Jamaica in the Caribbean at 18 15 N, 77 30 W is convenient to export as the island sits in the main sea-lanes leading to the Panama Canal. Gypsum, limestone and bauxite have been mined in Jamaica, primarily for export, for decades.
Fourteen parishes make up Geography of Jamaica including: Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston Manchester, Portland, St. Andrew, St. Ann, St. Catherine, St. Elizabeth, St. James, St. Thomas, Trelawny and Westmoreland.
Most of the country’s two and a half million residents live in cities with the majority residing in the capital of Kingston. Other large cities include Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Mandeville and Negril. Jamaica’s main tourist centers are located in these cities but much of the nation’s beauty is to be found in the lesser-known regions.
The Cockpit Country, a storied hideaway for runaway slaves, the descendants of which still live there today, is the region most preserved in its natural state. Although few roads bisect the area and fewer tourists frequent it the Cockpit Country is a hauntingly beautiful place.
Geography of Jamaica includes the world’s seventh largest natural harbor in Kingston, with eight navigable miles of water. Other island ports include Port Esquivel, Port Kaiser, Port Rhoades and Rocky Point.
The island’s jagged coastline has many natural bays, coves and cays. At least 1,100 caves have been discovered on Jamaica, several of which are deeper than 100 meters. Most are located in the limestone hills of the Cockpit Country and the Potoo Hole cave walls are decorated with pictures suspected to have been left there by the islands earliest inhabitants.
Typical of the Caribbean basin, Jamaica is an island of beauty and variety. Lush mountains, arid plains and sun washed beaches combine with cliff and rock formations, to give the island a feeling of tropical splendor and expanse beyond its literal size.
Near daily rainfall and sea breezes cool the island where temperatures rarely rise above 85 degrees. Jamaica’s ideal location, climate and abundant natural resources make the island a fine place to live or visit.
The Geography of Jamaica ensures your visit will be exciting, memorable and well worth a second and third trip back!
You may want to check out this page about the Jamaican Economy--->
Beaches, Resorts, Foods, Drinks, Activities and more...HERE!
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