10 Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Jamaica (Pt 1)
Jamaica is an amazing land to visit and to live. Jamaicans are not only warm people, but are also a very creative and skilled people as shown by our art, music, athletes… We have set world records in the arena of sprinting and the number of churches per square mile. Jamaica also supports human rights and was the first country to sanction apartheid in South Africa. This two-part article highlights 10 interesting facts about Jamaica which will increase your desire to visit us to enjoy this world-renowned land.
1. Jamaica Has the Fastest Runners on Earth
The USA and China are the only two countries with more Olympic medals than Jamaica. The USA and the UK have also naturalized Jamaican sprinters like Sanya Richards and Linford Christie.
Why Are Jamaicans so Fast?
They come from a genetic pool of Africans that are naturally athletic
Jamaicans mostly feed on ground provisions such as yams and a lot of fruits.
Sprinting is the most popular sport there, and the coaches are brutal.
Furthermore, most Jamaican sprinters are from a rural section of Jamaica called Trelawny (Usain Bolt is one such example). It is no coincidence that this is where the most yams are grown and consumed on the island.
Most of the sprinters are descendants of the Maroons. A Maroon is a free man or woman that escaped slavery. Based on the accounts of colonial slave masters, the Maroons would run away from the slave plantations, and by the time the slave masters would load their guns, the Maroons would already be out of sight.
The top three fastest men in the world are Jamaicans!
Usain Bolt is the fastest person on earth.
2. Jamaica Produces the Most Music per Capita
Jamaica is the undisputed authority for reggae music, but that is not the only form of music indigenous to the island. There is also ska, rocksteady, one drop, mento, Nyahbinghi, folk, drum and bass, soca, reggae-gospel, dub, festival, rubba-dub, roots reggae, calypso, and dancehall. Dancehall music is the most popular in Jamaica.
There are also other types of music produced in Jamaica that are not native to the island, for example, pop, western, rock and roll, soul, hip-hop, jazz, rap, and R&B. And yes, there are Jamaicans who only produce rock and roll or country/western as a full-time career.
A lot of the music produced in Jamaica is made by foreigners. Record companies often launch a new artist in Jamaica before they launch them internationally because if the song is a hit in Jamaica, the rest of world will catch on. This was done with Rihanna, UB40, Harry Belafonte, and Steel Pulse.
3. Jamaica Has the Most Churches per Square Mile
Within my small beach suburban community of fewer than 1,000 residents, there are four churches within a half-mile radius of my house. According to the National Library of Jamaica, there are approximately 2.75 churches per square mile, a fact recognized by the "Guinness Book of World Records." There are also churches in people's backyards and living rooms that haven't been taken into consideration.
Jamaica is a Christian country, which heavily influences its educational, political, and social systems. All schools in Jamaica have a Christian devotion in the morning before classes begin.
There are over 100 different Christian denominations in Jamaica. The most popular ones being Baptist, Catholic, Anglican, Jehovah's Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, New Testament, Church of God, and Pentecostal. You also have the less popular ones such as Mormon and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
There are also churches that still incorporate elements of African culture such as the Poco and Revival churches. No matter what faith they belong to, almost every Jamaican believes in spirituality, the continuance of life after death, and a final judgment day.
4. Jamaica Has the Most Rum Bars per Square Mile
This observation about Jamaica is extremely hard to measure because some rum bars may not be registered with the government. However, where there is a church, there are two bars down the road. Jamaica was the first island to produce rum commercially for export in the days before piracy. Rum here is also widely used in the kitchen (mmm, rum cake!) and for first aid and medicinal purposes.
At any local bar, you can order "JB rum," the strongest form of rum. This is a favorite amongst hardcore alcoholics and avoided by social drinkers. Available on the black market at any rum bar but not displayed on the shelf, it is illegally distilled by professionals at the sugar cane factories. The strongest variation originates from Trelawny (the same place the top sprinters are from). Rum has been deemed the strongest drug on the island.
Did you know that tourists on the island are more likely to get rum-induced alcohol poisoning than an injury from a water sport accident? You've been warned; the rum in Jamaica is indeed potent and even banned in some countries.
For those who prefer sipping to gulping, Jamaica has the most expensive rum in the world—Appleton Estate 50-Year Rum—which clocks in at over J$4,000.00 (US$30.00) for 750ml.
Yo Ho Ho, and a Bottle of Rum
Whenever pirates robbed ships leaving Jamaica, their number one loot was rum. You could not run a successful pirate enterprise without rum, and Jamaica was the top producer, which is why pirates and Jamaica went hand in hand.
5. Jamaica Is the Top Consumer of Cranberry per Capita
Cranberry is immensely popular in Jamaica. Since cranberry does not grow in Jamaica, it must be imported and is perceived as a luxury item. Cranberry water is the most popular derivative of the fruit. It is an amazing thirst-quencher, especially during the island's regular heat waves. It has even become more popular than coconut water for surviving the hot environment.
Cranberry juice is also popular because it is used to chase rum. If you tell the bartender that you want a chaser, they may automatically assume you are referring to cranberry juice.
The most popular reason for the consumption of cranberry, however, is due to the medicinal properties that it possesses. Jamaicans will buy food and drink that is organic, natural, and unprocessed, and this tangy-tasting juice fits the bill. It is used to recover from the flu, boost concentration, aid digestion, and enhance the immune system.
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Jacqueline Cameron is an editor/writer with years of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to reporting. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She is a trained engineer and musician and loves to see people transformed through her work.