Jamaica is an amazing land to visit and to live. Jamaicans are not only warm people, but also a highly creative and skilled people as shown by our art, music, athletes… We have set world records in the arena of sprinting and number of churches per square mile. Jamaica was the first country to sanction apartheid in South Africa. This is Part 2 of a two-part article that highlights 10 interesting facts about Jamaica which will increase your desire to visit us to enjoy this world-renowned land.
6. Jamaica Has a Bobsled Team
The idea for a Jamaican bobsleigh team began in the summer of 1987, when George Fitch, a former Commercial Attaché for the American embassy in Kingston, returned to Jamaica for a wedding. He mentioned to a Jamaican military officer and former soccer player Ken Barnes that the athletes in Jamaica should be talented enough to compete in any Olympic sport. After watching the country’s annual push cart derby in the Blue Mountains, Fitch figured that the nation’s depth of sprinting talent would translate well to bobsleigh.
Jamaica was the first tropical country to take part in the Winter Olympics. This event has always been dominated by countries that are farther away from the equator, and it was a big joke in Jamaica when the government announced that they were sending a bobsled team to the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Things have changed since then, and the Jamaicans won the gold medal at the 2000 World push championship in Monaco. This story was made into a Disney film called Cool Runnings.
The Jamaican bobsled team did not own a bobsled and had to borrow one to compete.
In Jamaica, there is an equivalent to bobsled racing that is called pushcart derby. This is basically racing downhill in a handcart and requires just one driver and passenger. The driver steers while the passenger uses his body to help the driver keep the cart on track. So far it has not been recognized as an Olympics-worthy sport, but you never know.
7. The James Bond Series Was Written in Jamaica
While working for Britain's Naval Intelligence Division, Ian Fleming oversaw a covert operation called Goldeneye, giving him real-life inspiration for his world-famous Bond series. Fleming later bought a 15-acre piece of land (which used to be a donkey racecourse!) in Jamaica and named it Goldeneye. Former British Prime Minister Anthony Eden and other celebrities were also known to spend time at GoldenEye.
Ian Fleming got the name James Bond from an American ornithologist of the same name who frequented Jamaica and was an expert on Caribbean birds.
The first James Bond novel to be completed in Jamaica was Casino Royale, and three other Bond novels (and movies)—Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun—featuring Jamaican scenery. Dr. No, the first James Bond movie, was filmed in Jamaica. The crocodile farm where Bond ran on top of the crocodiles is still in operation and is popular among tourists.
The late Mr. Flemming has since had a private airport named after him in Jamaica.
"I wrote every one of the Bond thrillers here."
— Ian Fleming
Sean Connery was the first actor to portray James Bond.
8. Jamaica Was Once a Spanish Speaking Country
From 1509 to 1655, Jamaica was under Spanish rule. The capital of Jamaica was Villa de la Vega, which was called Spanish Town by the English. It is stilled called by this name today, though there are many other towns that have kept their Spanish names, such as Ocho Rios.
The buildings constructed during this time are still standing and serve as tourist attractions. Jamaica was used by the Spanish as a launching point to send ships to destinations like Mexico and Peru.
The English were able to take Jamaica from Spain because most of the Spanish soldiers were in other colonies and did not have a strong concentration in Jamaica.
9. Jamaica Is the Home of Beautiful Women
Jamaica has won Miss World four times: in 1963 with Carole Crawford, in 1976 with Cindy Breakspeare, in 1993 with Lisa Hanna and in 2019 with Toni-Ann Singh. Jamaica has also made it to the semi-finals several times, the last time earning a controversial second place in 2007 with Yendi Philips. The only countries to win the Miss World competition more often are India, the UK, and Venezuela.
Get It, Girls!
Cindy Breakspeare is the mother of Bob Marley's last son, Damien Marley, and Lisa Hanna was later elected to the Jamaican Parliament.
Unsurprisingly, Jamaica has a prominent place in the modeling industry. Many talent scouts come to Jamaica in search of their next major star. There is even a modeling agency listed on the Jamaican stock exchange! On national TV, there is always a modeling competition going on. The most popular models from Jamaica are Naomi Campbell, Grace Jones, Stacey McKenzie, and Tyson Beckford.
Jamaica also offers equal opportunities for women on the Island. The honorable Portia Simpson-Miller served two consecutive terms as Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Portia Simpson-Miller served two terms as Prime Minister of Jamaica.
10. Jamaica Supports Equal Rights for Humanity
Here are several instances that demonstrate Jamaica's support of equal rights for all:
· It has been said that Jamaicans helped Haiti become the first independent black state by fighting in their revolution.
· A woman named Nanny led the Maroons in plantation raids to free slaves. She is the only national heroine of Jamaica.
· Marcus Garvey, the first national hero of Jamaica, traveled to New York and started the largest black movement in history—the UNIA. He also launched the first black corporate entity, The Black Star Liner, which was a fleet of ships.
· The Rastafarian Movement was born out of Jamaica and grew to be a global powerhouse in the struggle for worldwide freedom and peace. The hippie movement bonded with the Rastafarian movement in the 60's and 70's and worked to empower one another.
· Bob Marley became a freedom activist when he started to support various peace movements across the world. He also did free concerts in Africa, especially Zimbabwe, when they had just gained their independence.
· Jamaica was the first country to sanction South Africa for their apartheid regime.
Bob Marley organized and performed at many free concerts in Africa.
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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.