INTRODUCTION Rightly famous for its beaches and music, beautiful, brash Jamaica is much more besides. There's certainly plenty of white sand, turquoise sea and swaying palm trees, but there's also a huge amount to see away from the coast: ...
spectacular mountains and rivers, tumbling waterfalls, and cactus-strewn savannah plains. The towns and cities, meanwhile, affirm that the island is far more than just a tourist attraction, particularly Kingston - the dynamic, sprawling metropolis which helped to inspire the music of Bob Marley and countless other home-grown reggae superstars. Despite Jamaica's immense natural allure, it's not just the physical aspect that makes the country so absorbing and, to many visitors, so utterly addictive. Notwithstanding the invasion of tourists and American satellite TV, Jamaica retains an attitude - a personality - that's more resonant and distinctive than you'll find in any other Caribbean nation. It's a country with a swagger in its step - proud of its history, sporting success and musical genius - but also with a weight upon its shoulders. For Jamaica has not avoided the familiar problems of a developing country such as dramatic inequality of wealth, and social tensions that occasionally spill over into localized violence, or worldwide headlines. The mixture is potent, and has produced a people as renowned for being sharp, sassy and straight-talking as they are laid-back and hip. People don't tend to beat around the bush here; Jamaicans get on with life, and this can sometimes make them appear rude or uncompromising. P! articularly around the big resorts, this direct approach is taken to extremes at times, with harassment reaching infuriating levels. But there's absolutely no reason to be put off. As a foreign visitor, the chances of encountering any trouble are minuscule, and the Jamaican authorities have spent millions making sure the island treats its tourists right. As the birthplace of the "all-inclusive" hotel, Jamaica has become well-suited for those who (like many people) want to head straight from plane to beach, never leaving their hotel compound. But to get any sense of the country at all, you'll need to do some exploring. It's undoubtedly worth it, as this is a country packed with first-class attractions, oozing with character, and rich with a musical and cultural heritage; if you're a reggae fan, you're in heaven.
Number of pages: 480
Date of publication: 29/12/2003
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