Jamaica has often been described as the biggest little country in the world.
Why? Because its phenomenally large achievements are disproportionate to its very
small size. It really is just a speck on the world map. But in Jamaican (Patois)
Language, we would say, “We may be lickle, but we tallawah!” This translates to
mean, “We may be a little country, but nevertheless we are strong and significant!”
The brand “Made in Jamaica” is such an enviable brand that many companies and
countries around the world fervently try to copy its products and culture,
respectively. It has been said that no other small country in the world has ever
had such a large impact on the rest of the world. Is this true? Let us check out
Local & International Achievements – Reggae
Music, Bob Marley, Usain Bolt
Reggae music was “Made in Jamaica” and the world embraced it. Bob Marley was
Made in Jamaica, not only did the world embrace him and his music, but Time
Magazine declared him “Artist of the 20th Century”. The African-Centred religion,
Rastafarianism, was Made in Jamaica, but embraced all over the Caribbean, with many
followers in America, Canada and Europe. The Fastest Man in the World, the Olympic
100 m and 200 m record breaking athlete, Usain Bolt, was Made in Jamaica too.
The 1988 phenomenal Bobsled Team, who inspired the popular Disney Movie, Cool
Runnings, was Made in Jamaica. When you come to Jamaica, you might just encounter
Usain Bolt, if you go to the University of the West Indies sports complex where he
trains. You may also meet the meet the incomparable original Bobsled Captains, Tal
and Chris Stokes on the streets of Kingston.
World Impacting Features - Cuisine, James Bond,
Dunn’s River Falls
The type of seasoning and cooking called “Jerk”, was Made In Jamaica. But many
foreign companies with no connection to Jamaica, use the term “Jamaican Style” Jerk
Seasoning on their products in an effort to enhance their profitability. Even the
James Bond spy-thriller books, which inspired the world’s longest-surviving movie
franchise, were Made In Jamaica, when written by the original author, Ian
Dunn’s River Falls, is by far the number one tourist attraction in Jamaica and the
entire Caribbean. It has been visited by millions of tourists from all over the
world since the 1950’s. You simply cannot visit Jamaica without tasting some
Jamaican Jerk Chicken or Jerk Pork! This would be a national crime!
Second Generation Jamaican-Americans
– Soldier, Politician, Actors, Sports Stars
Sometimes it is the children of Jamaicans who have migrated that excel, by
building on the foundations laid by their Jamaican parents. One outstanding example
of this is General Colin Powell, the first African-American to be Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of the United States. Other famous
Jamaican-Americans include the incomparable singers Harry Belafonte and Alicia
Keys, actors, Madge Sinclair (Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America, deceased), Sherryl
Lee Ralph (It’s A Living, Moesha), Grace Jones (James Bond’s A View to a Kill),
Delroy Lindo (Malcolm X), Carl Lumbly (Alien), Tyson Beckford (Hotel California);
model, Naomi Campbell, sports stars, basket baller, Patrick Ewing and Olympic 400m
relay Gold Medallist, Sanya Richards.
How would you like these celebrities to be your tour guides when you visit
Jamaica? Clearly the Made In Jamaica list is vast. We believe we have made our
point quite effectively. The phenomenal achievements of Jamaica are in fact very
disproportionate to the small size of this amazing country!
How can one little island produce so many giants of Jamaican and American
culture? This phenomenon is still being analysed by sociologists and
anthropologists. However, we can confirm that this little island is 145 miles long
and 50 miles wide, with an area of 4,411 square miles. Jamaica is located only 90
miles south of Cuba, and is west of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Being the
third largest island in the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola), the population
in Jamaica is estimated to be approximately 2.8 million.
Diaspora Hospitality Services
However, at least triple this number, are estimated to live in the United
States, England and Canada (The Diaspora). They are often Jamaica’s best tour
guides and ambassadors. If you live in these countries, they can tell you in
advance where to find the best beaches, hotels, restaurants, food and attractions.
So take advantage of this free and convenient resource. Jamaicans are very proud of
their country and hospitable. All you need to do is just tell them what kind of
vacation you are planning. And. you will be surprised how enthusiastic their
responses will be!
Diverse Racial Backgrounds - Out of Many One
Jamaica has a dominant British heritage. However many other Caribbean islands
have strong Danish, French, Spanish, Dutch, Indian heritages which change the
character and culture of the islands. So clearly Jamaica does not have that
particular diversity. It has others though. Jamaica’s motto is like the United
States, “Out of Many, One People.” This refers to the many ethnic backgrounds -
African, Chinese, Indian, Spanish, British, European, Syrian, Lebanese - which have
blended to form one people, a new nation.
Caribbean Rivalry – Jamaica, Trinidad &
Whereas Jamaica’s population is about 2.8 million, Trinidad’s population is
estimated at 1.2 million and Barbados has approximately 284,589. Jamaica created
Reggae Music. Trinidad created soca and calypso music. Jamaica’s Reggae icon is Bob
Marley. Trinidad’s Soca icon is The Mighty Sparrow. Is there any rivalry amongst
these three islands? Absolutely! They are constantly competing against each other
in trade treaties, diplomatic rows, academic accomplishments, football, cricket and
much more. The residents of the other islands often think Jamaicans are boasty …
And they are probably right! What do Jamaicans say about this perception? They
would say, “Well, don’t we have a lot to be boasty about?”
Jamaican Hospitality Industry
Jamaica faced an economic crisis in its financial sector in the 1990’s. Many
Jamaican banks and insurance companies owned hotels. So the ownership and
management of various hotels were serious affected with instability and cash flow
problems. However, there is one successful hotel recovery story that should be
noted. When Jamaica’s Century National Bank collapsed, it was also the owner of the
largest hotel in Jamaica at the time, Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios. It was put up
for sale. Would it be bought by a foreign investor?
One of Jamaica’s largest baking companies, National Continental, owned by the
Hendrickson Family, bought the hotel. Today the hotel has been re-branded as Sunset
Jamaica Grande, with branches in Montego Bay and Negril. The same group of
companies also owns Cooking Best Chicken, Knutsford Court Hotel, the Courtleigh
Hotel, Pegasus Hotel – in Kingston - and the Ruins Restaurant in Ocho Rios. This
was a big success story for Jamaica’s tourism industry!
Jamaica Lost its Dominant
Jamaica used to be economically dominant in the Caribbean, because of its
diverse economy based on Tourism, Bauxite, Agriculture, Manufacturing and Financial
Services. However, it lost a lot of its status and prestige when between 1995 and
2005 the “small islands” of Trinidad and Barbados rescued the Jamaican economy, by
buying out some of its largest assets – Mutual Life, Life of Jamaica, Union Bank,
Caribbean Cement Company, Air Jamaica, Terra Nova Hotel, Sandals Dunn’s River.
These were replaced with Trinidad’s Guardian Life, Royal Bank of Trinidad and
Tobago (RBTT), Trinidad Cement Company, Caribbean Airlines, Jewel Dunn’s River and
Sagicor Insurance of Barbados.
New Regional Strength – CARICOM – Regional
CARICOM is a partnership of 15 Caribbean nations whose main goals are to
encourage economic integration, cooperation among its members, equity in sharing
out the benefits and coordinate foreign policy as a regional entity. Jamaica’s
economic crisis created one blessing in disguise. The Caribbean economies are now
more economically integrated and interdependent, having increased the investment in
each other’s countries – similar to the European Union.
So the long-desired goal of increased Caribbean integration has been
accomplished - through adversity. This has been one of the long-time goals of
CARICOM, which was established way back in 1973. The most visible benefit to
tourists visiting Jamaica and the Caribbean region is that they should be able to
get to the region easier, “island hop” around the Caribbean more conveniently and
cheaper via Caribbean Airlines.
All Three Highly Educated – What Tourists Should
It takes about 2 ½ hours to fly from Jamaica, in the Western Caribbean, to Trinidad
and Barbados, in the Eastern Caribbean. But how does Jamaica compare with the
other two islands in the Caribbean – Trinidad and Barbados? Jamaica, Trinidad and
Barbados are the politically and economically dominant leaders in Caribbean in the
One of the rationales for this dominance is that all three countries host campuses
of the regional academic entity, known as The University of the West Indies. Hence
all three have sections of its population which are highly educated. Jamaica’s
campus is the largest. Even though they are all small islands, Jamaica
is the largest in size and population. However none of them like to be referred to
as “small islands” by the other - or by outsiders (i.e. tourists). Tourists who
visit these three countries, or any other Caribbean island, would be well advised
to remember this precaution.