When Jamaica comes to mind, most people often think of white sand beaches, reggae artists, the music of steel drums, and a collection of laid-back island natives who always seem to be “feeling irie.” What we do not realize, however, is that there is so much more to this magical country than meets the eye! Below are 10 fun facts you may find intriguing about the beautiful island nation.
1.Jamaica’s home to some of the fastest runners on Earth
Usain Bolt is an excellent example. Due to a mix of genetics and diet (high consumption of yams and fruits), Jamaicans typically tend to be faster runners than people from other countries. Besides that, sprinting is the most popular sport on the island, and people usually take it quite seriously, getting trained more intensely than in other places. As a matter of fact, the top three fastest men on Earth are Jamaicans!
2. Bananas were first exported from Jamaica
Jamaica was actually the first commercial producer of bananas in the world! Since then, a global banana trade has erupted, but unfortunately Jamaica paused exports of bananas after numerous roadblocks, including hurricane damage and other challenges.
3. James Bond was born in Jamaica
Ian Fleming, the author of the world-renowned James Bond series, wrote each novel from his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica. Because of this (along with Fleming’s absolute love for his homeland), many scenes from the movies were filmed in Jamaica. Island natives or experts would recognize plenty of cultural references throughout the series, such as bird names, scenery, and lingo. James Bond was actually named after a real individual who frequented the island and knew far more than the average Joe about birds of the Caribbean.
4. Jamaica has the most churches per square mile in the world
There are over 1,600 churches spread across the island and that number continues to grow. Broken down, there are about 2.75 churches per square mile! The city of Falmouth is home to over 30 churches alone. Most churches on the island are Christian, since the vast majority of the population is devoted to the Christian faith or a denomination of it. Spirituality is simply a part of Jamaican culture.
5. Jamaica was the first tropical country to compete in the Winter Olympics
In 1988, Jamaica took the world by storm when the government announced they would be competing in the Winter Olympics in bobsledding. As the ultimate underdog, they gained so much popularity there was even a movie created in 1993 highlighting their surreal experience, called “Cool Runnings.”
6. Jamaica produces the most music per capita
Besides the popular reggae genre that comes to mind, calypso, folk, drum and bass, roots, dancehall, and dozens more are notably widespread throughout the island. Not to mention, how can Jamaica come into conversation without considering the legendary mark left by Bob Marley? Many non-Jamaican musicians often choose to release music in Jamaica before the rest of the world as a test run of sorts, since others are likely to catch on to the same music that is popular in Jamaica.
7. The first country in the world to produce rum for commercial distribution was Jamaica.
Also home to the most expensive rum in the world, Jamaica even boasts the most rum bars per square mile! This should all come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Jamaica’s absolute love for the sweet, delicious spirit. Statistically, tourists are more likely to experience rum poisoning while visiting Jamaica than an injury from a water sport. Since rum is even used as a first aid treatment, you may even find the solution to a water sport injury in a bottle of rum!
8. Jamaica is the top consumer of cranberry per capita
Due to its extreme health benefits and healing properties, Jamaicans go bonkers over cranberry anything! The most popular derivative is cranberry juice, which is also an excellent chaser for shots of the ever-beloved rum. Because it is not native to the island, cranberries must be imported.
9. Chocolate milk was invented in Jamaica
In the early 1700s in Jamaica, an Irish botanist by the name of Sir Hans Sloane first decided to make the concoction when given cocoa and disliking the taste. In an attempt to fix the problem, he mixed it with milk! And thus… history was forever changed by the groundbreaking discovery.
10. Jamaica has three winners and three runner ups in the Miss World competition
Jamaican women have won the Miss World title three times, and have earned the runner-up title on three other occasions. Because of its relatively small population, this ranks Jamaica at par with the United States, being surpassed by only Venezuela, India, and the UK.
From a rich, unique culture to incredibly breathtaking scenery, Jamaica is a country unlike any other. For the very best experience when traveling, consider an all-inclusive experience at The Hilton Rose Hall Jamaica Resort and Spa in Montego Bay. From adventurous water sports and relaxing spa days to rum distillery tours and reggae beats, you’re guaranteed a good time for the whole family, or an incomparable romantic getaway.