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Jamaica is among the largest islands in the Caribbean and attracts many thousands of visitors to it's sunny shores every year. The island of Jamaica is somewhat larger than the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, but though it may be small it is certainly not short on excitement, culture, adventure and most of all, fun...

English is the national language of Jamaica, it may not be the sort of English you are used to hearing, and you may hear some terms used that are are unfamiliar with.

"Rastafarianism" or "rasta" describes a religious sect that is native to Jamaica. Rastafarians follow a strict religious code that includes the use of marijuana, or "ganja" as local Jamaicans refer to it. Ganja is often smoked through a "chalice", which is a large smoking pipe, sometimes filled with water to filter the smoke. Rastafarians often avoid cutting their hair as part of their relious code, and often style it into "dreadlocks", or "dreads". Dreadlocks are locks or strands of hair that have been intentionally matted or knotted together. Rastas often keep their dreadlocks covered by an "tam", which is a woolen or other such type hat or head covering. often eat "I'tal" which is a term they use to describe organic fruits and vegatables. The god worshipped by the rastafarians is called "Jah". Rastafarians will often use the term "I and I", which means "me and God". One term you are almost certain to hear when in Jamaica is "Irie". Irie means "feeling good", or sometimes "at one with God".

Villas in Negril
Jamaican Villa Negril Jamaica

The People of Jamaica
Consisting mostly of peoples descended from African blacks, the population of Jamaica does include a number of other ethnicities such as East Indians, Chinese, and European peoples. Most of the population of Jamaica is concentrated in the coastal areas, leaving most of the the highland and mountainous parts of the island largely uninhabited. The population of Jamaica is risen dramatically over recent decades, due to improved health care and educational systems. The "Church of God", "Angelicans", and "Babtists" and even Roman Catholics are prominent religious groups, but despite the popular conception outside of Jamaica, Rastafarianism remains only a very small part of the religious majority of the island. This misconception may be due in part to the fact that rastafarians are the probably the most visible of the religious groups in Jamaica, due to their dreadlocked hair and counter-culture lifestyle and appearance.

Reggae Music
Reggae music has become one of Jamaica's most popular exports, making it's debut in the 1950's and 60's, and finding it's way to neary every part of the globe. Reggae added an element of protest and Rastafarian idealism to the captivating rhythms. Bob Marley is undoubtedly the most popular reggae artist in history, but despite his world-wide recognition and fame, was not the first Jamaican artist to sing reggae music. Bob Marley is considered a national hero in Jamaica, not due simply to his world-famous music, but for his outspoken stance on social and political issues that have affected poor and disempowered poeples all over the globe, particularly in Africa. Another extremely popular reggae artist is Peter Tosh, who was in fact a menber of the musical group from which Bob Marley also heralded.

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