The island of Jamaica, situated south of Cuba, is a lush and exciting land with an intriguing history. Its first settlers were the Taino Indians, an Arawak-speaking tribe originally from South America that named the island “Xaymaca”, which means a ‘land of forests and water’. It was discovered by Columbus in 1494, who described it as “the most beautiful island I have ever laid eyes on”, and for 500 years it attracted colonisers from all over the world.
After the Spanish occupation, the island was conquered by the British in around 1650. The existing colonists freed and armed their slaves, who sought refuge in the centre of the island, giving rise to the legendary Maroons, who constantly defied the new colonists, taking on the fearsome British troops in countless battles.
Under British domain, Jamaica became a dynamic and wealthy colony. In the 18th century, the island was known as the “jewel in the British crown” and grew 22% of the world sugar production on its vast and highly profitable plantations. However, the Africans paid a high price for this prosperity, as thousands were shipped to the New World as slaves. As a result of this cruel and oppressive slavery, Jamaica suffered more revolts than any other of the Antilles. Frequent news of slave uprisings and other forms of resistance that were brutally put down by the colonists, eventually stirred the conscience of Europe. In 1838, two years earlier than planned, slavery was abolished and the British government resorted to importing labourers from India and China who rapidly integrated into Jamaican life.
Today Jamaica is an aspirational tourist destination for lovers of all things authentic. Bob Marley’s homeland boasts everything you could wish for: magical beaches, headily beautiful nature dotted with seemingly impossible rivers, waterfalls and mountains, an internationally renowned music scene, a highly contagious joie de vivre, a proud people and an outstanding range of facilities for tourists, highlights of which include the IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Rose Hall and the IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Beach and Rose Hall Suites.