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Jamaica has made many contributions to the world, allowing us all to experience it in some way. Some gifts are well-known and instantly recognizable, yet you may be surprised to learn of others.
PAST: The first people on the island were the Tainos. While they inhabited the land a long time ago, some of their words are everlasting, having been adopted in the English language. Some Taino words of common usage are: hammock, tobacco, potato, hurricane, maize (corn), and barbecue.
PRESENT: Today most Jamaicans speak English, and many speak Jamaican creole called patois. These are some words you may find yourself using shortly after your arrival in the island nation, irie, respec and no problem, mon, of course in a proper Jamaican accent.
Jamaica is a hot bed of inspiration for song and dance, with musical creations such as ska, rock steady, dancehall and reggae, which have strongly influenced music and artists all around the world.
PAST: Most people are well aware that Robert Nesta Marley, also known as Bob Marley, was born in Jamaica. His music may be from the past, but it has continued to permeate the present. This reggae artist’s music still plays around the world and has become a culture of its own.
PRESENT: Some other popular Jamaican musicians: Peter Tosh, Sean Paul, Tessanne Chin (The Voice, NBC).
Jamaicans are a sport-loving people and often excel at them. The most popular sports are: cricket, track and field, football (soccer) and boxing.
PAST: Patrick Ewing and the 1998 Winter Olympic Games bobsled team.
PRESENT: Usain Bolt and Veronica Campbell-Brown both compete in the highest possible level of sport, the Olympics. Campbell-Brown, like Bolt, excels in track and field. With three Olympic medals and six World Championships, she has been named the Jamaican Sportswoman of the year five times. She is also the first female track and field athlete to be named a UNESCO Champion for Sport (2009).
With a fertile climate and a healthy distribution of mountainous landscapes, fresh ingredients are plentiful and a must in Jamaican cooking.
PAST: Bananas and sugar cane which birthed glorious plantations and bamboo river rafting.
PRESENT: Jerk, Red Stripe Beer, Appleton Rum, Pickapeppa Sauce and Blue Mountain Coffee. The national dish is composed of ackee, the national fruit, and saltfish.
Not surprisingly, Jamaica is home to many exotic fruits, such as many types of mangos, star apples, sweet sop, rose apple and the jack fruit to name a few. The delicious pineapple was introduced to Hawaii, with love, from Jamaica.