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Wednesday 13th December
Jamaica Facts
The name Jamaica comes from a word of the Arawak Indians, Xaymaca, meaning land of wood and water.

The words barbecue, canoe, hurricane, potato and tobacco come from the language of the first colonists of Jamaica, the Arawak Indians.

Bananas, a crop for which Jamaica became famous, were brought from the Canary Islands in the sixteenth century.

In the late seventeenth century the Caribbean was the haunt of notorious pirates. Among the most famous of the pirates were Edward Teach (known as Blackbeard), Anne Bonney and Mary Read.

Captain Bligh, famous for the Mutiny on the Bounty, brought the breadfruit to Jamaica from Polynesia - the Jamaican House of Assembly paid him five hundred guineas to help pay for his second, successful, voyage.

The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act (1807) prohibited the slave trade within the British Empire. (Slaves in the British colonies did not gain their freedom until the 1830s. The Abolition of Slavery Act (1833) began the process leading to emancipation).

The ancestors of the Indian people of Jamaica were brought to the island to work on the sugar plantations in place of the freed African slaves.

Rum is the national drink of Jamaica; the island was the world's first commercial producer of rum.

Coffee from Jamaica's Blue Mountains is among the world's most famous and expensive.

The Blue Mountains are named for the mists that often cover them, which look blue from a distance.

Rastafarians take their name from Ras Tafari Makonnen - Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia - whom they believe was divine.

Noel Coward spent many years living in his Jamaican home, Firefly, near Ocho Rios. He is buried in the garden.

Ian Fleming designed and built his home Goldeneye in Jamaica and wrote ten of his James Bond novels there.

Fleming borrowed the name of his famous spy, James Bond, from James Bond, the author of A Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies.

Marcus Garvey, who fought for the rights of black people in America, Africa and the Caribbean and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (1914), was born and brought up in Jamaica.

Jamaica became independent from Britain in 1962 becoming a member of the Commonwealth.

In September 2004 Hurricane Ivan killed at least fourteen people and destroyed thousands of homes.

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