Although it is a small nation, Jamaican culture has a strong presence around the world. The musical genres of reggae, ska, mento, rocksteady, dub and more recently dancehall and ragga have all emerged from the island’s vibrant and popular urban record industry. Jamaica also played an important role in the development of punk rock through reggae and ska. Reggae has also influenced American rap, as both styles of music have African rhythmic roots. Some rappers, such as The Notorious B.I.G. and Heavy D, have Jamaican roots. The world-famous reggae musician Bob Marley was also Jamaican.
Many other internationally known artists were born in Jamaica, including Millie Small, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Gregory Isaacs, Half Pint, Protoje, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Big Youth, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Desmond Dekker, Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Shaggy, Grace Jones, Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Buju Banton, Sean Paul, I Wayne, Bounty Killer, and many others. Bands from Jamaica include Black Uhuru, Third World Band, Inner Circle, Chalice Reggae Band, Culture, Fab Five and Morgan Heritage. The jungle genre emerged from the Jamaican diaspora in London. The birth of hip-hop in New York owes much to the city’s Jamaican community.
Ian Fleming, who lived in Jamaica, used the island as a setting several times in his James Bond novels, including Live and Let Die, Doctor No, For Your Eyes Only, The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy and The Living Daylights. In addition, James Bond uses a cover in Jamaica in Casino Royale. The only James Bond film adaptation set in Jamaica to date is Doctor No. The filming of the fictional San Monica Island in Live and Let Die took place in Jamaica.
The journalist and writer H. G. de Lisser (1878-1944) used his home country as the setting for his numerous novels. Born in Falmouth, Jamaica, de Lisser worked as a reporter for the Jamaica Times from a young age and began publishing Planters’ Punch magazine in 1920. The White Witch of Rosehall is one of his best-known novels. He was made honorary president of the Jamaica Press Association and worked throughout his career to promote the Jamaican sugar industry.
Marlon James (1970), Romanautor, hat drei Romane veröffentlicht: The Devil of John Crow (2005), The Book of Night Women (2009) und A Brief History of Seven Murders (2014), Gewinner des Man Booker Prize 2015.
Film actor Errol Flynn lived in Port Antonio in the 1950s with his third wife Patrice Wymore. He helped develop tourism in the area and popularised river rafting on bamboo rafts.
Jamaica has a long history in the film industry, dating back to the early 1960s. An insight into Jamaica’s criminal youth is provided by the 1970s musical crime film The Harder They Come, starring Jimmy Cliff as a frustrated (and psychopathic) reggae musician who embarks on a murderous crime spree. The American film Cocktail (1988), starring Tom Cruise, is one of the most famous films depicting Jamaica. Another popular film based on Jamaica is the Disney comedy Cool Runnings (1993), loosely based on the true story of the first Jamaican bobsleigh team to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
The island is famous for its Jamaican jerk seasoning, which is an integral part of Jamaican cuisine. Jamaica is also home to Red Stripe beer and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
- National bird: Red-billed Stripe-tail (also called Doctor Bird) (a hummingbird, Trochilus polytmus)
- National Flower – Lignum vitae (Guiacum officinale)
- National tree: Blue Maho (Hibiscus talipariti elatum)
- National fruit: Ackee (Blighia sapida)
- National motto: “Out of many, one people”.
Sport is an integral part of national life in Jamaica and the island’s athletes tend to perform far better than one would normally expect from such a small country. While the most popular local sport is cricket, Jamaicans are particularly strong in athletics on the international stage.
Jamaica has produced some of the world’s most famous cricketers, including George Headley, Courtney Walsh and Michael Holding. The country was one of the venues for the 2007 Cricket World Cup and the West Indies cricket team is one of 10 full members of the ICC participating in international cricket Tests. The Jamaican national cricket team participates in regional competitions and also provides players for the West Indies team. Sabina Park is the only Test venue on the island, but Greenfield Stadium is also used for cricket. Chris Gayle is Jamaica’s most famous batsman and currently represents the West Indies cricket team.
Since independence, Jamaica has consistently produced world-class track and field athletes. In Jamaica, athletics begins at an early age and most high schools have rigorous track and field programmes whose top athletes compete in national (including the VMBS Track and Field Championships for Girls and Boys) and international (including the Penn Relays) competitions. In Jamaica, it is not uncommon for young athletes to receive media coverage and national recognition long before they reach the international track and field scene.
Over the past six decades, Jamaica has produced dozens of world-class sprinters, including Olympic and world champion Usain Bolt, the world record holder in the men’s 100m (9.58s) and men’s 200m (19.19s). Other notable Jamaican sprinters include Arthur Wint, Jamaica’s first Olympic gold medallist; Donald Quarrie, Olympic champion and former 200m world record holder; Roy Anthony Bridge, International Olympic Committee member; Merlene Ottey; Delloreen Ennis-London; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, current world and Olympic 100m champion; Kerron Stewart; Aleen Bailey; Juliet Cuthbert; Veronica Campbell-Brown; Sherone Simpson; Brigitte Foster-Hylton; Yohan Blake; Herb McKenley; Olympic champion George Rhoden; Olympic champion Deon Hemmings; and Asafa Powell, former world 100m record holder, Olympic 2 x 100m finalist and 2008 Olympic 4 x 100m champion.
Jamaica has also produced several world-class amateur and professional boxers, including Trevor Berbick and Mike McCallum. First-generation Jamaican athletes continue to have a significant impact on international sport, particularly in the UK, where the list of top British boxers who were born in Jamaica or have Jamaican parents includes Lloyd Honeyghan, Chris Eubank, Audley Harrison, David Haye, Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno.
Club football and horse racing are other popular sports in Jamaica. The national football team qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Jamaica’s national bobsleigh team was once a serious contender at the Winter Olympics, beating many established teams. Chess and basketball are widely played in Jamaica and are supported by the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) and the Jamaica Basketball Federation (JBF) respectively. Netball is also popular on the island, and Jamaica’s national netball team, the Sunshine Girls, regularly ranks among the top five teams in the world.
The Jamaican national rugby team is made up of players who play in Jamaica and British players from professional and semi-professional teams in the UK. Their first international match was a 37-22 loss to the United States national rugby team in November 2009. Rugby league in Jamaica is growing with universities and high schools taking up the sport. The JRLA Championship is the country’s premier rugby league competition. The Hurricanes Rugby League is a professional rugby team that hopes to compete in the USA Rugby League or AMNRL by 2013. During this time they will train young players aged 14 to 19 who will be part of the Hurricanes RL Academy with the hope of becoming full-time professional players.
According to ESPN, the highest paid Jamaican professional athlete in 2011 was Justin Masterson, starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.