Traveling Luck for Jamaica

Jamaica is located in Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba.

Land in Jamaica is mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain.

Jamaican land covers an area of 10991 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Connecticut

As for the Jamaican climate; tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior.

Jamaican(s) speak English, patois English.

Jamaican National Map

Jamaican Map

Regions of Jamaica

Jamaica gained full independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962. Deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s led to recurrent violence and a drop off in tourism. Elections in 1980 saw the democratic socialists voted out of office. Political violence marred elections during the 1990s.


Jamaica Country Profile

The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for 60% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from remittances, tourism, and bauxite/alumina. The global economic slowdown, particularly after the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, stunted economic growth; the economy rebounded moderately in 2003-04, with brisk tourist seasons. But the economy faces serious long-term problems: high interest rates, increased foreign competition, exchange rate instability, a sizable merchandise trade deficit, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a growing stock of internal debt - the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably the financial sector in the mid-1990s. The ratio of debt to GDP is 135%. Inflation, previously a bright spot, is expected to remain in the double digits. Uncertain economic conditions have led to increased civil unrest, including gang violence fueled by the drug trade. In 2004, the government faced the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth. Attempts at deficit control were derailed by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, which required substantial government spending to repair the damage. Despite the hurricane, tourism looks set to enjoy solid growth for the foreseeable future.

Jamaican natural resources include bauxite, gypsum, limestone

strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for the Panama Canal

Jamaican religion is Protestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Baptist 8.8%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Anglican 5.5%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Brethren 1.1%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other including some spiritual cults 34.7%.

Natural hazards in Jamaica include hurricanes (especially July to November).

Travel Advice on Jamaica

Jamaica

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment throughout.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • You should be aware that there are high levels of crime and violence, particularly in the Kingston area and tourists should avoid certain routes.

  • The threat from terrorism is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Most visits to Jamaica are trouble-free.  However, the main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance are for replacing lost and stolen passports and arrests for drugs-related offences.

  • Since December 2006, over 200 malaria cases have been confirmed in Kingston and St Catherine.  Cases have been notified in the Denham Town, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens and Delacree Park districts of Kingston.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Jamaica and take precautions to avoid being bitten whilst there.  More information can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre website at http://www.nathnac.org.

  • The hurricane season in Jamaica normally runs from June to November.  Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice and Hurricanes.

  • If you are travelling to Jamaica for the ICC Cricket World Cup, which runs from 11 March to 28 April 2007, with warm-up games in the region beginning on 5 March 2007, you should see ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 for general advice you may need before you travel.  The General section of this travel advice also gives you more details.

  • If you intend to remain in Jamaica for more than three months you are encouraged to register with the British High Commission.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

In view of the high levels of crime and violence including kidnapping, you should follow these common sense guidelines:
Be particularly alert for thieves.
Do not offer resistance in the event of an attempted robbery.
Don’t walk or use buses at night.  Only hire taxis authorised by the Jamaica Tourist Board, usually operated by the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA) or taxis ordered from hotels for your sole use (i.e.unshared).
Do not give lifts to strangers and keep car doors and windows locked.
Avoid large crowds and public demonstrations. Criminals use the confusion of such events to engage in acts such as robbery.
Do not carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use hotel safety deposit boxes to store valuables, money and passports.
Try to vary which restaurants you use, as frequenting the same place too often  might risk you becoming a possible target for thieves.
Unless you are fully acquainted with the route and are driving in daylight hours, you  should not  self-drive a car to or from Kingston International Airport.  There have been sporadic outbreaks of violence in the Mountain View area on one route from the  airport to the city. The alternative Humming Bird route includes South Camp Road. This has been closed since December 2006 for roadworks, which means drivers need to take a detour through Vineyard Town, an inner-city area where outbreaks of violence can occur.
Instead, you should take an official “JUTA” taxi, or taxi recommended by your hotel or airport’s official taxi despatcher for your journey to or from the airport.
Gang violence and shootings are usually concentrated in inner city neighbourhoods, including West Kingston, Grant's Pen, August Town, Harbour View, Spanish Town and certain parts of Montego Bay (not the resort areas).But violence can occur in other areas so you should exercise caution at all times. Occasional public order incidents and demonstrations, sometimes violent, can occur in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay. 
There have been incidents involving British tourists on the north coast.   The motive for most attacks seems to be robbery.   Although the Jamaican government has a system of mobile police patrols, there is a risk in walking alone in isolated areas even in daylight hours. We recommend against walking alone on beaches or at night and travelling in unlicensed vehicles.
Most hotels and resorts are well guarded.  Longer-term visitors and residents should pay particular attention to their accommodation security e.g. ensure proper door locks and window grilles are fitted and consider employing a guard and/or fitting a house alarm.  Gated/guarded compounds represent the safest accommodation in the Kingston area.

Some of those returning to resettle permanently in Jamaica have been the target of particular criminal attention.  Incidents of violence, including murder have resulted.  It is therefore particularly important to seek the advice and assurance of the Jamaican authorities, through:  Jamaican Representation in London.  For Jamaicans returning to live in Jamaica, there is a local Returning Residents Association that offers advice.

You should still maintain vigilance even when staying with family or friends.

In the event of an emergency, call 119 for police and 110 for an ambulance.

Political Situation

Jamaica Country Profile

Road Safety

You can drive in Jamaica on a UK driving licence for up to six months. If you are unfamiliar with Kingston, you should not drive a vehicle in the city. If you get lost, you may risk putting yourself and your passengers in personal danger.

Tourists are advised to use Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) approved taxis or minibuses for excursions, airport transfers and sightseeing.  Do not hail taxis in the street. Most hotels and resorts have assigned JTB drivers who carry photo ID and display a prominent blue JTB sticker on the front windscreen.
Road traffic accidents and fatalities are common in Jamaica.  Much of the road network is badly maintained with poor signage, while roads in rural areas are narrow, winding and poorly lit at night, if at all.  Speeding and drink-driving are commonplace.  Drive defensively, and apply caution on the roads whether in a vehicle or as a pedestrian.  Drivers and front seat passengers must wear seatbelts at all times. Motorcycle riders must wear helmets.  When driving, it is recommended that you keep the windows up and doors locked.
The road from Kingston to Buff Bay via Newcastle is currently impassable on the stretch after Newcastle, due to deterioration of the road surface. On the north coast, work on a new highway in 2007 will lead to lengthy road closures in St Mary between Anotto Bay and Port Maria. 
Since December 2006 South Camp Road in Kingston has been closed. It is expected to re-open in March.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

There are severe penalties for all drug offences, including those involving ganja.  Arrests of British Nationals for attempting to traffic ganja have increased markedly since 2005.  Possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs can lead to imprisonment.  All sentences are served in Jamaica.  Prison conditions are harsh.  Pack all your luggage yourself and do not carry anything through customs for anyone else.

Contrary to popular myth, it is illegal to smoke ganja in Jamaica.  The local police have stepped up their efforts to clamp down on the practice.  Several British Nationals have been arrested, fined and even imprisoned for this offence.

Jamaica has a number of laws which make certain homosexual acts illegal.  The attitude of many Jamaicans to homosexuality is hostile.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British nationals do not require visas to enter Jamaica.  However, overstaying without the proper authority is viewed as a serious matter.  You can be held in detention and may be fined.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months from date of arrival in Jamaica.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on entry requirements, visitors are advised to check with:  Jamaican Representation in London.
The personal importation of meat and dairy products from the UK is banned.  Customs officials are liable to search all baggage and concealed foodstuffs will be impounded and destroyed.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance

Medical treatment can be expensive.  Private medical facilities are of a reasonable standard but can vary throughout the island.

HIV/AIDs is prevalent in Jamaica and you should take precautions to avoid exposure.
Since December 2006, over 200 cases of malaria have been confirmed in Kingston and St Catherine. Cases have been notified in the Denham Town, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens and Delacree Park districts of Kingston. The local authorities are screening residents and treating mosquito-breeding sites. Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Jamaica and take precautions to avoid being bitten whilst there. More information can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre website at www.nathnac.org.  You should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in country or in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.

For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.

NATURAL DISASTERS

The hurricane season in Jamaica normally runs from June to November.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation.  You can also access the US National Hurricane Centre for updates.  Please also see:  Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help
Arrival and departure taxes are usually levied at the point of sale for scheduled flights and should be included in the cost of your ticket.  These taxes are not always included in the ticket price for charter flights.  Arrival tax is 10 US Dollars for air passengers and 2 US Dollars for cruise passengers.  Departure tax is 1,000 Jamaican Dollars.
Consular Registration
If you are living, working or staying in Jamaica for three months or more you may wish to register with us so we are aware that you and any family members are in Jamaica should a major emergency occur. Please see: www.britishhighcommission.gov.uk/jamaica
Cricket World Cup
The warm-up matches and opening ceremony will take place at a new stadium near Falmouth in Trelawny, on the north coast of Jamaica. You should allow plenty of time for road journeys between Falmouth and Montego Bay or your hotel. The road between Trelawny and Montego Bay is in very poor condition due to unfinished roadworks, and there is likely to be traffic congestion, especially for the opening ceremony.  
The group stage matches and semi-final are being held at Sabina Park in Kingston. We strongly advise you to follow the directions of police and officials when arriving at and leaving Sabina Park. Do not stray from official routes and avoid going to the surrounding areas, particularly to the south of the ground. Do not use unofficial taxis touting for business. We recommend that you prearrange transport to your hotel/accommodation.
For more general information about the Cricket World Cup you should see the FCO's ICC Cricket World Cup 2007