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The national motto of Jamaica is "Out of many, one people" reflecting the multicultural blend of the local population, African, English, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, and more.


Jamaica is situated in the centre of the Caribbean, between 17.5 degrees and 18.5 degrees north latitude and 76.5 degrees and 78.5 degrees west longitude. Cuba is 90 miles north.

Jamaica is the third largest of the Caribbean Islands. Cuba is the largest with the second place taken by Hispaniola which contains the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Of the English-speaking islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica is the largest with about 4400 square miles of land area. It is 146 miles long and 51 miles wide, possessing about 550 miles of coastline.

It is said that Columbus described Jamaica as "a land of hills and valleys" and crumpled a piece of paper to demonstrate its topography. Almost half of Jamaica is over 1000 feet above sea level and about 40 square miles is above 5000 feet.
Climate: The mountainous character of Jamaica creates a wide range of micro-climates. The northeast winds blow regularly throughout the year. During the day, the sea breeze blows onshore and at night, the land breeze blows off- shore. During the American winter season, cold fronts may affect Jamaica, producing very strong cold winds, rain, and a change in wind direction from the North.

There is little seasonal change in average daily temperatures in the lower regions of Jamaica where the majority of the population resides. Readings at St. George's College Station, Kingston:

  • July Average Low at 75.1 degrees F, Average High at 90.7 degrees F
  • January Average Low at 69.1 degree F, Average High at 86.7 degrees F

Temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees F cooler in the highlands, but the summits of the Blue Mountains have seen light frosts on winter nights.

Higher than average rainfall occurs during September to October, followed by May to June. The major dry period is from January to March. The average annual rainfall of 77.1 inches is strongly influenced by the terrain. The northeast of the island receives the most rain. Areas of the Western end also receive high rainfall.

Daily Winds:
Daily winds develop along the coasts with great regularity and have greater climatic influence than seasonal variations. Typically, the sea breeze commences in the morning, reaches its maximum velocity of about 20 knots at midday, and then gradually subsides in the afternoon, when they often produce afternoon showers in the interior.

The hurricane season runs from July to November with the greatest possibility of a hit being August, September and October. The most recent direct hits were-
October 24, 2012
September 12, 1988
August 1951
August 1944
Note: Hurricane Ivan skirted the South Coast of Jamaica, 20 miles offshore, on September 11, 2004.

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Source: The National Atlas of Jamaica, prepared by the Town Planning Department of the Ministry of Finance and Planning with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme Project "Assistance in Physical Development Planning".