Jamaica - some facts & figures
Christopher Columbus arrived on the island in 1494 and described it as "the fairest isle that eyes have beheld". It is located 145 kilometers south of Cuba. Jamaica is the largest island in the English speaking Caribbean; originally named Xaymaca, meaning "land of wood and springs". Jamaica has a very rich culteral heritage. Indeed the country's motto "Out of many, one people" refers to the population's multiracial roots. It is probably best known for its famous reggae music, sporting successes and the arts. Jamaica was first settled by the Spanish, but was later ruled by the British until it gained its independence in 1962. Although Queen Elizabeth II remains the head of state, she is represented on the island by the Govenor General.