|Preface Last Updated: 1/26/2005
Travelers have long regarded Jamaica as one of the most alluring
of the Caribbean islands. Its beaches, mountains, and fiery red
sunsets regularly appear in the world's tourist brochures, and,
unlike other nearby islands, it democratically caters to all comers:
You can choose a private villa with your own private beach; laugh
your vacation away at an all-inclusive resort; or throw yourself
into the thick of the island's life.
Jamaica has a vivid and painful history, marred since European
settlement by an undercurrent of violence and tyranny. Christopher
Columbus first landed on the island in 1494, when approximately
100,000 Arawak Amerindians, who had settled Jamaica around 700 AD,
inhabited the island. Spanish settlers arrived from 1510, raising
cattle and pigs, and introducing two things that would profoundly
shape the island's future: sugar and slaves. By the end of the 16th
century the Arawak population had been entirely wiped out.
In 1654 an ill-equipped and poorly organized English contingent
sailed to the Caribbean. After failing to take Hispaniola (present
day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), they turned to weakly
defended Jamaica. Despite the ongoing efforts of Spanish loyalists
and guerrilla-style campaigns of freed Spanish slaves (cimarrones-"wild
ones"-or Maroons), England took control of the island.
Investment and further settlement hastened as profits began to
accrue from cocoa, coffee, and sugarcane production. Slave
rebellions did not make life any easier for the English as escaped
slaves joined with descendants of the Maroons, engaging in extended
ambush-style campaigns, and eventually forcing the English to grant
them autonomy in 1739. New slaves kept arriving, however, most of
them put to work on sugar plantations. The Jamaican parliament
finally abolished slavery on August 1, 1834. Adult suffrage for all
Jamaicans was introduced in 1944, and virtual autonomy from Britain
was granted in 1947. Jamaica became an independent state on August
Post-independence politics have been dominated by the legacy of
two cousins: Alexander Bustamante, who formed the first trade union
in the Caribbean just before WW II and later formed the Jamaican
Labor Party (JLP), and Norman Manley, whose People's National Party
(PNP) was the first political party on the island when it was
convened in 1938. Manley's son Michael led the PNP toward democratic
socialism in the mid-1970s.
Jamaica is not simply the happy-go-lucky island of Hollywood
movies and all-inclusive resorts. The country struggles against
numerous entrenched social problems, from excessive violence and
crime to serious unemployment. In spite of their many hardships,
Jamaicans are a warm and welcoming people. Over time, this tiny
island nation has a way of working its way into the hearts of most
who come to visit.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:32 AM
The Island of Jamaica is perhaps best noted for its lush and
scenic tropical beauty: the rugged spine of blue-green mountains
rising to 7,400 feet; warm, clear Caribbean waters, with exciting
underwater reefs; and the picture-postcard north coast, with its
Jamaica is the third-largest Caribbean island and lies nearly 600
miles south of Miami, Florida. Slightly smaller than Connecticut,
the island is 146 miles long and 51 miles across at its widest
point. Except for narrow coastal plains mainly on the island's south
side, the landscape is one of sharp, crested ridges, unique
"cockpit" formations, and deep, twisting valleys. Almost half the
island is more than 1,000 feet above sea level. Some 50% of the
island is used for agriculture, 40% is woodland, and the remaining
10% is divided between mining and urban areas.
Kingston, the capital, is on the southeast coast and has the
world's seventh-largest natural harbor. From sea level at city
center, the terrain rises to 1,800 feet. Jamaica's 120 rivers flow
to the coasts from the central mountain ranges.
Jamaica enjoys a favorable climate. Daily temperatures average
79°F, with an average maximum of 86.5°F and an average minimum of
71.5°F. Temperatures vary depending on elevation, however for all
locations, the warmest months are June to August and the coolest
months are December to February. Northeast trade winds help maintain
a feeling of relative comfort.
Elevation and the island's geography affect temperature and
rainfall markedly. Rainfall varies from an annual average of 35 to
200 inches depending on location. Rainfall is generally heaviest
during May-June and September-November, though these are not rainy
seasons in the tropical sense. Mildew is a problem during these
months. December-March are the driest months. Relative humidity in
Kingston ranges from about 70-85%.
Jamaica is in the earthquake and hurricane belts, but has not had
a disastrous earthquake since 1907, though there are usually a few
tremors every year. In September 2004, the island was struck by
Hurricane Ivan, the first since Hurricane Gilbert devastated much of
the island in 1988. The main force of the storm affected the entire
island, especially the southern coastal areas, and caused widespread
damage, mainly to crops and vegetation, coastal properties,
utilities, and roofs.
The island also suffers from periodic droughts. The water
situation in Kingston was improved dramatically by the completion of
the Blue Mountain Water Scheme. Occasional water shortages occur,
but the water tanks, pumps, and filters the General Services Office
(GSO) provides relieve the problem for most Mission personnel.
Jamaica has no dangerous wild animals. Black widow spiders and
scorpions are present but rare. Many varieties of soft-bodied
lizards and nuisance insects - particularly cockroaches, ants, and
termites - present some problems. Mosquitoes and houseflies are
troublesome in Kingston. Grass ticks and fleas are also annoying to
Jamaica has over 600 insect species as well as 250 bird
species-25 of which belong only to Jamaica. About 120 species of
butterflies, including the world's largest (with a 6" wingspan), are
also found here. The island is especially noted for its fireflies,
otherwise known as blinkies or peeny-waullies.
A profusion of flowering shrubs, trees, and cactuses reflects
Jamaica's great variation of climate and topography. Hundreds of
imported plants are well established. Pimento, or allspice, is from
an indigenous plant, and Jamaica is the world's largest producer.
The ortanique, developed in Jamaica, is a cross between an orange
and a tangerine. Jamaica also has over 220 species of native
orchids, over 500 different ferns, more than 300 mosses, and many
Population Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:39 AM
Jamaica's population of 2.7 million, according to 2004 estimates,
is distributed unevenly, with large, sparsely populated areas in the
mountainous interior of the island. Kingston is the island's largest
city, with an estimated population of 700,000 in the Kingston-St.
Andrew metropolitan area. Nearby Spanish Town, with 131,000
inhabitants, and Greater Portmore, with nearly 500,000, although in
the adjacent parish of St. Catherine, are in effect extensions of
the Kingston metropolitan area. Montego Bay, with a population of
120,000, is the largest urban center outside of the greater Kingston
A colorful, complex cultural heritage makes Jamaicans a unique
people. Their society is multiracially integrated, and the term
"Jamaican" does not carry a particular color connotation. Jamaica's
population is about 91% African or mixed descent. The remaining 9%
are chiefly mixed, East Indian, European, Chinese, and Lebanese.
Approximately 60% of the population is under 35—the median age is
26.8 years. The economic and emotional focus of the home is
frequently the mother, as reflected by the title of Jamaican
sociologist Edith Clarke's book, My Mother Who Fathered Me.
The language in Jamaica is English, but it varies from precise
Oxford English to Jamaican patois. Because of differences in
phraseology, inflection, and word usage, new arrivals may experience
some difficulty in understanding Jamaican English, particularly on
the telephone. Given time, most difficulties disappear. The
exception is with patois, sometimes called Jamaican Creole;
understanding it takes time and attention.
Although most Jamaicans speak standard English, a combination of
patois and English is commonly encountered in dealings with street
vendors, domestic helpers, and artisans. Most Jamaicans are familiar
with the dialect, although few speak only patois. However, modern
Jamaican theater includes much dialog in rapid patois, which may be
difficult to follow, even after extended exposure to it.
Religion is an important facet of the Jamaican character and a
major stabilizing influence. Most Jamaicans are Christians, with
members of the Diocese of Jamaica now representing the largest
single denomination. The Church of Jamaica, successor to the Church
of England (Anglican) since the 1880s; the Baptist Church; and the
Roman Catholic Church have substantial followings. Many other
denominations are also represented, including Moravians, Seventh-day
Adventists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Latter-day Saints
(Mormons). There are also small Jewish, Moslem, and Hindu
Also found are religious groups unique to Jamaica: the
Revivalists, whose Afro-Christian blend of religion has a high
trance-invoking emotional content, and the bearded, "dreadlocked"
Rastafarians, who worship "Jah," whose earthly representative was
the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.
Jamaican culture and traditions are largely African and British,
but ties with North America are increasing. This is due primarily to
the large number of Jamaicans who have lived in or visited the U.S.
and Canada, the importance of North American tourists to the
island's economy, and the influence of U.S. media.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:40 AM
Jamaica is a constitutional parliamentary democracy and a member
of the Commonwealth of Nations. The British Monarch (Queen Elizabeth
II, since 1952) is the Head of State and is represented by a
Jamaican Governor General (Sir Howard Felix Cooke, since 1991)
nominated by the Prime Minister (P.J. Patterson, since 1992). The
government is based on the Westminster parliamentary system and has
an elected 60-member House of Representatives and an appointed
21-member Senate. Since the early 1940s, the Jamaican political
scene has been dominated by two closely matched political parties:
the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP).
A third party, the National Democratic Movement (NDM), was formed in
The government is elected for a 5-year term, but elections can be
held earlier under certain circumstances. Government ministries are
directed by ministers selected from majority party members of the
House and Senate and appointed by the Governor General, acting on
the advice of the Prime Minister.
In the October 2002 general elections, Prime Minister P.J.
Patterson's PNP won 24 of the 60 seats in Parliament. In the June
2003 local government elections, the opposition JLP won 12 out of 13
parish councils. Edward Seaga, current leader of the opposition JLP,
was Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989.
Legal institutions generally follow British practice. Cases are
tried before an independent judiciary ranked in an ascending
hierarchy of Petty Sessions Courts, Resident Magistrate Courts,
Supreme Court, and Court of Appeal. Certain cases may be sent on
appeal to the U.K. Privy Council for final determination.
The island is divided into three counties, which have no
present-day functions. Within these counties are 14 parishes.
Kingston and the suburban parish of St. Andrew are combined for
administrative purposes into the Kingston and St. Andrew
Corporation. Parish Councils, which are to be elected every 3 years,
attend to local government functions. They depend on support from
the central government and can be dissolved if the national
government believes parish affairs are being mismanaged.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 1/26/2005 1:01 PM
Culture. Jamaica has long been noted for the richness and
diversity of its culture and the quality of its artists. In the area
of theater, the island has produced such notable actors as Madge
Sinclair, the Honorable Louise Bennett-Coverley, and Charles Hyatt.
A variety of plays can be seen in Kingston. Jamaica has an
international reputation in dance, especially through the National
Dance Theater Company, which fosters the development of traditional
dance forms. The country also has a high reputation for its many
fine painters, sculptors, and writers. Music is another field in
which Jamaica is well known, particularly for reggae, which has been
made famous by singers such as the late Bob Marley.
Music. Jamaica's music is perhaps its most revealing form of folk
expression. Frank, natural, and spontaneous, it springs from the
soul of the people and often reflects historical circumstances. The
songs record joys and sorrows, wit, philosophy of life, and
Traditional Jamaican music is percussive, polyrhythmic, and
repetitive. Vocals rely heavily on the call-and-response form, while
drums control the accompanying dances. The major influences are
evident in the structure and behavior of Jamaican melody and
harmony: the older heritage of African music and rhythm and the more
recent legacy of European religious and popular music, introduced
over the centuries of British rule.
Popular music has steadily evolved over the last 20 years from
mento to ska to reggae. Reggae has been internationally promoted
through the late Rasta folk hero and international pop star Bob
Marley. Other prominent reggae artists include Dennis Brown, Jimmy
Cliff, and the late Peter Tosh. Several Jamaicans also have gained
international recognition in the fields of classical music and jazz;
Curtis Watson and Monty Alexander are notable examples. The
philosophy, doctrine, and music of the Rastafarians heavily
influence reggae in instrumentation, lyrics, movement, and delivery.
The latest musical movement is called "DJ music." Similar to
American rap music, it relies heavily on rhythmic chanting and
emphasizes experiences of inner-city youth. Other forms of popular
music include "dance hall," "dub," and "soca," a form of merengue
music heard primarily during Carnival celebrations.
Art. Jamaican art is varied and reveals no predominant cultural
or ethnic influences, except, perhaps, very stylized African motifs.
Many of the established Jamaican painters and sculptors have
achieved acclaim outside this country, particularly in the U.S. and
Britain, where many of them were trained. Sophisticated works can be
obtained in various media: oils, acrylics, watercolors, silk-screen
prints, woodcuts, sculpture, ceramics, pottery, and textile arts.
There is a fairly large group of expatriate artists-mostly from the
U.S. and the Commonwealth-resident in Jamaica.
Kingston is the art center of the island, with many artists, the
art school, and several well-respected high-quality galleries. Three
broad categories of art are discernible: intuitive, abstract, and
representational. Representational is the dominant mode. The
National Gallery of Art maintains a large collection of Jamaican and
Caribbean art from the 18th century to the present.
Crafts. Local craftwork is strongly influenced by cultural
heritage and finds expression in straw, semiprecious stones and
jewelry, wood, clay, fabric, shell, and bamboo. A substantial amount
of the alabaster, embroidered cutwork, and appliqué‚ craftwork is
exported to the U.S. An attractive cluster of craft shops is located
on the grounds of Devon House, a historic site.
Dance. The National Dance Theater Company (NDTC) was formed in
1962. Many of the troupe's more recognized members studied in
England and the U.S. The NDTC emphasizes indigenous dance and
experimentation. NDTC choreographers have produced an extremely
varied and culturally rich repertoire. The revived folk dances are
actively performed on the island. They are presented at cultural
festivals, on TV, and in resort areas.
Drama. Drama has expanded considerably in the past decade. During
the 1980s, Jamaican playwrights typically produced works based on
social currents and issues of the day. Today, the theater offers a
broad base, ranging from comedy and reviews to serious drama.
Festivals. Jamaica places much emphasis on the cultural heritage
of its people. The artistic and cultural awakening has been
accompanied by a keen search for roots in folk forms based chiefly
in colorful and intensely rhythmic dances and songs. This is best
reflected in the annual festival celebrated from the last 2 weeks in
July until Independence Day, the first Monday in August. Winners of
"all island" parish dance, song, poetry, and drama competitions
perform during the festival. Other high-profile festivals include
the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, the Reggae Sunsplash Festival, and
Carnival. Festivals provide an avenue of expression for Jamaicans at
every level of society.
Science. Organized scientific investigation in Jamaica dates back
to 1774 when the Botanical Department and the Gardens at Bath were
established. The Institute of Jamaica, which includes the West
Indies Reference Library, the National Gallery of Jamaica, and
several museums, is the most significant cultural organization in
the country. Its Natural History Division is the chief source of
information on Jamaican flora and fauna. The Institute also produces
publications on Jamaican history and culture. Perhaps one of the
most active units of the Institute is the Edna Manley College of the
Visual and Performing Arts where students are instructed in dance,
drama, music, and the fine arts.
Systematic geological surveys began over 100 years ago. In 1942,
with the realization of the potential of bauxite, extensive research
began, which led to the creation of a separate Geological Department
Important areas of scientific research include geology,
mineralogy, biochemistry, food technology, nutrition, agro industry,
crop and soil agronomy, epidemiology, ecology, and marine biology.
The National Meteorological Office and the Seismic Research Unit
of the University of the West Indies compile and disseminate
information to the public.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:42 AM
Jamaica's pattern of trade and production has historically been
based on the export of its principal agricultural products (sugar,
bananas, coffee, cocoa, spices, etc.), as well as other foreign
exchange earners (bauxite/alumina, rum) in exchange for imports of
oil, machinery, manufactured goods, and food products (principally
wheat, corn, rice, soybeans, butter). However, the fast growth of
tourism and other service based industries (distribution,
transportation, storage and communications), and the proliferation
of service industries have changed the island's trading habits.
Jamaica is the fifth most popular tourist destination in the
Caribbean. For nearly two decades, tourism has been Jamaica's number
one foreign exchange earning industry. The tourism sector was
negatively affected by the 9/11 attacks in 2001, but newly available
data shows that in 2003 visitor arrivals to Jamaica increased to 2.5
million, the highest level of arrivals recorded in a single year.
Jamaica's tourism revival remained firmly on track for the first
seven months of 2004 with total visitor arrivals jumping by 5.5
percent to 1.6 million visitors. However, the relatively buoyant
growth was interrupted by the onslaught of Hurricane Ivan on
There has also been a flurry of investment activity in the
tourism sector. Over USD 2 billion in foreign investment, largely by
Spanish investors, has been slated for the next three years. The
cruise industry's renewed confidence in Jamaica is also generating
its fair share of investment, with several local investors pledging
significant resources to the development of attractions. Prospective
employment of near to 10,000 people is but one of the many
anticipated spin-offs of these developments.
Jamaica has large commercial deposits of mineral resources
including limestone (two-thirds of the island), bauxite, gypsum,
marble, silica sand and clays. However, it is the bauxite/alumina
sector, which accounts for most of the mining activity. The
bauxite/alumina industry is the second pillar of the economy,
accounting for almost ten percent of real GDP, and is the third
highest foreign exchange earner after remittances and tourism. The
sub-sector employs 4,000 people and is the country's highest paying
Agriculture generates approximately 7.0 percent of GDP and
employs over 20 percent of Jamaica's employed work force. Major
traditional export crops include sugar, bananas, coffee, and citrus,
while major non-traditional crops include yams, tropical fruits and
vegetables, and horticulture. Agriculture faces several challenges,
including the loss of preferential markets for bananas and sugar,
high production costs, and susceptibility to the elements (flooding
and drought). Following the 2004 hurricane season, weather-related
damage to agriculture was estimated at USD 1 billion.
Other nontraditional products have also strengthened Jamaica's
export performance over the last few years. These include cut
flowers, ornamental plants, gourmet food items and spices,
handicrafts, telecommunications services, and furniture.
World-renowned Jamaican products such as Blue Mountain coffee,
cigars, and Red Stripe beer have experienced growth in demand. The
U.S. remains Jamaica's primary trading partner. Jamaica's other
leading trading partners are the U.K., Canada, Venezuela, and Japan.
Following four years of decline in real Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) from 1996 to 1999, the economy recorded its fourth consecutive
year of growth in 2003 when real GDP grew by an estimated 2.1
percent. The growth in 2003 was largely due to expanded output in
agriculture, mining, financial services, miscellaneous (includes
tourism) and electricity and water.
Transportation Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:44 AM
A car is a necessity for American employees in Jamaica. Incoming
employees can either bring a vehicle from their last post or the
U.S. if it is a recent model, buy one duty-free from several
Kingston dealers who sell vehicles to diplomats, buy one from a
departing employee (as advertised in the CLO's newsletter), or
import a vehicle from several internet-based used car companies in
Japan. Employees should sort out their vehicle situation prior to
arrival at post. Married staff with diplomatic privileges may import
two cars duty free, but they must pay shipping on the second
vehicle; single staff with diplomatic privileges may only import one
vehicle. Driving is on the left, but either left-hand or
right-hand-drive cars may be imported. Left-hand drive cars may need
to have the headlights re-aimed. Because of the narrow roads, and in
the interest of safety, consideration should be given to obtaining a
Current Jamaican Government policy forbids the importation of
cars and SUVs over 3 years old (from the exact date of manufacture
to the exact date of entry into Jamaica). Exceptions to this policy
are rare. Check with GSO before shipping a vehicle to Jamaica.
Compact cars are best suited to the narrow, winding Jamaican
roads, although many employees drive SUVs, as high road clearance is
an advantage when negotiating potholes and rougher roads outside of
Kingston. An air-conditioner is desirable. Garages can service most
American, Japanese, or European makes, but service is below U.S.
Spare parts are expensive and sometimes hard to find for older
and less common models. Although not essential, you may want to
bring a basic supply of oil filters, radiator hoses, fan belts, and
spark plugs, as well as points and condensers if your car uses them.
Spare parts can be obtained from the U.S. in a few days. Also, bring
basic tools and repair manuals for your make and model of car.
Durable tires in good condition are necessary because of often
poorly kept roads.
Embassy employees who purchase gasoline at public service
stations must obtain receipts if they wish to claim reimbursement of
Jamaican gasoline taxes. Refunds are requested through the
Management Office, but are slow in coming. No refund is made on
diesel fuel, which costs only slightly less than leaded gasoline.
Unleaded gasoline is widely available. Currently duty-free fuel is
available at the GSO warehouse, at roughly 20% below the commercial
price, through the American Kingston Recreation Association.
Upon arrival GSO will assist you in obtaining a Jamaican driver's
license, although you are permitted to drive on your U.S. driver's
license for up to a year. Licenses can be obtained without
examination by presenting a valid American or international license.
Because suburban areas are geographically extensive and public
transportation inadequate, self-drive is a necessity in Kingston,
and GSO recommends that all adult family members of diplomatic
personnel come to Jamaica with a license.
Automobile registration is accomplished by obtaining (1) an
import license for your car at the time of importation, (2)
compulsory local liability insurance, and (3) a certificate of
vehicle fitness. Embassy officers obtain diplomatic registration
plates gratis. Certificates of car fitness must be renewed annually.
Personnel should discuss automobile purchases as well as imports
with the GSO.
Before selling a car, an employee must obtain permission from the
Chief of Mission and the Jamaican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If a
car has been in country less than three years, customs duties must
be paid based on the car's pro-rated assessed value at the time of
sale. Vehicles may be sold without payment of duties after the
vehicle has been on the island for more than three years. Proceeds
may be converted to U.S. dollars through Post's Financial Management
Transportation to and from work can be provided for persons in
temporary quarters whose cars have not yet arrived. Jamaica Union of
Taxi Drivers Association cabs, found at the major hotels and
airports, are generally reputable and reliable. Staff members are
not advised to use public buses. The Embassy contracts for buses to
transport Embassy children to and from school.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:47
Telephone service is available to most of the island, but service
is below U.S. standards. Calls from one exchange to another are
treated as long-distance calls despite relatively short distances,
with rates determined by the mileage between exchanges. A
direct-dialing system serves the whole island. Service to the U.S.
by satellite is generally adequate.
A 3-minute, station-to-station call from Kingston to Washington,
D.C., costs about US$0.75 at full rate and US$0.55 at the reduced
rate (night and all day Sunday and on Jamaican holidays). Calling
cards can be used from Embassy phones, and many U.S. long-distance
companies offer collect-call services from Jamaica. Direct-dialing
from the U.S. is possible using area code 876 and the Jamaican
There are several cellular telephone companies that offer a wide
variety of packages and service. If you have a cellular telephone
that has a removable SIMS chip, it can be used in Jamaica. Cellular
telephones can be purchased locally and range from the inexpensive
to the expensive.
Internet Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:47 AM
There are several Internet Service Providers (ISP) offering a
wide variety of service from dial-up to ADSL. For dial-up service,
the cost varies, but has recently dropped so that it is on par with
the U.S. ADSL is the only broadband service available, but is
considerably more expensive than in the U.S.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:48 AM
Local airmail service is available to and from the U.S. Transit
time to Washington or New York is about 10 days, with some
fluctuations in service. The airmail letter rate to the U.S. is
J$1.10 per ounce. Surface mail and international parcel post depend
on sailing schedules to Jamaica and are unreliable. Delivery time
from the U.S. varies from 2 to 6 months. International letter mail
service ranges from excellent to disastrous, while local mail can
disappear or take weeks to travel a few miles. Pouch mail is all by
air, with transit time varying from 10 days to 2 weeks or longer.
Personal letters and packages should be addressed as follows:
3210 Kingston PL.
Dulles, VA 20189-3210
Packages/boxes cannot exceed 17x18x32 and must not weigh more
than 50 pounds.
Articles prohibited by U.S. postal regulations may not be sent
via Department of State facilities. In addition, liquids, plants,
corrosives (acids), perishables, explosives, firearms, narcotics or
dangerous drugs not prescribed by a U.S. physician, glass, and other
fragile articles are prohibited. Only letter mail, exposed film,
video cassette-recorded cartridges and letter tapes, as well as
authorized merchandise returns, may be sent from post to the U.S.
Most employees volunteer to personally carry flat mail to the U.S.
when traveling. The shipment of packages via the pouch, as noted
above, is not allowed. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) prohibits the
registration, certification, or insurance of mail entered into the
USPS for pouch transmission to post. Please notify all
correspondents and mail-order houses to comply with this regulation
to prevent mail from being returned to them. Jamaica is served by
United Parcel Service, Federal Express, and DHL Worldwide Express.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:48 AM
AM and FM radio reception in the Kingston area is excellent.
There are several major national radio networks, including the RJR
Communications Group and the CVM Communications Group. Radio
stations offer a wide variety of programming, including music, talk
shows, local and international news, and religious programs.
Short-wave reception from the U.S. and U.K. is fair to good, with
occasional interference; some people find a short wave set
desirable. Voice of America (VOA) short wave broadcasts get good
reception in early morning and evening and have excellent news and
Television Jamaica (formerly the Jamaica Broadcasting
Corporation) has operated a TV station since 1963. TVJ transmits
Jamaican, U.S., U.K., and Canadian programs. A privately owned
station, CVM-TV, broadcasts many popular American sitcoms and
movies. Both stations offer regular local and overseas news
programs. As a result of recent legislation governing cable TV
service, a wide variety of cable programming, including US network
television, is now available through several local cable providers.
Rates are comparable to those in the U.S. TVs made in the U.S. can
be used in Jamaica.
Video rental stores can be found in Kingston, but are rare. Most
post personnel have a VCR/DVD player. The vast majority of available
tapes are VHS or DVD. There are now almost 20,000 satellite dishes
in Jamaica that receive the whole range of U.S. television
offerings. Operation of CB/single side-band radios is popular with
some Mission personnel, because of ease in communicating with
stations in North America. "Skips" also bring in Central and South
America, Mexico, Canada, and other Caribbean islands. Ground plane
antennas have proved satisfactory; larger antennas give more scope.
Licensed amateur radio operators have permission to operate their
stations in Jamaica. Bring a valid license and all CB radios and
equipment, antennas, and other accessories to post, as they are not
available in Jamaica.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
1/26/2005 11:49 AM
The Miami Herald and the New York Times are usually available at
local newsstands late on the day of publication. Limited
international coverage is provided by the Daily Gleaner, the Herald,
and the Observer, Jamaica's three main newspapers. Copies of these
papers are usually available for perusal at the Jamaica Desk (ARA/CAR)
in the Department of State.
English and American magazines are available locally. American
magazines are marked up at least 12%. Subscriptions to U.S.
magazines will save money. Send them by pouch, if you don't mind
them arriving at least 2 weeks late and occasionally in batches of
two or three. Subscriptions to the international editions of Time or
Newsweek will ensure that the magazine arrives during the week of
publication. Books printed in England and the U.S. are available
from several booksellers. U.S. bestsellers are often late arriving
at local shops and the range is limited. Books cost more in Jamaica
than in the U.S.
The Public Affairs Information Resource Center (IRC) has about
500 volumes, consisting primarily of general reference works. The
IRC also subscribes to eight U.S. periodicals. The Kingston and St.
Andrew Parish Library is part of the island wide free public library
service. It has about 70,000 volumes.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:50 AM
A health and medical information sheet is revised annually and
includes a list of local doctors. General practitioners and
specialists are available. Many have received specialty training in
the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. These doctors are highly qualified and
good diagnosticians, even without the benefit of sophisticated
equipment. Fees are generally lower than those in the U.S.,
particularly in specialty areas. There are many good dentists whose
fees are also lower than those in the U.S. Many professionals have
migrated to the U.S., and in several specialty areas it is sometimes
difficult to get appointments quickly.
Several small and generally adequate private hospitals are found
in and around Kingston. People go to the U.S. for special treatment
or surgery. Local doctors may recommend trips to the U.S. if they
believe their own facilities are inadequate. The regional medical
officer, who visits Kingston every four to six months, has stated
that no elective surgery should be done in Jamaica. Miami is the
designated medical evacuation point.
The Health Unit is open part-time during the week and is staffed
by a registered nurse who is equipped to treat minor health problems
and injuries, and to give immunizations. She is on call 24 hours
daily for emergencies, and can also make referrals to doctors, if
necessary. Special medications are sometimes difficult to find;
please bring at least a six-month supply.
Community Health Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:50 AM
Community sanitation in Kingston has improved over the past few
years. Trash and garbage disposal in the urban areas has also
improved. Sewage treatment facilities are adequate in Kingston.
Drains and plumbing are inspected sporadically. Insects are a
constant nuisance, and there is not a regular spraying program to
control the breeding grounds. Tap water in Jamaica is generally
potable, but it is not fluoridated. Young children will need to take
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:50 AM
Jamaica has no serious endemic diseases likely to affect Mission
personnel. Some infectious diseases are influenza, whooping cough,
scarlet fever, and German measles. It is now mandatory for students
entering school for the first time to have documents verifying that
they have been immunized against whooping cough, tetanus,
diphtheria, measles, polio, and tuberculosis before admission is
approved. U.S. Mission children are exempt from the tuberculosis
Rabies, yellow fever, and malaria are not present in Jamaica, but
mosquitoes do transmit the unpleasant dengue fever. The use of
screens on windows and doorways is recommended. Mosquito repellents
and appropriate clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants
that reduce exposure to mosquito bites while outdoors is also
Avoid excessive exercise during the heat of the day. Because of
the large areas of dense foliage and high pollen levels, the climate
can be unpleasant to asthma and sinus sufferers.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:51
Employment opportunities in the community can be difficult to
find and salaries are considered low. A new policy to be implemented
by the Department on January 1, 2005, will give preference to
qualified Appointment-Eligible Family Members (AEFM) for any vacancy
announced at post, whether or not it has been traditionally staffed
by locally-engaged staff (LES). Implementation of this policy may
depend on available funding as AEFMs earn higher salaries than LES
employees. Family members interested in employment are encouraged to
send a resume and/or SF-171 to the Community Liaison Office (CLO)
and to consult with HR in the Department and at post to learn of new
developments. The CLO also organizes and supervises a summer hire
program for dependents aged 16-21 when funding is available.
Various employment opportunities exist outside of the Embassy.
Volunteer opportunities are available in such areas as social work,
teaching, and literacy training. A U.S.-Jamaica bilateral agreement
allows dependents to work without a work permit following submission
of a diplomatic note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Other areas
of employment are possible within the business community, but
require a job search. Salaries are generally low by U.S. standards.
Employees must pay Jamaican taxes, which are substantial, and they
must waive their diplomatic immunity in relation to their work.
American Embassy - Kingston
Post City Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:52 AM
The destruction of Port Royal by an earthquake in 1692 led to the
settlement of Kingston to the north across the harbor. So rapid was
growth that by 1703 it was declared by law the chief seat of trade
and head port on the island. In 1872, it became the island's
capital. After 1911, internal migration began to focus on Kingston,
which led to the continuing trend toward movement from the
countryside to principal urban areas. Kingston is now the largest
English-speaking city in the Americas south of Miami.
Kingston is spread along the low coastal area surrounded by
picturesque mountains. It is a bustling, sprawling city of striking
contrasts. Typical of large cities, Kingston has areas of modern
homes set in lovely gardens, as well as sections of slums. The
government is attempting to replace the "tin shanties" of the slums
with low-cost housing developments.
The better suburban residential areas are close to several fairly
modern shopping areas, which include supermarkets, drug stores,
drycleaners, small specialty shops, movie theaters, and boutiques.
The modern-day Port Royal, beyond the airport and across the
harbor from Kingston, is considered to be a highly valuable
archeological site. It was known as one of the richest and most
wicked cities in the world before the 1692 earthquake, which plunged
much of this buccaneer capital into the sea. Several old buildings
are still standing, and there is an excellent museum. Restoration
and an underwater archeological project are under way.
Kingston itself has several interesting old houses, as well as
galleries, museums, and other places to visit. The city features
panoramic views of the mountains or the sea from nearly any point
and offers many opportunities for an enjoyable tour.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:53 AM
The Embassy occupies four floors in an 11-story modern office
building owned by the Mutual Life Assurance Society and located at 2
Oxford Road in New Kingston. It houses offices for State (including
the Public Affairs Section), as well as Foreign Commercial Service,
Foreign Agricultural Service, Military Liaison Office, Defense
Attaché's Office, US Marshal Service, Department of Homeland
Security, the Tactical Analysis Team, and Drug Enforcement
Administration operations. The Consular Affairs Section is located
on one floor in the Life of Jamaica Building at 16 Oxford Road,
about two blocks from the Chancery. There are U.S. Consular Agencies
in Montego Bay and the Cayman Islands. USAID is located nearby at 2
Haining Road. The Peace Corps Director and staff are located about 1
mile from the Embassy at 1A Holborn Road. By early 2006, most
offices of the Embassy expect to move into a $53 million complex
currently under construction.
The Community Liaison Office is an important resource for
employees and their family members. The CLO coordinator offers new
employees and their families a personal contact at post before
arrival. Employees and family members are encouraged to write to the
CLO coordinator prior to arrival.
Consular Affairs Section
Staffed by 15 American officers, several Eligible Family Members
(EFMs) and 28 Jamaican staff, Embassy Kingston's Consular Section
provides a full range services to American citizens and Jamaican
Approximately 12,000 American tourists are in Jamaica at any time
and another 23,000 reside here permanently. The major tourist areas
on the north coast are served by a Consular Agent based in Montego
Bay. The Cayman Islands, with about 9,000 resident Americans and
nearly as many US tourists, is served by a Consular Agent under the
supervision of the Consul General in Kingston.
Due to the many commercial and familial ties linking Jamaica and
America, visa issues assume great importance in the bilateral
relationship. During FY 2004, the Visa Section processed
approximately 10,000 immigrant and 70,000 non-immigrant visa
Jamaica, the third largest island in the Caribbean, is also one
of the poorest countries in the region. The large number of U.S.
citizens of Jamaican origin, the country's proximity to the U.S.,
and its importance as a destination for over one million US
travelers each year mean that joblessness, the HIV/AIDS epidemic,
drug trafficking, environmental degradation, and recurrent natural
disasters directly affect the U.S.' national interests.
USAID's $17.0 million program is well positioned to help Jamaica
transform itself into a more competitive economy with more equitable
and stable political and social frameworks.
USAID works with a wide range of Jamaican and U.S. partner
organizations, including the Jamaican government, universities,
NGOs, and the private sector, to implement a variety of programs.
Housing Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:50 AM
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:50 AM
The U.S. Government owns the Ambassador's residence, the Consul
General's residence, and a 10-story residential building, known as
the Colin L. Powell Residential Plaza (or just Powell Plaza for
short), with 42 comfortable and modern apartments, 30 of which will
be assigned to Embassy staff beginning in the summer of 2005. Other
residential units are leased.
The Ambassador's residence is located on a 3.6-acre lot six miles
from the Embassy. The two-story house has three bedrooms and four
baths, a study, and terraces on each floor. There are living
quarters for four staff members. The kitchen accommodates up to six
domestic employees. The property also has a separate two-bedroom
guesthouse, a pool, and a two-car garage.
The DCM's home, leased in April 2004, is located in Jacks Hill,
four miles from the Embassy. The house has three bedrooms and four
baths and includes guest quarters as well as three bedrooms to
accommodate up to three domestic employees. The property also has a
pool, and two-car garage.
The CG's residence is a detached, four bedroom/two and a half
bath house on one acre of land situated in an affluent location in
the Shortwood area of Kingston. The property was acquired in 1980
and is currently undergoing renovation. The house has a swimming
pool and extensive grounds good for entertaining.
All Agencies except Peace Corps and USAID participate in the
Embassy housing pool, which consists almost entirely of short-term
leased townhouses. Most housing is located in several contiguous
neighborhoods some 4-6 miles from the Embassy and USAID. It takes
from 20 to 60 minutes to drive to the Embassy from these townhouses,
depending on the time of day and year, short cuts taken, and
location of housing. Commute times will be shortened when the new
Embassy opens in early to mid-2006.
Arriving personnel are assigned to permanent housing by the
Inter-Agency Housing Board (IAHB) before arrival. If the assigned
home has not yet been vacated or is not ready for occupancy, as may
be the case particularly during the summer transfer season, new
arrivals may be temporarily assigned to other suitable housing for a
short period of time.
Townhouses normally contain three bedrooms, two or three
bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining area, and small patio
area. Many units have accommodations for a domestic employee, a
laundry room, a carport, and sometimes a den or family room. Closets
are usually small, and additional storage rooms are rare. Many
townhouse complexes have swimming pools, and some have tennis
courts. Most townhouses have very small private garden areas.
Gardening tools are not provided by the Embassy. All residences have
security grilles on windows and on any doors that do not meet rigid
standards. Most units are also equipped with alarm systems.
Townhouse complexes have perimeter walls or fences and 24-hour
security guards at entrance gates.
Beginning in mid-2005 the IAHB anticipates that roughly half of
Embassy employees, depending on rank and family situation, will be
assigned housing in the newly renovated 10-story residential Powell
Plaza (formerly a Crowne Plaza Hotel). Residential units will be
spacious, with large balconies providing beautiful views of Kingston
and the surrounding mountains. The complex has a swimming pool, gym,
squash and tennis courts, landscaped grounds, and community areas
for both indoor and outdoor entertaining. Located near the Manor
Park shopping center, it is in the same area as many of our
townhouses. A residential shuttle service from the plaza to the
Embassy will be provided.
Furnishings Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:51 AM
Residences are furnished according to the size of the residence,
the availability of appropriate furniture in stock, and the size of
the family. Appliances provided include the following:
1 range (gas or electric)
1 washing machine
1 emergency generator and water tank (provided by GSO or the
Air-conditioners for occupied bedrooms, and living rooms, when
Note: Non- Department of State personnel should contact their
agencies regarding the provision of appliances, furniture, and
furnishings, as there is presently not a furniture pool at the
Draperies for the living room, dining room, and occupied bedrooms
are provided by the landlord or employing agency, in accordance with
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:51 AM
Electric service in Kingston is fair, with sporadic power
outages. AC current is 110v, 50 cycles (the U.S. standard is 110v,
60 cycles). Some homes are also equipped with 220v, 50-cycle current
for heavy appliances. Many U.S.-made appliances function
satisfactorily on 50-cycle current, but electric clocks, tape
recorders, and some other equipment sometimes do not. Voltage
fluctuations may damage electrical equipment, so GSO recommends that
employees bring surge protectors.
Food Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:55 AM
Supermarkets and small specialty shops in Kingston have a wide
variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, and canned goods. PriceSmart
and MegaMart, two warehouse-type stores (similar to Costco or Sam's
Club in the U.S.), recently opened in Kingston. They offer a variety
of foods and products. The better quality shops and markets inspect
their meat, but no government inspection is required. Prices are
higher than in the U.S. for all cuts of standard quality meats. Some
American-type cuts of beef and pork are available. Fresh and frozen
fish, lobster, and shrimp are available seasonally.
Vegetables range from tropical to standard fare and are available
year round. Choices include white Irish potatoes (no baking), sweet
potatoes, yams, beets, green beans, leaf lettuce, eggplant, green
peppers, avocados, onions, scallions, celery, carrots, cucumbers,
corn, tomatoes, varieties of pumpkin (squash), and several local
varieties of vegetables. Quality is decent; prices are moderately
Fruits are also seasonal, with oranges, tangerines, grapefruit,
limes, papaya, watermelon, mango, guava, pineapple, bananas,
plantains, and other good local fruits available. Prices range from
reasonable to high, although quality is good. As always, fruits and
vegetables should be washed well before eating.
As this is a tropical climate and cars can get especially warm,
to insure your purchases remain frozen, plan to bring at least one
large cooler for transporting frozen goods.
Clothing Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:56 AM
Clothing suitable for men and women in southern Florida, southern
California, and Hawaii is appropriate for Kingston. Most, if not
all, necessary items for men, women, and children can be found here,
but are expensive. Fabric is readily available and alterations can
be reasonably priced. Ready-made clothing is sold, and prices are
often high. Careful shopping can produce good results. Thankfully,
Internet shopping has alleviated most concerns about the
availability of such items.
Bring a good supply of comfortable shoes and sandals, especially
for women and children. These are hard to find in the right size,
and the brands vary from those found in the States. Imported shoes
are available, but are expensive. For possible trips to cooler
climates (mountains) or the U.S., include some warm clothing. Think
clothes that layer well. Also bring blue jeans, sports clothes,
slacks, and a pullover if you like mountain holidays.
Men should bring a supply of lightweight suits. A tuxedo for men
is rarely required. Women need clothes suitable for offices in the
U.S. Stockings are worn by some, but are optional. For women, long
or short dresses can be worn to cocktail parties and buffet dinners.
For the infrequent cool evenings, sweaters or light evening
wraps, depending on the function attended, will suffice. Men need
only a lightweight tropical suit, even for the coolest Kingston
weather. Bring sweaters for the office, as the air-conditioned
environment can be quite cool at times.
Children wear typical play clothing, particularly shorts and
T-shirts, tennis shoes, and sandals. If your children are of school
age, be sure to note specific uniform requirements. Bring a couple
of swimsuits for each family member.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:56 AM
Bring your favorite cosmetics and toiletries. These items may be
available but you will pay a decidedly higher price for them. Bring
a good supply of prescription medications, and familiarize yourself
with ways to purchase your prescriptions via the Internet.
Basic Services Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:57 AM
Dry cleaning quality is fair, and readily available, but prices
are higher than in the U.S.
Barbershops are generally adequate and less expensive than those
in the U.S.
Female hair care is abundant, but you will want to shop around
for a stylist who is experienced with your type of hair. Prices are
comparable, if not slightly less, to those paid in the US.
Manicurists and pedicurists are also abundant and very reasonably
priced. You may wish to bring your own tools and products.
Radio, watch, camera, electrical, and mechanical repairs are not
up to U.S. standards; complex repairs are undertaken at your own
risk. Repair costs may be high, and spare or replacement parts are
often not available. Bring only electrical and mechanical equipment
that is in good working order.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:57 AM
"Helper," is the term used by Jamaicans and foreigners alike for
domestic help on the island. Most Jamaican helpers are female. Most
types of household help are available, but reliable, well-trained
workers, especially cooks and gardeners, may be difficult to find.
Most personnel have or share at least one helper, in addition to
drivers, gardeners, and other workers.
The Jamaican legal minimum wage is low, and most U.S. personnel
pay more generous salaries. The standard pay for a day worker in an
Embassy home, for instance, ranges from J$1000 (roughly US$16.66) to
J$1500 (US$25) per eight-hour day.
Various arrangements are made for helper's food, bus fare, and
lodging. Helper's daily hours are not rigidly set, and various
schedules can be arranged to suit your family needs. Gardeners are
generally skilled, but are hard on American lawnmowers and tools.
If uniforms are desired, employers must furnish them. Once a year
each helper receives 2 weeks' vacation with pay. In some cases, a
helper is given quarters and lives in.
Helpers and employers must make modest weekly payments to the
National Insurance Scheme, the Jamaican social security system.
Payments for hospitalization or unemployment are not required,
though often made by the employer. If a helper who has been employed
at least 4 weeks is discharged without cause, 2 weeks severance pay
Although local custom is not strongly established on this point,
the employer should pay the costs of some medical services for a
helper in case of sickness or injury. Public hospitals provide a
wide range of free services, although receiving them can be
time-consuming. The regional medical officer strongly recommends
that domestic help have medical exams at least once a year.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 1/26/2005 11:58 AM
Most major faiths are found in Jamaica. A partial list of
denominations in Kingston includes Anglican, Baptist, Friends
(Quaker), Jewish, Methodist, Mormon (Latter-day Saints),
Presbyterian/Congregational, Roman Catholic, and Seventh-day
Adventist. All services are in English.
At Post Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:02 AM
Kingston provides Mission families a healthy choice in educational
systems. The American International School of Kingston (AISK)
follows a U.S.-style curriculum, whereas the Jamaican school
structure is based on the British format. In all schools English is
the language of instruction. The school year runs from early
September through late June or very early July and is divided into
three terms, the Christmas, Easter, and summer terms. The Jamaican
education system is divided into preparatory schools,
pre-kindergarten through grade 6, and high schools, grades 7 to 13.
AISK follows a traditional American grade division: an elementary
program for grades pre-kindergarten through 6, a middle school for
grades 7 and 8, and a high school for grades 9 to 12. Mission
children attend schools located in the residential areas where
official and nonofficial Americans live; however, students do not
necessarily attend schools in their own neighborhoods. Students use
a private school bus service contracted though the Mission to get to
and from school. The schools are about five to 15 minutes from most
Mission family housing. The post education allowance covers tuition
at AISK and the Jamaican private schools used by Mission children,
as well as the school bus fees.
AISK follows the American style of education and incorporates
whole language, creative writing, and "hands-on" methods of problem
solving. Since it does not offer a program to prepare students for
the two major Jamaican exams, the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT)
and Caribbean Examination Council, AISK is a real alternative for
children from the U.S. and other diplomatic missions, American and
international business families, and Jamaican families who do not
need their children to sit the GSAT because their children will
attend high school abroad.
In the Jamaican system, students take two important examinations,
the GSAT and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). Every year at
the end of January, all Jamaican 6th-graders take the GSAT to enter
high school. Doing well means acceptance in one of the nation's
better high schools; doing poorly means the child cannot attend high
school, except as a private placement. In 1996, more than 55,000
Jamaican students sat the exam to earn one of fewer than 20,000
places. During the latter terms of 5th grade and the first term of
6th grade, students attend extra classes at the schools to prepare
for the GSAT. Mission children do not have the same pressures to
succeed in this exam, but it can still be stressful. In its favor,
the exam tests students' abilities in math mechanics (adding,
multiplication, etc.), math reasoning and problem solving, spelling,
English grammar, parts of speech, and reading comprehension.
Students learn using rote memorization methods; yet, they leave the
Jamaican schools with a thorough grounding in the basics of math and
At senior level, grades 7-11, the Jamaican curriculum prepares
students for the Caribbean Examination Council Exam (CXC). If
students pass this exam, they go on to "A" level courses in 12th and
13th grades to prepare either for the "A" level examination or the
Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE). The results of
these exams help determine a student's admission to university. No
Jamaican school will admit a student to the 12th grade unless the
student passes the CXC; therefore, Mission family members who need
to complete 12th grade at post have two options, AISK or boarding
The Jamaican high school curriculum treats science and math
courses differently from the U.S. A Jamaican student studies a
science course such as chemistry, biology, physics, etc., throughout
three years and earns course credits only at the end of the third
year. A Mission student transferring from a Jamaican school during
the three years earns no science credits, as the course is
incomplete; likewise, the Mission student entering a Jamaican high
school during the three years is at a disadvantage and may require
tutoring to catch up on the science missed from previous year(s).
The Jamaican math curriculum incorporates general math, algebra,
geometry, etc., into one mathematics course, whereas, under a U.S.
curriculum, these are individual courses taught in separate years.
In both math and science, it is difficult for a student to carry a
useful transcript crediting the student with having completed
algebra, geometry, the sciences, etc., to the U.S. or another
school. Finally, as the high school begins at 7th grade, foreign
language instruction also starts at that grade level and a Mission
child beginning 9th grade will perhaps require tutoring in the
language programs to be current with the class. These curriculum
issues make a Jamaican high school a less attractive choice for
incoming Mission families.
In Jamaica, children enter kindergarten at age 4; thus, for
Americans attending Jamaican schools, the age and grade do not
correspond with the U.S. system and American children may frequently
be a year older than classmates. The Jamaican schools tend to place
incoming children based on age, so parents should work with the
school in placing their child. Some students do very well, in
effect, "skipping a grade," but parents must consider whether the
U.S. school system will readmit the child at the advanced grade or
return the child back to a grade more suitable for the child's age,
maturity, and intellectual and social development.
Families coming to post with dependent children should visit the
schools to satisfy themselves that their school choice meets their
child's needs. During the year, parents are welcome to take an
active role in their child's school through volunteer activities and
the Parent Teacher Associations at each school. The CLO is a source
for information about the schools in Kingston. The CLO is on E-mail;
also tel.: (876) 935-6063; and Fax: (876) 935-6001. Because of the
choices that Jamaica offers families, many parents find the schools
to be satisfactory.
The American International School of Kingston (A.I.S.K.)
AISK celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2004. It continues to meet
the growing demand for a school that offers quality education that
more closely follows the U.S. curriculum and style of education.
A.I.S.K is an independent PK-12 school which serves a community of
American, international and Jamaican children and families. Strong
emphasis is placed on high academic standards, as well as the ideals
of international understanding and the development of productive
individuals who are critical and compassionate thinkers, life-long
learners, and socially responsible citizens. The school is committed
to providing a learning environment, which nurtures the
intellectual, ethical, emotional and physical growth of its
students. The school is fully accredited through the Southern
Association of Colleges and schools.
Presently (2005) the student population is approximately 160
strong, representing 30+ nationalities. AISK is conveniently located
on three beautiful acres near embassy housing. The school houses an
expansive library, computer and science labs, pool and sports
fields. Art, music and language classes (Spanish and French) are
taught at all levels. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are
also available. In addition, the upper school offers Advanced
Placement courses that may be applied toward college credit
A wide variety of after school programs are offered each semester
and have included soccer, basketball, swimming, drama, journalism,
photography and aerobics. Students choose the number of days per
week they wish to participate.
The AISK uniform consists of a white polo shirt, navy shorts/skorts,
white socks and black shoes. Most pieces of the uniform can be
purchased at Post.
American International School of Kingston (AISK)
Principal: Bruce Goforth
1A Olivier Rd
Tel: (876) 755-2634-6
c/o American Embassy/Kingston
Department of State
Washington, DC 20521-3210
Hillel Academy, founded in 1969 as the Jewish community's
contribution to education in Kingston, is nondenominational and
religious instruction is optional. The curriculum is designed to
prepare students for the CEE, CXC, and SAT examinations, as many
Jamaican students attend universities in the U.S. Hillel is fully
accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and schools.
Class size is large (25-28) a class, and this can be a problem for
some children who require more individualized attention.
The preparatory school is Pre- K to grade 6, and the senior
school is grades 7-13. The 2004-2005 enrollment is 631 students.
During the 2004-2005 school year, five Embassy Kingston children
The prep school offers a curriculum that is closely linked to
that of U.S. schools. Many of the textbooks used are from the U.S.,
particularly in math and science. Language arts is based on a
Caribbean curriculum and uses Caribbean textbooks; for example,
within the Caribbean curriculum the word "harbor" is spelled with a
"u," harbour. Students in the 5th grade begin to prepare for the
GSAT, given in January of the 6th grade. All students must take
French and Spanish the first three years of senior school. The prep
school offers a library, computer lab, art and music programs, and
after school activities, such as soccer, netball, tennis, martial
arts, and ballet. Hillel, offers swimming instruction as part of the
physical education classes and swimming as an intramural sports
Hillel is on an 8-1/2-acre campus at the foot of the hills. Blue
uniforms are required, but may be bought from a local manufacturer.
Black shoes are required for both boys and girls. Boys wear dark
socks and girls wear navy socks. Bring both shoes and socks to post,
as well as crew socks and white tennis shoes, which are needed for
physical education. White shorts for physical education can be
bought locally, and the physical education T-shirt will be sold by
the school in the appropriate "house color" for your child.
Shelia Purdom (Director)
51 Upper Markway
Kingston 8, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 925-1980 or 905-3351
For incoming family members, AISK may well be the first stop in
their tour of schools. AISK provides the closest educational
opportunities for students already familiar with U.S. systems.
Hillel and the other Jamaican schools provide an education for
families looking at schooling outside the traditional U.S. systems.
Listed below are other schools in Kingston used by Mission families.
The CLO can furnish further details to a family interested in
learning more about any one of the following schools:
Immaculate Conception Preparatory and High School for Girls
Primary Headmistress: Ms Teresa Mendes
Senior Head mistress: Sister Mary Catherine Aarons
152 Constant Spring Road
Kingston 8, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 925-2819(Primary)
Rainbow Land Preschool
Directors: Odette Khoury, Patricia Peralto
75 Shortwood Road
Kingston 8, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 925-2800/ 905-0276
Step by Steps Preschool
Principals: Cynthia Hamilton
63 Paddington Terrace
Kingston 6, Jamaica
Tel: (876) 978-8207, 978-6213
1a Olivier Road
Away From Post Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:03 AM
Kingston has an away-from-post allowance for grades 7 to 12. In
2003-2004 two students attended boarding schools. If you are
considering the boarding school option, contact the education
counselor at the Family Liaison Office in Washington, for
assistance. The CLO has information on boarding schools used by
Mission children at post. Some children attend boarding schools in
Florida to be close to the Mission; others attend schools close to
their home leave addresses to be near family in the U.S. The CLO has
videos and brochures available from a variety of boarding schools.
Special Needs Education Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:03 AM
Facilities exist in Kingston for educating children with special
needs, but equipment and staff are limited. Day programs are offered
by the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, the Salvation Army School
for the Blind, and the Mona Rehabilitation Center for the physically
handicapped. Carberry Court Special School has day and boarding
programs for the severely mentally handicapped. Mico Care Center
offers a 9-week remedial program for those with multiple handicaps.
The Jamaica Association for Children with Learning Disabilities is a
resource facility for assisting children while in their regular
school program. None of these programs meet U.S. standards. Those
who have children requiring special instruction should notify the
CLO of their specific needs in order to obtain an up-to-date
recommendation on how best to meet those needs.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:04 AM
The University of the West Indies has its largest campus in
Kingston. It is a modern institution and offers liberal arts,
natural sciences, and medical training. Entrance requirements are at
the level of 1 year of college in the U.S. It is possible to enroll
in selected classes, but difficult to enroll for a degree program.
The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts
includes the Schools of Dance, Drama, Art, and Music. Each offers
programs for both adults and children. Many Mission children have
been involved in various activities in the junior departments. Ask
the CLO for more information.
Additionally, the following U.S. universities offer programs in
* Central Connecticut State University (MS Reading and Language
* Florida International University (International Executive MBA at
the University College of the Carribbean).
* Nova Southeastern University (MBA, DBA, MS Education).
* University of New Orleans (Executive MBA).
* University of South Florida (Master's in Early Childhood Education
at the Shortwood Teacher's College).
* Western Carolina University (BS Education in Middle Grades
Education, MA Educational Supervision).
Opportunities for learning languages such as French, German, and
Spanish are available at the Alliance Française, the German-Jamaican
Society, and the Spanish Academy. Private tutors are also readily
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:05 AM
Jamaicans are sports conscious. Chief sports are soccer, cricket,
golf, tennis, swimming, sailing, and horseback riding. Smaller
groups are active in squash, rugby, scuba diving, snorkeling,
basketball, and softball. Local sports groups and clubs accept
Bring all sports equipment to post, including a good supply of
tennis balls if you play tennis. Scuba gear is available for rental,
and can also be purchased here (at higher than U.S. prices), it is
advisable to bring all scuba gear and spare parts. Scuba
certification can be obtained easily, at reasonable prices.
Snorkeling gear is not widely available for purchase or rent and
should be brought to post.
There is saltwater sport fishing for jack, blue marlin (record
600 lbs.), sailfish, kingfish, dolphin, tuna, barracuda, tarpon, and
snapper. Freshwater catches are snook, mullet, and others.
Windsurfing and water skiing is enjoyed at several north coast
For joggers and walkers, the favorite spot to do laps is the Mona
Reservoir. Daily running is also possible at the Police Officers'
Club in Kingston. The new Emancipation Park in New Kingston is
another location for jogging and walking. Running on the streets is
not recommended because of dogs, traffic, and crime.
Constant Spring Golf Club offers a challenging 18-hole course
marked by hills and narrow fairways. The course is conveniently
located in suburban St. Andrew close to Mission housing. Entrance
fees and annual dues are moderate. Greens fees are low. Social
membership entitles you to squash, badminton, tennis, and swimming.
The initiation fee for social membership is moderate when compared
with U.S. private club fees. The clubhouse has a newly renovated bar
and lounge room and snack bar. The pool area has also been
renovated. There are no playground facilities at the club.
Caymanas Golf and Country Club is 12 miles from Kingston. Its
facilities include a good 18-hole golf course and some tennis
courts. Membership fees are close to those of the Constant Spring
The Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) has a special arrangement for
members of a Jamaican golf club. For a small annual fee, you may
join the JGA and play any course in Jamaica for about half price.
The island has 11 good golf courses. The JGA also has offers for
golfers who do not belong to clubs. Further information can be found
online at: www.jamaicagolfassociation.com.
Kingston's Liguanea Club has a swimming pool; lighted tennis,
badminton, and squash courts; a restaurant and bar; and an exercise
room. The club has several dances per year and is used for other
events. A special golf membership is available at Liguanea for play
at the Caymanas golf course.
The Royal Jamaica Yacht Club has facilities available for those
interested in sailing, boating, and fishing. Social events are also
held. The club is located near the international airport, and its
large veranda affords a panoramic view of the harbor, Kingston, and
the mountains. Entrance fees and annual dues are moderate. Anyone
with a desire to "crew" on sailboats should join the club and meet
the boat owners.
Physical fitness clubs and health spas are available. The Spartan
Health Club, for instance, offers universal weightlifting equipment,
aerobic exercise classes, steam room, and shower facilities.
Gymkhana is a state-of-the-art facility housed in the Hilton Hotel.
The air-conditioned facility offers a variety of classes, as well as
weight training, Stairmasters, bikes, and treadmills.
Because summers are hot and humid, swimming is popular. Most
housing complexes have swimming pools. Bring water toys and two or
three bathing suits per person (they wear out quickly).
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:06 AM
The most popular form of outdoor activity on the island is
beachgoing. Jamaica's north coast has luxury resorts, hotels, and
private villas every few miles. The off-season, from mid-April to
mid-December, offers lower rates. Most resorts offer special Mission
rates. Check with the CLO for the current rate list. The partially
completed Highway 2000 project, a four-lane expressway, is making it
easier to travel west and north of Kingston, and is drastically
reducing travel times.
Negril, on the western end of the island, has seven miles of
white-sand beach and uninhibited simplicity. Negril offers all
ranges of hotels and resorts and is about a five-hour drive from
East of Negril, along the north coast, is Montego Bay, tourist
capital of the island with its beaches, hotels, and attractions. The
area includes several excellent golf courses and Rose Hall,
Jamaica's most famous great house. Nearby is Greenwood, once owned
by the Barrett family whose best-known members were poet Elizabeth
Barrett Browning and Sarah Barrett, "Pinkie" in Sir Thomas
Falmouth, despite its neglect, is a charming north coast port. It
is still the best-preserved late 18th- and early 19th-century town
on the island. The old Georgian buildings are worth a sightseeing
The St. Ann's Bay/Discovery Bay/Runaway Bay area, where Columbus
landed in 1494, is another interesting locale. Columbus Park,
Columbus Statue, and the ruins of the first Spanish settlement,
Seville Nueva, are here. Visitors to the area can tour the caves
near Runaway Bay, which the last Spanish governor of Jamaica used as
a safe haven while fleeing the British. Discovery Bay is the home of
the University of the West Indies Marine Lab.
Ocho Rios is the resort area for the central north coast. The
offshore reefs are among the finest in the Caribbean. Just south of
Ocho Rios is Fern Gully, a rainforest where the road twists through
a ravine. Also in the area is Jamaica's leading tourist site, Dunn's
River Falls. Brimmer Hall Plantation (coconut and bananas) and
Prospect Estate (pimento, citrus, and cattle) offer tours.
On the northeast coast near Port Maria is "Firefly," former home
of Noel Coward. "Golden Eye," once home of James Bond's creator, Ian
Fleming, is in Oracabessa.
Port Antonio, once vacation home of actor Errol Flynn, is
considered Jamaica's most beautiful port, and is the sport fishing
capital of the island. The beauty of the area, the beaches, rafting
on the Rio Grande River, Blue Lagoon (the world's largest natural
swimming pool), Nunsuch Caves, Somerset Falls, and Maroon "jerk"
pork and chicken still attract many visitors to its hotels and
The trip back to Kingston along the coastal road to the east of
Port Antonio is rewarding. Beautiful coastal scenes, extensive
coconut and banana plantations, the John Crow Mountains, and
interesting villages provide a pleasant break from tourist areas.
A 424-mile primary highway circles the island, and several
highways cross the mountainous interior from north to south. The two
main north-south roads used to cross the center of the island from
Kingston are also interesting. A third mostly paved road runs
between Kingston and Buff Bay via Newcastle (41 miles). It is a
narrow road through small villages and over Hardware Gap, the
highest point on the primary road net, offering beautiful scenery.
From Kingston to Annotto Bay (28 miles), a good but narrow road
winds through the mountains. Along the way is Castleton Botanical
Gardens, founded in 1862. These lovely gardens provide a good
setting for weekend picnic outings.
The other road crossing the island from Kingston begins by going
west. It passes the Arawak Museum at White Marl, Caymanas race
track, and Spanish Town, the old capital. Spanish Town is unique
among Jamaican cities and has the longest history of settlement
(1534) plus the finest collection of historic buildings and
monuments on the island. It is also home of the National Archives.
From Spanish Town, the road winds its way north through the
canyon of the Cobre River, across the narrow Flat Bridge, past Bog
Walk, Linstead, and Ewarton (Windalco alumina plant), and over Mount
Diablo (2,250 feet). At Moneague, where three small lakes
periodically appear, the road branches to the left to St. Ann's Bay
or to the right through Fern Gully to Ocho Rios.
Touring is popular. Kingston-area locales include historic sites
at Port Royal, Castleton and Hope Botanical Gardens, the National
Gallery, and the nearby Blue Mountains. Touring elsewhere can be an
easy day's drive from Kingston.
Another popular outdoor activity is a weekend or day trip to
Holywell Park, about an hour's drive from Kingston. At 4,000 feet,
the weather can be quite cool, so warmer clothes are advised. Hiking
is a popular outdoor activity.
Birdwatching is popular, and over 250 species can be seen,
including 25 found only in Jamaica. Resident species shared with
neighboring countries are of special interest, since some have
developed differences in behavior and appearance peculiar to
Jamaica. Bring binoculars.
Garden clubs have regular outdoor shows. The Orchid Show is an
annual event enjoyed by many.
Bicycle riding is not recommended in Kingston because of erratic
driving habits, potholes, and overzealous dogs. There have also been
incidents of bikers being attacked and bikes stolen. The University
of the West Indies campus offers several miles of quiet, scenic
roads for riders of all abilities and ages. Several tour companies
offer bike excursions into the Blue Mountains. Bring a carrack,
helmet, and rear-view mirror. Repairs are available, but spare parts
are best ordered from U.S. supply houses.
Entertainment Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:06 AM
Two walk-in theaters are frequented by Americans. American films
are released in Kingston shortly after their U.S. releases. Several
theaters offer a selection of stage presentations: drama, reviews,
variety, musicals, and pantomime. Kingston also has several active
dance theater movements, the Jamaica Philharmonic, and several
The National Gallery of Art (downtown) and several smaller art
galleries have excellent collections of Jamaican art. Regular
exhibits of paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and native crafts are
held in Kingston.
There are many colorful activities that are interesting to
newcomers, including Jonkanoo dancing, a curious type of costumed,
masked folk dancing of African origin that is seen during the
Christmas season. Carnival is a popular event, celebrated the week
after Easter with both adult and children's carnivals.
"Eating Jamaican" is not to be missed. Two popular dishes are
ackee with salt fish and rice with peas (beans). Other specialties
include curried goat, fricasseed chicken, escovitched fish, Port
Royal's fried fish and bammy, jerk pork, jerk chicken, soups such as
pepper pot and pumpkin, and gungo peas. Desserts such as sweet
potato puddings, plantain tart, bulla, gizada, cut cakes, and grater
cakes are popular.
Kingston has good restaurants offering Jamaican, British,
Chinese, American, Indian, French, Middle Eastern and Italian
cuisine. Most restaurants have higher prices than restaurants in the
Kingston does not have extensive outdoor recreational
opportunities for children. The city has a small zoo and botanical
gardens where children can ride bikes or roller blade. Schools have
limited playgrounds. Children usually get their outdoor exercise in
their own yards.
Many Jamaicans enroll their children in full-time nursery schools
at the age of 2 or 3. Because of this, Americans find their own
young children frequently lack playmates. Therefore, most families
enroll young children in a nursery five days a week, at a reasonable
cost. Many nursery schools have proven more than satisfactory to
Mission personnel. The CLO has more detailed information on this
There is little informal play between children of neighboring
families in most neighborhoods in Kingston, but families in
townhouses usually find this is not a problem. Parents often
schedule lessons or activities for the afternoons, especially for
school-age children, since schools finish between 2:00 and 2:30 p.m.
Tennis and golf lessons, as well as piano, dance, and ballet lessons
are popular. The Tae Kwon Do Club is enjoyed by all ages interested
VCRs and DVD's provide a major form of entertainment for
everyone, but especially for children. Most families have a VCR, and
tape swapping is frequent. Ship children's toys, art supplies, and
books, since these items are not readily available locally, and
prices are high. Items that will fit in the pouch can be ordered by
mail and received in about four weeks. Cable with U.S. television
stations is also readily available.
Children will want to play indoors in the heat of the day when
they first arrive, especially in the summer. A high chair, if
needed, car seats, plastic cups and plates, and Thermos jugs for
carrying drinks in the car should also be included. Check with the
post for availability of a crib if you will need one.
Children will need to be familiarized with necessary security
precautions in a low-key fashion. Houses are grilled and locked and
have alarm systems and guards. All travel is by private car, and
doors should be kept locked. As in any large city, certain sections
of Kingston should be avoided.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:09 AM
Senior Embassy officers are invited to the usual range of social
and diplomatic functions. Official, social, and diplomatic
obligations for junior officers are infrequent. You should consider
bringing some eveningwear such as tuxedos and formal gowns for the
annual Marine Ball. Tuxedos are available for rent in Kingston.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:09 AM
You are expected to participate in local functions as much as
possible and to further develop U.S. national interests. It is
suggested that officers bring business cards - 150 cards are
adequate for one year for most staff members, while senior officers
will need twice that number. Engraving is available in Kingston.
Most Junior-level Consular Officers do not have a need for business
Special Information Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:10 AM
The Embassy provides limited facilitative services for
non-Foreign Service personnel on assignment for the Department of
State and other agencies, including military personnel. These
services, depending on the nature of the visitor's assignment,
include hotel reservations, revalidation of airline tickets, local
transportation bookings, and other assistance.
Post Orientation Program
Newcomers receive a Welcome Kit with information about the post
and the country. Orientation programs for employees and adult family
members are held about twice a year. In addition, each employee is
assigned a sponsor before arrival in Kingston. The sponsor assists
the newcomer with settling in and getting acquainted. The CLO will
assist new arrivals in becoming familiar with local activities and
will answer questions posed in pre-arrival correspondence.
Notes For Travelers
Customs, Duties, and Passage Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:55 AM
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:52 AM
Only personnel with full diplomatic status are entitled to free
entry of personal articles, whether on first arrival, during their
stay, or on re-entry after leave. Other categories have six months
from date of arrival to import duty free into the country.
No entry, free or otherwise, is permitted for rum, fresh fruits
and vegetables, or fresh meat. Canned and frozen/processed meats may
be imported. Import prohibitions are not imposed on imports of
American Embassy employees unless they wish to sell an imported
article locally. Diplomats may apply for duty-free privileges for a
second car for spouses. Cars should not be shipped to Jamaica
without prior approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (through
the Embassy). Upon initial entry into the country or on subsequent
trips, airport Customs officials may take and hold an item that you
declare as newly purchased outside of Jamaica. It is better to
consider such items as used, as it will take GSO several days to
retrieve your purchase from the airport and requires paperwork
indicating to the Kingston Custom's office that your items should be
Diplomats do not have point-of-sale tax exemption for purchases
made in Jamaica. Instead, General Consumption Taxes (GCT) at the
rate of 15 percent on most items must be paid, and then claimed
back. Unfortunately, this is a slow process. It is advised that
newcomers begin saving all receipts upon arrival, and make a first
application for return of GCT soon after, so that one's file can be
Passage Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:54 AM
Employees and family members may obtain Jamaican visas at the
Kingston airport upon initial arrival in the country. The duration
of these visas is generally for only two to three weeks. The
Embassy's Human Resource Office will collect diplomatic passports of
permanent employees and eligible family members to obtain visas for
the length of their stay in Jamaica. Persons arriving from areas
where yellow fever is known to exist must be immunized.
Pets Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:56 AM
With the single exception of animals born and bred in the U.K.,
which have never had rabies shots, importation of pets is not
allowed. No waivers or relaxation of this rule can be obtained for
any category of personnel. To bring animals from the U.K., the
following procedure must be taken. You must have a certificate from
the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food at Hookrise,
Surrey, England, proving that the animal was born and bred in the
U.K. This certificate must then be presented to the Veterinary
Department at Hope Gardens in Kingston to receive an import permit.
These steps must be taken before the animal arrives.
Many Mission personnel have small dogs that they obtained on the
island. Pedigreed dog breeding is popular in Jamaica, and several
breeds are available. Cats, birds, guinea pigs, and other household
pets are also available. Townhouse complexes have different policies
on pets. The pet policy for the new Embassy residential plaza has
not been finalized, but will likely allow small pets. Check with GSO
for further information.
Several excellent veterinarians practice in Kingston. No problems
exist in exporting animals at the end of a tour, though airline
restrictions on seasonal travel may apply.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:12 AM
The Chief of Mission must authorize an employee to bear firearms.
Such permission is normally granted only to those employees whose
official duties establish a clear need to carry firearms. Exceptions
to this policy will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Mission policy discourages employees from keeping personal
weapons. The Chief of Mission, in coordination with the regional
security officer, however, will consider requests to purchase or
import a weapon. Only one handgun or shotgun per family will be
approved. Rifles, automatic weapons, and handguns with calibers
larger than .38/9mm will not be approved for importation. Department
of State pouch facilities may not be used for the importation of
firearms or ammunition.
All U.S. Government employees who wish to import a firearm must
complete all of the following procedures:
Before arrival on assignment at Embassy Kingston, submit a
written request by cable or letter through the regional security
officer to the Chief of Mission to import a firearm. The request
must describe the make, model, and type of weapon, caliber, and
The regional security officer will communicate the Chief of
Mission's decision by letter or cable.
Personnel are permitted to ship personal weapons in household
effects (HHE) surface shipments only (the regional security
officer's cable or letter of authorization will explain procedures
for the shipment of official weapons).
After arriving at post, visit the regional security officer's
office as soon as possible to fill out and start the processing of
Jamaican documentation to receive a permit for a weapon.
All employees possessing a firearm must be proficient in the safe
handling, use, and storage of weapons. The Mission will not provide
training for personally owned weapons. The Mission accepts no
liability for the misuse of personal firearms.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 1/26/2005
The currency is the Jamaican dollar. Bills are printed on
different-colored paper in denominations of $50, $100, $500 and
$1,000, with various valued coins. The official exchange rate
fluctuates, but has remained steady around US$1 = J$60 for most of
2004. The exact exchange rate, at any given time, may be obtained
from the Jamaica desk in WHA.
U.S. dollars or travelers checks may be easily converted into
Jamaican currency (Jamaican dollars) at airports, banks, and hotels.
ATM machines are readily available. U.S. dollar checks can be
changed into local currency by the USAID cashier during established
hours, or at the National Commercial Bank located on the ground
floor of the Chancery building. You may buy U.S. dollar travelers
checks from local banks by presenting an airline ticket showing
travel off the island. USAID can also provide U.S. dollar currency.
Many products are sold by metric weight. Gasoline, for example,
is sold by liter. Other units of measure (inches, feet, yards,
miles, etc.) and weight (pounds and ounces) are often used as well.
There is an ongoing national project under way to convert the
country to the metric system. Some road signs and consumer product
labels already reflect these changes.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:13
Personal property must be imported solely for your use while in
Jamaica. Such property may only be sold to persons with duty-free
privileges unless local duties, levies, or taxes have been paid; and
local regulations have been complied with. Duty-free items obtained
locally through the commissary facilities may not be sold, except to
U.S. Government personnel.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:14 AM
These lists are for informational purposes only and do not
constitute an endorsement of any of the books or authors, films or
websites by the Department of State.
Adisa, Opal Palmer. It Begins With Tears. 1997.
Banks, Russell. The Book of Jamaica. 1996.
Barrow, Steve and Peter Dalton. The Rough Guide to Reggae. 2004.
Cassidy, Frederic. Jamaica Talk. 1961.
Clarke, Edith. My Mother Who Fathered Me. 1957/2002.
Cliff, Michelle. Abeng. 1984.
Conklin, Mark. Banana Shout. 2000.
Garvey, Marcus. The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Or,
Africa for the Africans. 1925.
Gray, Obika. Demeaned but Empowered: The Social Power of the
Urban Poor in Jamaica. 2004
Harriott, Anthony. Understanding Crime in Jamaica: New Challenges
for Public Policy. 2004.
Levi, Darrell. Michael Manley: The Making of a Leader. 1989.
Manley, Rachel. Drumblair: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood.
Marley, Rita with Hattie Jones. No Woman No Cry: My Life with Bob
McKay, Claude. Collected Poems. 1999.
McKenzie, Earl. Two Roads to Mount Joyful. 1992.
Payne, Anthony. Politics in Jamaica. 1995.
Philp, Geoffrey. Uncle Obadiah and the Alien. 1997.
Powell, Patricia. The Pagoda. 1999.
Ranston, Jackie. From We Were Boys: The Story of the Magnificent
Cousins, the Rt. Excellent Sir William Alexander Bustamante and the
Rt. Excellent Norman Washington Manley. 1989.
Ranston, Jackie. They Call Me Teacher: The Life and Times of Sir
Howard Cooke. 2003.
Reimer, Roland. Walk Good: Travels to Negril, Jamaica. 2002.
Sherlock, Philip and Hazel Bennett. The Story of the Jamaican
Stewart, Diane Marie Burrowes. Three Eyes for the Journey:
African Dimensions of the Jamaican Religious Experience. 2005.
Thomas, Deborah A. Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization,
and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica. 2004.
White, Timothy. Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley. 1983.
Winkler, Anthony. The Lunatic. 1987.
The CLO maintains a lending collection of books on Jamaica for
the use of Mission personnel. The Overseas Briefing Center has
available an informational CD-Rom and video on Jamaica prepared by
CLO/Kingston, as well as up-to-date information about the post.
Dancehall Queen. 1997.
The Harder They Come. 1972.
Peter Tosh: Stepping Razor Red X. 1992.
Third World Cop. 2000.
Time Will Tell. 1992.
http://kingston.state.gov/KingstonNet/ (Post Intranet Site)
Local Holidays Last Updated: 1/26/2005 12:57 AM
The Embassy observes the following U.S. and Jamaican holidays:
New Year's Day January 1 U.S./Jamaican
Martin Luther King Jr. Day January* U.S.
Ash Wednesday February* Jamaican
President's Day February* U.S.
Good Friday March/April* Jamaican
Easter Monday March/April* Jamaican
Labor Day May* Jamaican
Memorial Day May* U.S.
Independence Day July 4 U.S.
Emancipation Day August 1 Jamaican
Independence Day August 6 Jamaican
Labor Day September* U.S.
Columbus Day October* U.S.
National Heroes Day October* Jamaican
Veteran's Day November 11 U.S.
Thanksgiving Day November* U.S.
Christmas Day December 25 U.S./Jamaican
Boxing Day December 26 Jamaican