Laid back, sun-drenched tropical paradise, or hotbed of drug-related crime and violence? Neither stereotype is true. Jamaica suffers from a PR problem, created largely by tabloid headlines written thousands of miles away. The reality is more complex and more fascinating. Despite its small size, Jamaica punches above its weight. It’s footprints in sport and music are, like its people, larger than life. It is one of the few countries to have its own soundtrack— mento, ska, and reggae are popular around the world. The University of the West Indies campus at Mona is a regional source of excellence. Jamaicans have a fire that has been hard to douse. It was burning when their forefathers arrived on slave ships, barely alive after the middle passage, and it was there when they fought the British to a standstill in the Maroon Wars. In the English-speaking Caribbean they have a reputation for being brash, but the Jamaicans have a warmth that is unmatched. They are unafraid to talk to strangers, they’ll laugh at nearly anything, they’ll discuss and debate with passion, and they’ll let you know it straight. Despite real economic and social problems, this beautiful and invigorating country regularly ranks among the top five happiest nations in the world in the annual Happy Planet Index. Culture Smart! Jamaica takes you beyond the clichés with a fresh, uniquely well-informed look at of one of the most intriguing countries in the region.
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