Jamaica! The name produces thoughts of a tropical paradise; a luxurious location for relaxation. Beautiful beaches and crystal water stretch for miles. However, Jamaica is not just a place. Rather it is a people with a story and character to share with the world.
Jamaica sits at the heart of the Caribbean in close flying distance to most of the islands as well as the mainlands of Florida, Central and South America. Its geographic location puts it in an ideal location to be able to spread the Gospel and minister to the rest of the Caribbean.
This location as well as ideal geology allows the country fertile mountains which provided the basis for a profitable sugar business for over 150 years. That need for sugar however, drove European nations to populate the island with slave labor that form the makeup of the population today.
The capital city, Kingston, is located on the Southeastern corner of the island and hosts the political and educational centers of the country. In contrast, the northern portion of the island is home to the tourism hotspots and resorts. Tourism accounts for 75% of Jamaica's foreign income. The remainder of their foreign income comes from exports such as produce, coffee and bauxite (an element used to make iron).
Jamaica is a people of diverse cultural background with an estimated population just shy of 3 million. Over seventeen percent of the people live on less than $2.00/day. The people also suffer from high crime rates as well as unemployment coupled with underemployment.
The culture of Jamaica does not reflect the external difficulties of the people. Rather, the culture is colorful and lively in character, music, art and kindness. Early missionaries to the slaves cared for their souls as well as their ability to live in freedom. This background has made Jamaica what would be called a Christian nation. However, that designation includes many faiths such as Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah Witness and Latter Day Saints in addition to Evangelical Christianity.
A unique religion or way of life that grew specifically out of Jamaica is called the Rastafari movement. This movement arose during the 1930s and grew in popularity and notoriety through the music of Bob Marley. The movement is based upon the Bible but goes astray in many ways. Learn more about Rastafari beliefs here.