Jamaica, the Culture


32 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-7787-9700-7
DDC j972.92




Reviewed by John Walker

John Walker is a professor of Spanish studies at Queen’s University.


Adding to Bobbie Kalman’s very fine Lands, Peoples, and Cultures
series are these three new volumes about Jamaica.

Jamaica, the Land describes the geographical and geological birth of
this Caribbean island, a land of wood and water rising from the sea.
Jamaica has a varied terrain, with mountains, swamps, rivers, and
waterfalls. The capital is Kingston, seat of business and politics, but
most of the people live off the land, growing coffee, sugar cane,
bananas, and other crops. Businesses like rum production and bauxite
mining thrive, but none are more important than tourism. Jamaica’s
natural wonders, such as its forests, reefs, and wildlife, attract
visitors from all over the world.

Jamaica, the People describes the origins of Jamaica’s inhabitants,
beginning with the settlement of the Taino people from northern South
America, through the European arrivals (the Spanish, then the British),
to the African slaves who were imported to the island, Asian immigrant
workers, and others. The history of Jamaica is a record of slavery and
rebellion, piracy and invasion, and a troubled colonial period. The
country gained its independence from Britain in 1961. The Jamaican
people have their own customs and habits, foods (like ackee and
saltfish, peppers and spices), sports, and games (of which cricket and
soccer are the most popular).

Jamaica, the Culture is a colourful compendium of the island’s
history, culture, and various religions (none more intriguing than
Rastafarianism). Jamaicans are noted for their crafts (especially
pottery and carving), unique painting and sculpture (which is rooted in
their colonial past), and architecture (forts, plantation houses).
Jamaican reggae music and its musicians (notably Bob Marley) are known
worldwide. Although the official language is English, creole patois is
the language of the street.

Despite some slight overlapping in the three volumes, these interesting
and informative books are enhanced by breathtakingly beautiful colour
illustrations and photographs and useful glossaries. Highly recommended.


Wilson, Amber., “Jamaica, the Culture,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/29898.