Jamaica is a welcoming and hospitable country, and it is not uncommon to be invited into local homes by residents. In these instances, normal customs apply. Handshaking is considered to be the customary greeting. Casual wear is considered suitable attire during the day, however shorts and swimwear should be confined only to the poolside and the beach. Hotels and restaurants often have a stricter dress code, although the extent of this varies in each resort. It is common to see signs around the island saying “Jah lives”, with Jah being the name given to God by Rastafarians.
Due largely to the influence of British colonialism, 65.3% of Jamaicans are Christians, with the majority of those being protestants. The largest non-Christian faith is that of Rastafari, which was in fact founded on the Island. Minority religions include Bahai, Buddhism, Islam and Spiritism. In some poorer, rural areas, the West African folk cult of Obeah is also practiced.
Jamaica was claimed for Spain after Christopher Columbus first landed there in 1494, and he adopted it as a private estate for his family. In 1655 however, the English Admiral, William Penn, and General Venables seized the island. English rule saw Jamaica develop into one of the World's leading sugar exporting nation, mainly through the use of imported slave labour, most notably of African origin. Once the slave trade was abolished, the British instead began to import Indian and Chinese indentured servants to continue the cheap labour. Jamaica slowly began to regain independence from the United Kingdom, until it attained full independence in 1962.
Ethnicity is still dominated by those of West African descent, who make up 90.9% of the population. 7.3% are multi-racial, whilst other notable ethnicities include East Indian, White, Chinese and Lebanese. However, it is worth noting that many African-Jamaicans have European ancestry due to the history of slavery whilst under British rule. English is the official language of Jamaica, however Jamaican Patois (also known as Creole) is also commonly used. Queen's English is considered the key influence of Patois, however elements of various African and European languages are visible. Most traces have now vanished of the original Arawak and Taino people who settled on the Island prior to the Spanish reign, with much of this blamed on contact with Western culture.
Jamaica holiday resorts
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