William M. Dowd photo
KINGSTON, JAMAICA -- This Caribbean island, fabled in swashbuckling tales and rhythm-accented music, has a long and storied history since the advent of European contact shortly after Columbus' late 15th Century voyages of exploration.
Much of its history is violent -- from the oppressive slavery of indigenous people forced to work on sprawling sugar plantations to today's high rates of crime and violence, even in the capital city of Kingston. Visitors to the famous plantation mansion Rosehall (above) can see the lair of one of the most oppressive and powerful female landowners of colonial days.
The 1999 and 2000 gasoline price riots remain a fresh memory and poverty, inflation and unemployment continue unabated. Armed guards are common sights in front of many businesses; travelers are advised to travel in sizeable groups and preferably only in daylight.
That said, and even though tourism has taken a marked dip in recent years, construction of new hotels continues and some of the more established retreats around Negril and Montego Bay have been refurbished and expanded. They offer all the expected tropical amenities, some including golf.
ON THE WEB
• CIA World Factbook: Jamaica
• Dowd's Guides