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How Did Jamaica Get Its Name?

How Did Jamaica Get Its Name?

How Did Jamaica get its Name? Hmmm. An highly unusual, but very good question, something my baby daughter would ask :-)

Anyways it motivated me to draw unto my resource materials and yes, I have your answer my friend!

How Did Jamaica Get Its Name?

ANSWER: by Wellesley

Jamaica, like Cuba and Haiti, is one of the islands of the Caribbean that has retained its original Taino name.

Christoper Columbus, on his first voyage, was told by the Amerindians of the island which he recorded as "Yamaye" in his 10g on Sunday 6 January 1493, the first written record of the place (now Jamaica).


When the Spaniards claimed the island they named it Santiago, after St James, the patron saint of Spain.

However, it soon reverted to a version of its aboriginal name Hamaika 0r Haymaica which the Spaniards wrote as Xaymaica or variants thereof.

The Taino word is interpreted to indicate an abundance of wood and springs, hence Jamaica is traditionally referred to as 'the land of springs' or, 'the land of wood and water'. Note that the name Santiago survives in St. Jago, the early name for Spanish Town, the now capital of St. Catherine.

The English then standardized it to spell J-A-M-A-I-C-A, but that was well after their period of capture and settlement. Englishmen who wrote of the island from personal experience immediately after settlement, wrote the name variously as Gemecoe, Gemegoe, Jamico, Jammaca and Jamecah.

Jamaica, which has a total area of 10,991 kilometers square, is the largest island of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Do continue reading how large is Jamaica and geography of Jamaica to get even more insights.

See also: The Colonial History Of Jamaica

I hope this helps!

As usual, I welcome your feedback here.

Keep in touch.


P.S. Have another question? Submit it here for an answer.

P.P. S. By the way, I also recommended that you consider utilizing the free search tool that allows you to look for something specific on this website.

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  • Andrea Campbell, Jamaican Proverbs People and Places
  • Olive Senior, Encylopedia of Jamiacan Heritage
  • Clinton Black, History Of Jamaica

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About The Author

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A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.  

To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day.

His efforts have earned this site featured positions in local publications, including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers, as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies and universities. Read more about him here.

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