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Why Is Jamaica Called Jamaica?

why is jamica called jamaica

by Aneisha Dobson, Associate Writer

I would like to believe that you (if a non Jamaican) would have at least heard of our island Jamaica, right?

Of course, that's probably why you are reading this now, trying to find out the history of the country's name - why Jamaica was called Jamaica :-)

But for the benefit of the few persons (unlike you) that ended up here while doing their research, I'll help them by sending them to these two links, where is Jamaica, and what what makes Jamaica famous.

Anyways, back to you...

First, I think that both you and I may agree that Jamaica is probably the most popular country name (outside of the US) in the world! Right?

Yeah man, Jamaica is known in most, if not all, corners of the world - and may I add that a Jamaican is probably living there too?

And even above that, the name “Jamaica” is cited in literature, movies, songs, international beauty pageants, international sporting events and various other platforms.

But note that they might colloquially refer to it, especially in popular music, as “Jamrock”, “Rock”, “Jamdown” or simply “J.A.”.

But with all the popularity surrounding Jamaica, have you ever wondered just where the name “Jamaica” originated from?

Well, to answer that question we have to take a step back in the time of Jamaica’s first and earliest settlers - the Tainos.

After leaving South America, the Tainos settled in the islands of the Caribbean, one of which was Jamaica. By the way, you are welcome to read about the early history of Jamaica here.

The Tainos were believed to be the original inhabitants of Jamaica and named the island “Xaymaca” in their native tonque.

That name “Xaymaca” meant “land of wood and water”.
We believe that they were inspred by the islands lush vegetation and majestic waterfalls and rivers.

Yeah mon, we have an abundance of rivers and waterfalls.

But when the Spanish colonized the island, a lot changed which includes the naming / re-naming of communities.

But not just communities, the name of the island was also changed, from “Xaymaca” to “Jamaica”!

The popular view is that is was more phonetic than a real change but the change was also a part of the colonization strategy.

So lets blame (or perhaps thanks) the Spanish for this name change. I don't know about you, but I have grown to love this name!

Today, the name "Jamaica", means much to people, depending on who you speak to.

In fact, let me ask you ...

When you hear the name Jamaica, what resonates first, what picture, image, item or personality comes first to your mind?

I can tell you that for some persons, it Bob Marley, for others it Usain Bolt.

For others it is reggae music, while anothers automatically starts smelling jerk chicken, taste appleton rum, or that hot freshly brewed blue mountain coffee.

What Does 'Jamaica' mean to me?

So what does Jamaica means to us at

Read this post for some great (and fun) insights. You'll actually love it!

Aneisha Dobson

P.S. Remember to share this article with someone who you think loves Jamaica as much as we do.

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A patriotic Jamaican who adores his 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 8,300 unique readers / viewers per day.

His efforts have earned him 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.

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