Happy Independence Day Jamaica!

August 6th, 1962, INDEPENDENCE DAY! A day that will light up the island of Jamaica until the end of time. Free from three centuries of British rule, ecstatic Jamaicans launched fireworks into the sky as Jamaican flags were lowered all over the island. On this day, National Stadium was filled with over 20,000 emotional people celebrating one of the greatest days of Jamaica. Former Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante gave a poignant analysis of what independence meant to the Jamaican people: “Independence means the opportunity for us to frame our own destiny and the need for us to rely on ourselves in so doing. It does not mean a license to do as we would like. It means work and law and order. Let us resolve to build a Jamaica which will last and of which we and generations to come will be proud, remembering that especially at this time the eyes of the world are upon us.” Today marks 52 years of Independence for the island that has one of the biggest cultural and religious impacts in the world. 
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(Children gather round Norman W Manley during Jamaica’s Independence Day celebrations {Getty}) 

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Princess Margaret arrives at Gordon House to open the first Parliament of Jamaica.

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“The Daily Gleaner” August 8th, 1962

If you’ve never heard the Jamaican National Anthem or the Jamaican Pledge, take a moment and listen to these beautiful words sung and recited.

10 Facts about Jamaica

Happy Independence Day to all the Jamaicans out there. Here are 10 facts you might or might not know.

Map of Jamaica

1.  Jamaica is the first in the Western world to build a railway only 18 years after Britain and before the United States.

2. The Milk River Bath and Mineral Spa is the most radioactive spa in the world. Its waters are nine and three times more radioactive than those at Bath, England, and those at Karlvoy Vary, Czech Republic respectively.

3. Jamaica is the first English-speaking country in the Caribbean to gain Independence, which was in 1962.

4. Besides the United States, Jamaica is the country which has won the most Olympic and world medals.

5. Jamaica is third place on the list of countries to have ever won the Miss World titles the most.

6. The Golf Club, in the parish of Manchester, is the oldest hotel in the western world and was established in 1868 in Jamaica.

7. Jamaica is the first team from the English-speaking Caribbean to qualify for the Football (Soccer) World Cup. This was the 1998 championship.

8. Jamaica is the first country to sign a Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant agreement.

9. Jamaica was the first tropical country to enter the IOC Winter Olympics. The bobsleigh team’s efforts inspired the film Cool Runnings.

10. Jamaica is the first country in the Caribbean region to launch a website, jamaicatravel.com. This was in 1994!

— Melaine Warren

*Originally posted on Jamaica Observer