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Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the southeastern coast of the island. It faces a natural harbour protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island. In the Americas, Kingston is the largest predominantly English-speaking city south of the United States.
The local government bodies of the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew were amalgamated by the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation Act of 1923, to form the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation(KSAC). Greater Kingston, or the "Corporate Area" refers to those areas under the KSAC; however, it does not solely refer to Kingston Parish, which only consists of the old downtown and Port Royal. Kingston Parish had a population of 96,052, and St. Andrew parish had a population of 555,828 in 2001. Kingston is only bordered by Saint Andrew to the east, west and north. The geographical border for the parish of Kingston encompasses the following communities, Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, downtown Kingston, National Heroes Park, Kingston Gardens, Rae Town, Bournemouth Gardens, Norman Gardens, Springfield, Rennock Lodge, Port Royal along with portions of Allman Town, Franklyn Town and Rollington Town.
The city proper is bounded by Six Miles to the west, Stony Hill to the north, Papine to the northeast and Harbour View to the east, communities in urban and suburban Saint Andrew. Communities in rural St. Andrew such as Gordon Town, Mavis Bank, Lawrence Tavern, Mt. Airy and Bull Bay would not be described as being in Kingston city.
Two parts make up the central area of Kingston: the historic Downtown, and New Kingston. Both are served by Norman Manley International Airport and also by the smaller and primarily domestic Tinson Pen Aerodrome.
|POPULATION :||City: 937,700|
|TIME ZONE :||EST (UTC-5)|
|LANGUAGE :||English, English patois|
|RELIGION :||Protestant 62.5% (Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, Pentecostal 9.5%, Other Church of God 8.3%, Baptist 7.2%, New Testament Church of God 6.3%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%, Anglican 3.6%, other Christian 7.7%), Roman Catholic 2.6%, other or unspecified 14.2%, none 20.9%|
|AREA :||480 km2 (190 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||9 m (30 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||17°59′N 76°48′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48% |
• Female: 52%
|ETHNIC :||black 91.2%, mixed 6.2%, other or unknown 2.6%|
|AREA CODE :||770|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+1876 770|
Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is located on the southeastern coast of the island. There are two major sections to this city: 'downtown' and 'uptown,' also referred to as 'New Kingston.' Kingston was for some time Jamaica's only city and is still the commercial and cultural capital. You will notice that the city is assigned the equivalent of zip codes, (Kingston 5, Kingston 10, etc.) which is a good representation of how truly large this city is, especially for an island such as Jamaica.
The city of Kingston is home to a number of urban parks which are frequently transformed to accommodate various events and festivities on the Jamaican calendar. The most popular parks include: Emancipation Park, Hope Gardens, Devon House, National Heroes' Park, St William Grant Park and Mandela Park.
Kingston was founded in July 1692 as a place for survivors of the 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal. Before the earthquake, Kingston’s functions were purely agricultural. The earthquake survivors set up a camp on the sea front. By 1716 it had become the largest town and the centre of trade for Jamaica. The government sold land to people with the regulation that they purchase no more than the amount of the land that they owned in Port Royal, and only land on the sea front. Gradually wealthy merchants began to move their residences from above their businesses to the farm lands north on the plains of Liguanea.
By the end of the 18th century, the city contained more than 3,000 brick buildings. The harbour fostered trade, and played part in several naval wars of the 18th century. Kingston took over the functions of Spanish Town (the capital at the time). These functions included agriculture, commercial, processing and a main transport hub to and from Kingston and other sections of the island.
The government passed an act to transfer the government offices to Kingston from Spanish Town, which occurred in 1872. It kept this status when the island was granted independence in 1962.
In 1907, 800 people died in another earthquake known as the 1907 Kingston earthquake, destroying nearly all the historical buildings south of Parade in the city. That was when a restriction of no more than 60 feet (18 m) was instituted on buildings in the city centre. These three story high buildings were built with reinforced concrete. Construction on King Street in the city was the first area to breach this building code.
During the 1930s, island-wide riots led to the development of trade unions and political parties to represent workers.
Not until the 1960s did major change occur in the development of Kingston’s city centre. The international attention of reggae music at that time coincided with the expansion and development of 95 acres (38 ha) of the Kingston city centre waterfront area. These developments led to an influx of shops and offices, and the development of a new financial centre: New Kingston, which replaced the Knutsford Racetrack. Multi-story buildings and boulevards were placed within that section.
In 1966 Kingston was the host city to the Commonwealth Games.
The western section of the city was not the focus of development, and that area proved to be politically tense. The 1970s saw deteriorating economic conditions that led to recurrent violence and a decline in tourism which later affected the island.
In the 1980 general elections, the democratic socialist People's National Party (PNP) government was voted out, and subsequent governments have been more market-oriented. Within a global urban era, the 1990s saw that Kingston has made efforts to modernise and develop its city structure and functions. Various organisations such as the Kingston Restoration Company, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the Port Authority of Jamaica and the Port Royal Development Company, among others sought to develop the urban structure of the city.
Kingston has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet-and-dry climate, characterised by a wet season from May to November, which coincides with the hurricane season, and a dry season from December to April.
During the dry season, there is not much rainfall, however, cold and stationary fronts occur at this time, and often bring heavy showers, especially in March. Kingston is in the rain shadow of the Blue Mountains; therefore, little to none of the moisture carried by the Northeast Trade Winds falls over Kingston, causing Kingston to be very dry in comparison to Portland and Saint Mary on the windward side of the Blue Mountains.
Kingston is on a coastal location, hence it comes under the influence of the sea, though dense urban development can negate this effect. In the 21st century, Kingston has experienced temperatures as high as 38.8 °C (102 °F) and as low as 0.0 °C (32 °F)
Snow, fog, hail, thunder and tornadoes are all extremely rare.
Climate data for Kingston
|Record high °C (°F)||39.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||30.3|
|Average low °C (°F)||21.1|
|Record low °C (°F)||14.6|
|Source #1: Meteorological Service (Jamaica)|
Kingston is surrounded by the Blue Mountains, Red Hills, Long Mountain and the Kingston Harbour. The city is on the Liguanea plain, an alluvial plain alongside the Hope River. Kingston experiences frequent earthquakes, including the 1907 earthquake.
Kingston plays a central role in Jamaica's economy. The vast majority of economic activity takes place within Kingston, and as most government ministries are located in the city, it is a key force in legislation in regards to Jamaica's finances. The high population density of the capital city means that the majority of monetary transactions occur in Kingston - stimulating much of Jamaica's local economy. Many multinational conglomerates and financial institutions are headquartered in and around the Kingston Metropolitan Area.
The Jamaican government has expressed a desire and as such, passed legislation to transform Kingston into an International Financial Centre. This IFC will most likely be located along the Kingston waterfront, and be a part of the wider revitalisation and gentrification programme for Kingston city centre.
Air Jamaica is headquartered in Kingston.
Kingston is divided in several postal zones enumerated as follows.
|Kingston CSO||(Central Sorting Office) Downtown Kingston|
|Kingston 1||Port Royal|
|Kingston 2||Windward Road|
|Kingston 3||Vineyard Town|
|Kingston 4||Allman Town|
|Kingston 5||Cross Roads|
|Kingston 7||MonaAugust Town|
|Kingston 8||Constant Spring|
|Kingston 9||Stony Hill|
|Kingston 11||Hagley Park|
|Kingston 12||Jones Town|
|Kingston 13||Whitfield Town|
|Kingston 14||Denham Town|
|Kingston 16||Franklyn Town|
|Kingston 17||Harbour View|
Prices in Kingston
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.80|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$14.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$33.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$42.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$55.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.90|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.60|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$2.10|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$10.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$5.50|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.03|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$5.20|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$2.30|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$50.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$35.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$62.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$1.00|
40 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
260 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Norman Manley International Airport (IATA: KIN), Phone: +1-888-247-7678,[www]. Located in the southeastern part of the island, overlooking Kingston Harbour on the Palisadoes peninsula. Served by Air Canada, Air Jamaica, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta, and a number of Caribbean airlines. Be prepared for queues at the airport, to clear both immigration and customs, which are fairly strict. It is important that you know where you will be staying and write it down on your immigration form.
There are taxi vans between the airport and town - one person USD28; a group USD33, potentially negotiable. Payment can be in US dollars. The cheapest way is to take bus 98 straight to the Parade in downtown Kingston for JMD80. The bus stop outside the arrivals terminal is for bus 98 going towards Port Royal. Just passed the bus stop is where bus 98 stops on its way to downtown.
Kingston Tinson Pen There is a smaller airport closer to downtown, but there is no longer any regular passenger service to it.
Kingston has an extensive and modern bus system. The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) runs the bus system for the government, while private contractors also run the same routes. There are also minibuses and route taxis which are very affordable. Whenever in doubt, ask a bus driver how to get somewhere or where to find a certain bus; they are generally very helpful.
Public transit generally goes through one or more of the three central transportation hubs.
- Downtown (Parade and the downtown Kingston Transport Centre). Keep a tight hold of your bags as petty theft is possible as in any large metropolis.
- The ultra-modern Half-Way Tree Transport Centre (HWT) in uptown Kingston is generally a safer area, but there are less buses.
- Cross Roads an older, congested hub not suggested for tourists.
Island Rental Cars has offices at the NMIA airport, in downtown Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, and will allow you to do one-way rentals. Remember to drive on the left!
Transportation - Get Around
The bus service in Jamaica has now been upgraded with express buses cost ranging from JMD80 to JMD100, and another bus also air conditioned can be found in yellow with the Jamaican flag at the front costs for regular fares JMD150 and for children under 12 JMD50 12+(prices are expected to raise for the new buses soon because of the increase of gas). The original non air con buses still function, but who knows when will they last?
All official taxis have red license plates that start with PPV.
Route Taxis (a taxi that has a set route and picks up multiple people along it) are also common and often mirror bus routes and are not much more expensive than buses. These are a bit more complicated to get used to, so ask for help.
Charter Taxis (normal taxis) - negotiate a price before getting in the car. Fares range from JMD400 to JMD5,000 for long routes.
With some practice, bravery, and chutzpah you can rent a car (Island Rent a car allows for one-way car rental). Take a good map and be willing to ask (and keep asking to get a consensus) for directions along the way. It's not safe to drive in the countryside after dark. If you get in a wreck/hit someone, drive to the nearest police station.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- Kingston Crafts Market
- Blue Mountain Coffee from the supermarket for cheap or get premium beans direct from the JABLUM manufacturers or craft/single estate roasters. Look into Rum Roast and Royals at Devon House for some better selections.
- Parade's Coronation Market on weekends, where you can buy fruit and vegetables from across the island. This was gutted during the disturbances at the end of May and while there are plans to rebuild it, traders have temporarily moved to other areas.
- Hot sauces. Jamaica is famous for its hot sauces, with the major ingredient being the Scotch Bonnet Pepper, found throughout the island. Supermarkets have a bewildering selection of such sauces, from several producers.
- Jerk spice powder. Make your own jerk chicken when you get home.
- Jerk, curried, fricasséed or brown stew chicken, pork or fish
- Escoveitch fish—Warning, spicy!
- Ackee and saltfish (codfish) -- the national dish of Jamaica
- Curried mutton (goat)
- Fruit: Mangoes, sugar cane, paw-paw (papaya), guava, June plum, jackfruit, star apples, guinep, naseberries...
- Roasted corn
- Bammy Cakes. 5-inch diameter cakes made from cassava.
- Patties from a bakery (The Brick Oven at Devon House makes excellent curried chicken patties, and both Juici and Tastee are "fast food" patty restaurants. In Liguanea there's a vegetarian/vegan patty restaurant, across the parking lot from the Wendy's
- Devon House I Scream (ice cream)
- Tastee Patty, Juici Patties, Mother's - fast food, mostly "patties", though Mother's also does hamburgers and fried foods (Various places around town)
- Island Grill - upmarket Jamaican fast food and jerk in New Kingston.
- Jerk pans - see them on the street smelling good - get Jerked Chicken, rice and peas!
- Akbar, 11 Holborn Rd New Kingston 10, . Indian food served in a wonderful calm atmosphere. Sister Thai restaurant next door with equally pleasing menu
- Hope Gardens Vegetarian Restaurant (in the middle of Hope Gardens. You have to ask where it is as there is no external sign.). Basic vegetarian food with menu that varies daily. Nice garden setting. Excellent juices.USD10.
- Redbones Blues Cafe, 1 Argyle Road, Kingston 10, . Jazz & Blues themed Caribbean Fusion Cuisine restaurant & bar. Cultural Watering Hole with Live Music & Art Gallery
- Norma's on the Terrace, Devon House (At the back of the Devon House mansion in the shopping area.). Closed Sundays. Excellent upmarket restaurant with a fusion of Western and Jamaican cooking. Eat outside at large tables with very decorative flower arrangements.
- White Bones Seafood, 1 Mannings Hill Rd. M-Sa 11:30-23:00, Su 14:00-22:00. Highly recommended, but expensive, fish and seafood joint. Tuesdays are all-you-can-eat shellfish nights. JMD3,000.
Coffe & Drink
Drink Red Stripe and Appleton Rum. If you've got the guts, try some Wray & Nephew overproof white rum (locals refer to it as "whites"): a drink that is usually around 180 proof.
There's also refreshing coconut water, cane juice, sorrel (only served around Christmas time), Irish Moss, and tamarind drink or genuine Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (according to experts it is perhaps the best tasting, most expensive and most sought after coffee in the world). You can get premium beans from Rum, Roast and Royals in the Devon House complex.
Sights & Landmarks
- Bob Marley Museum, 56 Hope Rd, . M-Sa, tours last 1 hr, including a 20 min film. The first tour begins at 09:30 and the last tour at 16:00. Filled with tons of memorabilia and Bob Marley's personal belongings, this museum was Bob Marley's recording studio and was his home until his death in 1981. The house is a preserved historical site; even the bullet holes from the attempted murder of Bob Marley remain. Every visitor will be added to a tour upon entry. residents JMD500, non-residents USD20 (credit cards accepted).
- National Gallery of Jamaica, 12 Ocean Blvd, . Tu-Th 10:00-16:30, F 10:00-16:00, Sa 10:00-15:00. The museum features artwork by Jamaicans from throughout its history, from the native Taino Indians through the colonial period to works by modern artists. The gallery hosts its annual National Visual Arts Exhibition, which began in 1963 as a way to promote post-colonial art and to showcase the works of rising artists from Jamaica. Entrance fees are waved during the exhibition period. JMD100, students and senior citizens over 65 may enter for JMD50.
- Port Royal. Once known as the "Richest and wickedest city in the world", Port Royal is a notorious 17th century pirate haven. The most famous pirate who operated from Port Royal was Sir Henry Morgan who plundered Spanish vessels travelling in the Caribbean. The city prospered as the pirates gathered riches, but a strong earthquake struck the area on June 7, 1692 sinking the ships in the harbour and killing many people as the earthquake moved much of the city into the sea. It has been said that the earthquake was caused by God himself to punish the evildoers of Port Royal. This disaster helped to establish Kingston as the new capital, and many of the survivors of the earthquake moved to Kingston. Although most of the buildings at the port today are not the original buildings, the walls of Fort Charles have been preserved since the rebuilding two years after the earthquake, Saint Peter's Church built in the early 18th century, and the ruins of Fort Rocky remain. There is also a museum to learn more about the history and see artefacts from its heyday.
- Devon House, 26 Hope Rd, . The Mansion is open M-Sa 09:30-17:00, the courtyard 10:00-18:00, and the gardens are open daily 09:30-22:00. One of the best example of Jamaican architecture, the Devon House was built by George Stiebel, the nation's first black millionaire. Much of the interior furniture is not original, but it upholds the 19th Century mansion style. The courtyard has craft shops, a few restaurants, and the most famous ice cream shop on the island. JMD700 for a tour of the mansion. Entry to garden and shops is free.
- Hope Botanical Gardens. 08:30-18:30. The Largest Botanical Garden in the Caribbean. The garden gets its name from the man Richard Hope who helped capture Jamaica for Great Britain and was given the property to reward him for his faithfulness to the Crown. Free.
- Hope Zoo (Next to the Botanical Gardens). 10:00-17:00. JMD20.
- Arawak Museum (Taino Museum). A small museum with artefacts and information about the original inhabitants of the island, the Arawak (or Taino) Indians.
- People's Museum of Craft and Technology. A small museum with pottery, instruments, and farming tools used in Jamaica. JMD100.
- Lime Kay. Beach off the coast of Port Royale must take a boat from Port Royal fisherman or the hotel to island. Island is famous as the location for final scene in The Harder they Come. Crowded party spot on the weekends with food and drink available for purchase, much more sedate and often deserted on weekdays. You can camp overnight if you pre-arrange a next-day pickup time, but be careful, as you can't exactly swim to shore!
Kingston is the host of many great clubs. Found in New Kingston, there are many clubs that party until the early morning hours. The Quad, and Asylum are only a couple of the very popular clubs.
- QUAD Nightclub, 20-22 Trinidad Tce (in the middle of New Kingston), . the only multi level nightclub in Jamaica. jazz, reggae, dancehall, r & b, soca. USD12.
- The Deck, 14 Trafalgar Rd, New Kingston. Popular watering hole mainly patronised by those over 30. Disco and live music and excellent bar snacks.
Things to know
Tourists, especially white tourists, tend to stick out and garner lots of attention, not all of it positive. Hissing and cat calls at women (even accompanied ones) is common. Replying to overzealous touts with "No badda (bother) me" can help.
Homosexuality is not at all condoned and can elicit violent reactions.
Safety in Kingston
Like many other large cities elsewhere in the world, Kingston is home to a higher number of crimes than the rest of the island. It has been rated one of the most dangerous cities in the world in previous years when measured by the murder rate. While the Trench Town section of Kingston does have an interesting history, nevertheless no visitor should dare go there unless they're part of a goodwill tour or something similar with a high level of pre-arranged security. The average tourist going there would be signing his or her death warrant. Common-sense and precaution should ensure a pleasant experience in the safer areas of the city, though.
If you find yourself in need of the police, the emergency number is 119.