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Currency is the Jamaica Dollar (J$). It can also be paid in US dollars. There are banks all over the island. Authorized exchange offices (Cambio) exchange at good rates.

The cheapest option is to take EURO cash with you. You can change for free e.g. in the exchange office in Montego Bay into the national currency. US Dollars are not normally required. Everything can be paid in the local currency. It makes sense to take a credit card or an EC card with the Maestro sign with you. You can use it to get money at ATMs and banks. However, the amount of withdrawals per day is limited and there are charges.

In the larger hotels, restaurants and shops, credit cards from Visacard, Mastercard and American Express are accepted.

Language

English is the official language of Jamaica, but the Jamaican Patois – a combination of several languages – is spoken throughout the island. For example, Wha Gwan (greeting among friends), as American President Obama said during his visit to Jamaica.

Patios became popular with reggae music. Especially the Rastafaris used the language originally created by slaves to communicate behind the backs of their rulers.

Meanwhile Patois is socially acceptable. Even an Oxford Dictionary of Jamaican English has been published.

Security

Jamaica 10The vast majority of Jamaicans are very positive about travelers, very helpful and attentive. Unfortunately, the crime rate and violence rate in Jamaica is somewhat higher than in Europe. Conflicts, however, take place mainly among the Jamaicans. They should not show valuable things openly, do without real jewellery and carry only needed cash with them.

In order to prevent burglaries, you should always deposit your valuables securely. In Kingston, caution is advised because of gang and drug crime in certain parts of the city. You should listen to the experience of the locals and if possible visit the city with an experienced guide.

In Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios you should not go alone after dark, especially not on foot outside the hotel complexes. Here it can come to thefts and/or armed robberies by criminals or drug addicts.

In the tourist resorts, the JTB maintains info kiosks that can establish direct contact with the police (Tel. 119) and the JTB offices in Montego Bay, Kingston and Port Antonio. The security staff as well as the receptions in the accommodations can give also support in emergency situations. Detailed travel and security information can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

Telephone and Internet

If you want to make a call to Jamaica, dial 001876 and the local loop. For calls to Germany the area code is 01149, to Austria 01143, to Switzerland 01141. Your mobile phone also works in Jamaica. Mobile phone calls are cheapest with a local SIM card. The best way is to buy a Jamaican prepaid card from Digicel Jamaica with a Jamaican number (around 14 euros) for your mobile phone.

The card is available in many shops and gas stations. This means that the costs for calls to Germany are manageable. Internet and WLAN are widespread and available nationwide. A free WLAN network is available in many accommodations.

Drinking water

Jamaica is the land of water. The Jamaicans are proud of the good quality of their drinking water. Of course it is purified, filtered and chlorinated. As a rule, they can use and drink tap water without hesitation. Exceptions are communicated by the national water commission.

In the rural areas of Jamaica, however, water failures can occur, especially during the dry season.

Hotels then supply the water with large tanks, but especially in small guest houses the water supply can sometimes run out during showers. New fresh water is then delivered by truck.

Time

The time zone in Jamaica is Eastern Standard Time. The difference from Central European Time is minus seven hours in summer (during Central European Summer Time) and minus six hours in winter (CET). The European Union may import souvenirs worth up to 175 euros per person, 1 litre of spirits, 2 litres of wine, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco and 500 grams of coffee. Further information can be found at www.zoll-en

The import of anything subject to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is prohibited. You may bring 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 170 ml perfume, 340 ml eau de toilette, 1 l spirits or 2 l wine to Jamaica for personal use.

Reggae, Rastas & Bob Marley

Reggae is an integral part of Jamaican culture and has developed into one of the most important trends in popular music worldwide. Hardly any other group has shaped the image of Jamaica more than the Rastafaris with their dreadlocks. Jamaica is Bob Marley Land. Bob Marley created reggae together with friends and made it known all over the world.

And millions still listen to “his” reggae every day. Bob Marley always had justice and human dignity as his goal. He was born in Nine Mile and his career began in Trenchtown.

You can visit the museum in Kingston, the Culture Yard in Trenchtown and the tomb in Nine Mile. Further information can be found at www.bobmarley.com and www.bobmarley-foundation.com.

Arts and Crafts

In addition to fruit and vegetables, the local markets (Crafts Market) in the cities also offer woodcarvings, works made of straw, pearls, embroidery and jewellery.

In Kingston there is an artisan market. A few blocks away is the National Gallery with works by Jamaican artists from 1920 to the present day, including a beautiful sculpture collection by the artist Edna Manley. Throughout the year, exhibitions with local contemporary artists are held at various venues.

Clothing, rum, liqueurs, perfume, blue mountain coffee and cigarettes can be bought in the shops and duty free shops that are not only found at the airport in Jamaica.