Geography & Climate of Jamaica
Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean and the third largest in the region. With a total land area of 4442 square miles (10991 sq. km.), the island is 146 miles long with widths varying between 22 and 51 miles (35 and 82 km).
Situated ninety miles south of Cuba and six hundred miles south of Miami, Jamaica is18 degrees north of the equator. More precisely, Jamaica lies between latitudes 17 degrees 43 minutes and 18 degrees 32 minutes north and longitudes 76 degrees, 11 minutes and 78 degrees, 23 minutes west.
Jamaica is divided into three counties, Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey. These counties are further subdivided into parishes with Kingston, the smallest of the fourteen parishes, as home to the capital city.
The terrain is very mountainous with much of the land rising above 1,000 feet (305 km). The highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, is 7402 feet (2256m) above sea level. Complementing our mountains, Jamaica also brims with valleys and plains. The five major plains - Vere, St. Jago, George’s, Liguanea and Pedro - provide the backbone for our largely agricultural economy.
The annual average rainfall is 78 inches (198cm). Mountainous areas receive almost 300 inches (762cm) of rainfall each year while sections of the island’s western region get as little as 30 inches (76.2cm)
The annual average temperature is 27 degrees Celsius. The hottest months are in the summer, from May to September. The “winter” season (December to March) is appreciably cooler. Areas of high altitude have chilly times. For example, the Blue Mountain Peak has an average temperature of 13 degrees Celsius, and sometimes cooler, depending on the time of year or weather.
Natural rivers and springs abound in Jamaica. Over 120 rivers flow through the land from the central mountain region to the coasts. The rivers on the north side tend to be shorter and swifter than those on the south side. The fast flowing rivers -- Black River, Rio Cobre, Milk River, Rio Grande and Martha Brae -- are used for transport and the production of electricity as well as to provide irrigation for agricultural purposes. There are several mineral springs, recognized for their therapeutic value. Some have been developed with facilities for bathing and/or accommodation, namely Milk River Bath, Bath Fountain, the Spa at Grand Lido San Souci and the Rockfort Mineral Bath. Others remain little-known gems in communities across the island.
|Location||Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba
Geographic coordinates: 18 15 N, 77 30 W
|Area||total area : 10,990 sq km|
|land area : 10,830 sq km|
|comparative area : slightly smaller than Connecticut|
|Land boundaries||0 km|
|Maritime claims||continental shelf, 200-m depth or to the depth of
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin
|Exclusive economic zone||200 nm|
|Territorial sea||12 nm|
|Climate||tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior|
|Terrain||mostly mountains with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain|
|Natural resources||bauxite, gypsum, limestone|
|Land use||arable land 19%|
|Meadows and pastures||18%|
|Forest and woodland||28%|
|Irrigated land||350 sq km (1989 est.)|
|Environment||current issues : deforestation; coastal waters polluted by
industrial waste, sewage, and oil spills; damage to coral reefs; air
pollution in Kingston results from vehicle emissions
|Natural hazards||hurricanes (especially July to November)|
|International agreements||party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea,
Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer
Protection, Ship Pollution
|Note||strategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica
Channel, the main sea lanes for Panama Canal
Jamaica benefits from a tropical climate that does not see temperatures in coastal regions drop much below 26°C all year round with an average of between 26°C and 33°C. Temperatures tend to fall the further into the mountains that you travel but even at some of the highest points in the Blue Mountains temperatures don’t drop much below 20°C.
The South of the Island hardly sees any rain at all but throughout the rest of Jamaica rain storms generally arrive at any time throughout the year often only lasting minutes and usually followed by clear blue skies. The heaviest months of rainfall are during September and October.Hurricane season is officially between June and November although Jamaica is rarely if ever affected.
Jamaica has a tropical climate at sea level and a temperate climate towards the highlands of the interior. Each year the island sees two rainy seasons from May to June and September to November. Many Jamaicans characterize the seasons according to the fruits available at that time! Some of the most important ‘seasons’ are mango season - May to July, guinep season - July to late September and cane crop season - late October to about January. Of note also is the hurricane season from June to September, during which time large storms may, but rarely do, pass over the island. Don’t worry about hurricanes, the last hurricane to directly hit Jamaica happened in 1988 and before that in 1952! Although there is little real variation in temperature year round, between December and April the weather is practically perfect for any activity every day. The average temperature ranges from 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) to 32 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit) all year. Will it rain during your holiday? If it does, don’t worry. Most times, the short tropical showers provide a welcome break from the afternoon heat – just look at it as liquid sunshine, not rain!