Encyclopedia of Islands

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Jamaica (11,424 km2) is much smaller than Cuba and Hispaniola, but the island has high mountain areas (the Blue Mountains rise to 2256 m) and significant habitat diversity, including semi-desert areas. After the Middle Eocene, Jamaica was completely submerged. It was once again fully above sea level in the Middle Miocene, about 16 million years ago, thus making the island biologically the youngest of the Greater Antilles based on current (extant) biota. The submerged platform forming the base of Jamaica is narrow, and as a result, unlike Cuba or Hispaniola, the island has few offshore cays and islands that form disjunct ecosystems.

As a consequence, Jamaica has much less biodiversity than either Cuba or Hispaniola. The Seven Rivers vertebrate site in west central Jamaica (15 km south of Montego Bay) is of late Early or early Middle Eocene age. This site has produced the remains of many aquatic vertebrates, including the earliest known fully quadrupedal sea cow (sirenian), Pezosiren portelli.

The site also produced the remains (right dentary) of a large rhinoceros-like perissodactyl (Hyrachys sp.). The specimen is important because it is unlikely that such a terrestrial mammal as a rhinoceros could have dispersed to Jamaica across a broad open-water area, making it likely that Jamaica had a land bridge connection with North America at the time the rhino dispersed to the island.


Welcome to Jamaica-a wonderfully diverse island paradise with deep rich history, vibrant culture and a plethora of attractions! With its sun-drenched beaches, crystal-clear waters and intense natural beauty Jamaica has become a favorite travel destination for those who plan their holiday in the stunning Caribbean. Jamaica has it all: scenic nature and lush vegetation, flowing rivers, spectacular waterfalls, coral reefs and a fabulous array of sports, tours and activities to capture almost everyone´s interest and lifestyle. Add to these a wide selection of restaurants, for both fine and casual dining and luxury accommodation options. Jamaica really knows how to entertain its visitors no matter what kind of vacation you are going to have. Once in Jamaica, you will desire to return again and again.