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WESTERN JAMAICA
St James | Hanover | Trelawny | St. Elizabeth | Westmoreland
St. James

St James is located on the north west of the island of Jamaica. Its capital is Montego Bay, which is the second city of Jamaica. Montego Bay is know as the tourist mecca of the caribbean. The parish was given the name "St James" in honour of King James II by Sir Thomas Modyford, the island's first English Governor. At the beginning of the English rule, the parish was one of the poorest; it had no towns, few inhabitants and little commerce, except for the exported lard. However, after the treaty with the Maroon in 1739, St James became one of the most important sugar producing parishes. Annually, more that 150 ships arrived in Montego Bay bringing slaves and supplies, and taking sugar. Commerce developed as wealthy merchants and planters erected many elaborate town houses.

The city of Montego Bay may be roughly divided into two sections: the tourist area, which occupies the northern section of the bay along the shore line, and the commercial and industrial sections, which are second only to Kingston in size and volume of trade. Montego Bay has the largest airport, the Sir Donald Sangster International Airport. I t is known for its duty free shopping and cruise line terminal at its Free Port on a beautiful peninsula jutting into the bay. Its sheltered Doctor's Cave Beach with clear turquoise waters is one of the most famous beaches on the island. The bay is surrounded by picturesque low mountains.

The coastland near Montego Bay is occupied by numerous tourist resorts, some newly built, some occupying the grounds of old sugar cane plantations with some of the original buildings and mill-works still standing. The most famous of these are the White Witch's Rose Hall and Tryall, both of which now feature world-class golf courses.

Hanover

Hanover is one of Jamaica's most beautiful parishes, it has three small waterfalls, several coves along it coastline and large caves which make this parish also interesting to explore. Periodically after excessive rainfall a lake rises at Chigwell in the interior of the parish. Hanover covers an area of 450.4 sq km. The highest point in the parish is the Dolphin's Head, which serves as a landmark for ships at sea. Hanover has an estimated population of 68,978.

Hanover was found on November 12, 1723, and given the family name of the English monarch, George I who was from the House of Hanover in Germany. In the early colonial days, Lucea, the capital town was flourishing in the mid-18th century when sugar was king. Jews from Europe settled in the parish as store keepers, merchants, haberdasher, shoe makers and goldsmiths. The Lucea harbour was used to export bananas until after the 1960s. A deep-water pier was built, but this was restricted to the shipping of molasses and is no longer in use. In 1983, the port was closed.

Fort Charlotte was built in the mid 18th Century by the British for the defence of the North North Westerly section of the island. It was built during the reign of King George III of England, and is named after his wife, Charlotte. The fort was built with a barrack capable of housing 50 men. The fort had 23 embrasures for 23 guns, 20 of which were mounted.

The fort has several openings toward the sea. Inside the fort is the remains of the circular base for the rotation of guns which were placed there so that they could shoot from every possible angle. The Artillery Store still stands and is made of cutstone. The most enthralling view of the harbour is from this fort. Why not stop on your way to Negril to see the ruins of Fort Charlotte.

Trelawny

Trelawny is a parish located on the northwest section of Jamaica in the county of Cornwall. The capital of Trelawny is Falmouth. Falmouth was meticulously planned from the start, with wide streets in a regular grid, adequate water supply, and public buildings. Interestingly, Falmouth received piped water before New York City. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Falmouth was one of the busiest ports in Jamaica. It was home to masons, carpenters, tavern-keepers, mariners, planters and others. It was a wealthy town in a wealthy parish with a rich racial mix. This was the heyday of King Sugar. Within the parish, nearly one hundred plantations were actively manufacturing sugar and rum for export to Britain. Jamaica had become the world's leading sugar producer. Starting in 1840, Falmouth’s post-emancipation fortunes as a commercial center declined. This decline and lack of support for development has left many of its early buildings standing. The streets are lined with many small houses known for their unique fretwork and windows.

Trelawny is best known for its sugar estates and sugar factories. It had more sugar estates than any other parish, so there was need for a sea coast town to export it. Falmouth became a thriving seaport and social centre. Trelawny was also home to the largest group of Maroons in the island. A 1739 treaty between the Maroons and the English gave the Maroons freedom and land, which effectively put a stop to their raids on the plantations. However, a second Maroon uprising in 1795, led to over 600 Maroons being exiled to Nova Scotia, Canada and later to Sierra Leone in Africa in 1800.

The southern section of Trelawny is part of the Cockpit Country, and is uninhabitable. It is therefore a natural reserve for flora and fauna; most of Jamaica's 30 endemic birds can be found there, along with the yellow snakes, and the giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest butterfly in the western hemisphere. Most of the parish has the typical limestone features of cockpits, sinkholes, caves and underground passages. There are about 48 caves, most with phosphate gatherings. These include the Windsor Cave, and Carambi Cave, known for its beauty and phosphate deposits. There are several other caves which have Taino carvings on the walls. The major rivers are the Martha Brae, Rio Bueno, Cane and Quashie.

St. Elizabeth

St Elizabeth became a prosperous parish and Black River an important seaport. In addition to shipping sugar and molasses, Black River became the centre of the logging trade. Large quantities of logwood were exported to Europe to make a Prussian-blue dye which was very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Electric power was first introduced in Jamaica in a house called Waterloo in Black River in 1893.
The northern and northeastern parts of St. Elizebeth mountainous. There are three mountain ranges —the Nassau Mountains to the north-east, the Lacovia Mountains to the west of the Nassau Mountains, and the Santa Cruz Mountains which, running south, divide the wide plain to end in a precipitous drop of 1600 feet at Lovers' Leap. The central and southern sections form an extensive plain divided by the Santa Cruz Mountains. A large part of the lowlands is covered by morass, but it still provides grazing land for horses and mules.

The main river in the parish is Black River, and measuring 53.4 kilometres (33 miles), it is the longest river in Jamaica. It is navigable for about 40 kilometres (25 miles), and is supported by many tributaries including Y.S., Broad, Grass and Horse Savannah. The river has its source in the mountains of Manchester where it rises and flows west as the border between Manchester and Trelawny then goes underground. It reappears briefly in several surrounding towns, but reemerges near Balaclava and tumbles down gorges to the plain known as the Savannah, through the Great Morass and to the sea at Black River, the capital of the parish. St. Elizebeth is know as the bread basket of Jamaica, pineapple, tomatoes, carrots and a large varieties of other fruits and vegetables.

Westmoreland

Westmoreland is the westernmost parish in Jamaica, located on the south side of the island. Downtown Negril, the West End cliff resorts to the south of downtown, and the southern portion of the seven mile beach are in Westmoreland. For years, Negril's has been rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world by many travel magazines. The north end of the beach is home to the large, all-inclusive resorts, and to the south are the smaller, family-run hotels. Rick's Cafe is a great place to watch the cliff jumpers or become a cliff jumper yourself. Rick's is considered one of the 1,000 places to go before you die.

The parish was named Westmoreland in 1703 because it was the most westerly point in the island. In 1730 Savanna- la-Mar (the plain by the sea) replaced Banbury as the capital. The coast often provided refuge for pirates. Henry Morgan the pirate who later became Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica set sail from Bluefields in December 1670 for his successful raid on Panama City. There are over 10,000 acres of morass land, the largest part of which is called the Great Morass. This contains plant and animal material collected over centuries. The morass can be mined as peat, an excellent source of energy, and it also serves as a natural sanctuary for Jamaican wildlife.

 
 
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