Jamaica is an island nation located in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba and just north of the islands of Hispaniola. It’s rich culture and vibrant land have made it a popular tourist destination, and its people are well known for hospitality and brilliant musical influence.
More than that, Jamaica is a country divided into fourteen parishes. Each of its parishes has a unique history, culture, gastronomy, and tourist attractions that make each location a destination of its own.
The Parishes of Jamaica hold great importance to its citizens as they are the regions in which the government operates. Each parish is considered a separate administrative unit, with their own parochial government and local representatives. The parishes also play an important role in shaping the country’s economy, culture, and tourism industry.
In this guide, we will explore the individual parishes of Jamaica in depth. We will take a look at the geography, the economic contributions, the gastronomic delights, the celebrations and festivals, the historical significances, the tourist attractions, the cultural activities, and places of worship in each parish.
Geographic Location of Jamaica
Jamaica is situated in the Caribbean Sea, just south of Cuba and west of Haiti. The total land mass of the island is 4,244 square miles, making it the third largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba and Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Jamaica has a tropical climate with average temperatures of around 27°C and plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
The country is divided into 14 parishes that are further subdivided into two counties and multiple municipalities. These parishes enjoy varied climates and topography due to their differing proximity to the sea and soil compositions. In the north, you will find the verdant hillsides of St. Ann, while in the east, you can discover the pristine beaches of Portland. To the west is the majestic Blue Mountains, while in the south lies the cool highlands of St. Elizabeth.
List and Descriptions of Each Parish
Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes, each with its own unique charm. Below is a list and description of each Parish.
- Kingston – Jamaica’s capital, Kingston is home to some of the most picturesque beaches on the island. It is the largest city in Jamaica and a destination that should be on any visitor’s top list. Kingston is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, rich musical history and grand old buildings.
- Clarendon – Clarendon is known for its scenic rural countryside and is home to numerous churches and white sand beaches. It is an agricultural district renowned for its fertile land and is home to many of Jamaica’s historical sites.
- Manchester – Manchester is the second most populous parish after Kingston and is home to some of Jamaica’s most beautiful mountain ranges and lush terrain. It is also known as the industrial hub of the country and is home to a number of textile and manufacturing companies.
- St. Ann – St. Ann is known as the “Garden Parish” due to its sheer beauty and fertile lands. It is home to several cultural attractions such as the Columbus Park and the Duke of Gloster ruins. The parish is filled with natural wonders such as Dunn’s River Falls, which is a popular tourist attraction.
- St. Catherine – St. Catherine is the third largest parish in Jamaica and the largest urban area on the island. It is known for its bustling capital city of Spanish Town and its strong business community. It is also home to a number of historical sites such as Seville Great House and the Fort Montego.
- Trelawny – Trelawny is a parish with endless attractions. Its capital, Falmouth, is a popular tourist destination with pristine beaches and a rich colonial history. Other attractions include the Martha Brae River, which is a popular spot for river rafting, and Greenwood Great House.
- St. James – St. James is a popular tourist destination, especially in Montego Bay. Here you will find some of the most luxurious resorts in Jamaica as well as beautiful beaches. The parish also has several historic sites, including Rose Hall Great House and Barbican Estate.
- Hanover – Hanover is a small parish located in the western part of Jamaica. Its capital city, Lucea, is a charming and quaint town filled with Jamaican culture. It is home to several notable attractions such as the Lucea Cathedrals and the Round Hill Beach.
- Westmoreland – Westmoreland is a rural parish known for its beautiful beaches and lush green landscapes. It is home to the world-famous Negril beach and is also known for its tea plantations and Jakes hotel. Westmoreland also has several historical sites, including the Fort Charles and Penn Woods.
- St. Elizabeth – St. Elizabeth is known as the “breadbasket” of Jamaica due to its vast agricultural output. It is a popular rural destination, home to some of the most stunning landscapes and rolling hills. It is also home to the YS Falls, which is a beautiful cascade that should not be missed.
- St. Mary – St. Mary is a rustic parish located in the eastern part of Jamaica. It is home to the famous Frenchman’s Cove as well as other interesting attractions such as Reach Falls and Annotto Bay. St. Mary also boasts some of the best restaurants and bars in Jamaica.
- St. Thomas – St. Thomas is known for its historical sites, including the Morant Point Lighthouse and Quaco Bay. It is also home to a wide range of attractions, including the Shipwreck Cove, Lover’s Leap Lighthouse, and Port Royal. St. Thomas has some of the best beaches in Jamaica.
- Portland – Portland is known for its rugged coastline and unique geological features. It is home to several notable attractions such as the Blue Lagoon, Boston Beach, and Folly Ruins. Portland is also known for its lush rainforests and world-class dive spots.
- St. Andrew – The parish is home to many of Jamaica’s most important historical sites, including the National Heroes Park, the Devon House, and the Trench Town Culture Yard.
Economic Contributions of Each Parish
Each parish in Jamaica has unique economic contributions to the nation’s economy. These contributions vary based on the industry, culture and resources available within each parish. Some of these industries include agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, financial services, information technology, and renewable energy.
Kingston and St Andrew Parish
The Kingston and St. Andrew Parish is the financial and commercial hub of Jamaica. This has lead to a variety of industries including banking, finance, legal services, accounting, telecommunication and digital services, medical services, and insurance. There are also many small and medium-sized businesses in the parish. The government has made it easier for business owners to start and grow their enterprises through initiatives such as SEED (Small Enterprise Expansion Programme).
Clarendon is known for its agricultural sector. The parish has vast lands that are suitable for growing crops such as sugar cane, bananas, coconuts, coffee, and citrus fruits. In addition, Clarendon has become a major producer of bauxite and alumina, which are used in the manufacture of aluminum materials. The parish is also home to several industrial parks, such as the May Pen Industrial Park, where light manufacturing companies operate.
St Catherine Parish
St Catherine is home to one of Jamaica’s largest industrial complexes and is known for its manufacturing and production industries. It is home to the world’s third-largest container shipping port, Kingston Freeport Terminal, which connects the parish to major international trade routes. The parish is also home to the China Harbour Engineering Company, which has helped to develop parts of Jamaica’s infrastructure.
Manchester is an agricultural parish, producing sugar, cocoa, bananas, coffee, and other types of produce. The parish is also known for its mining and quarrying operations, producing limestone and gypsum for use in cement production and construction. The parish is home to many factories and mills, mostly focused on textiles and other consumer goods.
Gastronomic Delights of Each Parish
Jamaica is famous for its amazing cuisine. The country’s unique blend of flavors and ingredients has made Jamaica a culinary paradise for visitors and locals alike. Each parish in Jamaica offers its own special culinary delights, which are sure to tantalize the taste buds.
In Westmoreland Parish, a traditional feast of jerk pork or chicken is enjoyed by many. This dish is often served with rice and peas, breadfruit and fried plantain slices. Other local favorites include curried goat, ackee, saltfish, and bammy. All these dishes are usually served with a selection of hot sauces to add flavor.
In St. Elizabeth Parish, the popular ‘run down’ stew is a favorite. This thick fish stew is made with okra, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a variety of spices. It is usually served with boiled provisions such as yam, sweet potato, and dumplings. For a sweet treat, St. Elizabeth’s coco bread is sure to delight.
Food lovers will be in for a treat in St. Ann Parish. Here, they can discover the traditional ‘Janga soup’, which is made with crab, conch, and other seafood. It is usually served with a side of steamed pumpkin and breadfruit. Another local favorite is the delectable ‘bulla cake’. This sweet treat is made with freshly grated ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, and dried fruit.
Those who venture to St. James Parish will find an amazing variety of seafood dishes. Popular offerings include steamed lobster, succulent shrimp, and fresh-caught snapper. These dishes are usually served with sides of boiled green bananas, yam, sweet potato, and callaloo. To finish off the meal, ‘stepney cake’ is a must, this sweet delight is made with condensed milk, cocoa powder, and fresh grated coconut.
For something truly unique, Kingston Parish offers the traditional ‘festival’. This tasty treat is made with corn meal, water, and butter, and is often served with a side of saltfish. Sweet potato pudding is another delightful dessert that is commonly enjoyed here. It is made with mashed sweet potatoes and spices and is served with a dollop of whipped cream.
In Manchester Parish, people flock to ‘Dumplins’ restaurants for their signature dish – Blue Drawers. This traditional stew is made with a variety of vegetables and herbs, and served with a side of homemade dumplings. A variety of traditional jerk dishes can also be found here, including jerk pork, jerk chicken, and jerk fish.
No matter where you go in Jamaica, you will find a wide variety of cultural and gastronomical delights. From succulent seafood dishes to exotic jerk recipes and sweet treats, Jamaica’s parishes offer a unique experience for every food lover.
Celebrations and Festivals of Each Parish (Approx. 500 Words)
Jamaica is home to numerous celebrations and festivals that bring people together from all over the country. Each parish has its own unique festivals and celebrations, which represent its history and culture. From festivals in honor of national heroes and holidays to music festivals throughout the year, Jamaica has a plethora of special events to offer visitors.
One of Jamaica’s most beloved celebrations is Emancipation Day, which is observed on August 1. This holiday commemorates the emancipation of slaves in 1838 and celebrates the culture of freedom in Jamaica. Several parishes hold unique celebrations on this day. In Kingston & St. Andrew, there are multiple events around the Parish such as street parties, parades, and cultural performances to commemorate the day. In Portland, there are various concerts, gatherings, and shows to celebrate. The parish of St. Ann also has many special events and celebrations during Emancipation Day.
Another major event that is celebrated throughout Jamaica is the National Heroes Day, which is observed on October 17th each year. On this day, Jamaicans honour their national heroes for their bravery and sacrifices. Across the island, there are parades, re-enactments, and other activities to celebrate and reflect on the country’s heroes. Kingston & St. Andrew is particularly known for its grand displays of patriotism and enthusiasm during this holiday.
In addition to these national holidays, each parish also has its own local festivals that take place throughout the year. Throughout the summer months, St. Elizabeth hosts a number of music festivals, which draw large crowds of locals and tourists alike. In Portland, visitors can enjoy the annual Maroonfest celebration, honoring the legacy of the Maroons and showcasing the culture of the region. Other parishes such as Kingston & St. Andrew, St. Thomas, and St. Mary also have unique festivals and events throughout the year.
It is easy to see why Jamaica is referred to as “the land of festivals”; it is truly a destination for a variety of celebrations and entertainment. From traditional events to modern music festivals, you can find something to suit everyone’s taste. Be sure to check out the local festivities in each parish and experience Jamaica at its best!
Historical Significance of Each Parish
Jamaica is a country with a rich history and culture. This is reflected in the parishes of the country, which each have their own individual histories and stories. Here, we will look at the historical significance of each parish:
Kingston & St. Andrew
As Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston is steeped in history. Before Jamaica was colonised by the British, it was a major port for Spanish ships transporting goods from South America. The city has remained the country’s political and cultural capital since 1692 and age-old buildings, such as the Ward Theatre, have become iconic landmarks. The historic town of Port Royal is also situated in the parish.
The parish of St. Thomas is home to one of the oldest places of worship in Jamaica; the Morant Bay Anglican Church, built in 1740. It is also home to the picturesque St. Thomas River, known for its crystal clear water and rich vegetation. Additionally, this parish is home to Yallahs, a popular destination for Jamaicans to escape the city.
Portland served as one of the main ports for the island as far back as the 1600s. During this time, it was home to some of the earliest Spanish settlers, who set up small towns along the coast. Fort George, built in 1732, is one of the surviving relics from this era and sits atop the hill at Fort George Heights. Today, Portland is home to the pristine beaches of the north coast, including San San and Boston Bay.
St. Mary’s colourful past dates back to the 1660s, when it was settled by the English. Throughout its history, St. Mary has been home to some of the most influential maroons in the island’s history. Many of these maroons are buried in the parish’s cemeteries, with some even being named National Heroes. In addition to its historic significance, St. Mary is also home to the world-famous Blue Lagoon and the spectacular Don Figaro Beach.
St. Ann is considered the birthplace of Jamaican history as it was the first parish to be established in the country. It is the ancestral home of many indigenous Arawak tribes, with its landscape dotted with remnants of their settlements. Additionally, St. Ann is home to the historical site of Seville Great House, as well as the famous Ocho Rios, a popular tourist destination.
Trelawny is renowned for its sugar and banana plantations, and has an important place in the island’s past. The parish is home to the famous Martha Brae River, a popular spot for canoeing and swimming. The historic Good Hope Estate and the Citadel are some of the other highlights of the parish.
St. James has a colourful history, dating back to the late 1600s. The parish was originally home to some of the first British settlers and boasts two old forts, the Greenwood Great House and Montego Bay Marine Park. It is also famous for its bustling resorts and stunning beaches, such as Doctor’s Cave Beach.
Hanover’s history dates back to the late 1700s, when the parish was developed by the British. The parish boasts some of the best beaches in the region, as well as the beautiful Greenwood Great House and botanical garden. The parish is also home to the famous Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall, which offers guests a luxurious experience.
Westmoreland was initially inhabited by the Arawak Indians, and later became a hub for sugar production. The parish is home to a number of historical sites, such as the Bloody Bridge and the Lime Cay Marine Park. It is also a great destination for snorkelling and diving, with beautiful coral reefs and shipwrecks to explore.
St. Elizabeth is historically significant for several reasons, not only as a hub of production for sugar and rum during the colonial era but also as a part of the ‘Maroon Country’. During the 18th century, the parish became the
Tourist Attractions of Each Parish
Jamaica, known as the land of wood and water, includes 14 distinct parishes, each with its own unique tourist attractions. These attractions offer something for everyone, from sunbathers to hikers, foodies to history buffs, and art lovers to beach bums.
St. Andrew is the home of Bob Marley’s famous home The Tuff Gong Studio, as well as the Hope Botanical Gardens, one of Jamaica’s oldest gardens. It is also close to the Blue Mountains, a stunning mountain range with views of the Caribbean Sea. The parish is steeped in history with sites like Devon House and Old Kings House.
St. Ann offers the Dunn’s River Falls, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jamaica. Visitors can climb up the falls, taking pictures as they go. There are opportunities for water activities such as snorkeling and kayaking, as well as the chance to explore the surrounding wildlife areas. Green Grotto Caves provide visitors with a unique experience to explore Jamaica’s underground world.
St. Mary is full of stunning beaches, with picturesque white sandy shores. With a short drive from the parish capital Port Maria, visitors will find popular beaches such as Reggae Beach, Frenchman’s Cove, and Annotto Bay. Nature lovers can explore the Blue Lagoon, a popular saltwater pool located in a lush jungle setting.
St. Catherine is home to Jamaica’s largest city, Kingston. Here you will find many cultural attractions such as the Bob Marley Museum and Emancipation Park. Other activities include tours of the tapestry factories and exploration of the Fort Augusta area. For nature lovers, there is the Hellshire Hills Bird Sanctuary and the scenic Hope Gardens.
Clarendon is home to the May Pen town square, where visitors can experience the lively atmosphere of local farmers’ markets as well as a selection of local restaurants and bars. Natural attractions include the Milk River Bath and the Cockpit Country. Birdwatchers will love the sight of endemic species at the Rock River Estuary and bird sanctuary.
Cultural Activities in Jamaica’s Parishes
The parishes of Jamaica are rich with cultural activities for people to enjoy. From sports to festivals to dancing and more, there is something for everyone.
In Kingston & St. Andrew, visitors can enjoy watching cricket games at Sabina Park, attend live performances in theatres and enjoy live music everywhere. Additionally, during the month of August, the parish celebrates its culture with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission festival which features a variety of traditional Jamaica activities, including story-telling, song and dance, and a parade.
In St. Thomas, Jamaicans hold an annual Molynes Road march to celebrate their heritage and culture. Additionally, the parish hosts a variety of sports competitions, including cricket, basketball and track and field. St. Thomas is also home to several reggae and dancehall shows.
In St. Mary, there is the Morant Bay Rebellion Festival that celebrates the emancipation of slaves in Jamaica. Visitors will find many eateries, music, and street vendors in the area. In addition to this, St. Mary is known to host traditional African drumming circles, as well as many other cultural events.
St. Ann plays host to the annual Bob Marley Birthday Bash, encouraging people from all over the world to experience Jamaica’s cultural diversity. The parish also welcomes sporting events from football, basketball, and cricket throughout the year.
St. James plays home to the annual St. James Festival, featuring a variety of cultural activities such as storytelling, art, music, and theatre. St. James also has a wide selection of restaurants, bars, and entertainment spots to explore.
St. Elizabeth is renowned for hosting the annual South Coast Jazz Fest, where local and international musicians come together to celebrate the genre. The parish is also known for hosting cultural events such as the Mrs. World Pageant, St. Elizabeth Carnival, and other festivals throughout the year.
St. Catherine is home to the Spanish Town Heritage Festival which celebrates the island’s rich history. Additionally, the parish has a variety of sports clubs and soca and dancehall venues.
Clarendon is home to many festivals, including the National Dairy Festival and the World Reggae Dance Championships. The parish also has a variety of sports teams, theatres, and local eateries.
Manchester holds an annual Teacoville Festival, which features traditional dances, music, and food. The parish also hosts numerous sporting events such as cricket, football, and basketball.
Lastly, in Westmoreland, visitors will find the Negril Carnival, a celebration of Jamaica’s vibrant culture. Additionally, Westmoreland boasts a variety of sports teams, theatres, and eateries.
From Kingston and St. Andrew to Westmoreland, each parish of Jamaica offers its own unique cultural experiences for visitors. There is no shortage of activities to do or places to explore, giving each parish its own unique flavor.
Places of Worship in Each Parish
Jamaica is home to a plethora of places of worship. With many denominations, cultures and beliefs, the parishes are full of spiritual landmarks and places of worship that have historical meaning, reflect the culture of the people who belong, and create a sense of connection. Here is an overview of some of the places of worship found in each parish.
Kingston & St. Andrew Parish
Kingston and St. Andrew Parish is home to many religious sites, including the National Cathedral of Jamaica, which was constructed in 1969 and is located in downtown Kingston. The National Cathedral was built to commemorate Jamaica’s independence from the United Kingdom and its Anglican history. There are also many small churches and temples across the parish that offer a unique spiritual experience.
St. Catherine Parish
In St. Catherine Parish, there are a number of culturally significant places of worship, including the Church of the Holy Trinity in Spanish Town. The church has been standing since 1813 and is the oldest Anglican church in the parish. Other churches in St. Catherine include the Spanish Town Baptists’ Church, as well as numerous Roman Catholic churches across the parish.
Clarendon Parish, located in central Jamaica, is a historically significant parish when it comes to places of worship. Here, visitors can find the Church of St. Peter, which is one of the oldest places of worship on the island, dating back to 1688. In addition, Clarendon is home to many other churches, including the St. Ann’s Bay Baptist Church and the May Pen Moravian Church.
St. Elizabeth Parish
St. Elizabeth is home to many churches, including the Anglican Hundred Church, built in 1797, and various Roman Catholic churches. The parish is also home to a number of other places of worship, such as the United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic in Santa Cruz and the United Pentecostal Church in Junction.
Manchester Parish is home to a number of churches and temples, including the St. Mary Magdalene Church in Mandeville, which was founded in 1866, and the St. John’s Congregational Church, which was established in 1888. Other places of worship include the Mandeville Sanctuary Church of God in Christ, the Chinese Methodist Church, and the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, which was built in 1830.
Westmoreland Parish is a popular destination for religious tourists, as it is home to the Negril Chapel of Ease, which was constructed in 1741. Other places of worship in the parish include the Westgate Chapel, the Little London Baptist Church, and the Savanna-la-Mar Methodist Church, which was established in 1883.
Jamaica is a culturally rich country with a vast history and a wide variety of attractions. There are fourteen parishes in Jamaica – St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary, St. Ann, Trelawny, St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth, Manchester, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and Kingston, each with something special to offer. Whether you visit for the gastronomic delights, to witness the celebrations and festivals or to explore the tourist attractions, there is something for everyone to enjoy in every parish in Jamaica.
Below are the references used in this guide to what are the Parishes in Jamaica.
- Jamaica Information Service. 2020. “Parishes of Jamaica”. Accessed June 19, 2020 from www.jis.gov.jm/information/parish-profiles/.
- Kirkpatrick, H., 2011. The Tourists’ Guide to Jamaica. Jamaica: Visit Jamaica.
- Ministry of Education & Human Resource Development. International Secondary Curriculum Framework. 2013. Jamaica: Ministry of Education & Human Resource Development.
- Oxfam America. Cross-Cultural Connections. 2006. Jamaica: Oxfam America.
- The Gleaner Company Ltd. 2020. “Parish Profiles – Jamaica Information Service”. Accessed June 19, 2020 from www.jis.gov.jm/information/parish-profiles/.
Frequently Asked Questions About Parishes in Jamaica
- Q: What is Jamaica?
A: Jamaica is an island nation located in the Caribbean Sea with a rich cultural heritage and famed for its sandy beaches, lush vegetation, wonderful climate, and hospitable citizens.
- Q: What is the geographic location of Jamaica?
A: Jamaica is located in the Caribbean at the southern edge of the Greater Antilles archipelago and is bordered by the Caribbean Sea as well as Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It is approximately 145km (90 miles) south of Cuba and 167km (104 miles) west of Haiti.
- Q: How many parishes are there in Jamaica?
A: Jamaica consists of 14 parishes which are divided into two counties – Cornwall County and Middlesex County. These parishes are Westmoreland, Hanover, Saint Elizabeth, Trelawny, Saint James, Saint Andrew, Saint Thomas, Portland, Saint Mary, Kingston, Saint Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester and Saint Ann.
- Q: What economic contributions are made by each parish?
A: The economy of each parish reflects the specialized activities of its inhabitants. For instance, agriculture plays a major role in parishes such as Saint Elizabeth, Saint Mary and Clarendon whereas the manufacturing and services sector is prominent in Kingston, St Catherine and St James. Last, but not least, tourism plays a major role in all other parishes.
- Q: What gastronomic delights can be found in each parish?
A: Jamaica has a diversity of mouthwatering cuisine from its parishes. For example, St Elizabeth is known for its unique jerk pork, a staple of the local diet which is often prepared on open fires. Seafood delicacies such as crayfish, crabs and lobsters come from St Mary and Clarendon. St James is famous for its fish tea while Jamaica’s best rum cakes come from Portland.
- Q: Are there any celebrations and festivals in each parish?
A: Each parish in Jamaica celebrates its own distinctive festivals or holidays. For instance, in Hanover, there is an annual Juici Beef Patties Festival while St Elizabeth has the Santa Cruz Fest. Kingston and St Catherine observe JAMAICA DAY with great fanfare. St Mary boasts the Bob Marley Festival while Vineyard Fest is held in St James.
- Q: What tourist attractions can be found in each parish?
A: Jamaica is renowned for its magnificent natural attractions such as Dunn’s River Falls (St. Ann), Rainforest Adventures Tour (St. Elizabeth), YS Falls (St. Elizabeth), Appleton Estate Rum Factory Tour (St. Elizabeth) and Reach Falls (Portland). Furthermore, historical sites, churches, festivals and popular attractions such as Bob Marley Museum (Kingston), Dolphin Cove (St. Ann), Cuisine Tours (St. Elizabeth) and Mystic Mountain (St. Ann) are highly recommended.