The capital of Jamaica, Kingston jives to the beat of the
infectious reggae music that was born here and has swept through
the world. It is the largest English-speaking city south of Miami,
lying on a wide plain with the world's seventh-largest natural
harbour to the south, and the Blue Mountains behind.
Jamaica itself may have the image of being laid back and rather
slow, but cosmopolitan Kingston moves at a fast pace, in keeping
with its importance as the dominant force on the island
politically, commercially and culturally.
Tourists tend not to stay in Kingston as such, generally heading
for the northern and western beaches and resorts instead, but the
city does have a wide array of historical and cultural attractions,
not to mention a very sophisticated and sizzling nightlife.
Kingston was founded in 1692 after the demise of nearby Port
Royal, the former capital, which was devastated by an earthquake.
Port Royal was known as the 'wicked city', being the haunt of
decadent aristocrats and swashbuckling pirates. Kingston has tried
to be more dignified, but it is a little grimy and crime is rife.
There are also some inner-city neighbourhoods to avoid, which are
more prone to drug-related killings and gang violence.