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The word Jamaica conjures up strong images in everyone'smind. Whether it's visions of impeccable Caribbean beaches or the thought ofsmoke wafting away from Bob Marley's lips, this small island has made a largeimpression on the world's stage.Jamaica's history is similar to that of other Caribbeanislands. In 1494, Columbus sailed into Montego Bay and named it Fair WeatherBay. Soon after, the Spaniards came here to hunt wild hogs and export lard. Thebay became known as Manteca Bay, (Manteca is Spanish for lard) and eventually,Montego Bay.Jamaica lies 90 miles south of Cuba, and trails only itsneighbors Cuba and the Dominican Republic/Haiti in size, weighing in at 4,400square miles. Inland, Jamaica is lush and green, with a mountain range thatcontrasts sharply with the coastline.Montego Bay is the second largest city in Jamaica, trailingonly Kingston, but it may be the king of tourist destinations. Situated on thenorthwest side of the island, Montego Bay is the usual entryway for airline andcruise passengers from the United States to enter Jamaica. Those who come herefind immaculate beaches, world class resorts, top-notch golf courses and tenniscourts, and five-star restaurants.Mo Bay, as it is affectionately known, got its start as atourist destination in the early 20th Century. As early as 1908, thecity advertised itself as a haven for weather-weary Americans, but it didn'tcatch on until the 1940?s, when the mineral springs of Doctor's Cove Beachstarted to attract the affluent traveling class.In recent years, Jamaica's image has taken a bit of abeating, as some tourists have bristled at overly aggressive vendors and arising crime rate. Some of the more affluent private resorts have taken toforbidding their guests from leaving the resort without a guide. Of course, this means that some people aren't getting the true feel of this island nation.Travelers to Jamaica need not feel unsafe. As long as youtake the same precautions that you would take in any major American city, youwill have little to worry about. On the whole, Jamaica's people remainfriendly and hospitable, and they are proud to welcome you to their islandparadise.