jamaica



Location: Caribbean
Capital: Kingston

Time zone: GMT/UTC minus 5 hours
Daylight savings time: no
Current time: 21:21
Population: 2,717,991
Currency: Jamaican dollar
Dialling code: +1 876
Internet suffix: .jm

Jamaica is a Caribbean island country known for its cultural contributions to the world, sporting achievements and pleasant climate. However, it suffers from a high rate of crime, problematic road safety levels and occasional natural disasters, particularly hurricanes between the months of June and November.


Overall security situation: mostly secure with some issues of concern
Crime rate: high
Murder rate: very high
Gun ownership levels: average
Kidnapping hotspot: no
Maritime piracy hotspot: no
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk in parts of the country: no

Crime is the biggest security concern in Jamaica, but millions of people visit the country every year without experiencing any of it. Incidents are very rare at the all-inclusive resorts and hotels in the country.

Incidents tend to take place in larger towns such as Kingston, often after dark. The murder rate is one of the highest in the world but killings are often gang-related and don’t affect the vast majority of travellers. Nonetheless, it is still strongly advisable to exercise caution, especially at night and in larger towns.

Institutions, including those responsible for law and order, are underfunded and struggle to impose security. They are also liable to struggle in the event of any future shock or disaster (such as a damaging hurricane), raising the risk of issues such as looting.

Demonstrations can take place and can sometimes be disruptive but they are normally non-violent. There is a very low risk posed by terrorism.


Aviation safety levels: standard
Annual road fatality rates: moderate
Vehicles drive on the: left
Infrastructure quality: poor
Urban ATM availability: moderate
Electricity supply: 110V 50Hz
Electricity supply reliability: poor
Plug types: A and B

Plug type A (2 flat pins, not grounded/earthed)

Plug type B (2 flat pins and 1 rounded pin, grounded/earthed, socket compatible with plug type A)


 


Is tap water drinkable: yes but precautions are advised and/or occasional health scares have been reported which necessitate periodic care
Healthcare quality: very good healthcare provision
Infectious disease prevalence: moderate

Vaccinations

Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B (not always needed)
  • Typhoid
  • Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)

Disease presence

Malaria risk: none
Yellow fever presence: no
Dengue fever prevalence: frequent cases
Rabies prevalence: rare/non-existent
HIV prevalence in society: high
Hepatitis A prevalence: intermediate
Hepatitis B prevalence: intermediate
Hepatitis E prevalence: not highly endemic
Cholera status: low risk
Chikungunya virus presence: present

Zika virus presence: country is considered at risk of future outbreaks
Japanese encephalitis presence: no
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Onchocerciasis presence: non-endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: none
Tick-borne encephalitis status: low/non-existent risk
Chagas disease presence: none

Typhoid fever presence: endemic
African trypanosomiasis presence: none
Plague status: not thought to be present
Rift Valley fever status: not present
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no


Climate: tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior
Terrain: mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain
Natural disaster risk: extremely high
Natural hazards: hurricanes (especially June to November); flooding; landslides; drought; occasional seismic activity
Tropical storms: common
Volcanic activity: low/none
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: no


Government type: constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Socio-economic development score: 5/10 (medium levels of socio-economic development)
Adult literacy rate: 88.7%
Unemployment rate: moderately high
Civil liberties: well respected
Investment rating: sub-investment grade / speculative grade / junk status
Corruption levels: fairly high
Same-sex sexual activity: illegal
Death penalty: official punishment but not used in practice
Languages: English, English patois
Ethnic groups: black 92.1%, mixed 6.1%, East Indian 0.8%, other 0.4%, unspecified 0.7%
Beliefs: Protestant 64.8% (includes Seventh Day Adventist 12.0%, Pentecostal 11.0%, Other Church of God 9.2%, New Testament Church of God 7.2%, Baptist 6.7%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.5%, Anglican 2.8%, United Church 2.1%, Methodist 1.6%, Revived 1.4%, Brethren .9%, and Moravian .7%), Roman Catholic 2.2%, Jehovah’s Witness 1.9%, Rastafarian 1.1%, other 6.5%, none 21.3%, unspecified 2.3%

General guidelines

  • The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
  • However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
  • Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
  • Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
  • Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
  • Consider conducting or obtaining a risk assessment specific to you, your profile and your trip, task or operation.
  • This should take into account the likelihood of potential risks affecting you, as well as the likely impact they will have, and will help you decide, depending on your risk appetite and implementable risk mitigation measures, whether or not you should proceed.

Crime

  • Research and familiarise yourself with your destination in advance of travel.
  • Find out what the local criminal trends are and identify any potential hotspots, such as certain neighbourhoods.
  • Note than crime levels can often be higher around public transport, shopping areas and crowded places.
  • In higher risk areas exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Try not to overtly display your belongings or anything that could make you appear wealthy.
  • Ask yourself if you need to show off your jewellery, watch, mobile phone or other items or equipment.
  • Try to keep your wallet or cash hidden.
  • It also helps to avoid appearing vulnerable in at-risk areas so try to display confidence and purpose as you move around.
  • Avoid consulting a map in public as this will mark you out as both unfamiliar with the environment as well as being potentially vulnerable.
  • Familiarise yourself with local maps and directions before wandering around.
  • Identify routes to your accommodation and other safe havens (such as police stations, embassies, commercial areas with a police presence or quieter, safer neighbourhoods for example).
  • Familiarise yourself with landmarks so you can orientate yourself and find your way out of trouble spots if you need to.
  • Note that crime trends can change, and the level of risk can become higher, after dark.
  • It might be advisable to avoid wandering around at night.
  • Avoid dark alleys in urban areas.
  • It is might also be advisable to travel in pairs or in a group.
  • It may also be preferable to drive or be driven around certain areas rather than walking around in the street, even for going relatively short distances.
  • In general, use your gut instincts and be prepared to avoid situations, places or people that seem suspicious, odd or wrong in some way.

Religious or conservative attitudes

  • Exercise sensitivity in societies which place a high value on perceived morality, even if it goes against personal beliefs and values.
  • Research what local cultural practises, attitudes, values and laws you will need to be mindful of before travelling.
  • Note that some behaviours, interactions and attire may also attract unwanted attention, cause offence or trigger a hostile response.
  • Note that some subjects may be taboo so avoid discussing them with people if you think it might cause offence.

Weather

  • If rainfall, flooding, extreme temperatures or other types of severe weather are a concern, check the local weather patterns to find out if there are times of the year where the risk is much higher.
  • Consider avoiding travel to at-risk destinations during these times.
  • Try to stay in good quality accommodation.
  • Take appropriate clothing and footwear.
  • Take appropriate protection for any sensitive equipment you wish to bring.
  • Note that storms, flooding and other types of harsh weather can overload infrastructure, lead to traffic jams and power cuts.
  • Flooding and heavy rainfall can also raise the risk of landslides, as well as insect- and water-borne diseases in some parts of the world.
  • As such, be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel travel plans to affected or high-risk areas.

Infrastructure

  • Be prepared for potentially poor-quality roads and other forms of transportation.
  • This can make it difficult to get around.
  • Consider obtaining a high-quality vehicle that can handle difficult terrain if you intend to travel anywhere with particularly bad-quality roads.
  • Bear in mind that traffic safety conditions may be poor.
  • Try to ensure that any accommodation or workplace is located in a good quality building.
  • Bear in mind that in the event of an accident or emergency, the emergency response services may have very limited resources available.

Healthcare

  • Bear in mind that healthcare facilities and services may be significantly less extensive than more developed countries.
  • There may be very limited facilities, staff, techniques and medications available, especially in more isolated or underdeveloped areas.
  • There may not be adequate reliable blood supplies in local hospitals.
  • Pharmacists and other sources of even basic medical products may be difficult to find.
  • Aim to be as medically self-sufficient as possible, taking basic medical supplies.
  • Research whether or not certain medications are legal in your destination(s).
  • Take extra supplies of any routinely-taken medicines.
  • It may also be advisable to have them accompanied by a note from your doctor.
  • Avoid carrying medication for other travellers.
  • In the event of serious illness or injury it may be necessary for a patient to be evacuated out of the country.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient medical insurance in place to cover such an event.

Road traffic accident

  • Be aware of local driving conditions and hazards.
  • Drive defensively and adhere to speed limits to minimise the risk of being caught up in an accident, or request that your driver(s) do the same.
  • If using a taxi or local driver, ensure that they are qualified and competent and that their vehicle appears well maintained.
  • Ensure that vehicles are in good working order before travel.
  • Perform regular checks on your vehicles for oil, fuel, tyres and seatbelts.
  • Consider taking additional equipment such as a jack, spare tyres, water, blankets, torches and a first aid kit, especially if travelling to more rural or isolated areas.
  • Consider using four-wheel drive vehicles for particularly poor road conditions.
  • Car users should know how to perform emergency repairs.

Seismic activity

  • Be prepared to respond at short notice to any seismic activity.
  • Create an emergency plan to follow in the event of an incident that involves a communications breakdown, so you can meet colleagues at a designated meeting point if you are separated and cannot get in contact with one another.
  • Practise drills such as “drop, seek cover and hold on” procedure so that you can take shelter as soon as an incident occurs.
  • Know the location of your nearest medical kit and medically trained personnel.
  • Knowledge of basic first aid will also be very useful.
  • Get away from glass or anything that could fall if shaking starts.
  • Consider carrying a whistle that can be used to alert first responders in the event that you are trapped after an earthquake – although bear in mind that in some circumstances and/or locations there may not be much in the way of first response capabilities, particularly following a damaging earthquake.
  • In the event of an incident, avoid damaged buildings that might still be at risk of collapse.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Note that earthquakes can trigger tsunamis and landslides so be prepared to move out of harm’s way once the shaking has stopped.
  • You may need to move very quickly and with limited time.

Civil unrest

  • Civil unrest can lead to road closures and even curfews, which can affect your travel plans.
  • Be prepared for delays and route alterations.
  • Avoid demonstrations as they can turn violent.
  • If demonstrations take place on a frequent basis, research the trends which tend to accompany them.
  • Where do they tend to take place? Do they tend to turn violent? Do attendees target specific types of building or representative interests associated with a specific nationality, industry, political group (such as party political offices, state buildings or foreign-owned businesses)?
  • Once you have identified the sorts of risks, trends and areas of higher risk to be avoided you can start planning to minimise your exposure.