Jamaica: Some of the world's best scenery – and the world's worst murder rates
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Sunday 13 January 2013
Picture-postcard-perfect beaches and dramatic mountain scenery blessed by a Caribbean sun; three million welcoming citizens, keen to share their entrancing heritage; and a murder rate to make the world shudder – these are the conflicting faces of Jamaica.
On a typical day, 500 British nationals touch down on the island. Almost all will return with warm memories. But Jamaica's homicide record is among the very worst in the world. On average, one murder takes place every seven hours. That is twice as often as in the UK, on an island with a population just one-20th of the size.
The Foreign Office warns bluntly of "high levels of crime and violence" and urges "do not offer resistance in the event of an attempted robbery". British tourists are warned to dine around: "Frequenting the same place too often might make you a target for thieves". And anyone contemplating a fly-drive holiday is urged not to take their car into Kingston "unless you are fully acquainted with the route and are driving in daylight hours".
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