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Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean. It lies between latitudes 17 and 19N, and longitudes 76 and 79W. Mountains, including the Blue Mountains, dominate the inland. They are surrounded by a narrow coastal plain. Jamaica only has two cities, the first being Kingston, the capital city and centre of business, located on the south coast and the 'second' city being Montego Bay, one of the best known cities in the Caribbean for tourism, located on the north coast. Other towns include Portmore, Spanish Town, Mandeville and the resort towns of Ocho Ros, Port Antonio and Negril. Kingston Harbour is the seventh-largest natural harbour in the world, which contributed to the city being designated as the capital in 1872. Tourist attractions include Dunn's River Falls in St. Ann, YS Falls in St. Elizabeth, the Blue Lagoon in Portland, believed to be the crater of an extinct volcano. Port Royal was the site of a major earthquake in 1692 that helped form the island's Palisadoes. The climate in Jamaica is tropical, with hot and humid weather, although higher inland regions are more temperate. Some regions on the south coast, such as the Liguanea Plain and the Pedro Plains, are relatively dry rain-shadow areas. Jamaica lies in the hurricane belt of the Atlantic Ocean and because of this, the island sometimes suffers significant storm damage. Hurricanes Charlie and Gilbert hit Jamaica directly in 1951 and 1988, respectively, causing major damage and many deaths. In the 2000s (decade), hurricanes Ivan, Dean, and Gustav also brought severe weather to the island. Among the variety of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems are dry and wet limestone forests, rainforest, riparian woodland, wetlands, caves, rivers, seagrass beds and coral reefs. The authorities have recognised the tremendous significance and potential of the environment and have designated some of the more 'fertile' areas as 'protected'. Among the island's protected areas are the Cockpit Country, Hellshire Hills, and Litchfield forest reserves. In 1992, Jamaica's first marine park, covering nearly 15 square kilometres (5.8 sq mi), was established in Montego Bay. Portland Bight Protected Area was designated in 1999. The following year Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park was created on roughly 300 square miles (780 km2) of wilderness, which supports thousands of tree and fern species and rare animals.

Though a small nation, Jamaican culture has a strong global presence. The musical genres reggae, ska, mento, rocksteady, dub, and, more recently, dancehall and ragga all originated in the island's vibrant, popular urban recording industry. Jamaica also played an important role in the development of punk rock, through reggae and ska. Reggae has also influenced American rap music, as they share roots as rhythmic, African styles of music. Some rappers, such as The Notorious B.I.G. and Heavy D, are of Jamaican descent. Internationally known reggae musician Bob Marley was also Jamaican. Many other internationally known artists were born in Jamaica, including Millie Small, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Gregory Isaacs, Half Pint, Protoje, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Big Youth, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Desmond Dekker, Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Shaggy, Grace Jones, Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Buju Banton, Sean Paul, I Wayne, Bounty Killer and many others. Bands that came from Jamaica include Black Uhuru, Third World Band, Inner Circle, Chalice Reggae Band, Culture, Fab Five and Morgan Heritage. The genre jungle emerged from London's Jamaican diaspora. The birth of hip-hop in New York City owed much to the city's Jamaican community.

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