Why Is Kingston The Capital of Jamaica?

Why Is Kingston The Capital of Jamaica?
Why Is Kingston The Capital of Jamaica?

Kingston is the capital of Jamaica. With 1.9-million people in the Kingston Metropolitan Area, it is by far the largest city in the country. Incidentally, it is also the city with the largest English-speaking population anywhere south of the United States.

On this page, we are going to tell you everything that you really need to know about the capital of Jamaica. 

Where Is The Capital of Jamaica Located?

Where Is The Capital of Jamaica Located?
Where Is The Capital of Jamaica Located?

Kingston can be found on the South-Eastern part of the island. It is close to very old towns and cities in the region, perhaps one of the most famous being that of Port Royal, which if you haven’t heard of the actual city, you will almost certainly have seen it featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Kingston is in a great position for the development of a capital city. It is located in a natural harbor, which provides the region with a good amount of protection, and can open up a lot of trade. Behind it, you have the looming Blue Mountains that act as a good piece of defense too. The only downside is that it seems to be located on a very active tectonic plate, which does lead to some rather frequent earthquakes for the inhabitants of Kingston. 

Brief History of Kingston

Kingston city hills in Jamaica sunset with flowers
Kingston city hills in Jamaica sunset with flowers

It is likely Kingston would never have become the capital of Jamaica if it weren’t for a major earthquake. At the time, Port Royal was on track to become the largest city in Jamaica, and it likely would have ended up as the modern-day capital city and Kingston wouldn’t have existed.

However, in 1692, an earthquake destroyed much of Port Royal. In fact, a good chunk of the city was sent plummeting into the sea, and there were untold amounts of death in the region. Kingston existed, but it was mostly just farming land.

With Port Royal destroyed, the population of Kingston needed to go somewhere, so they set up refugee camps in the place where Kingston stands today, mostly around the harbor. Over time, these camps started to grow into a town, and then a city. Kingston has been going through a period of rapid expansion ever since.

For a while, nobody really paid attention to Kingston. It was a populated city, and it temporarily became the administrative capital, but it eventually lost that status and went back to Spanish Town (this eventually changed, as you probably know). 

The modern history of Kingston has been rather turbulent. There have been a lot more earthquakes (including some rather devastating ones). Intense fires. Huge riots, and a lot more., However, all of this has eventually resulted in Kingston becoming one of the largest economies in the region, and it only grew after Jamaica decided to declare independence from the United Kingdom. 

When Did Kingston Become The Capital of Jamaica?

Night view of Kingston, Jamaica.
Night view of Kingston, Jamaica.

Kingston is a unique capital city. This is because it wasn’t made a capital city just once, but twice.

The first time Kingston became the capital city of Jamaica was in 1755 when the government offices were moved to the region. However, it was moved out of the area just a few years later because Kingston wasn’t really a great place for a capital at the time.

Kingston became the capital of Jamaica in 1872. Although, Jamaica was still a British colony then. When independence was declared in the 1960s, Kingston remained the capital of Jamaica. 

Why Is Kingston The Capital of Jamaica?

As we mentioned a little bit earlier on, Kingston is a great place for trade and defense. While defense is likely not needed right now (the island is defended by both the Jamaicans and the British), trade is important. Trade has allowed Kingston to become a major economy.

Shortly before Kingston became the capital of Jamaica, it was the fastest-growing city in the region. Because of a bit of turbulence in the area, the government was unwilling to make Kingston the capital (which is why it was originally snatched away after a couple of years). However, the traders of Jamaica, at the time, saw Kingston as the best opportunity for growth in Jamaica, and they constantly petitioned the government until it happened. 

Best Places To Visit in Kingston

There are a lot of things to do in Kingston. Here are a few of our highlights.

Bob Marley Museum

Kingston is the birthplace of Reggae, and what better way to enjoy the history of Reggae than to explore a museum dedicated to one of the genre’s most famous names? Not only is this a museum, but it is also the very last place Bob Marley ever lived.

Blue Mountains

If you love a good hike, then you need to explore the Blue Mountains (there are several trips that will take you there). They surround Kingston. They are full of agricultural land, amazing wildlife, and stunning views.

Devon House

This is a 19th Century house that has been wonderfully preserved to show you what 19th Century life for the rich and elite would have been like in Jamaica. However, there is a reason why Jamaica has decided to preserve Devon House. You see, this was the house that played host to the very first Black millionaire in Jamaica; George Stiebel. He became a millionaire when the Black population was being held back in Kingston, and celebrating him shows that somebody was able to beat the odds when everything was stacked against him.

Port Royal

Port Royal was one of the original settlements in Jamaica, and it came to be known as somewhat of a Pirate town. While the original city was destroyed (hence how Kingston now exists), there are still some people living in the area, and there are still old bits of town to explore. 

Trench Town

This is another place for Reggae-lovers. Trench Town was a haunt of Bob Marley in the 1970s, and it is where you can head to experience some of the best food and music that Jamaica has to offer.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!