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The Jamaican flag was unfurled and hoisted for the first time at the dramatic hour of midnight on August 5, 1962 as the British flag was being lowered, signalling the dawn of Jamaica’s political independence from Britain, present day United Kingdom, after over 300 years under British rule.
The Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many One People’, based on the population’s multiracial roots.
The motto is represented on the Coat of Arms, showing a male and female member of the Taino tribe standing on either side of a shield which bears a red cross with five golden pineapples.
The crest shows a Jamaican crocodile mounted on the Royal Helmet of the British Monarchy and mantling.
“Carry me ackee go a Linstead Market, not a quattie wut sell” is a line in the popular Jamaican folk song ‘Linstead Market’. Ackee (Blighia sapida) is the national fruit of Jamaica as well as a component of the dish – ackee and codfish.
The doctor bird or swallow tail humming bird (Trochilus Polytmus), is one of the most outstanding of the 320 species of hummingbirds. It lives only in Jamaica.
These birds’ beautiful feathers have no counterpart in the entire bird population and they produce iridescent colours characterstic only of that family. In addition to these beautiful feathers, the mature male has two long tails which stream behind him when he flies. For years the doctor bird has been immortalized in Jamaican folklore and song.
The Lignum Vitae (Guiacum Officinale) was found here by Christopher Columbus. The short, compact tree is native to continental tropical American and the West Indies. In Jamaica, it grows best in the dry woodland along the north and south coasts of the island.
The plant is extremely ornamental, producing an attractive blue flower and orange-yellow fruit, while its crown has an attractive rounded shape. The tree is one of the most useful in the world.
The Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus Elatus) is the national tree of Jamaica. It is indigenous to the island and grows quite rapidly, often attaining 20m (66ft) or more in height. In wetter districts it will grow in a wide range of elevations, up to 1200m (4000 ft.) and is often used in reforestation.
The tree is quite attractive with its straight trunk, broad green leaves and hibiscus-like flowers. The attractive flower changes colour as it matures, going from bright yellow to orange red and finally to crimson.