In 1494, a European named Christopher Columbus visited the Jamaica and described it as "the fairest island that eyes have beheld." Soon after, he enslaved the Taino people and due to harsh treatment and diseases, they were all wiped out by the 17th century. The next visitors to the island were the Spaniards and they brought with them slaves from Africa and ruled the island until the British seized it in 1655.
The Tainos/Arawaks were the first inhabitants of Jamaica and they traveled to the island from South America during the seventh century. They observed the island's lush green forestry and its hundreds of fast flowing rivers and called the island Xaymaca which means "land of wood and water."
The slaves were put to work on sugar plantains and endured harsh treatment from plantation owners. In the 18th century, Jamaica was one of the largest slave markets for the Western Hemisphere. There were a lot of Rebellions as slaves fought for their freedom. Slavery was finally abolished August 1, 1838, and it is celebrated each year as Emancipation Day. Jamaica became independent on August 6, 1962.
They grew cassava, sweet potatoes, maize (corn), fruits, vegetables, cotton and tobacco. Tobacco was grown on a large scale as smoking was their most popular pastime.
They built their villages all over the island but most of them settled on the coasts and near rivers as they fished to get food. Fish was also a major part of their diet.
The Arawaks led quiet and peaceful lives until they were destroyed by the Spaniards some years after Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 149