The Jamaican flag was first raised at midnight on August 5, 1962, as the nation was on the brink of independence. It signifies the birth of our nation. A bipartisan committee of the Jamaica House of Representatives designed the flag which consists of a diagonal cross with four triangles placed side by side. The diagonal cross is gold; the top and bottom triangles are green; and the hoist and fly (side) triangles are black.
COAT OF ARMS
The Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many One People’, based on the population’s multi-racial 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.
NATIONAL FRUIT – THE ACKEE (BLIGHIA SAPIDA)
Although the ackee is not indigenous to Jamaica, it is woven deeply into the thread of Jamaica’s history. The fruit was originally imported from West Africa but has now become a staple in the Jamaican diet, being the main ingredient in the beloved dish, ackee and saltfish (salt-cured cod). Ackee is derived from the original name Ankye which comes from the Twi language of Ghana.
THE NATIONAL BIRD – THE DOCTOR-BIRD (TROCHILUS POLYTMUS)
The doctor bird or swallow tail humming bird only lives in Jamaica. It is one of the most outstanding of the 320 species of hummingbirds with its iridescent feathers that are characteristic of that family of birds. For years the doctor bird has been immortalized in Jamaican folklore and song.
THE NATIONAL FLOWER – LIGNUM VITAE (GUIACUM OFFICINALE)
Lignum Vitae, when translated from Latin, means “wood of life” – probably adopted because of its medicinal qualities. 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.
NATIONAL TREE – THE BLUE MAHOE (HIBISCUS ELATUS)
The Blue Mahoe is indigenous to Jamaica 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.
“This is Jamaica: National Symbols”. Jamaica Information Service.