Kingston © James Willamor
The capital of Jamaica, Kingston jives to the beat of the reggae music that was born here and has swept through the world. It is the largest English-speaking city south of Miami. The city is situated on a wide plain with the world's seventh-largest natural harbour to the south, and the Blue Mountains behind.

Jamaica itself may have a reputation for being laid back and rather slow, but cosmopolitan Kingston moves at a faster pace, in keeping with its importance as the dominant force on the island politically, commercially and culturally.

Tourists tend not to stay in Kingston as such, generally heading for the northern and western beaches and resorts instead, but the city does have a wide array of historical and cultural attractions, not to mention a very sophisticated and sizzling nightlife, which draws travellers in for sightseeing and partying.

Kingston was founded in 1692 after the demise of nearby Port Royal, the former capital, which was devastated by an earthquake. Port Royal was known as the 'wicked city', being the haunt of decadent aristocrats and swashbuckling pirates. Kingston has tried to be more dignified, but it is a little grimy and crime is rife. There are also some inner-city neighbourhoods to avoid, which are more prone to drug-related killings and gang violence.