Jamaica
The Maroons
Their remote countryside is one few tourists visit.

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The Maroons are descendants of slaves who ran away from their Spanish and English masters in the 1600s.

The Spanish called them cimarron, meaning “wild” or “untamed.”

To avoid capture, the Maroons retreated into the northern slopes of the Blue Mountains and into the trackless Cockpit Country. The Maroons were experts in guerilla warfare who disguised themselves with leaves and tree branches from head to foot.

They would “bush ambush” by surprise attacks with machetes and by stationing sharpshooters in the rocks. The Maroons were notorious for their ability to vanish without a trace, often into caves concealed behind waterfalls.

The First Maroon War ended only after the British sent in more troops along with Indians from the Mosquito Coast, tracker dogs and freed slaves.

Finally, they were able to destroy Nanny Town, the stronghold of Queen Nanny of the Windward Maroons who lived high in the Blue Mountains. The town, never rebuilt, is said to be haunted by Maroons killed in the battle.

But they were not the first Maroons to surrender. The other contingent of Maroons who lived in the Cockpit Country surrendered in 1739 when their supplies were nearly depleted. The Blue Mountain 's Windward Maroons followed a year later. Thus ended the First Maroon War.

The second began in 1795, and for 5 months 300 Maroons waged battle against 1,500 European troops and 3,000 local militia. The Maroons totally disrupted Jamaican life. One writer at the time said the island “seemed more like a garrison . . . than a country of commerce and culture.”

The Maroons surrendered only after 100 bloodhounds used for hunting runaway slaves were imported from Cuba.

Although the Maroons lost this second war, they continued to live apart and to develop their own culture. The Maroons still act like an independent nation with their own government subdivisions headed by colonels.

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