Westmoreland parish can be found in the south-western tip of Jamaica (Caribbean). It is located in the county of Cornwall, bordered by the parish of Hanover to the north, St Elizabeth and St James to the east, and the Caribbean Sea to the south.
Westmoreland Parish has a combination of white limestone, marl, sand, gravel and coral reefs. Lying on the Georges Plain, the parish is drained by the Cabaritta River.
Colonists named this parish Westmoreland in 1703, after the English took over the island from Spanish rule in 1665; it is likely that it received its name as it was the most westerly point of the island. Savanna-la-Mar, the capital, was developed as a port from which sugar was exported and dates back to around 1730. The Spanish name Savanna-la-mar means “plain by the sea” and refers to its environment. One of the first Spanish settlements was also built at present-day Bluefields in this parish.
The parish boasts rain-fed fertile soils and low relief, well suited for sugar cane. The town of Frome, located some 5 miles away from Savanna-la-Mar, is one of the few remaining sugar factories in the country. In 1938, riots at the Frome sugar estate changed the course of Jamaica’s history. In the wake of these riots, the legislature passed universal adult suffrage in 1944, as well as a new constitution, which was approved by the Crown. This act put Jamaica on the road to self government and eventually independence.
The fertility and lush vegetation of the parish is greatly maintained by the various rivers and streams that are important sources of water. The popular Great Morass, found in the parish, is a large swamp area, which covers thousands of acres. Plant and animal material have collected on this land over the centuries and is thereafter mined as peat – a great source of energy. The wetlands, common to the parish of Westmoreland, serve as a natural sanctuary to Jamaica’s wildlife.
- Grange Hill
- Bethel Town
- Seaford Town