I was planning to go to Jamaica for a couple of months and backpack around because it's always been my dream to go to Jamaica. I was doing some research just to check what the damage was after Sandy, and I came across lots of stuff about how dangerous Jamaica is - highest murder rate in the world, people say you can't go out by yourself and all that - I just wanted to know if this is the case at the moment. Is there looting after the hurricane? Will I be OK travelling around Jamaica by myself? I'm from South Africa so I'm not a moron when it comes to personal safety or anything. Sorry if its a stupid question. Thanks in advance for helpful replies.
Since you're from SA you'll know how different people's opinions can be about safety - you get American and British expats saying they'd heard horror stories and then were pleasantly surprised when they arrived. Then you get South Africans who were burgled or hi-jacked one time to many and emigrated with nothing but curses for the country. I've personally never had a problem besides the odd house burglary or pick-pocketing.
As a South African you'll have a good idea what to expect. If you walk around with an expensive camera looking gormless in a well-known tourist spot, you could be singled out as a target. Don't leave valuables in plain sight in your hotel room, don't walk around dark/dodgy areas at night by yourself, lock your room, etc etc.
The truth is Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and is considered the worst place in the world to be gay because of violent homophobic attitudes. There's also a fair amount of machismo - be prepared to fend off amorous Jamaicans who think it's OK to cat-call! But most violence is gang related and occurs in certain areas of the big cities. Outside of these areas, i.e. in touristy places where you're likely to go, you should be fine if you follow commonsense personal safety rules of thumb.
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