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It is located southeast of the country, and has a natural harbor protected by Palisadoes, a long sand bar which connects Port Royal and the international airport with the rest of the island.

The city was founded in 1693 by the English, after the former capital city of Port Royal was badly damaged by an earthquake. Kingston has also been hit by a powerful earthquake; 14 January 1907 caused a major quake devastation and more than 1,000 people died. In 1872, the city administration official seat of the British colonial rule, and the retained capital status when Jamaica became independent in 1962. In addition to being the seat of the Government of Jamaica is also the University of the West Indies, opened in 1948, in Kingston.

Kingston consists of two main parts: the center, the historic city, New Kingston. In the latter district is one of the city's major tourist attractions, Bob Marley Museum, located in the reggae legend's home. Other attractions include beaches Hellshire and Lime Cay, National Gallery of Jamaica and Devon House, a stately home with gardens that once belonged to Jamaica's first black millionaire.

Kingston has two airports, Norman Manley International Airport and a smaller domestic airport at Tinson Pen.
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