Jamaica's landforms consist of mountains in the east of the country, valleys and plateaus in the central region and coastal plains and rugged hills in the west. The country is comprised of a large island in addition to several tiny islands and cays in the surrounding waters.
The highest point in Jamaica is Blue Mountain Peak, which rises to 7,402 feet. This mountain rises among the Blue Mountain range, which includes several mountains of metamorphic rock with a volcanic origin. The rise of the mountains from the plains is extremely steep; only 16 kilometers separate the flat areas from the highest peaks, creating one of the steepest mountain gradients in the world.
The plateaus across the central region of Jamaica are made of massive limestone deposits. The limestone is over 1,000 feet thick in some areas. This area is punctuated by dozens of rivers that appear and disappear through the porous limestone. As a result, the majority of the rivers of Jamaica are not navigable and remain unexplored.
Because limestone is easily shaped by other forces, the limestone plateau that stretches across two-thirds of Jamaica is full of sinkholes, caves and jagged topography. These rugged features are called karst formations because of the rock comprising them. Jamaica has one of the largest and most stark areas of karst formations in the world.