The Cockpit Country is Jamaica’s largest remaining contiguous rainforest. In 1979 an unpublished paper proposed preserving the area as a National Park. In 1994 the geographer Alan Eyre proposed that the Cockpit Country be designated as a World Heritage Site to preserve its environment. A petition for protection of the area was submitted to Prime Minister Bruce Golding in 2006.
As of April 2013, public consultations have begun on the definition of the boundary proposed in a recently released study by Mitchell, Miller, Ganapathy, and Spence of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Eleutherodactylus sisyphodemus, a small, critically endangered frog species, is known only from the Cockpit Country. Cockpit Country hosts 90% of the global population of black-billed amazon, a parrot endemic to Jamaica.
Cockpit Country is also home to the Jamaican Swallowtail, the largest butterfly in the Western hemisphere. Cockpit Country is one of the last remaining homes for the species.
In the late seventeenth century, the Cockpit Country was a place of refuge for Jamaican Maroons fleeing slavery. During the course of the First Maroon War, there were two Leeward Maroon communities – Cudjoe’s Town (Trelawny Town) and Accompong Town. Cudjoe’s Town was located in the mountains in the southern extremities of Saint James Parish, Jamaica, close to the border of Westmoreland Parish. Accompong is situated just to the south of Cudjoe’s Town, on the border between Westmoreland and Saint Elizabeth Parish.
When the Leeward Maroons signed a peace treaty in 1740, they assisted the colonial authorities in pursuing runaway slaves who sought refuge in the Cockpit Country. However, these runaways allied with Trelawny Town during the Second Maroon War. When the Maroons of Trelawny Town were deported in 1796, the Maroons of Accompong had difficulty policing the Cockpit Country, and several communities of runaway slaves established themselves there. After the removal of the Trelawny Maroons, the colonial militia built a barracks at their village, which they renamed Maroon Town, Jamaica.
At the start of the nineteenth century, Cuffee (Jamaica) established a community of runaway slaves in the Cockpit Country, and resisted attempts by the colonial authorities and the Maroons of Accompong Town to rout them. Then, in the second and third decades of the century, another group of runaway slaves from Trelawny Parish set up a community in the Cockpit Country at Me-no-Sen-You-no-Come. They also succeeded in resisting attempts by the colonial militias and Accompong Town to rout them. During the Baptist War of 1831-2, more slaves ran away and found freedom in the Cockpit Country.
Accompong Town is an indigenous Maroon community that still has a certain recognized autonomy under the independent Jamaican government.