Clarendon was formed through the combination of three older parishes, and was named for Lord Chancellor Sir Edward Hyde, the Earl of Clarendon.
Physically Clarendon is dominated by the Vere plain and the Rio Minho with the Bull Head and Mocho Mountains at its northern end. Its capital is May Pen and other important towns include Chapelton, Lionel Town and Race Course. Denbigh in the parish is the home of the island's annual agriculture fair.
The main economic activities are bauxite mining and processing, agriculture – sugar cane, citrus, tobacco, coffee, cocoa, livestock, dairy and fish farming.
About ten miles south of the capital town, May Pen, is the Milk River Bath, one of Jamaica's great spas. The radioactivity of the water is many times greater than many of the world's famous spas. The relative radioactivity of the water has been found to be:
- 9 times as active as Bath, England
- 50 times as active as Vichy, France
- 5 times as active as Karlsbad, Australia
- 54 times as active as Baden, Switzerland
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