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The Garifuna or Garífuna are an ethnic group in the Caribbean area, decended from a mix of Amerindian and African people. They are also sometimes known as Garifune or Black Caribs. There are estimated to be about 200,000 of them in Central America and the United States. Properly, the term Garifuna refers to the individual and the language, while Garinagu is the (plural or collective) term for the people.

In 1635, two Spanish ships carrying slaves to the West Indies from what is now Nigeria were ship-wrecked near the island of Saint Vincent. The slaves escaped the sinking boat and reached the shores of the island, where they were welcomed by the Caribs, who offered their protection. Their intermarriage formed the Garinagu people, known as the Garifuna today. The name was derived from "Kalipuna", one of the Island Carib names for themselves. In addition to shipwrecked Africans, the Caribs also captured slaves when they raided the British and French on neighbouring islands, and many of them were adopted into the tribe.

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When the British invaded Saint Vincent they were opposed by French settlers and their Carib allies. When the Caribs eventually surrendered to the British in 1796 the "Black Caribs" were considered enemies and were deported to Roatan in Central America (now Honduras). The British separated the more African looking Caribs from the more Amerindian looking ones, and decided that the former were enemies who must be deported, while the latter were merely "misled" and were allowed to remain. More than 4000 Black Caribs were deported, but only about 2000 of them survived the trip to Roatan. Because the island was too small and infertile to support their population, the Garifuna petitioned the Spanish authorities to be allowed to settle on the mainland. The Spanish employed them as soldiers, and they spread along the Caribbean coast of Central America.

Today many Garifuna are settled around the Bay of Honduras, especially in southern Belize, on the coast of Guatemala around Livingston, and on the island of Roatan, and coastal towns of Honduras and Nicaragua.

They are also known for their unique style of music, which is called punta.

See also:


  • Flores, Barbara A.T. 2001. Religiouis education and theological praxis in a context of colonization: Garifuna spirituality as a means of resistance. Ph.D. Dissertation, Garrett/Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
  • Gonzalez, N.L. 1997. The Garifuna of Central America. Pp. 197-205 in The Indigenous People of the Caribbean, Samuel M. Wilson (ed.) ISBN 0-8130-1531-6

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