The Garifuna in Central America

Ethnohistorical and Geographical Foundations
  • William V. Davidson


So-called “Carib” populations have inhabited three major areas of the New World tropics (Map 1). South American Caribs, the most prominent aboriginal family north of the Amazon, consist of several widely distributed, but linguistically related, tribes, such as the Galibi of the Guyana coast and the Yukpa of the Colombian—Venezuelan borderlands. Today they number approximately 25,000 (Basso, 1977). Caribs who migrated from the mainland onto the Lesser Antilles a few centuries before the arrival of the Europeans, in spite of acquiring the language of the Arawak Indians of the islands (Taylor, 1951;Durbin, 1977), eventually became known as the Island Caribs (Rouse, 1948). After two centuries of European depredations, they were confined to only two islands, Dominica and St. Vincent, where even now small remnant populations live: about 2000 on the Reserve in Dominica (Layng, 1976) and nearly 2000 in 11 villages on St. Vincent (Gullick, 1975). A third Carib population descended from the St. Vincentian group currently lives in Central America. These are known in the English language literature as Black Caribs, but perhaps more properly should be labeled Garifuna, the name by which they know themselves. Other names often attached to the group are morenos, Trujillianos, Vincentinos, and Karif.


Permanent Settlement Guatemala City United Province Coastal Village Family Compound 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • William V. Davidson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geography and AnthropologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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