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Garifuna People & Culture

The Garifuna People live in Central America along the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Their area spreads across the borders of four different nations - Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. They are descendants of the Caribs, a people of the Lesser Antilles island chain.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, escaped slaves migrated to the island of St Vincent and intermarried with the local Carib tribe and this culture became know as the Garifuna.

The Garifuna people tried and failed to prevent Great Britain from colonizing the island of St. Vincent and subsequently the Garifuna People were deported to the island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras in 1797.

The Deportees survived and rebuilt their culture in this unfamiliar place and eventually migrated to the mainland, where they settled primarily in the coastal lowlands of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Over the next two centuries, Garifuna population and territory increased significantly and in 1823, fleeing a civil war in Honduras, a number of Garifuna migrated to Dangriga in Belize, where today they make up the majority population here.

In spite of moving to new places and taking in other peoples, the Garifuna have a cultural identity that has been left largely intact. They have kept, to this day, their language and many of the customs, beliefs, and ceremonies of their island ancestors. See Garifuna Drumming.

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