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The Bay Island of Roatan is filled with an eclectic variety of residents. People from all over the world have settled here to enjoy the good life, taking in the beachfront lifestyle and embracing the laidback Caribbean vibes. They add to an already wonderful mix of local residents, including native islanders, mainland Hondurans, and the Garifuna of Roatan.
The Garifuna of Roatan is part of a larger group of Garifuna, with other communities living on the coastal mainland of Honduras, in Belize, in Guatemala, and in several U.S. cities, primarily New York, Miami, and Los Angeles.
Back in 1796, the people we now call Garifuna were known as Black Carib and they resided in the islands of the Antilles and St. Vincent. After a second unsuccessful war against European colonists, approximately 5,000 Black Carib were forcibly deported from the eastern islands and sent west.
On April 12, 1797, their ships found the island of Roatan, where many of the Black Carib community opted to stay. The rest of the group continued on to the mainland of Honduras, settling on the northern coast of the country. Those who chose to stay in Roatan created a new community for themselves, named Punta Gorda.
At the time of their arrival in the 1790s, the native Paya, or Pech, who once inhabited the island was no longer a prominent community. Their introduction to the Europeans brought disease and the slave trade, decimating their population. A small English settlement at Port Royal was occasionally occupied throughout around this time as well, but the Garifuna created the first permanent settlement on Roatan in centuries.
People of Garifuna in Roatan, Honduras.