The Garifuna World in Belize

The epic story of the Garifuna begins in the early 1600’s on the Carribean island of St Vincent when West African slaves were brought on the island by the Spanish. The slaves who survived found shelter in the existing Carib Indians settlements and over the next century the two groups intermarried and eventually fused into a single culture, creating the Black Caribs or Garinagu culture, commonly referred to as Garifuna. Over the next 100 years, broken treaties, defeat and conflicts defined the beginnings of the Garifuna culture. The Garifuna were shipped from St Vincent to Roatan, Honduras, where barely 200 Garifuna survived to make the landing. Unfortunately, a civil rebellion forced many Garifuna to flee north to the shores of Belize. On November 19th, 1832, a large group of Garifuna landed on the coast of Belize at what is now considered one of the most important Garifuna settlements in the Caribbean. The site of their historic landing is the town of Dangriga which means “sweet running water” in Garifuna language. Garifuna Settlement Day is now celebrated annually on the 19th day of November to honor the arrival of Garifuna to the shores of Belize.