- from Caribbean
The first settlers of the Caribbean islands were indigenous (in-DIJ-i-nus) people from South America. (Indigenous means “native.”) They came in three waves, over several thousand years.
The Ciboney were the first to arrive. They were probably hunter-gatherers who lived in small groups. Then came the second wave, the Arawak. They pushed the Ciboney north and west to western Cuba and southwestern Hispaniola. These were the main groups living in the Greater Antilles in 1492. But the third wave, the Carib, was coming fast. The Carib lived mostly in the Lesser Antilles but were moving north into Arawak lands. Into this conflict crashed Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator working for the Spanish crown. Thinking he had arrived in Asia, Columbus began looking for riches to take back to Spain. For the next five centuries, thousands of European colonists and adventurers used the Caribbean in any ways they could to get rich quickly.