In 1635, two Spanish ships carrying slaves from what is now Nigeria to the West Indies were ship-wrecked near the island of Saint Vincent. The slaves escaped the sinking boat and reached the shores of the island, where they were welcomed by the Carib Indians, who offered their protection. Their intermarriage formed the Garinagu people (known as Garifuna today). The name was derived from a phrase meaning "people who eat cassava".
The history of the Garifuna, however, began long before the year 1635. Saint Vincent was inhabited by a tribe of Indians who called themselves Arawaks. On arriving on the island Carib Indians fought and defeated the Arawak Indians. The Arawak men were all killed and the Kalipuna (Caribe) warriors took the Arawak women as wives. The inhabitants of the island were then the result of the union of these two tribes. Because of this, the Garifuna speak an Arawak-based language and not a Carib-based language.
Today many Garifuna are settled around the Bay of Honduras, especially in southern Belize, on the coast of Guatemala around Livingston, and on the island of Roatan, and coastal towns of Honduras.