Despite being declared endangered by the United Nations in 2001, the Garinagu — one of the smallest cultural groups in Belize — has managed to sustain its traditions through music, dance, food and worship. The Garifuna people are descendants of Carib Indians (South American natives who settled on the Caribbean island of St Vincent) and West Africans who were said to have escaped from Spanish slave ships in 1635 and made the island their home. Resistant to the arrival of the British to St Vincent in 1763, the Garinagu fought attempts to use their land for sugar cane plantations and many were killed or imprisoned. Those remaining were exiled to Honduras and eventually migrated by dugout canoe along the Central American coast, reaching Belize in 1802. Today, Garinagu communities make up only 4% of Belize’s more than 325,000 people, and most can be found along the country’s southern coast in the towns of Dangriga and Punta Gorda and the villages of Hopkins, Barranco and Seine Bight. (Lebawit Girma)
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