Original names of Caribbean islands!

As it’s Black History Month, this post may be of interest to fellow Frocaribs (Afro-Caribbeans). True, it’s not directly related to us but I feel it’s a good bit of knowledge nonetheless…


From my experience most people are totally ignorant of the Caribbean (aka. West Indies/ Windies/ Antilles). I find that most people, especially South Asians, assume because it’s mostly populated by ‘black’ people that makes the Caribbean part of Africa. I also find they think the Caribbean is one country.


Geography 101: the Caribbean is nowhere near Africa; in fact it’s on the opposite side of the planet! That’s how far we were kidnapped during the TAST. It’s a group of islands, technically part of the American continent between the USA (North) and South America (South). But many of us won’t admit that because we don’t like being associated with Americans.




Or rather we didn’t, but nowadays mainstream American culture is becoming more and more accepted on the islands. You see it in the clothes, the music choices, and especially the food. Caribbeans’ obesity & diabetes rates are now pretty similar to those in the USA!


But that’s now. Back in pre-European days the natives had their own names for the individual islands, some of which are listed below along with origin language & meaning:


Jamaica – Xyamaca/ Xaymaca (Arawak & Taino; Land of Wood & Water/ Land of Springs)


Haiti – Ayti (Taino; Mountainous Land)


Tobago – Tobago (Kalinago; Tobacco Pipe)


Canouan – Cannouan (Kalinago; Island of Turtles)


Carriacou – Kayryouacou (Kalinago; Island of Reefs)


Martinique – Madinina (Kalinago; Land of Flowers)



Example of native Caribbean – Carib man from St Lucia



Examples of native Caribbeans – Tainos from Puerto Rico


[Note: so far I’ve only listed the islands whose current names sound similar to their originals. Now I’m going to list others whose native names are completely different]


Saint Kitts – Liamuiga (Kalinago; Fertile Land)


Nevis – Oualie (Kalinago; Land of Beautiful Water)


Montserrat – Alliouagana (Kalinago; Land of Prickly Bush)


Antigua – Waladli (Kalinago; Land of Fish Oil)


Barbuda – Wa’omoni (Kalinago; meaning unknown)


Barbados – Ichirouganaim (Arawak; Red Land/ Island with White Teeth)


Dominican Republic – Kiskeya/ Quisqueya (Taino; Highest Land)


Saint Lucia – Hiwanarau/ Hewanorra (Kalinago; Land of the Iguana)


Trinidad – Kairi/ Lele (Kalinago; Land of the Hummingbird)


Saint Vincent – Hairoun (Kalinago; Land of the Blessed)


Anguilla – Malliouhana (Arawak; Arrow-shaped Sea Serpent)



Garinagu (plural of Garifuna) people in Dominica. Garinagu are a mixture of the native Caribbeans & the African abductees


I’ll continue to update this list as and when I find more names.

8 thoughts on “Original names of Caribbean islands!”

  1. I believe you got a couple stuff mixed up. The garifuna are a mixed race people found on the island of grenada. Kalinagos are found on the island of Dominica. N Dominica is called Waitukubuli by the Caribs it mean tall is her body.


  2. Garifuna are the mixture of St. Vincent Kalinagos and pure Africans wash ashore on St. Vincent who were latter banished form St. Vincent to the Cays of Belize and Honduras by the British because the resisted British rule.


  3. My family Taino & are dark brown. No nothing of Africa but know brown skin doesn’t make you African either. Obviously you haven’t read the Spanish record’s, admitting that majority of us were already here. Or your own family telling you, we were here before the Spanish arrived. They also took people to Africa; like Tupac Ameru, after his rebellion, they were dropped off in the Sahara desert. Even my European relations say we were here when they arrived. Only 5% Africans made up the later trade. When in fact Columbus himself took negroes to Spain from the West Indies; use to be the East Indies, Windies like you said. But to put us in Africa on sail boat’s that took a year & a day travel, depending on the weather; then those ships can only hold a crew of 40, with food. Well, quite amazing. The story told backwards; taking our land rights, then paying rent in your own house! The Mayans; I know you saw the original paintings by now colonized Nigeria area in their golden age. The Aztec in Egypt! America was considered the old world &ba strong hold for us! My grandma told us how they walked from South America to North America; use to be the other way around. On land bridges (the Caribbean islands). The English taught us this foolishness, but our family knows the truth. But good work on the original names!


  4. Dear Cacique Green,
    Thank you for your input. I’m already well aware that there were many thousands of people in the Americas before Afro-Caribbeans (so-called “red Indians” – don’t worry, I don’t use that ignorant term), and that Africans colonised South America ~3000 years ago (i.e. the Olmec civilisation). I also know that when the Spanish arrived they claimed to see 2 ‘races’, ‘black’ & ‘red’.
    While we can argue about relative numbers, it is an inescapable fact that many west & central Africans were taken to the Americas between 400 & 500 years ago in such quantities as to overrun the native populations (who were being slaughtered by the thousands by ‘whites’ at the same time). This can be shown in our DNA, in multiple European history records, and that despite the overwhelming European cultural influence (& the subsequent denial of anything African) we still have African cultural influence to this day. For example, I just found out earlier this year there’s an area in Jamaica where the people speak Coromantee instead of Patois, and Coromantee is still largely intelligible to Ghanaians because that’s where it originated!
    It’s bloody good though that there are still Taìnos & other native groups in the Caribbean, so nice to meet you! 🙂


  5. @ Cacique Green again,
    Having said that, it’s pretty unlikely that the newcomer Africans didn’t mix with the natives (both ‘red’ & ‘black’) so I concede you may have a point. I’d be interested to know more about your claims of Aztecs in Egypt & Europeans taking native Americans to Africa. Are there any sources you can recommend?


  6. Hi
    Garinagu is the exact same word as Kalinago just a variant pronunciation. Garifuna is the language. Garinagu are the people


  7. Saint Lucia is Iyanola – land of the iguana.
    What is listed is the bastardized inability of the the Europeans to say the word.


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