Over hundreds of years people went to the Caribbean from different parts of the world. they brought with them their cultures, traditions and religions.


The Amerindian people were the first people on the Caribbean islands. Their clothes were made from feathers, beads and seeds.

They would use dyes made from plants and vegetables to paint their faces and bodies for ceremonies. A bit like having your face painted at a party.

Did you know: Trinidad was first called ‘Land of the Hummingbird’ by the Amerindians?


In 1492 the explorer Christopher Columbus sailed his huge galleon ship from Spain to India but took a wrong turn and arrived in the Caribbean. Columbus found a land full of amazing plants, fruits and crops. These grew to enormous sizes under the hot sun and tropical rain.

Everything grew much faster in the Caribbean than in Europe. With this discovery, European people went to live there. They built large plantations (like really big farms) to grow crops and used Amerindian people and African slaves to work in the fields. These crops would be sold to other parts of the world for lots of money.


African people were kidnapped and taken as slaves on big ships to the Caribbean. They were kept below deck in the dark and chained together for up to 6 weeks. The captain and crew treated them terribly and if they got sick they would be thrown overboard to the sharks in the sea.

When they arrived they were sold like animals at the market to the plantation owners (masters). Life for a slave was really hard – you can read more about this in the next section.

Back home in Africa the slaves had been free. They celebrated life through music, dance and storytelling. In colourful costumes and masks they would masquerade and sing to the sounds of the African drum. 

Did you know: shells were once used instead of money in West Africa?

Indian and Chinese

After the African slaves were freed, people were needed to work on the plantations. Indian and Chinese people travelled thousands of miles in ships to the Caribbean. They were called indentured labourers and were paid very small amounts of money to work on the plantations. The Chinese dragon is also part of the Caribbean Carnival celebrations, bringing luck to all those who cross its path.


Q.3: What do hummingbirds feed on? 

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Illustrations © Rhian Kempadoo-Millar
Banner photo © Tony Bartholomew (2019)