Roatan history culture

Roatan History and Culture

Roatan historical overview Like several other Caribbean islands, many of Roatan's approximately 30,000 islanders are native English speakers. However, as more people discover the riches of Roatan, many other languages are heard. The islanders have ancestral origins in eight separate cultures -- English, Spanish, Mayan Indians, Garifuna, Afro-Antillean, Anglo-Antillean, Spanish Honduran, and North American. Today the people of Roatan comprise a diverse Caribbean ethnic group with wonderful cultures and traditions that permeate the spirit of the island. Native Garifuna culture is demonstrated at the Garifuna Cultural Center in Punta Gorda.

The Bay Islands and Roatan are not as "touristy" as many of the Caribbean islands. The Caribbean island's pristine beaches, clean air, and untouched jungles in the heart of the island are an ecological treat. The azure blue Caribbean sea provides wonderful bounties as well as wonderful real estate properties and house settings.

It is common to hear stories of local islanders who eat fish soup when sick rather than our traditional chicken soup. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are available and the island’s rich soil provides great gardening opportunities. When you visit, be sure that you take a walk with a local island person who can share some of the island’s unusual fruits and herbs. Should you decide that Roatan is the right place for your island home or other real estate purchase, expect to find an array of tropical delights already growing on your property.

The island of Roatan was home to the Mayan Indians when Christopher Columbus arrived to “discover” it on his last journey to the Americas. Their matriarchal culture goes back for a thousand years. During the Colonial period, Spanish and English colonizers lived together on the island, but the vastness of riches on the continent led to constant attacks from pirates. The colonizers finally left the islands and the pirates made the islands into their strategic headquarters in the early 1600’s.

At one time, it is estimated over 5,000 pirates lived on Roatan and ruled it for many years.  The history of Roatan includes famous men like Henry Morgan and Pirate Captain John Coxen. Today, Coxen Hole is named after this famous Caribbean pirate. Pirate caves can still be found on the eastern end of the island. In 1650, under the command of Don Francisco Toledo, Spain attacked the pirates in Port Royal. After several violent battles, in spite of a good defense, the pirates surrendered to the Spanish Crown.

In 1742, under the command of Mayor Caufield, the English settled again on the island and reconstructed the old Port Royal. In 1782, the Spaniards regained control over the island and the English completely abandoned Roatan for 15 years.

In 1797, approximately 5,000 Caribbean black people were taken to Roatan, arriving at Port Royal. They were a mix of African black people with Caribbean and Arawak Indians from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. They gave origin to the Garifuna people who are a part of the cultural history of the island today. In 1821, the Central American Federation claimed the Bay Islands, including Roatan, as part of its territory and independence from Spain was declared.

In 1827, the English began to return to the island. In 1852, the English population was about 600. Today English is one of the primary languages spoken on Roatan. Queen Victoria was pressured to declare the Bay Islands an English colony, but the United States opposed the colonization by the English and England gave up. In 1859, the Republic of Honduras declared and took final possession of the Bay Islands.

Roatan’s long history of mixed peoples has resulted in a melting pot of diverse cultures that prevails on the island today and offers visitors a warm and attractive environment, not only because of the unique Caribbean beauty of beaches and jungles, but also because of the kindness, respect, and warmth of the island’s people. You can be a part of this unique experience when you purchase your home or property on Roatan. Colby’s Real Estate can help you find just the right location for you with its listings of houses, condos, land and acreage, both seaside and untouched jungle properties. Contact us today and find your little piece of island paradise in a culture of respect.