There were various tribes living in the Caribbean at the time of the coming of the Europeans. At the time of Columbus the Tainos, whose origins have been traced back to the lower Orinoco, were found living in the Greater Antilles. They arrived in the Caribbean through the Venezuela-Trinidad gateway. They were expert seafarers and navigated their way up the island chain until they arrived in the Grater Antilles. It is believed that the more aggressive Caribs provided the stimulus for their migration.
The Tainos were not a homogenous group. They evolved out of a cultural mixing amongst the earlier peoples of the Greater Antilles. Five major subgroups have been identified among them:
- The Lucayans who were found living in The Bahamas.
- The Tainos located in Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba and Hispaniola.
- The Ciboneys called coastal dwellers; they predate the presence of the Tainos in the Caribbean islands.
- The Ciguayos found in the Dominican Republic.
- The Igneris who inhabited Trinidad and other islands in the Lesser Antilles.