The word Garifuna refers to two things: a group of people and to the language those people speak.

The Garifuna people were originally slaves from West Africa. These slaves were brought to the Caribbean in the 17th century. As they got closer to the New World, there was a ship wrecked off the coast of St. Vincent island. Those who survived swam ashore and met the Arawak and Carib natives.

Soon these Africans began marrying the Arawak and Carib people and having families. This mixture of African and native Caribs created the Garifuna people.