Diverse Groups

By 1500 analysts estimate the population of the island between 1 and 4 million. Dominican investigators find this figure exaggerated and prefer to place it around 200,000 and 300,000. However, recent studies have found a kind of census in which they supposedly found around 1,000,000 heads in 1496*. In any case, judging by the sources of the period, it seems that the island of Santo Domingo was the most populated of the Antilles at the end of the XV century.

Diverse human groups registered at the arrival of the Europeans:

Siboneyes or "stone men", located in a small zone in the island's southwest.

Tainos, known by this name which means "noble" or "good", were relatively small indigenous peoples, well built, of wide faces and high cheekbones, who usually wore their hair short over the forehead and neck, and lived in the most of the island.

Macorix and Ciguayos, small group which we know very little about. Some authors consider them as separate groups, while others unify them within the same cultural context. Inhabited what is today the Samana peninsula, the area around the San Juan river and Nagua.

They wore their hair very long tied behind the neck with a type of hairnet adorned with feathers. They spoke the Taino dialect with a few word variations. It is thought that they were a bit more aggressive and used the bow and arrow extensively and the club (a type of bat made out of palm wood). Some authors suggest that this group is the result of integration between Caribe and Taino groups, theory which may explain their differences.

Caribe, last of the Arawak groups that were coming up from the lower Antilles. They did not settle in Santo Domingo, but carried out frequent attacks in which they specially kidnapped women and were very feared by the Tainos. It is believed that their true name was "Kilinagos" or "Kalina", Caribe is the name the Europeans interpreted from the Tainos.

A warrior culture, the Caribs have been considered fierce cannibals due to their practice of ritual sacrifices. It is possible that in the mindset of the conquistadors, all Indian that did not adopt a submissive position in front of the European, was immediately considered a Caribe or "fierce cannibal".