Despite a long period of time remaining somewhat free from foreign rule, the islands
eventually fell to the French, who took control over the islands and established
organized agricultural development, most noticeably in the sugarcane industry. However
the French needed laborers and turned to slaves from Africa for this purpose. Quickly
the African population outnumbered that of the Garifuna and French populations and
their cultural influences arrived with them. Despite a changing culture in many
areas based on French and African roots, for the most part the Carib and Garifuna
culture survived in the mountains.
These cultures moved parallel to each other for some time, but this essentially
ended with the arrival of the British, who sought more lands and hence destroyed
much of the Garifuna people and their culture. After these moves, few Garifuna people
survived on the islands, although many moved to other islands or Central America,
where they continue their culture today. Sadly, most of this Garifuna culture on
the islands of St. Vincent & the Grenadines was lost.
With these many changes, the culture today has many past influences. From French
rule, French Patois is widely spoken, but most people in St. Vincent & the Grenadines
speak English. The French and British also greatly effected religion as the people
practice Catholicism, Anglicanism, or other religions. Of course the greatest influence
the French and British had was by bringing in African slaves, whose descendants
now dominate the country and culture.
The culture is heavily rooted in these past influences as music, dance, art, and
foods from Africa are alive while the islands' past are commonly celebrated
at festivals. The people also continue to live off the land as the people in the
past have; many people remain in the agricultural industry producing breadfruit,
coconuts, or bananas.