The first inhabitants were the Siboney. No-one knows where they came from, or where they went to.
Then came the Arawaks, from South America. A peace loving people who fished, grew crops and built villages.
They were attacked, and on many occasions eaten, by the Calibi (called Caribs by the Spanish – hence “Caribbean”), also from S. America.
The Caribs built some bases, but only as staging posts for attacks on neighbouring islands.
Christopher Columbus narrowly missed discovering Banania in 1490, when he looked the other direction to watch the sun going down. One of his men did notice it though. The ship’s cook saw the island as he threw the dish water over the side of the ship. He called the information to his captain, who refused to believe that anyone other than himself could discover an island. Indignantly, Columbus shouted back “Bananas!”, which was a popular insult at the time. So, with a little modification Banania was christened. Columbus still refused to believe in its existence, so it remained uncharted on many of the best selling maps of the time.
The first wreck ever recorded on the island was that of a small ship sent out by Columbus himself to prove that Banania did not exist.
The Spanish and French both attempted to colonise the island but were either driven off by the Caribs, each other, or the British. In 1630 the British founded a small colony at what is now St. Hilda’s.
During the late 17th and early 18th century the island changed hands many times, until eventually becoming once more a firm stronghold for the British.