|Regions with significant populations|
|Bay Islands, Honduras|
|Bay Islands Creole, English-based|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Caracol people are an ethnic people of mainly European/English-African-Caribbean descent, who have been concentrated in Northern Honduras (specifically, the Bay Islands) since the early 19th century. They speak an English-based creole. Caracol is a Spanish term that literally translates as conch, or snail shell; it associates the people of the Bay Islands to their environment and seafaring culture. In its current usage, the term Caracol refers to all people born in the Bay Islands region and their descendants. The region of the Bay Islands encompasses the three major islands of Roatán, Útila, Guanaja, and the smaller islands or keys.
The first known English-speaking groups to settle in the Bay Islands are believed to have migrated from the Cayman Islands near Jamaica. They arrived in the 1830s shortly after Britain abolished slavery in its colonies, which disrupted the labor system supporting Caymanian culture. Caymanians were largely a seafaring culture and were familiar with the area from turtle fishing ventures and other activities.
The Bay Islands population grew steadily in the latter half of the 19th century, and new settlements were developed all over Roatán and the other islands. Individual settlers were attracted from numerous nations and played a part in developing and shaping the face of the Caracol culture. A fruit trade industry started by islanders became very profitable; by the 1870s it was acquired by American interests, most notably the New Orleans and Bay Islands Fruit Company. Later companies, Standard Fruit and United Fruit, became the foundation for modern day fruit companies. Their economic and political influence was so strong that Honduras was called a "banana republic".
The Bay Islands
The Bay Islands were first discovered by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage to America in 1502. They were later claimed, and successively held, by England, Spain, and the Dutch United Provinces. England finally took control in 1643 and, with the exception of a one-month period of Spanish dominance in 1780, held onto them as a Crown colony, dependent on Jamaica. In 1860, in the aftermath of the American William Walker filibustering affair, the British Crown recognized Honduran sovereignty . It ceded possession of the Bay Islands to it. The department of "Islas de la Bahía" was officially incorporated to Honduras on 14 March 1872.
The English language spoken by the Caracol changed over time. The language differs mostly in morphology but also in pronunciation and accent and, to a lesser extent, in syntax and vocabulary, from that of the other British colonies. The various creole languages are similar enough to be mutually intelligible.
- Glenn Anthony Chambers (2010) Race, Nation, and West Indian Immigration to Honduras, 1890-1940, Louisiana State University Press, ISBN 978-0-8071-3557-0 p.87