When Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola during his first transatlantic voyage in the year A.D. 1492, the island had already been selected by Native Americans for about 5000 years. The occupants in Columbus’s time were a group of Arawak Indians called Taino’s who lived by farming, were organized into five chiefdoms, and numbered around half a million (the estimates range from 100,000 to 2,000,000).
Columbus initially found them peaceful and friendly, until he and his Spaniards began mistreating them. Unfortunately for the Taino’s, they had goldc. Hence the conquerors divided up the island and it Indian population among individual Spaniards who put the Indians to work as virtual slaves, accidentally infected them with Eurasian diseases, and murdered them. By the year 1519, 27 years after Columbus’s arrival, that original population of half a million had been reduced to about 11,000, most of whom died that year of small pox to bring the population down to 3000 and those survivors gradually died out or became assimilated within the next few decades. That forced the Spaniards to look elsewhere for slave borders.