Before Curacao became a Dutch colony, the island was inhabited by indigenous people known as the Arawak. The Spanish arrived in 1499 in search of gold, and the Dutch did not gain control of the island until 1634.
Native to South America, the Arawak were believed to have migrated to the island hundreds of years before the first Europeans arrived. Also known as Lokono, the Arawak were largely displaced on Curacao by the Dutch and the African slaves brought in to work the sugar cane fields. Today the majority of the population of Curacao is Afro-Caribbean, the descendants of slaves. There are also many people of Dutch, French, South Asian, East Asian and Portuguese background. In the 21st century, the Lokono are largely concentrated in Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.