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Arawak Indian people of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. They also inhabited Puerto Rico and the eastern tip of Cuba. Traditionally they grew cassava and corn (maize), hunted birds and small animals, and fished. They were skillful at working stone and wood. Their society consisted of three tiersnobles, commoners, and slavesand they were ruled by hereditary chiefs and subchiefs; religious beliefs centred on a hierarchy of nature spirits and ancestors. Their population was decimated during the Spanish conquest. The Taino population slowly increased during the succeeding centuries.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Taino, visit Britannica.com.