The earliest settlers of the area surrounding St. John’s were the Arawak Indians.   This tribal culture thrived in the area for approximately one thousand years.   In 1200 A.D., the Arawak Indians were driven out of the area by the Caribs, a people who never actually settled in the area after driving the Arawaks away.   More information the Arawaks can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arawak .  

In the late fifteen and early sixteenth centuries, Europeans began to take over the St. John’s area.  The first to “discover” the area was Christopher Columbus who reached the island of Antigua in 1493 and gave it its name.  The Spanish did not end up settling in the area and eventually, St. John’s was taken over by the British.

Originally, the British used the area for the cultivation of indigo and then tobacco but it was quickly determined that sugar would be the main export from this area.  The British began to establish sugar cane plantations and were soon importing slaves, primarily from Africa, to man the plantations.  The plantations thrived until the 1840’s when a combination of the abolishment of slavery and a decline in sugar production caused them to close.  At that time, the area was struck with poverty.  Poverty continued until St. John’s became a popular tourist destination towards the end of the twentieth century.