By the time of Christopher Columbus's arrival in America in 1492, the Taínoball were divided into three large groups: Western Taíno groups (Jamaicaball, most of Cubaball, and Bahamasball), classical Taínos (Puerto Ricoball, Haitiball, and Dominican Republicball) and eastern Tainos (north of the Lesser Antilles). There were five Taino chiefdoms and territories on the island of Santo Domingo, which is currently divided into the countries of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Each Taino chiefdom was led by a cacique, who collected tributes.
Cubaball, the largest island of the Antilles, was originally divided into 29 chiefdoms. Many of these later became Spanish colonial cities, preserving their original names, such as Havana, Batabanó, Camagüey, Baracoa and Bayamo. Puerto Ricoballs was also divided into Taino chiefdoms.
By the time of the Spanish conquest, the largest settlements of the Taino population could reach up to 3,000 people each. The Tainoballs traditionally competed against their neighbors; the Caribballs, which lived mainly in the Lesser Antilles.
Taino society was divided into two classes: naboria (plebeians) and nitaíno (nobles). Both were governed by male chiefs known as cacique, who inherited the title through their noble maternal lineage. The ninaíno functioned as sub-cacique in the villages, supervising the work of naboria. The chiefs were advised by priests / healers known as bohique. The chiefs enjoyed privileges such as being able to use gold pendants known as guanin; living in square (bohio) houses instead of the circular houses of ordinary people; and sitting on wooden chairs to stand above the guests they received.