Home | Welcome | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
History & People

The first inhabitants of these islands were Amerindians from South America who traveled there hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean. With the arrival of settlers from Europe, foreign diseases greatly reduced the native population, and today few full-blooded descendants remain.

Graph.GIF (3598 bytes)

The European influence on the culture of Trinidad and Tobago primarily comes from Spain, France, and Britain. All three countries claimed the islands at various times during the country’s colonial history. Spanish rule began when Columbus "discovered" Trinidad and lasted for nearly 300 years. During the latter part of Spain’s occupation, French immigrants moved into political offices; in addition to African and Spanish influences, Trinidadian culture began to adopt French traits, language, and customs.

Dates to remember........

1498 - Christopher Columbus claims Trinidad for Spain
1592 - Spanish settle in Trinidad and retain possession for two centuries
1797 - Trinidad is captured by British
1814 - Tobago is ceded to the British
1834 - Slavery is abolished in Trinidad
1845 - Indian indentured immigration begins; program lasts until 1917
1888 - Tobago is joined to Trinidad as a single Crown Colony
1956 - Trinidad and Tobago achieves self-government
1962 - Trinidad and Tobago is granted independence
1976 - Trinidad and Tobago is named a republic
1980 – Tobago House of Assembly is established

In 1797, Trinidad came under British control when Sir Ralph Abercromby captured the island from Spain. In 1802, Trinidad and Tobago officially became British colonies under the Treaty of Amiens.

Under colonial rule, slaves were shipped from Africa to work in the sugar fields and plantations. When the African slave trade was abolished officially in 1834, East Indian and Chinese peasants were hired as


Search the Internet for current news from Trinidad and Tobago. Websites, such as:


will give you a head start. Can you find a school in Trinidad and Tobago with a website? Try to find an e-mail pen pal for you or for your entire class!

indentured servants to work the fields. Many chose to stay and live in Trinidad and Tobago, even after the practice of indentured servitude ended in 1917. Today, descendants of these African and East Indian laborers make up approximately 80% of the country’s total population. Trinidad and Tobago were politically united in 1888 when they became a British Crown Colony. In 1958, the Federation of the West Indies was formed. Trinidad and Tobago became an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1962, and in 1967 joined the Organization of American States. On August 1, 1976, the twin islands became the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.