History of Trinidad and Tobago


Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Trinidad and Tobago was inhabited by Arawak and Carib people.

Both islands were explored by the Italian, Christopher Columbus on his third voyage in 1498.

Tobago changed hands between the British, French, Dutch, and Courlanders, but eventually ended up in British hands.

Trinidad remained in Spanish hands until 1797, but it was largely settled by French colonists.

In 1783, the proclamation of a Cedula of Population by the Spanish Crown granted land to each Roman Catholic who settled in Trinidad. Land was also offered (although half as much) to each Free Coloured or Free Person of Colour. French planters with their slaves, free coloured and mulattos from neighbouring islands of Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica migrated to Trinidad during the French Revolution.

With the abolition of slavery officially in 1838, indentured labourers, mainly from India were recruited to work in Agriculture.

As cocoa began to replace sugar cane plantations, Venezuelan farmers with much experience in cocoa were encouraged to settle in Trinidad. Their descendants became known as Cocoa Panyol (from Espagnol).

In 1889 the two islands were incorporated into a single crown colony.

Trinidad and Tobago obtained its independence from the British Empire in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.


The population of Trinidad and Tobago is approximately 1.3 million.

ISLAND/ CITY20002011
City of San Fernando 55,419 48,838
Borough of Arima 32,278 33,606
Borough of Chaguanas 67,433 83,516
Borough of Point Fortin 19,056 20,235
Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo 162,779 178,410
Diego Martin 105,720 102,957
Mayaro/Rio Claro 32,143 35,650
Penal/Debe 83,609 89,392
Princes Town 91,947 102,375
San Juan/Laventille 157,295 157,258
Sangre Grande 65,680 75,766
Siparia 81,917 86,949
Tunapuna/Piarco 203,975 215,119
TOTAL TRINIDAD 1,208,282 1,267,145
TOBAGO 54,084 60,874
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO 1,262,366 1,328,019


ALL GROUPS1,322,546100.0%
African 452,536 34.2%
Caucasian 7,832 0.6%
Chinese 4,003 0.3%
East Indian 468,524 35.4%
Indigenous 1,394 0.1%
Mixed - African/ East Indian 101,363 7.7%
Mixed - Other 200,503 15.2%
Portuguese 837 0.1%
Syrian/ Lebanese 1,029 0.1%
Other ethnic group 2,280 0.2%
Not stated 82,246 6.2%


Anglican 74,994 6%
Baptist-Spiritual Shouter 75,002 6%
Baptist-Other 15,951 1%
Hinduism 240,100 18%
Islam 65,705 5%
Jehovah's Witness 19,450 1%
Methodist 8,648 1%
Morovian 3,526 0%
Orisha 11,918 1%
Pentecostal/Evangelical/Full Gospel 159,033 12%
Presbyterian/Congregational 32,972 2%
Rastafarian 3,615 0%
Roman Catholic 285,671 22%
Seventh Day Adventist 54,156 4%
Other 96,166 7%
None 28,842 2%
Not Stated 146,798 11%


The official language is English.

However, a small percentage of the population especially in some rural communities such as Paramin speak French patois and there is new interest in documenting and preserving that language. The Patois spoken in Trinidad is similar to the patois of Martinique and Dominica among other islands from which French creoles emigrated during the 18th century.

French language is offered in many secondary schools and through Alliance Fran├žaise.

Spanish language is also offered in many secondary schools and is recognised as the first foreign language. With the proximity to South America, there is an increasing number of South American nationals living and or working in Trinidad and Tobago and interest in leaning Spanish has been growing.

Translation and interpretation services are available through private service providers and language schools such as the Caribbean Interpretation and Translation Bureau of the University of the West Indies which covers English/German/Dutch/Arabic/Chinese/Portuguese/Japanese/Hindi translation and interpretation services.