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This article refers to the island comprising part of the country Trinidad and Tobago; for other meanings, see Trinidad (disambiguation).

Trinidad (Spanish, "Trinity") is the larger island of the country Trinidad and Tobago.


Main Article: History of Trinidad and Tobago

The oldest human settlements in Trinidad date to about 5000 BC. Ceramic-using people belonging to the Saladoid culture settled Trinidad from South America around 250 BC. Around 250 AD a third group, the Barrancoid, settled southern Trinidad. Contact with Araquinoid people along the Orinoco delta gave rise to a fourth cultural tradition, the Guayabitoid. Around 1300 the Mayoid culture entered Trinidad, giving rise to the indigenous people present at the time of European contact. The Nepoya and Suppoya were probably Arawak-speaking, while the Yao were Carib speaking.

First contact with Europeans, led by Christopher Columbus, took place on July 31, 1498. Amerindians on Trinidad were initially classified as friendly (and thus Arawak) but demands for slaves to supply the pearl-fisheries in nearby Isla Margarita led to them being declared "Caribs" in 1511. The location of Trinidad between the Island Caribs (or Kalinago) of the Lesser Antilles and those of the South American mainland made the island prone to slave raiding even before Spanish settlement and a more warlike population than was found among their Taino Arawak kin in the Greater Antilles.

War, enslavement and introduced diseases took their toll and nearly wiped out the native population completely. Estimated to have been about 35,000 when Columbus discovered the island, the population was eventually reduced to about 300. Columbus claimed the island for Spain; but it was at least 30 years before the country showed any official interest in her new possession. In 1530, the Spanish king appointed the conquistador Antonio Sedeņo to be Captain-General of Trinidad for life, in order to control the unruly natives. Sedeno struggled to accomplish his mission, but the circumstances were against him; four years later, he returned to Spain, and Trinidad was once again left to the natives.

Several other attempts were made to settle the island over the next hundred years, but none of them were particularly successful. The Spanish later established missions manned by the Capuchin Fathers. Indians who rejected Christianity were severely punished, thus straining even further an already tense relationship. These tensions led to the Arena Massacre of 1699, wherein the Amerindians murdered the priests, the Spanish governor and all but one of his men. After being hunted by the Spanish, the survivors are reported to have committed suicide by jumping off cliffs into the sea.

The Spanish controlled the island until 1797 when a British fleet under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby captured the island. In 1889 Tobago was united with Trinidad into a single colony of Trinidad and Tobago.


Today Trinidad is a colourful and lively island, the result of a fusion of many different cultures and beautiful natural features. It hosts an annual pre-Lenten Carnival (in February or March) that is considered by many to be the most spectacular in the world and draws tourists from many places across the globe. This party atmosphere is present not just at carnival time but throughout the year as Trinidadians or 'Trinis' enjoy a culture laced with music and dancing. Styles of popular music include calypso, soca and reggae; whilst at Christmas time a latino style of music known as 'parang' is played and listened to. Trinis are proud of their national identity and flavour.

Indian traditions have also become an important part of the island's culture. Divali, the annual Hindu festival of lights is celebrated nationally. A week before Divali night there is a week long festival of Indian song, dance and shows called the Divali Nagar which is held at the Divali Nagar site in Chaguanas.

Areas of natural beauty include: a variety of beautiful beaches (e.g. Maracas, Las Cuevas, Mayaro and Grande Riviere), swamps (Nariva and Caroni), areas of seasonal tropical forests and the hills of the Northern Range. Trinidad is also the home of such animals as the leopard-like ocelot, the manatee, caimans and the Scarlet Ibis (see List of birds of Trinidad and Tobago).

Despite its natural beauty, Trinidad is also an industrial island with sugar exports, oil and natural gas which have allowed Trinidad to capitalise on the large mineral reserves within its territories. It has good transport links and infrastructure, although some roads in more rural areas are in disrepair. The island is still a third world country, but has been aspiring for 'developed nation' status for quite some time.

Trinidad holds an above-average HIV/Aids percentage, a problem the government is presently trying to manage, along with a rising level of crime (particularly kidnapping). The government is democratic, but its highest appeal court is still the British privy council, which has recently caused problems particularly with regards to the death penalty. The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago at present is Patrick Manning.

The largest religious groups on the island are Roman Catholics and Hindus. There are also substantial Anglican, Presbyterian, Muslim, Methodist, Spiritual Baptist, Orisha and independent fundamentalist/evangelical Christian groups.

The capital of Trinidad is Port-of-Spain, located in the northwest of the island. The second city, San Fernando, is in the southwest. Between them lies the town of Chaguanas, the largest city on the island and an important shopping area.

See the entry on Trinidad and Tobago for more detailed Trinidad de:Trinidad (Insel) nl:Trinidad


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