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History of Trindad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago's history defies the size of this tiny twin island nation.
Arawak woman by J.G.Steadman
The indigenous population of Trinidad (and probably Tobago) is Amerindian...basically Caribs and Arawaks. It is said that the Caribs were warlike people and the Amerindians, docile and peace loving. But certain historians dispute this, and assert that the Arawaks were also warlike.
On his 3rd voyage of discovery on 31st July 1498, Christopher Columbus arrived and after a long and tedious journey called it "La Ysla de la Trinidad" after the blessed Trinity. Apparently things were not going too well when he was in mid atlantic and he made a promise that the first land he saw he would name after the blessed Trinity. Coincidentally, the first aspect of Trinidad that he saw were the three hills in Moruga...now called the Trinity Hills
As there was no gold or silver, the Spaniards completely neglected the island. There was a small settlement at St Jose de Oruna (St. Joseph) which was designated as the Capital. Sometimes 30 years would pass and no Spanish ship would call. Ships of other nationalities. however, would come to trade.
In the 1770s, the then king, Carlos III, decided it was time to open up Trinidad for settlement and published a "Cedula de Poblacion" --regulation of population-- which granted free land to anybody provided they were Roman Catholic, who came to settle and develop plantations.
This Cedula was circulated throughout the WI as a result of which thousands of settlers arrived with their slaves and started plantations. Most of them were French. Mr. Peschier was granted land in St. Anns which became the Paradise Estate, which he eventually sold to the Government for the formation of a recreation ground (Now the Queen's Park Savannah). Mr de Laperouse was granted land in the area of Ariapita which was a sugar estate and had the first sugar factory on the island.

He later sold it to the Governemnt for a burial ground (Laperouse Cemetery). These settlers came principally from the French islands (including Grenada) which was up to quite recently a French island. The more slaves they brought with them, the more land they got.
Things were going well, plantations were producing and exporting and the French settlers (WHO STARTED THE CARNIVAL) introduced the French way of life on the island.
In 1797, Sir Ralph Abercromby arrived with a fleet of 17 warships and captured the island for Britain. At that time the population was 17,000 a jump from a mere 2,500 in the late 1770's!

So Trinidad became a colony of England with Sir Thomas Picton as the first Governor.

In 1834 Slavery was abolished, and this hit the plantations very hard as they could not function without labour. Eleven years later, the east Indians were imported as labourers. Chinese and Portuguese labour were tried and were found not to be suitable to the harsh condtiions of a sugar estate before it was decided to import Indians.

1837 saw the coronation of Queen Victoria who reigned until 1901. When she celebrated her diamond jubilee in 1897, the Government buildings were painted bright red and became known as The Red house which were burnt down in the famous water riots in 1903. They were reconstructed and improved upon and the present Red House was completed in 1907.
Around this time oil was discovered which gave a tremendous boost to the Trinidad economy.

1914-1918 World War 1, and many boys from Trinidad went to France to fight including Captain Cipriani who was in charge of the black troops. And on thieir return to Trinidad after the war, these troops could nit get work, and Cipriani supported them. He christened them the barefoot man.

1939-45- World War 2 --again with many Trinidadian boys going over to Europe to fight.

1941- Land lease agreement signed by Churchill and Roosevelt as a result of which two large bases were granted to the Americans - Waller Field and Chaguaramas.

With a population of 350,000 in Trinidad, and the influx of 60,000 yankees, the local girls were delirious.

After the war, with Britain shedding her colonies, there was a move to Federate the WI which took place in 1958. But after a short period, Jamaica voted to get out of the Federation, and this was a signal to the first black Chief Minister Eric Williams, to bring Trinidad to Independence which he did in 1962.

70's - As a result of large Oil finds, a boom period started with billions being squanderd. Very much like what is going on today as a result of our phenominal wealth.
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