The islands of the Caribbean were originally
populated by people who in South America came from South
America. Europeans established sugar, coffee and cotton
plantations from the 16th century on the islands. They
first forced slaves from Africa to work on the
plantations and later retrieved contract workers from
mainly India. In the early 19th century, the British
merged Trinidad and Tobago into a British colony. By
then, the indigenous population was almost completely
wiped out. In 1962 the country became independent.
Trinidad and Tobago were originally populated by
Arab-speaking people and Caribs. The first people are
believed to have come from South America at least 7,000
years ago. When Europeans arrived in the Caribbean, it
is estimated to have found at least 40,000 urinals in
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Trinidad and Tobago, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The explorer Christofer Columbus landed on Trinidad
in 1498 and the island then became a Spanish colony for
300 years. During this time, the indigenous people were
enslaved, a small European settlement was founded and a
smaller number of African slaves were imported.
As long as the population was only a few thousand,
the indigenous population constituted a majority.
However, by the end of the 18th century, the number of
inhabitants grew very rapidly when people from other
islands were encouraged to establish sugar, coffee and
cotton plantations in Trinidad. It was mainly French who
came and they brought with them a large number of
slaves. The white and black population grew rapidly. In
1797 Trinidad was conquered by the British and in 1802
Spain officially surrendered the island to Britain. At
that time there were only a few hundred urinals left on
the island. The then unpopulated island of Tobago was
conquered by the Dutch in 1632. Until 1814, when Tobago
became a British colony, the island owner changed 22
times. During the colonial period, the island's
population consisted mainly of black slaves and their
Britain banned the slave trade in 1807 and abolished
slavery in 1834.
Subsequently, Indian so-called contract workers were
recruited, as well as some Chinese and Portuguese from
Madeira. Until 1917, when the system was abolished,
145,000 Indians came to Trinidad (and even more to
Guyana in South America). Many of them accepted an offer
to get land instead of home when their contract expired.
The British merged Trinidad and Tobago into a colony
in the late 1880s, when sugar prices dropped and the
colonies were no longer as profitable. After the turn of
the century, sugar was replaced by oil as the largest
A first step towards self-government was taken in
1925, when limited elections were held for the colony's
legislative council. An organized and strong labor
movement emerged, but when universal suffrage was
introduced in 1946, the political left was divided
between Indians and blacks. Instead, politics was
dominated by the middle class, which was mostly black.
This group voted the People's National Movement (PNM)
into power in 1956. PNM was a center-right party
recently founded by Eric Williams, black and educated at
Oxford. Williams instilled national pride with his
fellow countrymen and led Trinidad and Tobago to
independence in 1962.