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Trinidad & TobagoTrinidad & Tobago is named after the two largest islands in the country. The name Trinidad comes from the Spanish, a Isla de la Trinidad, meaning "Island of the Trinity," which was named by Christopher Columbus on this third voyage. Tobago's name also comes from the Spanish word tabaco, meaning tobacco since the island resembles a cigar.


The country of Trinidad & Tobago is fairly diverse as people of nearly all ethnicities call the islands home today. However, it took great effort for this reality to exist as the land is somewhat mountainous so farming is limited and few people throughout history were willing to brave these lands that offered limited farmlands and animal life. For those who did make these islands home, they refused to give up their islands to the latter arriving Europeans.

Partially due to the mountains on the islands European conquest came with great difficulty; however the Spanish did finally defeated the indigenous population in the 1700s. In order to maintain their power on the islands, the Spanish began giving away free land to nearly anyone while the indigenous population dwindled in numbers. This offer of free land led to a fairly diverse country as even former slaves were offered land to settle. With this land give-away, the Spanish completely destroyed the former indigenous culture, but they also failed to maintain Spanish culture as the majority of settlers came from various backgrounds, each of whom brought with them their own culture.

This immigration and diversity trend continued after the Spanish lost control and British took over the islands of Trinidad & Tobago; the British also gave away free land to anyone willing to take it. This change in rule also changed the immigrating populations to the islands; during Spanish rule most people who arrived were former slaves or ethnic Spanish, but with the vast expanse of the British Empire, people arrived from China, Africa, and India among hundreds of other places. Again, most of these people brought with them their former cultures in the forms of food, language, religion, dress, and lifestyle.

Today Trinidad & Tobago is still incredibly diverse and the cultures of these people rule the daily way of life in the country. The Indian population is generally Hindu, they don't eat beef, and they live and dress much as their ancestors did in India. The Chinese live and act in a similar manner as their ancestors lived in China. Despite these two groups maintaining their historic cultures to a vast degree, the Africans who settled the region came from various parts of Africa and merged their cultures, which was what was essentially done in the Caribbean, forming a new culture based on a unified African past. This African-based culture is arguably at the core of Trinidadian & Tobagonian culture today.

These Africans arrived from all parts of Africa and came from all circumstances. Some were former slaves in the Americas, some were descendants of slaves, and some arrived directly from Africa. The commonality among these people was that they united to form a unique culture rooted in Africa, but heavily reliant on aspects from the Americas, both North and South as well as the Caribbean.

These ethnic Africans were united by their ancestry, but over time also began connected in a shared culture, which includes music, food, dress, and attitude. These people sought freedom and were optimistic as they began their own farms and businesses. These people created a culture based on camaraderie and focused on socialization, which feels vibrant and alive.

Information for Trinidad & Tobago was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks