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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.
The flag of Trinidad &
Tobago has a couple different meanings. The flag is meant to represent the earth,
water, and fire; more specifically, the black symbolizes the wealth of the land
and dedication of the people, the red symbolizes warmth and energy from the sun,
the vitality of the land, and the courage and friendship of the people, the white
symbolizes the seas, the purity of the country's aspirations, and equality.
Name: Republic of Trinidad & Tobago
Independence: August 31, 1962
Capital: Port of Spain
Currency: Trinidadian Dollar
Population: 1,225,225 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Indian, African, mixed, & others
Religion: Roman Catholic & Protestant
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.
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