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A Short History of Trinidad and Tobago

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Originally, the island of Trinidad was populated by the Igneri, a part of Arawak Indian peoples, who are peace-loving cultivators of land and the Caribs, who were gatherers and quite a fierce tribe.

On July 31, 1498, Christopher Columbus, already on his third expedition, alighted on the coasts of Trinidad. Soon after, Spain colonized the island and by year 1532, the empire had already appointed someone to govern the territory. It was a time when slave trade was rampant and while the original settlers of the island were either overworked to death or banished from their homeland, African slaves were shipped in Trinidad. By the 17th century, the island once again suffered from invasions, this time from the Dutch and the French. During the French revolution, numerous French families from the other islands of the West Indies came to Trinidad. Some time within the revolution, February 1797 to be exact, Trinidad yielded to the British and in 1802, formalized by the Treaty of Amiens, the island was surrendered to Great Britain. In 1833, slavery was abolished and decades after that, Muslim and Hindu Indians arrived in Trinidad and were made to work in place of the slaves in British plantations.

The isle of Tobago, initially occupied by the Caribs, was sighted in 1498 likewise by Columbus. The island experienced consecutive wars and conquests by the Spanish, British, Dutch, and French until 1814. During this time, the Napoleonic wars concluded and France had to let the island go in favor of Britain. Tobago was then made a part of the Windward Islands Colony up until 1889, when it was officially joined to Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago formally became an independent state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, on Aug. 31, 1962. During this period, the People's National Movement (PNM) took over. In 1967, the joint islands became part of the Organization of American States and soon after, it formed the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA), now known as the Caribbean Common Market.

In September 1976, then Prime Minister Williams produced a new constitution giving birth to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

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