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Trinidad (Spanish: "Trinity") is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the country of Trinidad and Tobagomarker. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbeanmarker and lies just 11 km (7 miles) off the northeastern coast of Venezuelamarker. With an area of 4,768 km² (1,864 sq. mi.) it is also the fifth largest in the West Indiesmarker. Time zone: GMT -4 (Trinidad does not observe DST).

It is commonly believed that the original name for the island in the Arawak language was "Iëre" which meant "Land of the Humming Bird". Christopher Columbus renamed it "La Ysla de la Trinidad" ("The Island of the Trinity"), fulfilling a vow he had made before setting out on his third voyage of exploration.

History

A medallion showing the Capture of Trinidad and Tobago by the British in 1797.
Sir Ralph Abercromby, Commander of the British forces that captured Trinidad and Tobago.
The history of Trinidad and Tobago begins with the settlements of the islands by Spanishmarker. Both islands were encountered by Christopher Columbus on his third voyage in 1498. Tobago changed hands between the British, French, Dutch and Courlanders, but eventually ended up in British hands. Trinidad remained in Spanish hands until 1797, but it was largely settled by French colonists. In 1888 the two islands were incorporated into a single crown colony. Trinidad and Tobago obtained self-governance in 1958 and independence from the British Empire in 1962. It became a republic in 1976.

Contemporary Trinidad

Today Trinidad is the result of a fusion of many different cultures. It hosts an annual pre-Lenten Carnival on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It is the birthplace of the Steelpan musical instrument and Limbo dance. Styles of popular music include Calypso, Chutney, Soca, Parang - and now Soca-Parang and Reggaeton.

Major landforms include the hills of the Northernmarker, Centralmarker and Southern Ranges(Dinah ranges), the Caroni, Narivamarker and Oropouche Swamps, and the Caroni and Naparima Plains. Major river systems include the Caronimarker, North and South Oropouche and Ortoire Riversmarker. Native mammals include the Red Brocket Deer, Collared Peccary, Red Howler Monkey and the Ocelot. Trinidad has a rich avifauna, including a single endemic species, the Trinidad Piping Guan.

Trinidad is the second richest country in the West Indies. It is an industrial island with a diversified economy, based to a large extent on oil and natural gas, industry and agriculture. It is one of the leading gas-based export centres in the world, being the leading exporter of ammonia and methanol and among the top five exporters of liquefied natural gas. This has allowed Trinidad to capitalise on the large mineral reserves within its territories.

References

  1. Hart, Marie. (1965). The New Trinidad and Tobago, p. 13. Collins. London and Glasgow. Reprint 1972.
  2. BBC News Trinidad and Tobago timeline


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