Timeline of Trinidad and Tobago

25,000~ years ago
Possible wave of migration into the Americas via the Beringia Ice-Bridge, which connected Siberia to Canada, and therefore facilitated Asian migration.

7,000~ years ago
Possible ‘Paleolithic-Indian’ / ‘Paleolithic-American’ migration into the Caribbean.

2,300~ years ago
Possible ‘Neolithic Indian’ migration into the Caribbean. These may have included the Taíno and Kalifuna.

Departure of Columbus from Europe;1498
Arrival of Columbus to Trinidad (during his third voyage from Europe);
The population of Kairi at the time was believed to be at least 40,000:

  • Lokono / Taíno:
    • The word ‘Arawak’ may refer to a subset of Lokono from present-day Aruca who were trade partners with the Spaniards and were called ‘Aruacs’ or ‘Aruacas’ by them;
      These Aruacas traded food and slaves in return for metal tools.
  • Kalifuna (possibly related to the Garifuna of Saint Vincent and the Kalina of South America);
  • Nepoyo / Nepoio;
  • Yao;
  • Shebao;
  • Carinepagoto;
  • Warao (South Trinidad) who also inhabited parts of Venezuela.

The term ‘Carib’ might have come from the word ‘Caniba’ or ‘Canima’, which was maybe an adjective meaning something like ‘brave’. In order to win support for the colonisation effort by both the European public and also Queen Isabella of Spain, stories of ‘Cannib’ Indians may have been propagandised by the Spaniards, speaking of a warlike and man-eating people. It would have become advantageous for an ambitious Spanish coloniser to identify as many groups as possible as being ‘Cannib’ / Carib’, thereby allowing them to be captured or slain legally. The legacy of this may be the cause of so much confusion today over the names of the Amerindian groups and as to which group exactly were ‘the Caribs’.


1510 to 1595
Islands of Trinidad and Tobago conquered by Spanish invaders;

Courlanders settle Tobago’s west coast near Plymouth, and Dutch the east;

Hyarima arrove at Tobago to fight Europeans off island;

1687 to 1699
Spanish missionaries at work to convert remaining Amerindians to Catholicism;

Hyarima with Trinidad First Peoples rebel against Capuchin missionaries (the Arena Uprising), which slew the Spanish governor, priests, hundreds of Amerindians, and almost off of the governor’s party;

Census data showing 2,763 persons on-island, consisting 2,000 Lokono / Taíno;

Cedula of Population begun, which lead to the immigration of persons from other European countries, including French plantation owners (around the time of the French Revolution in 1789) followed by slaves from West Africa and evetually indentured workers from India after the later abolition of slavery:

  • 1783: French, Irish, and English settlers;
  • 1853: Chinese settlers (first group);
  • 1890: Syrian and Lebanese settlers;
  • Early 1900s: Chinese settlers (second group).

According to Brereton (1981 and 1998), White migrants were awarded about 30 acres of land “for each member of his family and half as much for each slave he introduced” (p.13) while Mulattos and free Blacks received less land. The two other conditions demanded by the Spanish were that the settlers be Catholic and that they come from a nation friendly to Spain. The Cedula, Brereton maintains, resulted in an increase the island’s population from 6,503 in 1784 to 17,718 in 1797, Table 2.3, when the British took over.

—’The Parasitic Oligarchy? The Elites in Trinidad and
Tobago’ (page 18) by Alison Mc Letchie
University of South Carolina

The Treaty of Paris which brought trindad under British rule and legally merged it with Tobago;

Emancipation of slavery;

First oil well drilled in Trinidad near Pitch Lake;

Trinidad governor criminalises Carnival activities, leading to Canboulay;

Cocoa production rises as a viable alternative to sugar [2] which was under intense pressure from the superior sugar production of Cuba [3];
[2] Alison Mc Letchie (2013)
[3] Eric Williams (1942)

Canboulay Riots in Trinidad;

Hosay Riots in Trinidad;
Tobago’s sugar industry collapses;

The Electric Light and Power Company (privately-held) was formed by Edgar Tripp, eight years after a franchise was secured (1886);

Water Riots in Port of Spain. Red House burnt down;

Commercial oil production begins in southern Trinidad;

1912 or 1914
First calypso recorded in Trinidad:
Iron Duke in the Land by Julian Whiterose:

First national elections (limited franchise);

Roaring Lion records J’ouvert Barre Yeau;

First steelpans emerge in Laventille, Trinidad;

Oilfield and labour strikes led in southern Trinidad by Tubal Uriah ‘Buzz’ Butler;

1945 (End of WWII)
Universal adult suffrage instituted;
Via the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Ordinance Number 42, the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) came into being, created to generate electricity for distribution outside the already-electrified towns of Port of Spain and San Fernando;

Independence (31st August, 1962);

Hurricane Flora devastates Tobago;
Chaguaramas returned to Trinidadian control;
NGC splinters off from T+TEC, tasked with supplying Natural Gas to T+TEC in Port of Spain (the single electricity producing plant at the time);

Black Power movement. Government declared state of emergency after violent protests;
First oil boom;

1980 – A rash of firebombings, arsons and political shootings afflict the country;

Dole Chadee;
Second oil boom;
Murder rate peaks at 300~ [citation needed];

The first TT marathon, known as the ‘Mirror Marathon’;

1986 or 1987
The first TT triathlon;

Failed coup-attempt by the Jamaat al Muslimeen. More than 100 Islamist radicals blow up the police headquarters, seize the parliament building and hold ANR Robinson and other officials hostage for several days in an abortive coup attempt;

Capital punishment restored. Dole Chadee hung on 4th June, 1999;
Murder toll for the year dropped sharply to 93. This was the lowest the murder toll had been for at least the 23 years prior, according to statistics;

Closure of Caroni (1975) Limited. This was controversial and the reasons for the closure seem to remain unclear (as of December 2018);

Mozilla Firefox V1.0 launched;

‘Death March’ occurred, with over 10,000 protesting soaring rate of violent crimes;

2006 April
Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday is sentenced to two years in prison for failing to declare an overseas bank account while he was in office. The conviction is quashed on appeal. To date, he may still be the only politician to make jail for corruption, even if only for a single day;

2011 August
State of emergency imposed, with an overnight curfew in six crime ‘hotspots’, following a spike in violent crime;

First moko jumbie Carnival Queen, Stephanie Kanhai portraying ‘Sweet Waters of Africa’ from the band, Touch D Sky, designed by Alan Vaughan;

Jhawhan Thomas’ performance of ‘Ras Nijinksky as Anna Pavlova in “The Dying Swan”‘, designed by Peter Minshall;

The creation of mas band, Moko Somõkõw (from the Bambara ‘moko somɔgɔw’ meaning ‘moko family’) by designer, Alan Vaughan;

30th January 2018
Hearing of LGBT activist, Jason Jones’ opposition to Sections 13 and 16 of the ‘Sexual Offences Act 1986’. Judgement was delivered on 12th April, 2018 by Justice Devindra Rampersad who “repealed sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act,” ruling that the law violated the human rights to privacy and expression;

Second moko jumbie Carnival Queen, Shynel Brizan portraying ‘Mariella, Shadow of Consciousness’ from the band, Moko Somõkõw, designed by Alan Vaughan.

Publish Date: 10th March, 2018