30 interesting facts about Trinidad and Tobago

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The most interesting facts about Trinidad and Tobago, from the world’s hottest chilli pepper to the first black winner of Miss Universe.

Interesting facts about Trinidad and Tobago include its Carnival
Interesting facts about Trinidad and Tobago include its Carnival (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Population: 1,221,047
Area: 5,128 sq km
Capital city: Port of Spain
Major languages: English, Trinidadian Creole English, Tobagonian Creole English
Major religions: Protestant 32.1%, Pentecostal/Evangelical/Full Gospel 12%, Baptist 6.9%, Anglican 5.7%
Time zone: UTC-4 (Atlantic Time Zone)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

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Interesting facts about Trinidad and Tobago

1. Trinidad and Tobago is an island nation located in the West Indies of the Caribbean, consisting of two main islands – Trinidad and Tobago – and several smaller islands.
– Source: Britannica

2. The country takes its name from when explorer Christopher Columbus named the larger island La Isla de la Trinidad (The Island of the Trinity) on 31 July 1498 on his third voyage. The tobacco grown and smoked by the natives on the smaller island may account for the name tobago, which is spelled tobaco in Spanish.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

3. Due to its large reserves of oil and gas, Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean.
– Source: BBC News

Port of Spain waterfront on the island of Trinidad
Port of Spain on the island of Trinidad (Shutterstock)

4. The island was initially inhabited by Arawakan-speaking tribes originally from the Orinoco River delta region of Venezuela and Colombia in South America.
– Source: Britannica

5. From the 16th century onwards, Trinidad and Tobago saw France, Spain and the Netherlands take control at various stages before the British took control of Trinidad in 1802 and then Tobago in 1814.
– Source: BBC News

6. The flag of Trinidad and Tobago consists of a red background with a diagonal black stripe with white borders. The colours signify the elements of earth, water and fire.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Trinidad and Tobago
The flag of Trinidad and Tobago (Shutterstock)

7. Additionally, black represents unity, strength, and purpose; white represents the sea between the country’s two main islands as well as the equality of the people and the purity of their aspirations; red represents the energy and warmth of the sun, the vitality of the people and nation, as well as the friendliness and courage of the inhabitants.
– Source: Britannica

8. The islands saw widespread slavery from the 16th to 19th century the with enslaved West Africans brought in to supplement the labour forces working on the plantations which included sugar, tobacco, cotton and cocoa.
– Source: Lonely Planet

9. Trinidad and Tobago is home to one of the world’s hottest chilli peppers. In 2012, the Moruga Scorpion, with a heat rating of 1.2 million Scoville heat units (SHUs), was named the world’s hottest chilli according to New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute. However, in 2017, it was succeeded by the Carolina Reaper chilli.
– Source: New Mexico State University, Pepperhead, Guinness World Records

The Moruga Scorpion chilli
The Moruga Scorpion chilli (Shutterstock)

10. The country’s capital city, Port of Spain, is located on the island of Trinidad and takes its name from when the city was known as “Puerto de Espana” by Spanish colonisers. The name became anglicized following the British capture of Trinidad in 1797.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

11. Following the abolition of slavery in 1834, the British brought in thousands of indentured workers, mostly from India, to labour in the cane fields of Trinidad. This indentured-labour system remained in place for over 100 years.
– Source: Lonely Planet

12. The world’s largest natural deposit of asphalt is located in Trinidad and Tobago. The La Brea Pitch Lake in southwest Trinidad holds around 10 million tons of asphalt.
– Source: UNESCO

The La Brea Pitch Lake
The La Brea Pitch Lake (Shutterstock)

13. In 1958, Trinidad and Tobago joined the British-sponsored West Indies Federation, before leaving in 1962 and becoming fully independent.
– Source: BBC News

14. In 2018, Paula Mae Weekes became the country’s first female president.
– Source: BBC News

15. Trinidad and Tobago is highly biodiverse and has a high species to area ratio with approximately 2,200 species of flowering plants, 400 species of birds, 100 species of mammals, 85 species of reptiles and 30 species of amphibians.
– Source: WWF

A hummingbird in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is home to 400 species of birds (Shutterstock)

16. Legendary cricketer Brian Lara is from Trinidad and Tobago. Lara is widely considered one of the world’s greatest ever batsmen and is the record holder for most runs scored in an innings in both Test (international) and first-class cricket.
– Source: BBC Sport, Britannica

17. Trinidad and Tobago has one of the world’s highest murder rates. In 2015, its murder rate was 30.9 homicides per 100,000 people making it the 10th highest in the world.
– Source: World Bank

18. The steel pan was invented in Trinidad and Tobago. Developed during the 20th century, it is likely the only instrument made out of industrial waste as metal objects such as car parts, paint pots, dustbins, oil drums and biscuit tins began to be tuned.
– Source: BBC News

Steel Pans being played in Trinidad and Tobago
Steel Pans (Shutterstock)

19. The limbo dance was invented in Trinidad and Tobago. The dance originates from the country’s African heritage and can see dancers cross beneath a stick – which is sometimes set on fire – just 22cm off the ground.
– Source: National Geographic

20. Trinidad and Tobago is one of 27 countries that doesn’t have any UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, it does have three properties on the Tentative List (properties intended to be submitted for nomination).
– Source: UNESCOThe Telegraph

21. Nicki Minaj is from Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidadian-born musician moved to the USA when she was five years old.
– Source: Britannica

Nicki Minaj is from Trinidad and Tobago
Nicki Minaj (Shutterstock)

22. In 2014, Trinidadian was named as one of the sexiest accents in the world and was described as like “a rubber life raft bobbing on a sea of steel drums”.
– Source: CNN

23. Trinidad and Tobago has the world’s second-highest CO2 emissions when measured by metric tons per capita – 33.97 tons per person. Only Qatar is higher.
– Source: World Bank

24. Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its Carnival, which centres around Port of Spain. Pre-season soca fetes (dance parties) begin as early as August before it climaxes during the two days before Ash Wednesday in February. celebrations include costumes (known as mas), calypso and steel pans.
– Source: Lonely Planet

Carnival dancers in Trinidad and Tobago
Carnival celebrations in Port of Spain (Shutterstock)

25. The Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve is the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere. It was established in 1776.
– Source: National Geographic

26. During the 18th century, pirates used the island of Tobago as a base for raiding ships in the Caribbean.
– Source: Lonely Planet

27. A Trinidad beach is widely regarded as the world’s densest nesting area for leatherback turtles, the biggest of all living sea turtles. Tragically, thousands of baby turtles died during botched construction work in 2012.
– Source: The Guardian

A leatherback turtle on a beach in Trinidad and Tobago
A leatherback turtle (Shutterstock)

28. In recent years, Trinidad has seen the return of piracy to the region as Venezuelan fisherman have taken up arms to prey on passing ships, namely fishermen from Trinidad.
– Source: BBC News

29. The first black winner of the Miss Universe pageant was from Trinidad and Tobago. 24‐year‐old Janelle Commissiong won the title in 1977.
– Source: New York Times

30. Trinidad and Tobago is home to what may be the world’s largest brain coral – a spheroid shaped type of coral which resembles a brain. The Kelleston Drain measures around 4.9m across.
– Source: The Telegraph

A brain coral
An example of a brain coral (Shutterstock)

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Trinidad and Tobago. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.