Trinidad and Tobago History Timeline

According to cheeroutdoor, Trinidad and Tobago is a South American country located in the southern Caribbean Sea, 11 km off the coast of Venezuela. The country consists of the two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and 21 smaller islands.

Port-of-Spain is the capital of the country, and the third largest municipality. It is located on the northwest coast of Trinidad.

Overall, tourism is not large in the country (although Tobago has proportionally more visitors than Trinidad), leaving the islands – whose unspoiled beauty is not found in other West Indies.

Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso music and the oil barrel, considered to be the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century. American Harry Belafonte with Caribbean roots made the calypso popular with the general public in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Belafonte’s album Calypso became the first album ever to sell more than 1 million copies.

Since 1960, the most popular calypso soloists have been Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, Calypso Rose, Mighty Chalkdust, Black Stalin, David Rudder and Lord Pretender – all from Trinidad and Tobago – as well as King Short Shirt from Antigua.


1498 – Columbus discovers the island, naming it Trinidad after the three peaks on the southeast corner, and Tobago named after the local pipe tobacco.

1532 – Trinidad is colonized by Spain, and a governor is appointed.

1597 – The Spanish rename the original colony “Puerto de Espana”.

1630s – The Dutch settled on Tobago and planted sugar cane.

1781 – France “seizes” Tobago from Spain, transforming the island into a sugar-producing colony.

1797 – Trinidad is conquered by the Spaniards by a British naval expedition.

1802 – Under the Treaty of Amiens, Spain cedes Trinidad to Britain.

1814 – France cedes Tobago to Britain.

1834 – Slavery is abolished and contract workers are brought in from India to work on the sugar plantations.

1889 – Trinidad and Tobago administratively combined as a single British colony.

1900s – In the early 1900s, oil began to be extracted at Trinidad and later also natural gas.

1945 – Universal suffrage is introduced.

1956 – Eric Williams, a moderate nationalist, founds the National People’s Movement (PNM).

1958 – Trinidad and Tobago joins the British-sponsored West Indies Federation.

1962-1981 – Eric Williams, also known as a Caribbean historian, was elected the island’s first prime minister after Trinidad and Tobago became independent from Britain. He was later recognized as the “Father of the Nation”.

1967 – Trinidad and Tobago joins the Organization of American States.

1970 – A government declares a state of emergency following violent protests by Black Power supporters demanding a solution to unemployment and an end to foreign influence on the economy. Hundreds of soldiers commit mutiny in support, but their revolt collapses within days.

1972 – State of emergency lifted.

1973 – Actor Geoffrey Holder, born in Port-of-Spain, starred as Baron Samedi in the James Bond film Live and Let Die. He died on October 5, 2014, aged 84 years.

1975 – A strike by workers in the oil, sugar, transportation and electricity sectors paralyzes the economy.

1976 – Trinidad and Tobago becomes a republic.

1980 – Firebombs, arson and political shootings haunt the country.

1990 – Over 100 radical Islamists blow up police headquarters, occupy the parliament building and hold Arthur Robinson and other officials hostage for several days in a failed coup attempt.

1999 – Death penalty reintroduced.

2001 – The parliamentary elections in December end in an unprecedented draw, with the governing party and main opposition winning 18 seats each. It creates political stalemate.

2002 – In April, Prime Minister Patrick Manning calls on Parliament to be suspended amid continuing political stalemate. In October of the same year, the third parliamentary election ends in 3 years of political stalemate.

2003 – In August, the state-owned sugar company Caroni is shut down, resulting in the loss of more than 8,000 jobs. (Read here )

2005 – In October, a protest called the “Death March” takes place with at least 10,000 people demonstrating against the rapidly rising violent crime.

2006 – Former Prime Minister Basedo Panday is sentenced to two years in prison for failing to disclose an overseas bank account he owned while in office. However, the judgment is overturned on appeal.

2007 – Plans to close the 100-year-old sugar industry in January, as production was hit by cuts in EU aid.

2010 – People’s Partnership Coalition wins election in May. Kamla Persad-Bissessar becomes the country’s first female (Indian) prime minister.

2011 – State of emergency introduced in August at six criminal “hotspots”, following an increase in crime.

In November, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said security forces had uncovered a plot of ‘criminal elements’ that would assassinate her and several ministers.

Trinidad and Tobago History Timeline