Like so many other Caribbean island friends, Trinidad, which sits in the southern Caribbean just northeast of Venezuela, was already inhabited before Columbus dropped by and told people there that they all of a sudden were living in Spanish territory. Trinidad’s first settlers, about, 5000 years ago, were Othroid people from the north coast of South America, then the Saladoid people, then the Barrancoid people. They were followed by Arawak and Carib people, who met their end shortly after Columbus and the Spanish encomienda system came to town. Trinidad remained Spanish colony until 1802 and a British colony until it became independent in 1962.
Trinidad’s early British colonizers enslaved Africans and brought them to work on the island’s plantations. After the British abolished slavery in the early 1800s Trinidadian landowners still needed cheap labor they replaced Afrricans with almost 150,000 foreign — mainly Indian — indentured workers. Initially segregated by law from the Trinidadian population, Indian ex-indentured workers eventually mixed with other Trinidadians to develop the island’s unique blend of Indio-Caribbean music and culture.
On the whole Trinidad has been much less an agricultural power than many of its Caribbean neighbors. Instead it became an industrial center, focusing on petroleum and petrochemicals. Unlike most of its neighbors, therefore, whenever oil booms, Trinidad’s economy will most likely boom with it.