On Thursday, August 31, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago marks 61 years of independence. Trinidadians and Tobagonians, or Trinbagonians, celebrate with parades, songs, and dances. The biggest parade is held at Port of Spain’s Queen’s Park Savannah, the oldest recreational ground in the West Indies. Parade onlookers are treated to bands playing calypso music, marching military brigade, and dignitaries.
The country raised its flag for the first time as a sovereign nation free from British rule in 1962. Watch this year’s parade here.
Christopher Columbus named the dual island nation, which is the southernmost Caribbean nation, after “the Holy Trinity,” according to Smithsonian Magazine. Still, Trinidad and Tobago’s history begins approximately 150 years earlier when an island emerged after a volcanic subduction in the Atlantic Ocean. Until the 15th and 16th centuries, the islands were home to a number of indigenous groups, such as the Arawak (Taino) and Carib (Kalinago). The Spanish colonized the islands with Columbus before the British took over.
Today, the two-island nation is home to 1.5 million residents, the majority of whom are of African or Indian descent. The national language is English, but Trinidadian Creole is also popular. In total, citizens speak eight different languages, including Trinidadian English, Trinidadian English Creole, Trinidadian Hindustani, Antillean French Creole, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. Christine Kangaloo is the current president and the second woman to hold the office.
Famous Trinidadians and Tobagonians
- Stokely Carmichael was an influential part of the American Civil Rights Movement and the worldwide Pan-African movement.
- Brian Lara, a former West Indian cricket player, is considered one of the greatest cricketers ever.
- Nicki Minaj is a singer, songwriter, and actress who became the first female solo artist with seven singles simultaneously on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
- Billy Ocean is a recording artist and Grammy Award winner known for the hit single “Caribbean Queen.”
- Heather Headley is a singer and Tony-award-winning actress.
- Kenwyne Jones is a professional footballer and striker for Premier League club Stoke City and the Trinidad and Tobago national team.
- Lorraine Toussaint is an actress famous for her roles in “The Young and the Restless” and “Orange is the New Black.”
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