From the bloodiest battles to peace and
Over 2,500 years ago Tobago was settled by two
Amerindian tribes, the Arawaks and the Caribs
moving north from the
South American mainland.
The first Europeans to reach
these islands was Christopher Columbus (who
called Tobago Bella Forma), and
his crew on their third transatlantic voyage
in 1498, followed by the English in 1508.
It was not until 1625 that a British party returned
with the intention of settling on this beautiful
island, only to encounter the hostility of the
The Caribbean islands including Tobago then
found their peaceful tranquillity shattered
by the thunder of cannons as they were fought
over by the Dutch, Spanish, British, French
and others well into the 18th century. Many
of the bloodiest battles in the Caribbean were
fought here in Tobago both on land and sea.
The British controlled the island from 1762
and strenuous claims of ownership continued
until the island fell under French occupation
in 1802. Eventually Tobago was officially ceded
to the British in 1814 under the Treaty of Paris
and remained so until 1889 when Tobago became
united with Trinidad, becoming a protégé
of its sister island in 1898.
Tobago sadly became less important during the
20th century and this brought difficult and
hard times to the Tobagan people who despite
their rich soil and cocoa and sugar production
were beset with poor transport connections with
Trinidad. A regular steamship service did not
begin until 1910, roads were poor and even electricity
did not arrive in Tobago until 1952.
In 1957 it was said that Tobago had exchanged
the neglect of UK Imperialism for the neglect
of Trinidad Imperialism It was now that
tourism became recognised as the saviour of
Tobago and the Crown Point Hotel, still in existence
today, became one of Tobagos first hotels.
In 1962 Tobago together with Trinidad gained
independence from Britain and in 1976 became
a Parliamentary Democracy and a Republic within
In 1980 the Tobago House of Assembly was instituted
and made responsible for administrative governance
within the island with local governance remaining
in the hands of the city and county councils.
In 1987 full internal self-governance was granted
to this beautiful island and its friendly people
look forward to increasing prosperity as a major
The population is approximately 51,000, 90%
of which are African origin.
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