Trinidad Island Attractions
Trinidad, only 12 km ( 7 miles) off the coast of Venezuela is an island of 4,827 sq km making it the fifth largest and southernmost of the West Indian Islands.
A forested mountain range runs across the top of the island giving it what looks like handles. The northern range's highest peaks are El Cerro del Aripo (941 m) and El Tucuche (937 m). The capital, Port of Spain, is on the south shore of the western handle.A second less-tall range runs east-west across the middle and a third range runs across the southern edge and boasts three distinct mountains. Christopher Columbus named the island Trinity after the three peaks of the southern range.Between the ranges, most of the land undulates with significant rivers making it ideal for growing sugar, historically an important industry. These spaces between the mountain regions are filled with alluvial sediments and make up the so-called Naparima-Peneplain.Trinidad sits over the same oil deposits as Venezuela's Orinoco Delta making the nation an oil producer in its own right. It's resources have allowed the nation to industrialize more than most similar islands.The population is mostly comprised of descendants of African slaves and Indians from India brought in to work the plantations. Major religious groups include Protestants, Roman Catholic, Hindu and Muslim.History:Modern Trinidad, originally part of the South American subcontinent, became an island only after the last ice age, as the ancient isthmus flooded. This is the cause of the profuse flora and fauna, much richer than on other Caribbean islands.The earliest known settlements go back to the Arawaks, who were likely related to today's natives from Guyana, or, possibly Venezuela. These tribes likely thronged across the Gulf of Paria some 2,000 years ago. They were able to remain on the island for considerable time, and could set forth, northward, to the Lesser Antilles. Some time later, aggressive Caribbeans crowded in, obviously also coming form the South American continent's north-East coast. These were only able to secure a bridgehead, which as used to enable them to continue to spread out to the sparsely populated islands further north, notably the area around the Grenadines, Barbados and St. Lucia.Columbus discovered the island during his third trip and named it 'Trinidad'. Spaniards founded the town of San Jose de Oruna (modern St Joseph). From here, they learned about the South American subcontinent, particularly the northern shore, and embarked on expeditions to the legendary El Dorado (City of Gold). Inadequate support by their home-country meant the island could not be developed properly, and it remained the target of adventurers and fortune-seekers.In 1595, England's Sir Walter Raleigh was probably the first European to see the Pitch Lake and used the asphalt to caulk his ships. In the 17th century, the Spanish colony was plundered repeatedly by Dutch and French raiders. In the meantime, African negro slaves had been brought here as well.In the second half of the 18th century, a colonist of French ancestry, named Philipe de St-Laurent, received permission from the Spanish king to govern the island. Sugar cane was brought to the island and became a staple crop, bringing with it a vigorous boost to the standard of living. Above all, fed by slave revolts and an influx of French-speaking Haitians (disrupted by the French Revolution) the island received an enormous increase in French-speaking settlers.During the war between Spain and England, a British Commando expedition captured the island of Trinidad in 1797. Trinidad was finally awarded to Great Britain with the Treaty of Amiens, and remained under that rule to till 1962, when it became independent.After 1834 - the year the slaves were freed - the large land-owners, replaced the negro slaves - who had meantime become independent contract-workers - with self-sufficient East-Indian small-farm proprietors. This lasted till 1914 and precipitated a wave of immigration that resulted in almost half the population of Trinidad being Hindus, Moslems and Parsees.At the beginning of the 20th Century, Arthur Cirpiani, a folk-hero of Corsican origins, fought for justice and equality among the colorful mosaic of the island's population, and received high acclaim as the Mayor of Port-of-Spain, a position he held for some time.During the Second World War, the American military constructed a number of support facilities, designed to protect allied ship traffic.From 1947 on, under Governor Sir John Shaw, industrial development was introduced, supported by numerous government aid programs, which continue to the present day. In 1962, Trinidad received political independence, and is, since Aug. 1, 1976, a presidential republic, together with the adjoining island of Tobago.
Trinidad East Coast (Nariva Swamp)
The main features of the east coast include Manzanila Beach and the swamps of the Nariva River.These sites are rarely visited by tourists because of the length of the drive involved in essentially circling the entire island. The preferred route is across to Manzanila using the east-west Churchill-Roosevelt highway, then down the coast, then across the southern section of the country to San Fernando, then north on the expressway.Only birders who want a few extra species out of the Nariva River swamps seem tempted by this journey.
Arima, Trinidad and Tobago
One of the oldest communities of Trinidad and Tobago is Arima, located in the foothills of Trinidad's Northern Range. The town has a large Amerindian population and is largely an industrial town. One of the highlights of Arima is the colorful and vibrant Feast of Santa Rosa.
While Trinidad and Tobago are Caribbean islands, their ecosystems and range of bird life are more similar to Venezuela, Panama and Costa Rica than to the other West Indies.Many bird watchers who want to get their first experience in Central American birds select this nation for several reasons, beyond the fact that the birds are some of the most colorful in the world.First, the range of species is more limited so distinguishing between similar birds is not as difficult. The rain forest ecosystem is one where birds hide themselves well, yet several of the visit spots have set up a wide range of feeders and plantings which attract and make the birds not only observable, but easily photographed. Most of these places also have experienced birders on staff to help both experts and beginners.Bird identification books are readily available for Trinidad and Tobago including two by Richard French: the full 426 page Guide to the Birds of Trinidad & Tobago and a thin book with photos and descriptions of the most easily seen species.Supporting these advantages is the relative safety of this English-speaking country, good scenery and beaches, quaint hotels and guest houses, and fairly decent though sometimes narrow roads. For those willing to drive on the left, the local drivers generally follow the rules of the road.