Hand Selected Spirits

A Distilled History Of Trinidad & Tobago

The history of Trinidad & Tobago is as rich and varied as its soil, which is for the most part considered a valuable resource, except in the History of Trindad & Tobagosouthern region where the soil is mostly dry and sandy. But Trinidad is not an agricultural economy, and in fact sugar cane - the base of any rum, is not a significant crop. No, Trinidad's economy is largely driven by energy exports (especially natural gas) and the finance and service industries. Trinidad in fact is the second most affluent country in the Carribean, behind the Bahamas. and 66th in the world, according to recent figures.

The fact that Trinidad's culture is so diverse is the result of centuries of conquering and struggle, beginning with the first conquerings, which were lost to history and involved various Amerindian peoples, and continued with those after Conquest & Freedomthe arrival of Columbus, especially that of the Spanish over the indiginous Arawaks and Caribs in the 1500's. The name Carib is, interestingly, the origin of the word "Carribean" itself. And the word "Trinidad" literally means "trinity" in Spanish, reflecting this era of Spain's attempt to force Christianity through their slavery-like program called the encomienda. So how did Trinidad become an English-speaking country with towns that have French and Spanish names, and populated mostly by people of Indian, African, and Carribean descent? Well, the short version is, the Spanish conquered the indigenous peoples in the early 1500's. They maintained dominance until the British arrived in 1797 with 18 warships, and the island's governor at the time surrendered without a battle. Tobago changed hands between the French, the Dutch, the Spanish, and the British several times in this era.

Trinidad actually abolished slavery before the United States, beginning in the early 1800's. The transition in reality took a while; although legally it was abolished, losing a nation of enslaved people means labor shortages, andEmancipation indentured servants were brought from China, West Africa, Portugal, and later India. The march toward true emancipation and independence took much longer. In 1889 the islands of Trinidad and Tobago became a single crown colony under the British, but didn't obtain self-governance until 1958. Actual independence from the British Empire began in 1962, and the two islands became a republic in 1976. The evolution of independence, labor movements, and human rights on the islands is a fascinating story in itself - and much too complicated to explore here - but explains the amazing diversity of culture on the tiny islands that - although just a few miles from the coast of Venezuala - maintain a unique and proud identity all their own.

Today - as we mentioned at the top - Trinidad & Tobago possess a thriving economy driven by energy, financial services, and tourism. And that last item is no surprise. Trinidads incredible Trinidad & Tobago Todaybiodiversity and terrain make for endless options for hiking, kayaking, climbing, spelunking, fishing, and other adventures, and for the less outdoors-inclined, a lively nightlife that rivals any international port in the world. And of course there is Carnival and the steel drums that Trinidad is probably best known for. During the Carnival season, music lovers crowd the "yards" of their favourite bands as they practice in preparation for Panorama, the annual competition for steel pan bands. These sessions are free, open to the public, and can stretch into the wee hours of the morning. Business & conventions? Shopping? You name it. Trinidad has it in abundance. Port of Spain is known worldwide for its unique markets and shops. Even if we DIDN'T have this interest in Zaya rum, we'd probably make the trip! But Zaya is the reason we plan to go, so back to the rum itself!

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