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Trinidad and Tobago History Timeline

1400 - 1700
  • (1498) Christopher Columbus visited; named Trinidad island for three peaks at its southeast corner; island of Tobago named after local tobacco pipe
  • (1532) Trinidad colonized by Spain, governor appointed to rule
  • (1630s) Dutch settled on Tobago, planted sugar cane
  • (1781) French seized Tobago from Spanish, transformed into sugar producing colony
  • (1797) Trinidad captured from Spain by British naval expedition
1800s
  • (1802) Under Treaty of Amiens Spain ceded Trinidad to Britain
  • (1814) France ceded Tobago to Britain
  • (1834) Slavery abolished
  • (1889) Trinidad and Tobago combined administratively as single British colony
1900s
  • (1945) Universal suffrage instituted
  • (1956) People's National Movement (PNM) founded by moderate nationalist, Eric Williams
  • (1958-62) Trinidad and Tobago became members of British-sponsored West Indies Federation
  • (1959) Britain granted Trinidad and Tobago internal self-government; Eric Williams named prime minister
  • (1962) Trinidad and Tobago gained independence with Williams as prime minister
  • (1967) Trinidad and Tobago joined Organization of American States
  • (1970) Government declared state of emergency after violent protests by "Black Power" supporters
  • (1972) State of emergency lifted
  • (1975) Economy crippled by workers' strike in oil, sugar, transport and electricity sectors
  • (1976) Trinidad and Tobago became republic; Ellis Clarke, former governor-general, president; Eric Williams prime minister
  • (1981) Williams died; George Chambers, agricultural minister, became prime minister
  • (1986) Arthur Robinson (NAR) won election as prime minister
  • (1987) Noor Hassanali became president
  • (1991) Patrick Manning (PNM) became prime minister
  • (1995) UNC and NAR formed coalition, Basdeo Panday as prime minister
  • (1999) Capital punishment restored

2000s

  • (2000) Basdeo Panday won another term
  • (2001) General elections ended in unprecedented tie
  • (2002) Prime Minister Patrick Manning PNM, declared victory, months of political deadlock ended in third general election
  • (2003) President Maxwell Richards elected; Caroni, state-owned sugar company, shut down; more than 8,000 jobs lost
  • (2005) Death March occurred, with over 10,000 protesting soaring rate of violent crimes
  • (2006) Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, sentenced to two years in prison for failing to declare overseas bank account while in office; conviction annulled
  • (2007) PNM party re-elected
  • (2008) Basdeo Panday re-elected
  • (2010) Kamia Persad-Bissessar, People's Partnership coalition, became country's first female prime minister

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.