Trinidad and Tobago: 8 Things To Know About The Twin Island Republic
Photo Credit: Miguel Davis

Photo Credit: Miguel Davis

Trinidad and Tobago: 8 Things To Know About The Twin Island Republic

Trinidad and Tobago
Nasha Smith
Nasha Smith Aug 27, 2021

You may recognize Trinidad and Tobago as the backdrop from the carnival scene in Jay-Z’s 2000 smash Big Pimpin’. The twin island republic is renowned for hosting the spectacular festival known as the biggest and greatest street party on earth. We’ve seen everyone from Ashanti to Lil’ Kim in these Trini streets.

Superstar rapper Nicki Minaj is Trinidadian-born, as is R&B singer Heather Headley and Tobagonian actor Winston Duke, known for his role as M’Baku in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther.

It’s a real melting pot with diverse groups including Arawaks, Caribs, Indians, Asians, Spaniards, French, and Dutch. The country has the biggest celebration of Divali — the religious festival celebrated by the Hindu community — in the Western Hemisphere.

As the twin-isles prepare to celebrate their independence, here are eight facts you may not have known about Trinidad and Tobago.

1. Home of one of the world’s hottest peppers

Back in 2011, Trinidad’s Moruga “Scorpion Butch” Pepper was branded the world’s hottest pepper by The Guinness Book of Records.

It has since been surpassed by Smokin Ed’s Carolina Reaper, but is still consistently ranked at number two in the world.

2. Home of the world’s largest deposit of asphalt

The world’s largest natural deposit of asphalt is estimated to be spread across 100 acres and is 250 feet deep. It can be found at Pitch Lake, located in southwest Trinidad, in the village of La Brea.

It’s sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world for its ability to replenish itself despite being plundered. 

3. It's the world’s first country to declare a public holiday recognizing the abolition of slavery

Trinidad and Tobago became the world’s first country to declare a public holiday to honor the abolition of slavery on August 1st, 1985. The country celebrates with a festival commemorating African culture at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village in Queens Park Savannah.

4. Limbo dancing originated here

If you’ve ever found yourself wiggling under a stick approximately 8.5 inches above the ground, thank (or curse) Trinidad and Tobago.

The popular activity which favors the flexible was born from the island’s African heritage and has since been jazzed up by setting the stick on fire.

5. It's the birthplace of the steelpan

Fashioned from oil drums, the Steelpan is considered the islands’ national instrument. It is the only acoustic musical instrument to be invented in the 20th Century.

6. Home of the first Black Miss Universe

In 1977, Miss Trinidad and Tobago Janelle Penny Commissiong became the first Black contestant to be crowned Miss Universe. A little over 20 years later in 1998, Wendy Fitzwilliam became the second Miss Universe in history from Trinidad and Tobago and also the third woman of African heritage to capture the crown.

7. Home of the first 100m Olympic Champ from the Caribbean

Before Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and  Elaine Thompson-Herah started dominating Olympic track and field events, Hasely Crawford broke barriers for the Caribbean.

Trinidad’s Crawford won the Olympic 100 m gold medal, becoming the first Caribbean national in history to do so.

8. It's your best chance to spot the Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis is Trinidad and Tobago’s national bird. The gorgeous species known as the Eudocimus Ruber turns from brown to a vibrant shade of red when it matures.

The Scarlet Ibis can also be found in parts of South America, but the largest habitat resides in central Trinidad’s Caroni Swamp.