The nation of Trinidad and Tobago consists of two Caribbean islands that have been united politically since 1962. (The people of both islands are generally referred to today as “Trinidadians.”) The islands were originally inhabited by the Arawaks, Caribs, and other Amerindians. In 1498 they were claimed by Christopher Columbus for the Spanish, but Trinidad was ceded to the British by 1802. By 1814, Tobago, which had changed hands several times, was also a British possession. In 1888 Tobago was joined with Trinidad as a colonial territory under the name Trinidad and Tobago.
rinidad and Tobago are the southernmost islands of the West Indies. With an area of 1,864 square miles (4,828 square kilometers), Trinidad is the largest island of the Lesser Antilles.
A little over 40 percent of Trinidad and Tobago’s 1.3 million people are black, another 40 percent are of Asian Indian descent, about 15 percent are of mixed descent, and smaller numbers are Chinese or European.
Most Trinidadians wear modern Western-style clothing. The Caribbean “shirt jac,” a belted jacket worn with a scarf and no shirt, is popular among men in Port of Spain. Traditional clothing—including men’s turbans and women’s saris—is worn by some members of the country’s Asian Indian population.
Every year special clubs spend months preparing extravagant costumes for Trinidad and Tobago’s famous Carnival celebration. The brightly colored outfits may be made of either cotton or such dressy fabrics as velvet, satin, and lamé. They are often decorated with beads, feathers, sequins, shells, leaves, and straw.
Though they do not have indisgenous traditional clothing, carribean clothing such as the quadrille dress, guayabera and huipil may be considered traditional dress for trinidadians.