Trinidad was named by Christopher Columbus on his third voyage to the New World.
On the morning of 31 July 1498, he saw what appeared to him as a trinity of hills along the southeastern coast.
British administrators, British planters, and their slaves added to the island's ethnic, national, and linguistic diversity.
Enslaved Africans arrived from varied ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious groups from along the West African coast, while Creole slaves spoke a French or English creole, depending on their islands of origin.
Under British colonialism there was a clear ethnic division of labor, with Whites as plantation owners, Chinese and Portuguese in trading occupations, Blacks and Coloreds moving into the professions and skilled manual occupations, and East Indians almost completely in agricultural pursuits.
Blacks and East Indians were separated geographically, as many Blacks were urban-based and East Indians were more numerous in the agricultural central and south parts of the island.
There was little if any intermarriage and little intermating between the two groups. Colonial discourses on African and Indian ancestral culture depicted Blacks as culturally "naked" and Indians possessing a culture, albeit an inferior one to European culture.
These divisions dictated the course of national identity and nationalist politics. Perhaps for this reason, Blacks have emphasized Western learning and culture and Indians have emphasized the glories of their subcontinental past.
The national motto is "Together we aspire, together we achieve." The national anthem features the line "Here every creed and race find an equal place," which is sung twice for emphasis.
Some public holidays and celebrations emphasize group contributions to the nation, including Independence Day (31 August), Emancipation Day (1 August; commemorating the ending of slavery), and Indian Arrival Day (30 May). Claimed by Columbus for Spain, Trinidad was a forgotten Spanish colony for three hundred years.
Blacks from the United States also settled in Trinidad.