Both Trinidad and Tobago were originally settled by Amerindians of South American origin. Trinidad was first settled by pre-agricultural Archaic people at least 7,000 years ago, making it the earliest-settled part of the Caribbean. Ceramic-using agriculturalists settled Trinidad around 250 BC, and then moved further up the Lesser Antillean chain. At the time of European contact, Trinidad was occupied by various Arawakan-speaking groups including the Nepoya and Suppoya, and Cariban-speaking groups such as the Yao, while Tobago was occupied by the Island Caribs and Galibi.
Christopher Columbus encountered the island of Trinidad on 31 July 1498. Antonio de Sedeño, a Spanish soldier intent on conquering the island of Trinidad, landed on its southwest coast with a small army of men in the 1530s as a means of controlling the Orinoco and subduing the Warao.Sedeno and his men fought the native Carib Indians on many occasions, and subsequently built a fort. Cacique Wannawanare (Guanaguanare) granted the St Joseph area to Domingo de Vera e Ibargüen in 1592, and then withdrew to another part of the island. San José de Oruña (St Joseph) was established by Antonio de Berrío on this land. Sir Walter Raleigh, searching for the long-rumored "City of Gold" in South America, arrived in Trinidad on 22 March 1595 and soon attacked San José and captured and interrogated de Berrío, obtaining much information from him and from the cacique Topiawari.
In the 1700s, Trinidad belonged as an island province to the Viceroyalty of New Spain together with Central America, present-day Mexico and Southwestern United States.However, Trinidad in this period was still mostly forest, populated by a few Spaniards with their handful of slaves and a few thousand Amerindians.Spanish colonisation in Trinidad remained tenuous. Because Trinidad was considered underpopulated, Roume de St. Laurent, a Frenchman living in Grenada, was able to obtain a Cédula de Población from the Spanish king Charles III on 4 November 1783.
This Cédula de Población was more generous than the first of 1776, and granted free lands to Roman Catholic foreign settlers and their slaves in Trinidad willing to swear allegiance to the Spanish king. The land grant was 30 fanegas (13 hectares/32 acres) for each man, woman and child and half of that for each slave brought. As a result, Scots, Irish, German, Italian and English families arrived. Protestants benefited from Governor Don José María Chacon's generous interpretation of the law. The French Revolution (1789) also had an impact on Trinidad's culture, as it resulted in the emigration of Martiniquan planters and their slaves to Trinidad where they established an agriculture-based economy (sugar and cocoa) for the island.
island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on 18 February 1797. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers. Trinidad and Tobago (remaining separate until 1889) were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. The country Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976