Trinidad and Tobago comprises of a population of 1.3 million persons. Citizens are officially referred to as Trinidadians or Tobagonians or Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. English is the predominant language in this ethnically integrated society, however, French, Spanish, Hindi and Chinese are also spoken. The islands quality of human capital is also evident by the large number qualified professionals.
This twin island state is a blend of many ethnic communities, religions, folklore and traditions, originating from Africa, India, Europe, and the Far East. Diversity naturally follows within this collage of cultures. The majority people practice the Roman Catholic religion however; Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are also practiced.
An assortment of cultures ranging from their food, music, dance and traditions also enrich the national life of this cosmopolitan melting pot of people. These celebrations certainly prove the creativity of the people is an inexhaustible resource.
Stemming from the origins of this diverse background, the twin island state’s culture embraced a unique collage of practices, dress, music, religion and festivals. Trinidad and Tobago possesses a vast wealth of sites and buildings with historical and architectural significance. The material heritage and culture of Trinidad and Tobago (i.e. archaeology, buildings, painting, sculpture, and crafts) is particularly splendid.
The varied ethnic groups that have made Trinidad and Tobago their home over the years – including Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Syrians, Africans, English, French and Spanish – have all contributed to the rich multiculturalism which now defines the islands. This is reflected in the country’s music (calypso, soca, chutney) dance (Bélle, whine), musical instruments (steelpan and tassa drums) and cuisine (pelau, roti, doubles, bake & shark).
The richness of the people is seen also in the major cultural events celebrated throughout the year, some examples of which are:-
- Phagwa, a Hindu festival, held in March, in which coloured liquid is squirted over participants, dressed in white, heralding the arrival of spring, and the triumph of life over death.
- Hosay, a Shiite Muslim festival, in which tadjahs, miniature replicas of tombs, are paraded, to the thunder of drumming, through the towns of St James and Cedros. The date varies since it is based on the sighting of the new moon.
- Tobago’s Heritage Festival in July, where folk traditions are celebrated in song, dance and drama.
- Divali, the Hindu Festival of Light, in October, where thousands of tiny clay lamps called deyas are lit in homes and parks, often in intricate bamboo designs, representing the triumph of good over evil.
- Eid-ul-Fitr, a Muslim festival, which concludes the fast of the Holy Month of Ramadan, and is usually observed around October-November. The other ancient Muslim festival occurs about two months later. Eid-ul-Adha commemorates the sacrifice Abraham was prepared to make of his son Isaac. These festivals mark periods of reflection and prayer.
- Other notable events include the National Music Festival, the World Steelband Festival and the increasingly popular Pan Jazz Festival.