Every place we visit has some unique superlative to tout and surprisingly, Trinidad has more than most. I enjoy discovering these unique aspects, as well as the obscure trivia. They're always eye-openers. First of all, this two-island country is formally named the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T). In a nutshell, Christoper Columbus was the first European to discover the island in 1498 and named it "La Isla de la Trinidad" ("The Island of the Trinity"). It was ruled by the Spanish till the Brits took over in 1797. Tobago, Trinidad's laid-back sister island, was ceded to the Brits in 1802. T & T became independent in 1962 and a republic in 1976.
An interesting tidbit … T&T is the third richest country by GDP per capita in all the Americas, second only to the USA and Canada. Its wealth is primarily attributed to their petroleum/petrochemical industry and their large reserves of oil and natural gas.
Now for some trivia and uniquities. Both the calypso and the limbo are dances native to Trinidad. Calypso “traces its rhythms to West African Kaiso and the arrival of French planters and their slaves from the the French Antilles in the 18th century.” Limbo, on the other hand, originated as an event that took place at wakes in T & T, signifying a soul passing into the spirit world. Though it's been around since the 1800's, it only gained popularity in the 1950s. “The world record for lowest limbo dance is held by Shemika Charles, an 18-year-old Trinidadian woman who lived in New York. On 16 September 2010 she successfully danced under a bar only 8.5 inches (21.5 cm) above the ground.
The current dance trend in T&T is soca, considered “the heart of calypso”, but still a different dance/music genre and originating right here.
Steel pan drums, the only new acoustic instrument to be invented and accepted worldwide in the 20th century, originated in Trinidad and Tobago. Want to listen to a little pan music?
Janelle "Penny" Commissiong, Miss Trinidad in 1977, was the first black Miss Universe.
The Pitch Lake in South Trinidad is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world.
Queen's Park Savannah, a park in Trinidad's capital city, Port of Spain, is the city's largest open space and also the world's largest traffic rotary/roundabout and we've driven around it. There is some competition, however, by the folks of Putrajaya, Malaysia who claim the same superlative.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is internationally ranked as one of the top ten Carnival celebrations in the world.
According to a CNN report, Trinidadians are among the happiest people in the world AND have one of the sexiest accents. You've gotta be here to appreciate how true this is.
Trinidad's beaches are considered the world's densest nesting area for the biggest of all living sea turtles, the leatherback.
The Guinness Book of Records ranked Moruga ‘Scorpion’ Pepper as the world's hottest pepper in 2012. A single scorpion pepper packs the heat of 400 jalapeños. The Scorpion was dethroned in 2013, however, by the Carolina Reaper. Hot stuff!
Folks from T&T sometimes refer to themselves as Trinbagonians!