Our Amerindians were the earliest people to settle in Trinidad and Tobago and as such are celebrated as the First Peoples, the Indigenous Peoples of our twin-island nation. There were two periods of migration into the Caribbean from Central and South America: the archaic period from around 5000BC – 200BC and the saladoid period from around 500BC – 600AD.
There has been a continuous Amerindian presence in Trinidad for almost 11,000 years. However, Tobago’s Amerindian history is very different from that of Trinidad. The earliest settlement in Tobago dates back to about 3500BC but this is thought to have been a short-lived satellite settlement from Trinidad. Permanent Amerindian occupation of Tobago began around 0AD with the Kalina and Kalinago and continued until 1810AD when these peoples abandoned the island to settle in north and east Trinidad.
By the time Christopher Columbus arrived on our shores in 1492, our Amerindian population is thought to have been around 40,000, although population estimates as high as 200,000 have been submitted. The population included eight (8) ethnic peoples belonging to three language families.
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