10 Facts about Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is no ordinary Caribbean destination. This great twin island destination boasts an extraordinary mix of natural attractions along with a unique cultural heritage which makes a visit to the islands an unforgettable experience. Here are just a few key facts you should know when visiting:
The Trinidad Moruga “Scorpion” Pepper
The Trinidad Moruga “Scorpion” Pepper has officially been ranked as the world’s hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of Records. The Habanero pepper has a maximum hotness of 350,000 Scoville Heat Units. That's nothing—like eating an Altoid—compared to the mouth-searing Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. It tops out at over two million SHU and is justly named the world's hottest pepper. As super-hot peppers go, Scoville ratings can vary greatly within a variety depending on the growing conditions—the harsher the environment, the hotter the peppers will be. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion averaged 1.2 million SHU with some individual fruits measuring a face-melting two million-plus SHU. It's like the Chuck Norris of peppers, there is no amount of milk that can quench that sort of burning. I think I'd rather eat a real scorpion than try to consume one of these.
The birthplace of the steel pan drum
It is the birthplace of the steel pan drum. Steel pans (steel drums) were created on the Caribbean island of Trinidad in the 1930s, but steel pan history can be traced back to the enslaved Africans who were brought to the islands during the 1700s. The early metal pan bands were a rustic combination of a wide variety of metallic containers and kitchen utensils which were struck with open hands, fists or sticks. The metal pan players discovered that the raised areas of the metal containers made a different sound to those areas that were flat. Through experimentation, coincidence, trial and error, and ingenuity on the part of numerous innovators, the metal pan bands evolved into the steel pan family of instruments. As the pan makers knowledge and technique improved, so did the sound of the instrument.
World’s largest natural deposit of asphalt
Pitch Lake in Trinidad is the world’s largest natural deposit of asphalt. It covers about 99 acres and is 246 feet deep. A destination of amazement and mystery, the Pitch Lake is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the in the world. It is the largest commercial deposit of natural asphalt in the world – one of only three in known existence – and holds approximately 10 million tonnes of asphalt. It is the largest commercial deposit of natural asphalt in the world - one of only three in known existence - and holds approximately 10 million tonnes of asphalt. The lake appears like a huge oval-shaped car park, but on closer inspection, it looks like very dark clay, with rough undulating patches. Its asphalt has been used to pave roads and airport runways around the world, including the roadway in front of Buckingham Palace in England, La Guardia Airport in New York, the Lincoln Tunnel which connects New York to New Jersey, as well as numerous roads in several countries.
Measuring 10 feet by 16 feet, the world’s largest piece of brain coral can be found at the popular diving and snorkeling spot Speyside. This single colony is as large as a truck, about 10ft(3M) high and 16ft(5.3M) across, and is the largest single brain coral colony in the world! Comprised of millions of individual coral animals, huge as it is, the colony is very fragile. The World's Largest Brain Coral In Speyside, Tobago. It's recent rise to fame means that many divers are visiting the brain coral. This is great, but please be careful, never touch any corals. 'Minor' scrapes from fins or tanks can destroy the tissues of the coral animals, possibly leading to serious infection. At best the coral will suffer an ugly scar! Don't Touch! The coral is nestled at the edge of a reef slope, about 55ft (17.5M) deep. Undercut slightly on south side, the overhang sometimes attracts a nurse shark or moray eel.
Main Ridge Forest Preserve
The Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve is on record as the oldest legally protected forest reserve geared specifically towards a conservation purpose. It was established on April 13th, 1776 by an ordinance which states in part, that the reserve is “for the purpose of attracting frequent showers of rain upon which the fertility of lands in these climates doth entirely depend.” The passage of the ordinance is attributed to Soame Jenyns, a member of the British parliament whose main responsibilities were trade and plantation. He was influenced by the ideas of the English scientist Stephen Hales who was able to show the correlation between trees and rainfall. It took Jenyns eleven years to convince the parliament that this was indeed a valid endeavour. Scientific American has commented “…that the protection of Tobago’s forest was the first act in the modern environmental movement”. This can be considered a landmark in the history of conservation and preservation of the environment. The living testimony is the survival of the Forest Reserve itself.
Largest Carnival in the Caribbean
Trinidad is home to the largest Carnival in the Caribbean, which consistently ranks in the top 10 of most-coveted events in the world. The celebrations begin up to eight months in advance, with costumes becoming more elaborate and spectacular every year and hundreds of calypso bands preparing their music. Easily the pulsing heart of Caribbean carnival creativity, the island’s sounds are constantly evolving -- you may hear booming rapso (a mixture of calypso and rap) or the latest variation on soca (the ubiquitous carnival sound that started on Trinidad 50 years ago and combines calypso, soul and African among many other influences). It is a huge honour (and a large cash prize) to be named the Calypso Monarch, the person chosen in national judging for their musical performances.
While English is the local language, there are an array of Trini Talk phrases. Some of these phrases include:
- Liming: Hanging out
- Screw pan: An angry look on a person’s face
- Grog: Rum
- Vex: Angry
- Cutters: Finger food snacks
- Dingolay: Dancing in a happy, carefree manner
- Freshwater Yankee: A person who spends a short time in the U.S. and comes back with an American accent
- Gyul: How locals pronounce “girl”
- Cunumunu: A foolish person
- Jus’ now: In a little while
The Limbo dance was created in Trinidad. The limbo is a dance in which participants have to cross under a stick by bending backward at the waist. The stick is lowered a notch each time every one passes under it, and those who touch the stick are eliminated from the dance. The version of the limbo performed in nineteenth century Trinidad was meant to symbolize slaves entering the galleys of a slave ship, or a spirit crossing over into the afterworld, or “limbo.” Contrary to popular belief, the limbo did not originate in Hawaii. Today the limbo remains a popular dance, particularly at Caribbean resorts and hotels, as well as on cruise ships, where a prize is commonly awarded to the last dancer to successfully cross under the stick.
First Black Miss Universe
Janelle Penny Commissiong (born June 15, 1953) is a Trinidadian beauty queen. she migrated to the United States at the age of 13, and returned to Trinidad and Tobago ten years later. After winning the Miss Trinidad and Tobago title, she went on to be crowned Miss Universe 1977 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In New York City, she studied fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but returned to Port of Spain in 1976. The following year, Commissiong was selected to represent the Island at the 1977 Miss Universe competition in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She was elected Miss Photogenic four days before the final, becoming the first black woman to win the award in Miss Universe history. On July 16, in the National Theater of Santo Domingo, Commissiong was crowned Miss Universe, attracting international attention as the first black winner in the chronology of Miss Universe. During her reign, she was an advocate for black rights and world peace. Commissiong was awarded the Trinity Cross, the country's highest award, in 1977. Three postage stamps were also issued in her honour.
The Nylon Pool
The Nylon Pool is a natural, metre-deep crystal clear swimming pool with a sandy bottom in the middle of the sea created by an offshore sandbar and a still lagoon. Take a rejuvenating swim With the deep ocean on one side and palm fringed beaches on the other. This is one of many serene destinations in the tropical paradise that is Tobago. Located just south of Buccoo Reef, you can relax in the soft white sand bordering the thigh-high turquoise waters. If you can't resist the urge to go in, you can float in the still lagoon, with the deep blue ocean on one side and a palm-fringed beach on the other. Locals claim the water here has the ability to rejuvenate anyone lucky enough to swim in it. Accessible by glass-bottomed boat from Store Bay and Pigeon Point, the area was named by Britain's Princess Margaret back in 1962, when she spent her honeymoon there. And it remains today a popular idyllic destination for couples and families alike.