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Trinidad and Tobago
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AD 1498: The Italian navigator in the service of the Spanish Crown, Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus) claimed the island now known as Trinidad for Spain. At that time the island was inhabited by Amerindian and Carib groups. The Amerindians were all gradually eliminated. Columbus also named Bella Forma (later re-named Tobago, a corruption of tobacco). 1532: Trinidad was colonized by the Spanish. 1592: The Spanish established settlements, including San José de Oruña (later St Joseph), which formed part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, based in Bogota (Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia). 1628: The Dutch colonized Tobago. 1641: King Charles I of England granted Tobago to the Duke of Courland, and a British settlement was established on the northern side of the island. 1658: The Dutch regained control of Tobago. 1662: A French settler, Cornelius Lampsius, claimed Tobago for France. 1762: The British took possession of Tobago, and the island was ceded to them in the following year, under the Treaty of Paris. However, control of the island remained in dispute between the British and the French. 1797: Trinidad was captured by British forces. 1802: Trinidad was formally ceded to the United Kingdom by Spain, under the Treaty of Amiens. Africans were transported to the island to work as slaves on the plantations. 1814: The island of Tobago was again ceded to the United Kingdom. 1834: Slavery was abolished, followed by a four-year obligatory ‘apprenticeship’ system. 1877: Tobago became a British Crown Colony. 1889: The islands of Trinidad and Tobago were combined to form one British colony. 1899: The colonial authorities abolished the elected Borough Council in the capital, Port of Spain. 1914: The Borough Council was re-established. 1925: The Legislative Council became partly elected, although the electoral roll remained limited. 19 January 1949: The British Colonial Secretary, Creech Jones, published details of a new Constitution for Trinidad and Tobago, which was intended to increase residents’ involvement in government. 18 September 1950: The first elections were held to the expanded Legislative Council. No party obtained an absolute majority; Uriah Butler’s ‘Home Rule’ Party received the most votes. 26 May 1956: The Legislative Council was dissolved after approving a five-year development programme costing around £18m.