Trinidad & Tobago National Symbols

The Trinidad & Tobago National Flag

The National Flag of Trinidad and Tobago was adopted on August 31, 1962 when Trinidad and Tobago gained independence from Britain.

The Trinidad & Tobago Flag consists of a red base with black off-centered diagonal stripe originating in the top left corner and running across the flag. The black stripe is bordered on both sides by a thin white stripe.

The red base represents the vigor of the land in Trinidad and Tobago, the vitality and courage of its people, and the sun. The black represents the strength and unity of the people, as well as the natural wealth of the country.  The colour white represents the surrounding sea and the purity and equality of all people under the sun.

Together, the colours of the National Flag of Trinidad & Tobago represent earth, water and fire, connecting the nation’s people to the past present and future.

The Coat of Arms of Trinidad & Tobago

Incorporating important historical symbols and indigenous motifs, The Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago was first introduced in 1962 coinciding with the Country’s independence. Elements of the National Symbol include the Crest, the Wreath, the Mantle, the Shield, the Helm, the Supports and the Motto.

The Crest, a gold ship’s wheel in front of a fruited coconut palm appears at the top. The Mantle is held in the Wreath which appears below the wheel.

Representing the Queen, the Helm is a gold helmet.  Appearing on the Shield are two hummingbirds and three gold ships, representing the Trinity and the re-discovery of the islands by the 3 ships of Columbus.

The Supports are two birds shown in their natural colours: a Scarlet Ibis (the national bird of Trinidad) on the left and a Cocrico (the national bird of Tobago) on the right.

At the base are The Three Peaks, commemorating both Columbus’ decision to name Trinidad after the Blessed Trinity and the “Three Sisters”, 3 peaks of the Southern mountain range sighted on the horizon by a sailor on Columbus’ flagship.

The Motto “Together we aspire; together we achieve” are inscribed on the scroll, promoting harmony in diversity for national achievement.

National Flower

The Chaconia, the national flower of Trinidad and Tobago is a wild, forest flower. Coincidentally, this flower usually blooms around the time of  the anniversary of the Country’s Independence Day, August 31, 1962.

Also called “Wild Poinsettia” or “Pride of Trinidad and Tobago”, the Chaconia represents the imperishability of life and the continuity of the nation.

The title “Chaconia” was given to the flower in honour of the last Spanish Governor of Trinidad, Don Jose Maria Chacon, 1784-1797.

National Instrument

The steelpan or “pan” was invented in Trinidad and Tobago and is regarded by many as the only major musical instrument to be invented in the 20th century.

The history of the steel pan is a story of prohibitions and persistence. Its invention was in fact induced by the ruling colonialists trying to suppress the strong rhythmic heritage of the black Africans, dating back to 1883 when the use of drums in street parades was outlawed.

The banning of drums eventually led to the use of tuned bamboo sticks, and by 1938-1939 saw the Tamboo Bamboo bands switch to steel, with early steel “drums” made from paint or biscuit tins.

During World War II, when Carnivals were forbidden “security reasons”, people had more time for experimenting with the steelpan, eventually resulting in the first melody pans.

An oil industry and a U.S. naval base had been established on the island of Trinidad during the war and leftover oil drums were cut and used as dustbins, which eventually replaced the tins as the preferred material for pan making.

When a Carnival broke out at the end of the war in 1945, several bands consisting of only steel pans were participants – the first steel bands.

The National Bird

The National Birds of Trinidad and Tobago are the Scarlet Ibis (Trinidad) and the Cocrico (Tobago).

The Scarlet Ibis, referred to locally as “flamingo” resembles many of the other species of ibis, but its remarkably brilliant scarlet colour makes it unmistakable.

The Cocrico (Rufus Tailed Guan) is a native of Tobago but is not found in Trinidad. Also called the Tobago Pheasant, it is the only game bird on the island. It is about the size of a common fowl, brownish in colour with a long tail.

The Scarlet Ibis and Cocrico are both represented on the Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago.