Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Tobago is a famous name when it comes to history, culture and travelling. The island nation is loved by travel enthusiasts and historians for numerous reasons. But have you ever thought about how Tobago got its name?
The National Archives has shared the answer to this question on their official social media handle.
The organisation, while informing the general public about the history of the country, outlined that by the time of Columbus’ arrival to the region at the end of the 15th century, the Kalinagos were the main residents of Tobago.
It furthermore disclosed that the Kalinago, who were named “Island Caribs” by the Europeans, are believed to have migrated from the Orinoco River area in South America around 1200 AD. Some say that the Kalinago called the island of Tobago “Urupaina” (meaning “snail” in the Kali’na language) because they thought Tobago’s landscape resembled a large snail.
The National Archives further mentioned that the Europeans also gave Tobago several names, including Christopher Columbus, who called Tobago “Belaforme” in his writing because “from a distance it seemed beautiful.” From as early as 1511, Spanish records show Tobago recorded under the name “Tabaco,” referencing the tobacco leaves that were grown and smoked by the indigenous inhabitants of the island.
In addition to this, the National Archives also mentioned that the name also appears as “Tabago” in Dutch and French records. Further, it shared a photo showing a 1665 Dutch Map of “Tabago”, courtesy of the National Archives of the Netherlands.
Geographical Location of Tobago:
The island, which can also be regarded as a ward within the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is located around 35 kilometres (22 miles) northeast of the larger island of Trinidad. It is situated southeast of Grenada and northeast to the coast of Venezuela.
Geographically, the island nation is mainly exposed to the portion of the Tobago terrain, a fragment of crustal material lying between the Caribbean and South American Plates. Tobago is primarily hilly, mountainous and of volcanic origin. The highest point is the 550 metres – Pigeon Peak near Speyside. At the same time, the southwest of the island is largely coralline limestone and is flat.