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Inverted anchor cross. A cross with slightly widened ends, with two anchor flukes coming out of the top and curving left and right, also with slightly widened ends.

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A hummingbird in flight with the denomination below Script: Latin Lettering: 1 CENT

2009 Trinidad and Tobago cent

A small hummingbird from the West Indies

Trinidad and Tobago

Coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago

Script: Latin


The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is made up of two main islands (Trinidad and Tobago) and 21 smaller islands. The country is located in the far south of the Caribbean, near the northern coast of Venezuela. The total landmass is 5,128 square kilometres (1,979 sq mi). Inhabited by native Arawak and Carib populations prior to Christopher Columbus visiting in 1498. Over the next few centuries, the Spanish wiped out most traces of the indigenous people. By 1700, the larger island, Trinidad, a sparsely populated jungle-island, belonged to the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which at that time comprised Mexico, Central America, and the southwestern United States.

In 1796, British general Sir Ralph Abercromby and his 18 warships surrounded Trinidad, forcing the Spanish Governor Don Jose Maria Chacon to surrender the island to British forces. By 1802, the territory was ceded to the British Crown whereby it became an official colonial subsidiary. When slavery was abolished in all British territories, the former African slaves refused to work on the sugar plantations which had been a very profitable enterprise for the British. Indentured laborer from India proved valuable, and by 1891 there were over 45,800 Indians working in the country.

In WWII, this melting pot of cultures accomodated United States military bases at Chaguaramas and Cumuto, further altering the composition of the Creole nation. Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1962.

With natural resources including petroleum, oil and gas, the country has one of the most stable and robust economies in the Caribbean.


A brief description of the obverse of coin could mirror that of many coins from a myriad of countries: “Country name around top. Coat of arms center. Date below.” As is so often the case, scratch the surface (of the description, not the coin) and there is a lot to learn. We have already seen what a mix of cultures the country contains, and the coat of arms reflects that:

From the Ministry of Foreign affairs: “At the top is the Crest – a ship’s wheel in gold in front of a fruited coconut palm. This palm had always been the central figure on the Great Seals of British Colonial Tobago. Beneath the wheel is the wreath which holds the mantle in place. The Helm is a gold helmet facing front which represents the Queen. The devices on the Shield are the two humming birds. The three gold ships represent the Trinity – the discovery of the islands and the three ships of Columbus; the sea that brought our people together; and the commerce and wealth of our country. The colours of the National Flag are displayed on the Shield.

The Supporters are a Scarlet Ibis (the national bird of Trinidad) on the left and, a Cocrico (the national bird of Tobago) on the right. Both are shown in their natural colours. The Three Peaks commemorated both Columbus’ decision to name Trinidad after the Blessed Trinity and the three Peaks of the Southern mountain range, called the “Three Sisters” on the horizon. Inscribed on the motto scroll are the words: “Together we aspire; together we achieve,” which speaks for itself and promotes harmony in diversity for national achievement.”

Trinidad and Tobago flag: A red flag with a black and white diagonal stripe, and the Coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago

The coin was issued from 1976 – 2016, which itself also speaks to the stability of the country’s economy.


A hummingbird in flight with the denomination below Script: Latin Lettering: 1 CENT

The reverse features a hummingbird at flowers, with the denomination below. Trinidad and Tobago is home to over 18 species of Hummingbird, and is known as the Land of the Hummingbird. In Trinidad and Tobago, and possibly the entire Caribbean region, birds were thought to be messengers of the gods or representation of the gods themselves. Hummingbirds, in particular, were revered by Amerindian tribes. It is reported by historians that Amerindians first named Trinidad, Iere (or Kairi, Caeri) for the hummingbird yerette (or ierette).

Hummingbirds are the world’s smallest birds. There are over 360 distinct species of hummingbirds. They are native to the Americas, with the highest diversity around the tropics. The very smallest is the Bee Hummingbird, found only in Cuba it measures just 6.35cm (2 1/2 inches) which lays eggs the size of coffee beans. Hummingbirds get their name from the humming sound their wings make when in flight or hovering – the noise is often compared to the sound of a bee or mosquito. A hummingbird can flap its wings up to 80 times a second, or as many as 200 times in a dive. Hummingbirds have unique, impressive flight abilities, such as being able to fly backwards and upside down. Hummingbirds an consume up to 12 times their bodyweight in nectar every day.

One of Trinidad’s natural wonders is “Pitch Lake“, the world’s largest deposit of natural alphalt, covering 100 acres and about 76 metres / 250 ft deep. It holds about 10 million tons of pitch. The asphalt moves with a natural slow “stirring” action. Not only can the flow lines be seen on the surface of the asphalt, but prehistoric trees and other objects have been known in the past to have appeared, disappeared and reappeared.

A local legend tells that a tribe used to live in a lush green forest at that place. One day a rival tribe attacked, but the warriors bravely defended and saw them off. The village was overcome with joy, however, as they had not been able to hunt that day, to celebrate, they feasted on hummingbirds and adorned themselves with their feathers. As retribution for their evil deed against the holy birds, the Gods opened up the ground and swallowed the whole village in a lake of pitch. The hummingbirds were spared and spread throughout the land.

The Carribean and the West Indies

As mentioned previously, Trinidad and Tobago are part of the Caribbean. This generally refers to the region consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands, and the surrounding coasts. The Caribbean also includes mainland countries bordering the Caribbean Sea, such as Belize, Guyana, Suriname, and parts of Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia.

The West Indies is a term also often used interchangeably, although the area covered is subtly different. The West Indies typically only refers to the islands of the Caribbean Sea and the surrounding coasts, including the islands of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica) and the Lesser Antilles. Among sports fans, The West Indies is also well known as the home of one of the most passionate test cricket teams.

A hummingbird in flight with the denomination below Script: Latin Lettering: 1 CENT





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