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National Symbols


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  Coat of Arms

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National Flag

National Flower

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The Chaconia 

The National Flag*:
The National Flag was selected from a series of designs created by the Independence Committee in 1962. The colours of red, white and black were chosen to reflect the philosophy of the new Nation, the principles for which it stood, its hopes and aspirations and the Nation's supreme determination to preserve the harmony and unity of spirit which underlie the cultural diversity of our people. These colours also represent the elements of Earth, Water and Fire which are embodied in our past, present and future.

The Black represents for us the dedication of the people joined together by one strong bond. It is the colour of strength, of unity of purpose, and of the wealth of the land.

Red represents the Fire element. It is the colour most expressive of our country; the vitality of the land and its peoples; the warmth and energy of the sun, the courage and friendliness of the people.

White is the sea by which these lands are bound; the cradle of our heritage; the purity of aspirations and the equiality of all men under the sun.

Coat of Arms*:
Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago was designed in 1962 by a committee of distinguished citizens established to select and design the country's national emblems. Committee members included noted artist Carlyle Chang and Carnival Designer George Bailey. The Coat of Arms incorporates important historical and indigenous elements of Trinidad and Tobago in a design approved by the College of Arms.

The elements of this emblem are: the Shield, the Helm of special design, the Mantle which covers the Helm, the Wreath to hold the Mantle in place, the Crest, the Supporters and the Motto.

At the top is the Crest- a ships 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 humming birds. The three gold ships represent the Trinity; the discovery of the islands, the three ships of Columbus; the sea that brought our people together; the commerce and wealth of the country. The National Flag's colours can also be found repeated on the Shield.

The Supporters are a Scarlet Ibis for Trinidad on the left and a Cocorico for Tobago on the right. Both are shown in their natural colours. The Three Peaks may have been chosen to commemorate Columbu's decision to name Trinidad after the Blessed Trinity or the same three peaks called the "Three Sisters" which sailor on Columbu's ship saw rising from the south of the island.

Inscribed on the motto scroll are the words: "Together we aspire; together we achieve".

The National Flower*:
The National Flower, the Chaconia, also called "Wild Poinsettia", is a flaming red forest flower. Belonging to the family Rubiaceae, this flower owes its botanical name Warszewiczia Coccinea to the Polish- Lithuanian plant collector Joseph Warszewicz. The title "Chaconia" was given in honour of the last and most progressive, Spanish Governor of Trinidad, Don Jose Maria Chacon.

This flower, known by its long sprays of magnificent vermilion usually blooms around the time of the nation's anniversary of Independence. As an indigenous flower it can be said that is has been witness to our entire history. In this way it represents the cycles of life and the continuity of the nation. The colour of this bloom also echoes the symbolism found in the red of the Flag and on the Shield of the Coat of Arms.

The National Birds*:
The National Birds of Trinidad and Tobago are the Scarlet Ibis and the Cocorico. Both are protected by law.

The largest habitat of the Scarlet Ibis (or Flament) Eudocimus ruber is the Caroni Swamp, Central Trinidad. Brown, when young, the colour of the Scarlet Ibis changes at maturity to a brilliant red.

The Cocorico (Red-tailed Guan or Rufus-tailed Chachalaca) Ortalis r. ruficauda is native to Tobago and Venezuela. Not found in Trinidad, it is the only game bird on the sister isle and is commonly referred to as Tobago Pheasant. The mature bird is approximately the size of a chicken, is brown in colour and has a long tail.

The National Instrument*:
        The Steelpan is a musical instrument indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago whose early evolution dates back to the 1930's and 40's. Traditionally made from a steel drum or container, it is a definite percussion instrument in the idophone class.

The playing surface is divided into convex sections by channel, grooves and/or bores and each convex section is a note tuned to a definite pitch. The range and assortment of today instruments makes it possible to execute the simplest of melodies to the most complex arrangements found in orchestration.

*Source: "National Emblems of Trinidad and Tobago". Published by the Ministry of National Security, Trinidad and Tobago. Information Provided by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.


Updated: 20 May 2008

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