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Under British colonialism there was a clear ethnic division of labor, with Whites as plantation owners, Chinese and Portuguese in trading occupations, Blacks and Coloreds moving into the professions and skilled manual occupations, and East Indians almost completely in agricultural pursuits.

Blacks and East Indians were separated geographically, as many Blacks were urban-based and East Indians were more numerous in the agricultural central and south parts of the island.

Planters were encouraging Portuguese speakers from Madeira and Chinese from the Cantonese ports of Whampoa and Namoa to come as indentured laborers.

Tobago developed separately, with the Spanish, French, Dutch, English, and Courlanders all laying claim to the island at different times.

The island was called Iere, meaning "the land of the hummingbird," by its native Amerindian inhabitants.

Tobago's name probably derived from tabaco (tobacco in Spanish).

Trinidad was named by Christopher Columbus on his third voyage to the New World.

The term Creole, from the Spanish criollo , meaning "of local origin," refers to Blacks, Whites, and mixed individuals who are presumed to share significant elements of a common culture as well as biogenetic properties because most claim these designations do not represent "pure races." The term Creole thus tends to relegate non-Creoles like East Indians to a somewhat foreign status. The term "French Creole" refers to white families of long standing whether their surname is French-derived or not.Blacks from the United States also settled in Trinidad.From 1845 to 1917, about 144,000 indentured Indians were brought to the island.Plantation agriculture based on enslaved labor existed alongside a significant peasant sector.The British colonies of Trinidad and Tobago were united administratively in 1889.