The Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago was designed by a committee formed in 1962 to select the symbols that would be representative of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. The committee included noted artist Carlyle Chang and Carnival designer, the late George Bailey. The Coat of Arms with the accompanying motifs which represent indigenous features of Trinidad and Tobago were selected and formally agreed to be used as the Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago in 1962, in a design approved by the College of Arms.
The Birds represented on either side of the Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago are the Scarlet Ibis and the Cocrico (native to Tobago), which are shown in their natural colours.
The three ships represent the Trinity as well as the re-discovery of Trinidad by Columbus’ three ships.
The three Peaks were principal motifs of Trinidad’s early British Colonial Seals and Flag-Badges. They commemorated both Columbus’ decision to name Trinidad after the Blessed Trinity and the three peaks of the Southern mountain range, called the “Three Sisters” which a sailor on Columbus flagship saw on the horizon.
The fruited Coconut Palm dates back to the great seals of British Colonial Tobago in the days when the island was a separate administrative unit. Our Motto Together we aspire, Together we achieve – speaks for itself and promotes harmony in diversity for national achievement.
The Coat of Arms is the seal of state of the Government, arguably the most important of the National Emblems and is located at the top of all government documents. A licence must be acquired to reproduce and sell the Coat of Arms.
The Coat of Arms can only be displayed in full colour (with all colours consistent), gold, silver, bronze, or black and white.
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.
The black represents 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 is the colour most expressive of our country. It represents the vitality of the land and its peoples, the warmth and energy of the sun, and the courage and friendliness.
White represents the sea by which these lands are bound. It also signifies the cradle of our heritage, the purity of aspirations, and the equality of all men under the sun.
These colours of red, white and black also represent the elements of fire, water and earth, which are embodied in our past, present and future.
- Its dimensions must be 5:3, except for the Coast Guard and ships at sea where it is in the ratio 2:1. The stripes must be 1/5 of the dimension of the flag.
- Law prohibits a person from placing anything on the National Flag that would deface it e.g. writing, pictures etc. The only flag that is authorised to have any markings is the regimental colour which has a golden Coat of Arms on it and is used by the President of the Republic.
- When flown, the National flag must always be to the extreme left of all other flags and at the same level with the others.
- A licence must be acquired to reproduce and sell the National Flag.
- Customs has the authority to seize unauthorised and inconsistent National Flags coming into the country.
The National Flower
The national flower, the Double Chaconia, also called Wild Poinsettia or Pride of Trinidad and Tobago 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 name Chaconia was given to it in honour of the last and most progressive Spanish governor of Trinidad and Tobago, Don Jose Maria Chacon.
As an indigenous flower it has witnessed our entire history. It can therefore be said to represent the imperishability of life and the continuity of our nation.
This flower, easily identifiable by its long sprays of magnificent vermilion, usually blooms around the anniversary of our Independence, August 31.
With its colour matching the flaming red of our National Flag and the shield on the Coat of Arms, and bearing the same symbolism, the Double Chaconia harmonises beautifully with the other National Emblems.
The National Birds
The National Birds, which are represented on the Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago, are:
- The Scarlet Ibis which represents Trinidad, and
- The Cocrico which represents Tobago.
Both birds are protected by law.
The largest habitat of the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus Ruber) is the Caroni Swamp, in central Trinidad. The Scarlet Ibis has been protected by law since 1965. This beautiful bird is brown when young and its colour changes to bright red when fully mature. The striking red plumage owes its colour to the diet of tiny crustaceans found within the swamp.
The Cocrico (Rufus-tailed Chachalaca) is native to Tobago and Venezuela, but is not naturally found in Trinidad. It is the only game bird on the sister isle and is commonly referred to as the Tobago Pheasant. It is about the size of a common fowl (broiler for human consumption), brown in colour and has a long tail. They travel in flocks of about six (6) and their quaint calls can be heard especially on early morning and late evenings.
The Steel pan is a musical instrument indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago whose early evolution dates back to the 1930s and 40s.
Traditionally made from a steel drum or container, it is a definite percussion instrument in the idiophones class. The playing surface is divided into convex sections by a channel, grooves and /or bores and each convex section is a note tuned to a definite pitch.
The range and assortment of today’s instruments make it possible to execute the simplest of melodies to the most complex arrangements found in orchestration.