Trinidad Town and Village Name Origins

I bought a book today titled to the point - "Towns and Villages of Trinidad and Tobago" by Michael Anthony. There are approximately fifty towns described in it, each one dedicated seven pages to a geographical and brief historical summary. It's a decent book, written for the layman but containing adequate information to satisfy a "local" knowledge craving. For the sake of sharing this information, I thought I'd list one fact (usually the origin of the name) for most of the towns described in the book:
Trinidad map 1. ARIMA is the Amerindian word for "water". It was so named as the village was built around a river.

2. AROUCA is based around the word "Arauca", which is the true name for the so-called Arawak.

3. The adjacent beach, BALANDRA, is named after a type of boat that docked there.

4. BARATARIA is possibly named after a prank involving a fake island of the same name in Cervantes' Don Quixote. "Barato" itself means cheap.

5. BICHE is named after the French word for "beast" because it was first started off as a settlement for hunters.

6. The settlement was first called Ladies River, but later on a French surveyor named it after the French term for "washer-woman" -BLANCHISSEUSE.

7. When boats were docked in Port-of-Spain, they were carried along the bay to be cleaned. This was called "careening" and so sprang the nameCARENAGE.

8. CAURA was based off of an Amerindian word "Cuara" which meaning is lost now. The settlers of Caura were said to be so lazy and secluded that their village never thrived and was left mostly abandoned. A CORRECTION MADE BY A DESCENDANT FROM THE CAURA AREA: Caura ancestors were not lazy. They carried their church brick by brick to the Lopinot Valley. A dam scheduled there was never built and the Government never gave them back their land. See post here.

9. When the Spanish sailors arrived at this coast, they noticed many tall cedar trees. And they called it the Spanish word for cedars, CEDROS.

10. CHAGUANAS is named after the group of indigenous peoples that lived there, known as the Chaguanes. Smaller villages in Chaguanas were so named to positively motivate its early settlers - Felicity, Endeavour, Enterprise.

11. COUVA was a corruption of Cuba, due to the tendency to pronounce "B" as "V" in the Spanish language.

12. CUNUPIA is named after the Spanish word "conupia", which when translated means "canopy".

13. DIEGO MARTIN is simply named after the Spaniard who discovered it, Don Diego Martin.

14. FIFTH COMPANY VILLAGE is so named after the temporary settlement of the 5th company batch of black American soldiers who stayed here during the war of 1812.

15. The villagers were very pleased when a man named Clifton Flanagin came and built a successful railway system, and thus changed the name of their village to FLANAGIN TOWN.

16. The indentured labourers from Uttar Pradesh named FYZABAD after a province they lived next to, known as Faizabad.

17. The first spot sighted by Columbus. This spot may also be known as GALEOTA POINT, which means "galley", as Columbus believed it to look like a galley under sail.

18. GUAYAGUAYARE was named after the indigenous mocking the sounds of the sea at that point.

19. An icaco shrub, more commonly known as "fat pork", provided the inspiration for the name, ICACOS.

20. When Sir Walter Raleigh patched his ship up with the pitch from the Pitch Lake, he gave the village the name LA BREA, which simply means "The Pitch".

21. LAVENTILLE is a corruption of "La Ventaille" (or The Vent), so named for the passage of the northeast trade winds through this area.

22. A new incoming Governor by the name of James Longden was determined to leave his mark on this country and so had a town named after him, called LONGDENVILLE.

23. In the 1700's, a young man from Louisiana travelled to Santo Domingo. When war involving Touissant Louverture broke out, he sneaked into a ship, which then carried him to Trinidad. He settled in a spot there after being granted a parcel of land for cocoa. The man's name was Charles Joseph Count de LOPINOT.

24. Along the coast there are tiny fruits known as manchineels. They are small and poisonous and look like tiny apples. The village near this coast was given the Spanish word for "little apple", which is MANZANILLA.

25. When the Spanish visited here, they came for the seaside view. It was described as "Mar Bella", or ‘beautiful sea', which was later turned to MARABELLA.

26. MARACAS was so named after the musical instrument, which we sometimes call the "chac-chac".

27. MATURA is the Spanish word for "high woods", named by the surveyors visiting there.

28. The maya plant grew prolifically in MAYARO. The word "ro" in the Amerindian language meant "the place of", so Mayaro denotes "the place of the maya plant".

29. A place renowned for having spirits, MORUGA was named after a river lined with abandoned fishing settlements, with many of the villagers claiming that an apparition dwelled in the waters.

30. NAPARIMA is named from the Amerindian word "Anaparima", which means "single hill".

31. Due to the nearby presence of the Oropouche Lagoon and rice paddies, the dwellers took to calling the village "pengyal", which in Tamil means "swampy area". This was later renamed PENAL.

32. POINTE-A-PIERRE was only so named because of its French settlers - Pierre being a popular French name.

33. A man with no recorded first name, simply called Fortin, was granted land in Trinidad. It was then called POINT FORTIN.

34. PORT-OF-SPAIN, or formerly known as "Port of the Spaniards", was a regular meeting place for Spanish sailors. Before, it was known as Cu-Mucurapo, which means "The Place of Silk Cotton Trees".

35. Originally called the Mission of Savana Grande, the town was renamedPRINCES TOWN after a visit by Queen Victoria's grandsons, Prince Albert and Prince George. They had each planted a poui tree near an Anglican Church, which still can be seen today.

36. RIO CLARO was named by Spanish surveyors. In English, it means "Clear River".

37. SAN FERNANDO was so named by Governor Chacon after the infant son of Spanish King Carlos III, Prince Fernando.

38. There was a river that the Spanish saw that ran red as blood. So they named the villages near the river SANGRE GRANDE and SANGRE CHIQUITO, respectively "Big Blood" and "Little Blood".

39. After the Arena Massacre of 1699, the Catholic parish at that area decided to give it the name SAN RAFAEL, after St. Raphael, the patron saint of healers.

40. SANTA CRUZ simply means "Holy Cross" in Spanish due to the religious zeal of the settlers there.

41. "Little Savannah" in Spanish is SAVONETTA, an early settlement for French planters.

42. SIPARIA is also known as The Sand City.

43. ST. JOSEPH was originally named after its founder, St. Jose de Oruna. It is notable that it was the first established town in Trinidad.

44. TRINCITY is a blend between Trinity and City.

45. WESTMOORINGS is so simply named because of its cardinal location and the fact that many "moorings" or boat secure points are located nearby.
Hope you found it enlightening!
Courtesy of

This site uses frames, if you do not see frames (menu on the left) click here.
Page maintained by, Copyright © 1996-2023 Last Revised: 09/08/2023.