Trinidad and Tobago (S4.05)

S04E04 Trinidad and Tobago Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about Trinidad & Tobago, a twin island nation, located just off the northern coast of the South American mainland, around 11 kilometres or 7 miles from Venezuela. It is the southernmost of the West Indies island group, and today is home to around 1.3 million people.


Trinidad, the southernmost and larger of the two islands, has a landmass of around 4,760 km2 (1,840 sq miles), comprising 93% of the country’s territory. Tobago, around 40km or 25 miles to the northeast, is around 300 km2 (120 sq mi) in total. The islands enjoy a warm, tropical climate, and only have two seasons – a dry season for the first five months of the year, and a wet season for the remaining seven. Occupied by Amerindian tribes up to 1498, the islands were then discovered by Christopher Columbus and later became a Spanish colony. Sovereignty over the islands was disputed throughout the 19th century, before the two were unified as one British colony in 1888. Independent since 1962, the country has benefited greatly from the discovery of oil in 1857, and is today one of the richest and most ethnically diverse countries in the region. Trinidad and Tobago is also famous for its extravagant carnival celebrations, and is known as the birthplace of limbo dancing.

This episode, just like all of our recent ones, is supported by our Patreon backers. If you want to help out the show, you can help out by joining us over on to give us whatever you can in terms of financial support and avail of all the lovely awards and extras that entitles you to. If you’re unable to support us financially, you can always leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Ireland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)

Some further reading:

Music that might interest listeners:


Cuba: Part 1 (S2.06A)

S02E06a: Cuba (part 1) Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast we’ll be talking about Cuba, an island in the Caribbean Ocean, just 90 miles south of the US state of Florida. Cuba is home to over 11 million inhabitants, and is the second-largest island in the Caribbean after Hispanola. The country has been subject to numerous territorial disputes and conflicts throughout its long and complex history, but finally emerged into independence in 1902. Following a turbulent revolution which spanned almost the entire 1950s, the Communist Party of Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, took control of the country in 1965. Although poverty is widespread, modern Cuba has an outstanding health care and education system and relations with the US are currently beginning to thaw after a protracted embargo that has been in place since the 1960s. Since Cuba has an awful lot of history, particularly in the 20th Century, we decided to split this episode into two parts: this is the first part.

Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland and – as a new voice for regular listeners – we’re joined in this episode by  Erin Barclay in the USA. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle).

Table of Contents:

[03:28]  Early History – Taíno and others
[05:50]  In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue… and stuff happened
[09:25] Spanish Colony, ‘serfdom’ and Hatuey’s Uprising
[12:25] Slavery, Slave Rebellions and Pirates
[13:55] Trade monopolies and disputes
[19:00] Sugar boom and population imbalance, and Haitian influx
[20:39] Break
[21:10] “What could go wrong?” – just six revolutions
[27:52] Leopoldo O’Donnell and ‘The Year of the Lash’
[29:00 ] The Cuban Wars of Independence
[34:33] Sinking of the USS Maine and US entry into the war
[35:57] Break
[36:22] The Spanish-American War (and Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Rough Riders’)
[39:49] An independent Cuba, the Banana Wars and US Interventions
[43:45] World War 1 and, inter-war years and President Muchado
[46:42] Batista leads the Uprising of the Sergeants
[47:25] World War 2 ,Ernest Hemingway’s  ‘Crook Factory’, and the ‘St Louis Affair’
[50:58] America’s Playground and a handful of boring presidents
[53:52] Return of Batista: who needs democracy?

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

Thanks to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on by using our promo code “80DAYS”.