Lebanese and Syrians
In the early
1900's, Maronite Christians in the British colony
of greater Syria began to leave their homeland in
greater numbers. Greater Syria was what now
comprises Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The reasons for
this exodus included the religious pressures of a
primarily Moslem society, and the difficulties
caused by an ever increasing population. Many of
these people sought to emigrate to the New World to
find their fortune. A few ended up in Trinidad,
both by happenstance and on purpose.
At the turn of
the century, the economy of Trinidad was booming
due to strong cocoa and sugar markets, and work was
available. Many Syrians made a living as traveling
peddlers, with an eye to running their own business
one day. As word spread back home about the
opportunities available, more men from the original
immigrant's villages made the journey. In time,
they were able to bring their families, and
Trinidad became their permanent home.
A second wave of
immigrants came between the First and Second World
Wars. The Ottoman Empire had been dissolved, and
greater Syria split into several countries.
Lebanon, which had a large Christian population,
was the origin of many in this group.
Some of the
families in Trinidad that came from the greater
Syria region include Abraham, Aboud, Habib, Hadeed,
Matouk, and Sabga. The
spellings of many Syrian and Lebanese names in
Trinidad were actually created by British
immigration officers trying to translate Arab
information on this page was obtained primarily
Book of Trinidad, edited by Gérard A.
Besson, and Bridget M. Brereton. Port-of-Spain:
Paria Publishing Company Ltd., 1991.)