The city of Port of Spain, along with its island of Trinidad, was a wild place covered with mangrove trees and inhabited by native people when it was come across by the Spanish in the early 16th Century.
Port of Spain was founded near the site of the Amerindian fishing village of Cumucurapo, located in the area today known as Mucurapo, west of the city center.
The first Spanish buildings here, in the 16th and 17th centuries, were open mud-plastered ajoupas, interspersed between large silk cotton trees and other trees. The fort was a mud-walled enclosure with a shack inside, a flagpole, two or three cannon, and few Spanish soldiers.
In 1699, the alcalde of Trinidad reported to the King that the natives "were in the habit of showering scorn and abuse upon the Holy Faith and ridiculed with jests the efforts of the Holy Fathers".
By 1757, the old capital, San Jose de Oruna (modern St. Joseph), about seven miles inland, had fallen into disrepair, and Governor Don Pedro de la Moneda transferred his seat to Port of Spain, which thus became Trinidad's de facto capital. The last Spanish Governor of Trinidad, Don Jose Maria Chacon, devoted much of his time to developing the new capital. He compelled the island's Cabildo (governing council) to move to Port of Spain, and limited its powers to the municipality. The 1783 Cedula of Population, which encouraged the settlement of French Catholics in the island, led to a rapid increase in the town's population and its geographical extension westwards.
In 1787 Chacon, realising that the St. Ann's River, prone to flooding, was impeding the expansion of the town, had its course diverted so that it ran to the east of the city, along the foot of the Laventille Hills. Port of Spain was now able to continue spreading northwards and westwards, encroaching on the surrounding sugar-cane plantations.
The Spanish established a rough settlement there in the 1600's, but were known to come into frequent conflict with the native tribes who had called the area home before them. Under encouragement from the Spanish, who wanted increase the number of Christians there, some French settlers came to Port of Spain in the late 18th Century, creating a bustling city.
The British attacked the island in 1797, taking it over from the Spanish with little incident. Trinidad, with Port of Spain as its capitol, remained part of the British Empire until the 20th Century when the island gained the right to govern itself.
Today Port of Spain is a mid-sized metropolitan city, housing most of the country's industry and government infrastructure.