The city of San Fernando first came into recorded history in 1595 when Sir Walter Raleigh, sailing in the Gulf of Paria on his search for El Dorado, was drawn to a steep hill that seemed to rise effortlessly out of the landscape. He had seen what we call 'San Fernando Hill' and continued to sail so close to the shore that he soon discovered a treasure that he hadn't bargained for - the Pitch Lake at La Brea. He reported that after leaving the Pitch Lake, he came upon a mountain called 'Anaparima' by the native Amerindians. It has come to be called 'Naparima', which means 'single hill' in one of the Amerindian dialects.
In 1687, Capuchin monks landed in the area and tried to convert the Amerindians to Christianity - they erected a mission called 'Purissima Conception de Naparima' in the shadow of the great hill. The area remained quiet until the arrival of Governor Jose Maria Chacon and his Cedula of Population in 1784, which granted land to settlers and encouraged development. In 1792, he declared the settlement a town and christened it 'San Fernando' after the son of Carlos III, the Spanish King at the time.
The town developed much like a Spanish colonial town - with a central square at the waterfront, and other key buildings such as a 'Casa Real' (government house), a jail, and of course, a church. The population of San Fernando was second only to that of Port of Spain and in 1818, the two towns were linked by the introduction of a coastal steamer service between them. This key transportation connection, as well as the prosperity of the area's growing sugar industry, contributed to the expansion of San Fernando. Development proceeded at a quick pace after that, gaining advancements like a railway passenger system and improved infrastructure, so that by the end of the 19th century San Fernando was well on its way to being one of the key towns in Trinidad.
San Fernando was designated a city on November 18th, 1989 and it still stands proud - made even richer by the fact that it is a key oil and energy centre for our islands.