The history of Trinidad begins with the settlements of the islands by Amerindians. Both islands were explored by Christopher Columbus on his third voyage in 1498. Tobago changed hands between the British, French, Dutch, and Courlanders, but eventually ended up in British hands. Trinidad remained in Spanish hands until 1797, but it was largely settled by French colonists. In 1889 the two islands were incorporated into a single crown colony. Trinidad and Tobago obtained its independence from the British Empire in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.