Trinidad and Tobago
For other uses of the word Trinidad, see Trinidad (disambiguation).
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a nation located in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Venezuela. It consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and many smaller islands, the most important being Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande, Little Tobago and St. Giles Is. The larger and more populated island is Trinidad, while the island of Tobago is smaller (303 square kilometres; about 6% of the total area) and less populous (50,000 people; 4% of the total population). The tallest building in Trinidad and Tobago is the recently constructed Nicholas Tower.
|National motto: Together we aspire, together we achieve|
|Capital||Port of Spain|
|President||George Maxwell Richards|
|Prime minister||Patrick Manning|
- % water
|Independence||August 31, 1962|
|Time zone||UTC - 4|
|National anthem||Forged From The Love of Liberty|
Prior to European contact, the island of Trinidad is reported to have been occupied by various Amerindian nations some of whom were described as being Caribs while others were reportedly Arawaks. Tobago was inhabited by Island Caribs. The aboriginal name for Trinidad was Kairi or Iere which meant The Land of the Hummingbird. Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Trinidad on July 31, 1498 and named Trinidad after the Holy Trinity; Tobago was named Bella Forma by him, but this later became Tobago (probably derived from tobacco).
The Spanish settled on Trinidad, while Tobago frequently changed hands between the European sea powers, but the settlements on both islands were small and underdeveloped. The changing of hands of the European powers was mainly to keep Tobago free of pirates. After changing hands between the British, French, Dutch and Courlanders, Britain consolidated its hold on both islands during the Napoleonic Wars, and they were combined into the colony of Trinidad and Tobago in 1889.
Following World War II, when American naval bases were located on Trinidad, the islands became independent as part of the West Indies Federation in 1958. The federation was dissolved quickly, and the independent nation of Trinidad and Tobago was formed in 1962.
At present, the country is one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean, thanks largely to petroleum and natural gas production and processing. Tourism, mostly in Tobago, is targeted for expansion and is growing.
Main article: Politics of Trinidad and Tobago
Chief of state in Trinidad and Tobago is the president, Professor George Maxwell Richards, who is elected by the parliament. This parliament consists of two chambers, the Senate (31 seats) and the House of Representatives (36 seats). The members of the former are appointed by the president,the ruling party and the Opposition, while the members of the latter are chosen by the public in elections held every five years.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President. The President is obligated to appoint the person with the most support in the House of Representatives to this post; usually this is the leader of the party which won the most seats in the previous election.
The present ruling party (2004) is the People's National Movement led by Patrick Manning; the Opposition party is the United National Congress led by Basdeo Panday.
Counties and Municipalities
Main article: Counties and Municipalities of Trinidad and Tobago
The five towns with municipality-status are:
- The Borough of Arima
- The Borough of Chaguanas
- The City of Port-of-Spain
- The Borough of Point Fortin
- The City of San Fernando
The eight Regional Corporations s are:
- Couva -Tabaquite -Talparo Regional Corporation
- Diego Martin Regional Corporation
- Princes Town Regional Corporation
- Rio Claro -Mayaro Regional Corporation
- San Juan -Lavantille Regional Corporation
- Sangre Grande Regional Corporation
- Siparia Regional Corporation
- Tunapuna -Piarco Regional Corporation
- Saint Andrew
- Saint David
- Saint George
- Saint Patrick
Prior to reform of the system in the early 1990s these counties functioned as the administrative bodies for Local Government with the following modifications:
- Saint George was divided into Saint George East, Saint George West, the City of Port of Spain and the Royal Borough of Arima.
- The Borough (City after 1988) of San Fernando was separate from County Victoria.
- After 1980 the Borough of Point Fortin was separated from the County Saint Patrick.
- Saint Andrew and Saint David were combined under a single County Council.
- Nariva and Mayaro were combined under a single County Council.
- Since its establishment in 1980 the Tobago House of Assembly has gradually assumed many of the roles of the central government, in addition to those of local government.
Main article: Geography of Trinidad and Tobago
The terrain of the islands is a mixture of mountains and plains. The highest point in the country is found on the Northern Range at El Cerro del Aripo which is situated at 940 m above sea level. The climate is tropical. There are two seasons annually. The dry season, for the first six months of the year, and the rainy season, in the second half of the year. The rainy season is also known as the Hurricane season, however unlike most of the other Caribbean islands, Trinidad and Tobago have frequently escaped the wrath of major devastating hurricanes. Trinidad and Tobago are supplied with the North Westerly winds which blow from the north west of the islands to the south east of the islands.
As the majority of the population live in Trinidad, this is the location of most major towns and cities. There are two major cities in Trinidad: Port of Spain, the capital, and San Fernando. Although not usually recognised as such, the largest town on the island is actually Chaguanas, which is also the fastest-growing region. The largest settlement on Tobago is Scarborough.
Trinidad is made up of a variety of soil types, the majority being fine sands and heavy clays. The alluvial valleys of the Northern Range and the soils of the "East-West Corridor " being the most fertile.
Main article: Economy of Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses. A leading performer the past four years has been the booming natural gas sector. Tourism is a growing sector, although not proportionately as important as in many other Caribbean islands. The economy benefits from low inflation and a trade surplus. The year 2002 was marked by solid growth in the oil sector, offset in part by domestic political uncertainty.
Main article: Demographics of Trinidad and Tobago
The two predominant ethnic groups are Indo-Trinidadian s, the descendants of indentured labourers from India (40.3% of the population) and Afro-Trinidadian s who descend from African slaves (39.5%). Together the two groups form about 79.8% of the population; most of the remainder are people of mixed descent, with small minorities of Europeans, Chinese, Syrian-Lebanese and Caribs (descendants of the indigenous inhabitants, not recognized as a distinct census category).
Many different religions are present in Trinidad and Tobago. The largest two are the Roman Catholics and Hindus; the Anglicans, Muslims, Prebyterians, Methodist are among the smaller faiths. Two Afro-Caribbean syncretic faiths, the Shouter or Spiritual Baptist s and the Orisha faith (formerly called Shangos, a less than complementary term) are among the fastest growing religious groups, as are a host of American-style evangelical and fundamentalist churches usually lumped as "Pentecostal" by most Trinidadians (although this designation is often inaccurate). The Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) has also expanded its presence in the country since the mid-1980s.
English is the country's only official language, but Hindi is also spoken by some Indo-Trinidadians and widely used in popular music. Patois (a dialect of French Creole ) is rarely spoken. Due to Trinidad's location on the coast of South America, the country is slowly developing a connection with the Spanish-speaking peoples, and therefore many schools now teach Spanish to the locals. Conversely, Venezualans often come to Trinidad and Tobago to learn English.
Main article: Culture of Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago are famous as the birthplace of the calypso music, as well as the music of the steel pan (whose patent is held by someone in Maryland, United States). The diverse cultural and religious background allows for many festivities and ceremonies throughout the year. Other indigenous art forms include chutney, soca, Parang, and pichakarie (musical forms which blend the music of the Caribbean and India) and the famous limbo dance.
|January 1||New Year's Day|
|March 30||Spiritual Baptist Liberation Shouter Day|
|May 30||Indian Arrival Day|
|June 19||Labour Day|
|August 1||Emancipation Day|
|August 31||Independence Day|
|September 24||Republic Day|
|December 26||Boxing Day|
- Communications in Trinidad and Tobago
- Military of Trinidad and Tobago
- Foreign relations of Trinidad and Tobago
- Music of Trinidad and Tobago
- Cuisine of Trinidad
- List of birds
|Countries in West Indies|
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago