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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.

Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago Image:Coat of arms Trinidad and Tobago.jpg
(In Detail)
National motto: Together we aspire, together we achieve
Official language English
Capital Port of Spain
President George Maxwell Richards
Prime minister Patrick Manning
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 163st
5,128 kmē

 - Total (2002)

 - Density
Ranked 151st


Independence August 31, 1962
Currency Dollar
Time zone UTC - 4
National anthem Forged From The Love of Liberty
Internet TLD .TT
Calling Code 1-868


Main article: History of Trinidad and Tobago, History of the Caribbean

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.

In 1976 the country severed its links with the British monarchy and became a republic within the Commonwealth.

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 local government bodies consist of eight counties and five municipalities in Trinidad and the Tobago House of Assembly in Tobago.

The five towns with municipality-status are:

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

Historically, Trinidad was divided into eight counties, and these counties were subdivided into Wards. Tobago was adminstered as a Ward of County Saint David.

  • Caroni
  • Mayaro
  • Nariva
  • Saint Andrew
  • Saint David
  • Saint George
  • Saint Patrick
  • Victoria

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

Map 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.

Date English Name Remarks
January 1 New Year's Day
Variable Carnival
Variable Eid-ul-Fitr
Variable Easter
March 30 Spiritual Baptist Liberation Shouter Day
Variable Corpus Christi
May 30 Indian Arrival Day
June 19 Labour Day
August 1 Emancipation Day
August 31 Independence Day
September 24 Republic Day
Variable Divali
December 25 Christmas
December 26 Boxing Day

Miscellaneous topics

External links

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

Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45