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The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago ( ) is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbeanmarker, lying northeast of the South American country of Venezuelamarker and south of Grenadamarker in the Lesser Antilles. It shares maritime boundaries with other nations including Barbadosmarker to the northeast, Guyanamarker to the southeast, and Venezuelamarker to the south and west.

The country covers an area of and consists of two main islands, Trinidadmarker and Tobagomarker, and numerous smaller landforms. Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the main islands; Tobago is much smaller, comprising about 6% of the total area and 4% of the entire population which is estimated at 1.3 million (2005). The nation lies outside the hurricane belt.

Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago's economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals. Trinidad and Tobago is known for its Carnival and was the birthplace of steelpan, calypso, soca, and limbo.


Historian E.L. Joseph claimed that Trinidad’s Amerindian name was Iere, derived from the Arawak name for hummingbird, ierèttê or yerettê. However, Boomert claims that neither cairi nor caeri means hummingbird and tukusi or tucuchi does. Others have reported that kairi and iere simply mean island. Christopher Columbus renamed it "La Ysla de la Trinidad" ("The Island of the Trinity"), fulfilling a vow he had made before setting out on his third voyage of exploration.

Tobago's cigar-like shape may have given it its Spanish name (cabaco, tavaco, tobacco) and possibly its Amerindian names of Aloubaéra (black conch) and Urupaina (big snail) (Boomert, 2000), although the English pronunciation is , rhyming with plumbago and sago.


Both Trinidad and Tobago were originally settled by Amerindians of South American origin. Trinidad was first settled by pre-agricultural Archaic people at least 7,000 years ago, making it the earliest-settled part of the Caribbean. Ceramic-using agriculturalists settled Trinidad around 250 BC and then moved further up the Lesser Antillean chain. At the time of European contact Trinidad was occupied by various Arawakan-speaking groups including the Nepoya and Suppoya, and Cariban-speaking groups such as the Yao, while Tobago was occupied by the Island Caribs and Galibi.

Christopher Columbus encountered the island of Trinidad on 31 July 1498. Antonio de Sedeño first settled Trinidad in the 1530s as a means of controlling the Orinoco and subduing the Warao (Whitehead, 1997). Cacique Wannawanare (Guanaguanare) granted the St Joseph area to Domingo de Vera e Ibargüen in 1592 and then withdrew to another part of the island (Boomert, 2000). San José de Oruña (St Joseph) was established by Antonio de Berrío on this land. Walter Raleigh arrived in Trinidad on 22 March 1595 and soon attacked San José and captured and interrogated de Berrío obtaining much information from him and from the cacique Topiawari (Whitehead, 1997). In the 1700s, Trinidad belonged as an island province to the vice royalty of New Spain along with modern Mexico and Central America (Besson, 2000). However Trinidad in this period was still mostly forest, populated by a few Spaniards with their handful of slaves and a few thousand Amerindians (Besson, 2000). Spanish colonisation in Trinidad remained tenuous. Because Trinidad was considered underpopulated, Roume de St. Laurent, a Frenchman living in Grenada, was able to obtain a Cédula de Población from the Spanish King Charles III on 4 November 1783.

This Cédula de Población was more generous than the first of 1776 and granted free lands to Roman Catholic foreign settlers and their slaves in Trinidad willing to swear allegiance to the Spanish king. The land grant was thirty two acres for each man, woman and child and half of that for each slave brought. As a result, Scots, Irish, German, Italian and English families arrived. Protestants benefited from Governor Don José María Chacon's generous interpretation of the law. The French Revolution (1789) also had an impact on Trinidad's culture as it resulted in the emigration of Martiniquanmarker planters and their slaves to Trinidad who established an agriculture-based economy (sugar and cocoa) for the island.

The population of Port of Spainmarker increased from under 3,000 to 10,422 in five years and the inhabitants in 1797 consisted of people of mixed race, Spaniards, Africans, French republican soldiers, retired pirates and French nobility (Besson, 2000). The total population of Trinidad in 1797 was 17,718; 2,151 of which were of European ancestry, 4,476 were "free blacks and people of colour", 10,009 were slaves and 1,082 Amerindians.

In 1797, General Sir Ralph Abercromby and his squadron sailed through the Bocas and anchored off the coast of Chaguaramasmarker. The Spanish Governor Chacon decided to capitulate without fighting. Trinidad became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population and Spanish laws (Besson, 2000). The conquest and formal ceding of Trinidad in 1802 led to an influx of settlers from England or the British colonies of the Eastern Caribbean. The sparse settlement and slow rate of population increase during Spanish rule and even after British rule made Trinidad one of the less populated colonies of the West Indies with the least developed plantation infrastructure . Under British rule new estates were created and slave importation increased to facilitate development of the land into highly profitable sugar-cane estates, but mass importation of slaves was still limited and hindered, arguably, by abolitionist efforts in Britain ,. The Abolitionist movement and/or the decreased economic viability of slavery as a means of procuring labour both resulted in the abolition of slavery in 1833 via Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (citation 3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73), which was followed by its substitution by an "apprenticeship" period. This was also abolished in 1838 with full emancipation being granted on August 1. An overview of the populations statistics in 1838, however, clearly reveals the contrast between Trinidad and its neighbouring islands: upon Emancipation of the slaves in 1838, Trinidad had only 17,439 slaves, with 8o% of slave owners having less than 10 slaves each (pgs. 84–85). In contrast, at twice the size of Trinidad, Jamaica had roughly 360,000 slaves . Upon Emancipation, therefore, the incipient plantation owners were in severe need of labour, and the British filled this need by instituting a system of indenture. Various nationalities were contracted under this system, including Chinese, Portuguese and Indians. Of these, the Indians were imported in the largest numbers, starting from May 1, 1845, when 225 Indians were brought in the first shipment to Trinidad on the Fatel Rozack, a Muslim-owned vessel . Indentureship of the Indians lasted from 1845 to 1917, over which more than 147,000 Indians were brought to Trinidad to work on sugarcane plantations . They added what was initially the second largest population grouping to the young nation and their labour developed previously underdeveloped plantation lands. The Indenture contract was exploitative, such that historians Hugh Tinker were to call it "a new system of slavery". Persons were contracted for a period of five years with a daily wage (25 cents in the early 20th century) after which they were guaranteed return passage to India. Coercive means were often used to obtain labourers, however, and the indenture contracts were soon extended to 10 years after the planters complained that they were losing their labour too early . In lieu of the return passage the British authorities soon began offering portions of land to encourage settlement, however the numbers of people who did receive land grants is unclear . Indians entering the colony were also subject to particular crown laws which segregated them from the rest of the Trinidad population, such as the requirement that they carry a "Pass" on their person once off the plantations, and that if freed, they carry their "Free Papers" or Certificate indicating completion of the indentureship period . Despite this, however, the ex-Indentureds came to constitute a vital and significant section of the population, as did the ex-slaves.

The cacao (cocoa) crop also contributed greatly to the economic earnings in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. After the collapse of the cacao crop (due to disease and the Great Depression) petroleum increasingly came to dominate the economy. The collapse of the sugar cane industry concomittant with the failure of the cocoa industry resulted in widespread depression among the rural and agricultural workers in Trinidad and encouraged the rise of the Labour movement in the 1920 -1930 period. This was led by Tubal Uriah "Buzz" Butler, who, in combination with his Indian partners (notably Adrian Cola Rienzi) aimed to unite the working class and agricultural labouring class to achieve a better standard of living for all, as well as to hasten the departure of the British. This effort was severely undermined by the British Home Office and by the British-educated Trinidadian elite, many of whom were descended from the plantocracy themselves. They instigated a vicious race politicking in Trinidad which aimed at dividing the class-based movement on race-based lines, and they succeeded, especially since Butler's support collapsed from the top down. The Depression and the rise of the oil economy led to changes in the social structure. By the 1950s oil had become a staple in Trinidad's export market and was responsible for a growing middle-class among all sections of the Trinidad population.


Columbus reported seeing Tobago on the distant horizon, which he named Bellaforma, but did not land on the island. The name of Tobago is thought to probably be a corruption of its old name, "Tobaco".

The Dutch and the Courlanders had established themselves in Tobago in the 16th and 17th centuries and produced tobacco and cotton. Tobago changed hands between British, French, Dutch and Courlanders from modern-day Latviamarker. Britain consolidated its hold on both islands during the Napoleonic Wars, and they were combined into the colony of Trinidad and Tobago in 1889. As a result of these colonial struggles, Amerindian, Spanish, French and English place names are all common in the country. African slaves and Chinesemarker, Indianmarker, and free African indentured labourers, as well as Portuguesemarker from Madeira, arrived to supply labour in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Emigration from Barbadosmarker and the other Lesser Antilles, Venezuelamarker, Syriamarker, and Lebanonmarker also impacted on the ethnic make-up of the country.


Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation (from the United Kingdommarker) in 1962. The presence of Americanmarker military bases in Chaguaramasmarker and Cumutomarker in Trinidad during World War II profoundly changed the character of society. In the post-war period, the wave of decolonisation that swept the British Empire led to the formation of the West Indies Federation in 1958 as a vehicle for independence. Chaguaramas was the proposed site for the federal capital. The Federation dissolved after the withdrawal of Jamaicamarker and the government chose to seek independence on its own.

In 1976, the country severed its links with the British monarchy and became a republic within the Commonwealth, though it retained the British Privy Council as its final Court of Appeal. Between the years 1972 and 1983, the Republic profited greatly from the rising price of oil, as the oil-rich country increased its living standards greatly. In 1990, 114 members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, led by Yasin Abu Bakr, formerly known as Lennox Phillip, stormed the Red House (the seat of Parliament), and Trinidad and Tobago Television, the only television station in the country at the time, and held the country's government hostage for six days before surrendering.

Since 2003, the country has entered a second oil boom, a driving force which the government hopes to use to turn the country's main export back to sugar and agriculture. Great concern was raised in August 2007 when it was predicted that this boom would last only until 2018. Petroleum, petrochemicals and natural gas continue to be the backbone of the economy. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of Tobago, and the island remains a favourite destination for many European tourists.

National symbols


The flag was chosen by the Independence committee in 1962. Red, black and white symbolize fire (the sun, representing courage), earth (representing dedication) and water (representing purity and equality), respectively.

Coat of arms

The coat of arms was designed by the Independence committee, and features the Scarlet Ibis (native to Trinidad), the Cocrico (native to Tobago) and the Hummingbird. The shield bears three ships, representing both the Trinity, and the three ships that Columbus sailed.


Trinidad and Tobago is a republic with a two-party system and a bicameral parliamentary system based on the Westminster System. The head of state of Trinidad and Tobago is the President, currently George Maxwell Richards. The head of government is the Prime Minister Patrick Manning. The President is elected by an Electoral College consisting of the full membership of both houses of Parliament. The Prime Minister is elected from the results of a general election which takes place every five years. The President is required to appoint the leader of the party who in his opinion has the most support of the members of the House of Representatives to this post; this has generally been the leader of the party which won the most seats in the previous election (except in the case of the 2001 General Elections).Tobago also has its own elections, separate from the general elections. In these elections, members are elected and serve in the Tobago House of Assembly.

The Parliament consists of two chambers, the Senate (31 seats) and the House of Representatives (41 seats). The members of the Senate are appointed by the president. Sixteen Government Senators are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, six Opposition Senators are appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and nine Independent Senators are appointed by the President to represent other sectors of civil society. The 41 members of the House of Representatives are elected by the people for a maximum term of five years in a "first past the post" system.

Since 24 December 2001, the governing party has been the People's National Movement led by Patrick Manning; the Opposition party is the United National Congress led by Basdeo Panday. Another recent party is the Congress of the People, or COP, led by Winston Dookeran. Support for these parties appears to fall along ethnic lines with the PNM consistently obtaining a majority Afro-Trinidadian vote, and the UNC gaining a majority of Indo-Trinidadian support. COP gained 23% of the vote but failed to win a single seat. At present the PNM holds 26 seats in the House of Representatives and the UNC Alliance (UNC-A) holds 15 seats, following elections held on 5 November 2007.

There are 14 municipal corporations (two cities, three boroughs, and nine Regions) which have a limited level of autonomy. The various councils are made up of a mixture of elected and appointed members. Elections are due to be held every 3 years, but have not been held since 2003, 4 extensions having been sought by the government. Local Government elections are next due in July 2010.

Trinidad and Tobago is a leading member of the Caribbean Community and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), of which only the Caribbean Single Market (CSM) is in force. It is also the seat of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which was inaugurated on 16 April 2005. The CCJ is intended to replace the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final Appellate Court for the member states of the CARICOM. Since its inauguration, only two states, Barbados and Guyana, have acceded to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ. The CCJ also serves as an original jurisdiction in the interpretation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, to which all members of CARICOM have acceded.

Administrative divisions

Trinidad and Tobago is split into Regional Corporations and Municipalities. The island of Tobago is governed by the Tobago House of Assembly, and there are 9 corporations and 5 municipalities in the island of Trinidad:

Regions of Trinidad and Tobago


The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) is the military organisation responsible for the defence of the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It consists of the Regiment, the Coast Guard, the Air Guard and the Defence Force Reserves. Established in 1962 after Trinidad and Tobago's independence from Britainmarker, the TTDF is one of the largest Military forces in the English speaking Caribbeanmarker. Its mission statement is to "defend the sovereign good of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, contribute to the development of the national community and support the State in the fulfillment of its national and international objectives". The Defence Force has been engaged in Domestic incidents, such as the 1990 Coup Attempt, and International missions, such as the United Nations Mission in Haiti between 1993 and 1996.


Trinidad and Tobago are southeasterly islands of the Antilles, situated between 10° 2' and 11° 12' N latitude and 60° 30' and 61° 56' W longitude. At the closest point, Trinidad is just off the Venezuelanmarker coast. Covering an area of , the country consists of the two main islands, Trinidadmarker and Tobagomarker, and numerous smaller landforms – including Chacachacaremarker, Monosmarker, Huevosmarker, Gaspar Grandemarker (or Gasparee), Little Tobagomarker, and St. Giles Islandmarker. Trinidad is in area (comprising 93.0% of the country's total area) with an average length of and an average width of . Tobago has an area of about , or 5.8% of the country's area, is long and at its greatest width. Trinidad and Tobago lie on the continental shelf of South America, and is thus geologically considered to lie entirely in South America. However the Caribbean islands are generally considered to be part of North America, and as the language and cultural links of Trinidad and Tobago are not to South America but to the rest of the English speaking Caribbean nations, the nation is often treated as part of North America.

The terrain of the islands is a mixture of mountains and plains. The highest point in the country is found on the Northern Rangemarker at El Cerro del Aripomarker which is 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 wet season in the second half of the year. Winds are predominantly from the northeast and are dominated by the northeast trade winds. Unlike most of the other Caribbean islands, both Trinidad and Tobago have frequently escaped the wrath of major devastating hurricanes including Hurricane Ivan, the most powerful storm to pass close to the islands in recent history in September 2004.

As the majority of the population live in Trinidad, this is the location of most major towns and cities. There are three major municipalities in Trinidad: Port of Spainmarker, the capital, San Fernandomarker, and Chaguanasmarker. The main town in Tobago is Scarboroughmarker. 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 are the most fertile.

The Northern Range consists mainly of Upper Jurassic and Cretaceous metamorphic rocks. The Northern Lowlands (East-West Corridor and Caroni Plains) consist of younger shallow marine clastic sediments. South of this, the Central Rangemarker fold and thrust belt consisits of Cretaceous and Eocene sedimentary rocks, with Miocene formations along the southern and eastern flanks. The Naparima Plains and the Nariva Swampmarker form the southern shoulder of this uplift. The Southern Lowlands consist of Miocene and Pliocene sands, clays, and gravels. These overlie oil and natural gas deposits, especially north of the Los Bajos Fault. The Southern Range forms the third anticlinal uplift. It consists of several chains of hills, most famous being the Trinity Hillsmarker. The rocks consist of sandstones, shales and siltstones and clays formed in the Miocene and uplifted in the Pleistocene. Oil sands and mud volcanoes are especially common in this area.

Although it is located just off-shore from South America, Trinidad and Tobago is generally included as part of the West Indiesmarker by virtue of its geographical and historical heritage in the Caribbean.


Trinidad's economy is strongly influenced by the petroleum industry. Tourism and manufacturing are also important to the local economy.Tourism is a growing sector, although not proportionately as important as in many other Caribbean islands. Agricultural products include citrus, cocoa, and other products.

Recent growth has been fueled by investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals, and steel. Additional petrochemical, aluminum, and plastics projects are in various stages of planning. Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, and its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources but it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food and beverages, as well as cement to the Caribbean region. Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports, but only 5% of employment. The country is also a regional financial center, and the economy has a growing trade surplus. The expansion of Atlantic LNG over the past six years created the largest-single sustained phase of economic growth in Trinidad and Tobago. It has become the leading exporter of LNG to the United States, and now supplies some 70% of U.S. LNG imports.

Trinidad and Tobago has transitioned from an oil-based economy to a natural gas based economy. In 2007, natural gas production averaged 4 billion standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d), compared with 3.2 bcf/d in 2005. In December 2005, the Atlantic LNG fourth production module or "train" for liquefied natural gas (LNG) began production. Train 4 has increased Atlantic LNG's overall output capacity by almost 50% and is the largest LNG train in the world at 5.2 million tons/year of LNG.

Trinidad and Tobago's infrastructure is good by regional standards. The international airportmarker in Trinidad was expanded in 2001. There is an extensive network of paved roads with several good four and six lane highways including one controlled access expressway. Nevertheless, even though most roads are paved, the island is in contact gridlock, a situation which leads to loss of productive hours. The Ministry of Works estimates that an average Trinidadian spend 4 hours in traffic per day. Emergency services are reliable, but may suffer delays in rural districts. Private hospitals are available and reliable. Utilities are fairly reliable in the cities. Some areas, however, especially rural districts, still suffer from water shortages. The government is addressing this problem with the construction of additional desalinization plants.

Telephone service is relatively modern and reliable. Cellular service is widespread and has been the major area of growth for several years. Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (generally known as TSTT) is the largest telephone and Internet service provider in Trinidad and Tobago. The company, which is jointly owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and Cable & Wireless, was formed out of a merger of Telco (Trinidad and Tobago Telephone Company Limited) and Textel (Trinidad and Tobago External Telecommunications Company Limited). TSTT no longer holds a monopoly in fixed-line telephone services due to Flow introducing a fixed-line service of their own, but their cellular monopoly was broken in June 2005 when licenses were granted to Digicel and Laqtel. Laqtel however never satrted business. Digicel and Laqtel were granted cellular licenses in 2005.


Intersection of Churchill Roosevelt Highway & Uriah Butler Highway 2009
Trinidad and Tobago has a transportation system with many components, including main roads, highways, freeways, ferries and water taxis, as well as public and private transportation. Located in Trinidad is the Piarco International Airportmarker, the country's major airport. A smaller number of international flights fly to Tobago's Crown Point International Airportmarker. Public transportation options on land are public buses, private taxis and minibuses. By sea, the options are inter-island ferries and inter-city water taxis.


The island of Trinidad is served by Piarco International Airportmarker located in Piarcomarker. It was opened on 8 January 1931. Elevated at 17.4 m above sea level it comprises an area of 680 hectares and has a runway of . The airport consists of two terminals, the North Terminal and the South Terminal. The older South Terminal underwent renovations in 2009 for use as a VIP entrance point during the 5th Summit of the Americas. The North Terminal was completed in 2001, and consists of 14 second-level aircraft gates with loading bridges from the aircraft to the terminal building for international flights, 2 ground level domestic gates and 82 ticket counter positions.

Piarco International Airport was voted the Caribbean’s leading airport for customer satisfaction and operational efficiency at the prestigious World Travel Awards (WTA), held in the Turks and Caicos in 2006. The airport is the site of the world’s first ACI Global Training Centre on Aviation with the ultra-modern Aviation Security Training Centre at Piarco International Airport being used by the Airports Council International (ACI) as a model in the development of its five other training centres in other parts of the world. In 2008 the passenger throughput at Piarco International Airport was approximately 2.6 million. As of December 2006, nineteen international airlines operated out of Piarco and offered flights to twenty-seven international destinations.


Caribbean Airlines is the national airline of Trinidad and Tobago, with its main hub at the Piarco International Airport in Trinidad. It operates international services from the Caribbean to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and South America. The airline which is wholly owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, began operations on 1 January 2007, to replace its predecessor, BWIA West Indies Airways.


Of the country's 1.3 million inhabitants (as of 2005), most (96%) reside on the island of Trinidad with most of the remainder (4%) in Tobago. The ethnic composition of Trinidad and Tobago reflects a history of conquest and immigration. Two major ethnic groups, Indo-Trinidadians and Afro-Trinidadians, account for almost 80% of the population, while people of mixed race, European, Chinese and SyrianLebanese descent make up most of the rest of the population.


Indo-Trinidadians make up the country's largest ethnic group (approximately 40%). They are primarily descendants from indentured workers from Indiamarker, brought to replace freed African slaves who refused to continue working on the sugar plantations. The Indian community is divided roughly half-and-half between those who maintained their original, native Hindu or Muslim religions and those who have taken to Christianity or have no religious affiliation. Through cultural preservation groups, Trinidadians of Indian descent maintain at least some of their customs and rites.


Afro-Trinidadians make up the country's second largest ethnic group (approximately 37.5%). The majority are descendants of the Colonial slave laborers who were brought in the last few years of Trinidad's Spanish Colonial era, and the beginning of the English colonial period.The experience of slavery in Trinidad was limited in that the island was very sparsely populated. The Cedula of Population transformed a small colony of 1000 in 1773 to 18,627 by 1797. In the census of 1777 there were only 2,763 people recorded as living on the island, including some 2,000 Arawaks. During this time there were many African slave owners. In 1807, the UK Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act 1807 that abolished the trading of slaves, and the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 abolished the practice of slavery.


The white population is primarily descended from early settlers and immigrants. About half are of British origin, and the remainder are of French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German heritage. The recent census counted 11,000 British, 4,100 Spanish, 4,000 French, 2,700 Portuguese and 2,700 Germans. These numbers do not include people who have at least some white ancestry but self-identify as Black or Indian. They may be descended from settlers from Spainmarker, or from mixed-raced immigrants from Venezuelamarker, commonly referred to as "Cocoa Panyols". The French arrived mostly during the Spanish period to take advantage of free agricultural lands. The Portuguese were brought to replace freed black slaves when they refused to accept low wages. The white people who remain in Trinidad do so in the areas in and around Port of Spainmarker. In Tobagomarker, most whites are retirees from Germany and Scandinavia. Whites once made up a larger proportion of the country's population.

Mixed race

Given the large number of ethnic identities in Trinidad and Tobago many citizens have a mixed ethnic heritage. Such racial mixtures can include Caucasian and African, and Indian and African (dougla).

Other ethnic groups

There are groups of Chinese who, like the Portuguese and Indians, are descended from indentured laborers. They account for about 20,000 people and live mostly in Port-of-Spain and San Fernando. There are also about 2,500 Arabs, descending from Syriamarker and Lebanonmarker who live mostly in Port-of-Spain. The Syrian and Lebanese communities of Trinidad are predominantly Christian, migrating from the Middle East in the 19th century while fleeing religious persecution received from the Ottoman Empire later landing in the Caribbean and Latin America. Other Lebanese and Syrians came in the early to middle 20th century to escape the war and turmoil in the region. Finally there are the mixed raced Caribs who are descended from the native, precolonial people of the islands. They are organized around the Santa Rosa Carib Community and live mostly in and around Arimamarker.


Emigration from Trinidad and Tobago, as with other Caribbean nations, has historically been high; most emigrants go to the United Statesmarker, Canadamarker and Britainmarker. Emigration has continued, albeit at a lower rate, even as the birth-rate sharply dropped to levels typical of industrialised countries. Largely because of this phenomenon, as of 2007, Trinidad and Tobago has been experiencing a low population growth rate (0.37%).


Many different religions are present in Trinidad and Tobago. The largest two are Roman Catholics (26%) and Hindus (22.5%). The Anglicans (7.8%), Muslims (5.8%), Seventh-day Adventists (4%), Other Christians (5.8%) Presbyterians, Jehovah's Witnesses and Methodists are among the other faith groups represented. Two African syncretic faiths, the Shouter or Spiritual Baptists and the Orisha faith (formerly called Shangos, a less than complimentary term) are among the fastest growing religious groups, as are a host of evangelical and fundamentalist churches usually lumped as "Pentecostal" by most Trinidadians (although this designation is often inaccurate). A small Judaic community exists, as well as several other Eastern religions such as Taoism.Other 10.8%, unspecified 1.4%, none 1.9% (2000 census)


English is the country's only official language, but the main spoken language is a dialect or a Spanish (Trinidadian Spanish English or Tobagonian Creole English) which reflects the Spanish, Indian, African and European heritage of the nation. Both creoles contain elements from a number and variety of African languages; Trinidadian English, however, is also largely influenced by French, French Creole, Spanish, and by Bhojpuri/Hindi. The spanish languages and other vernaculars are normally spoken in informal situations, and there is no formalized system of writing. Patois (a variety of Spanish/ French) was once the most widely spoken language in Trinidad, and there are various remnants of the language in everyday vernacular. There was also a Spanish-based creole, known as "Coco Payol", a term also used to describe people of Spanish ancestry.

Due to Trinidad's location on the coast of South America, the country has been slowly redeveloping a connection with the Spanish-speaking peoples but has been impeded by the fact that in 2004, only 45,500 inhabitants spoke Spanish. In 2004 the government initiated the Spanish as a Foreign Language to those who don't know how to speak it (SAFFL) Initiative with a public launch in March 2005. People from Venezuelamarker travel to Trinidad and Tobago to learn English, and many English schools have expanded to feature both English and Spanish.

Because of the country's colonial heritage, the names of towns in Trinidad are in roughly equal proportions of English (Chatham, Brighton, Green Hill, St. Mary's, Princessa Town, Freeport, New Grant), French (Blanchisseuse, Sans Souci, Pointe-à-Pierre, Basse Terre, Matelot, Petit Bourg), Spanish (Puerto España, San Fernando, Sangre Grande, Rio Claro, San Juan, Las Cuevas, Maracas, Manzanilla, Los Bajos) East Indian (Fyzabad, Barrackpore, Indian Walk, Madras Settlement, Penal, Debe) and Amerindian languages (Chaguanasmarker, Tunapunamarker, Guayaguayaremarker, Carapichaimamarker, Mucurapo, Chaguaramasmarker, Arimamarker, Aroucamarker, Guaicomarker, Oropouche, Aripo). In Tobago, English names predominate. However, there are several names which suggest its colonial past: Belle Garden, Bon Accord, Charlotteville, Les Coteaux, Parlatuvier (French), Auchenskeoch, Blenheim (Dutch), Great Courland Bay (the Courlanders).

Human rights

On 11 March 2005, the Government of Trinidad & Tobago was ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to pay US$ 50,000 for "moral damages" to a prisoner who had received 15 "strokes of the Cat" (corporal punishment in the form of a whipping) plus expenses for his medical and psychological care.


Children generally start pre-school at the early age of 3 years. This level of tuition is not mandatory but most children start school at this stage as children are expected to have basic reading and writing skills when they commence primary school. Students proceed to a primary school at the age of 5 years. Seven years are spent in primary school. The seven classes of primary school consists of Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten, followed by Standard One through Standard Five. During the final year of primary school, students prepare for and sit the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) which determines the secondary school the child will attend.

Students attend secondary school for a minimum of five years, leading to the CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) examinations, which is the equivalent of the British GCSE O levels. Children with satisfactory grades may opt to continue high school for a further two year period, leading to the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), the equivalent of GCE A levels. Both CSEC and CAPE examinations are held by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). Public Primary and Secondary education is free for all, although private and religious schooling is available for a fee. Tertiary education is also free for all, however, up to the level of the Bachelors degrees for all students of the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) and certain other local accredited institutions. Government also currently subsidises some Masters programmes. Both the Government and the private sector also provide financial assistance in the form of academic scholarships to gifted or needy students for study at local, regional or international universities.


is also the birthplace of calypso music and the steelpan, which is widely claimed in Trinidad and Tobago to be the only acoustic musical instrument invented during the 20th century. The diverse cultural and religious background allows for many festivities and ceremonies throughout the year.

Trinidad and Tobago claims two Nobel Prize-winning authors, V.S. Naipaul and St Lucianmarker-born Derek Walcott. Edmundo Ros, the "King of Latin American Music", was born in Port of Spain. Designer Peter Minshall is renowned not only for his Carnival costumes, but also for his role in opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics, the 1994 Football World Cup, the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 2002 Winter Olympics, for which he won an Emmy Award.



Hasely Crawford won the first Olympic gold medal for Trinidad and Tobago in the men's 100 m dash in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Nine different athletes from Trinidad and Tobago have won twelve medals at the Olympics, beginning with a silver medal in weightlifting, won by Rodney Wilkes in 1948, and most recently, a silver medal by Richard Thompson in the Men's 100m in 2008. Ato Boldon has won the most Olympic and World Championship medals for Trinidad and Tobago in athletics with eight in total – four from the Olympics and four from the World Championships. Boldon is the only world champion Trinidad and Tobago has produced to date in athletics.He won the 1997 200 m sprint World Championship in Athensmarker. Swimmer George Bovell III has also won a bronze medal in the Men's 4x100 freestyle in 2004.


Cricket is one of the most popular sports of Trinidad and Tobago, with intense inter-island rivalry with its Caribbean neighbors. Trinidad and Tobago plays Test Cricket, One Day International as well as Twenty20 cricket as a member of the West Indies team. The national team plays at the first-class level in regional competitions. Trinidad and Tobago along with other islands from the Caribbean co-hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Brian Lara, world record holder for the most runs scored both in a Test and in a First Class innings and other records, was born in a small town of Santa Cruz, Trinidad and Tobagomarker and is often referred to as the Prince of Port of Spain or simply the Prince. This legendary West Indian batsman is widely regarded as one of the best batsmen ever to have played the game, and is one of the most famous sporting icons in the country.


The national football team qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup for the first time by beating Bahrain in Manamamarker on 16 November 2005, making them the smallest country ever (in terms of population) to qualify. The team, coached by Dutchman Leo Beenhakker, and led by Tobagonian-born captain Dwight Yorke, drew their first group game – against Sweden in Dortmund – 0–0, but lost the second game to England on late goals, 0–2. They were eliminated after losing 2–0 to Paraguay in the last game of the Group Stage. Prior to the 2006 World Cup qualification, T&T came agonisingly close to qualifying in a controversial 1974 campaign. The referee was then fired based on unfairness. In 2007 a "rematch" was held between the two teams with the players that played in 1990 and was won by Trinidad and Tobago and again for the 1990 competition needing only a draw at home against the United Statesmarker but losing 1–0. Trinidad and Tobago hosted the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Championship.


The Trinidad and Tobago national baseball team is the national baseball team of Trinidad and Tobago. The team is controlled by the Baseball/Softball Association of Trinidad and Tobago, and represents the nation in international competitions. The team is a provisional member of the Pan American Baseball Confederation.

Other Sports

Netball has been popular sport in Trinidad and Tobago. At the Netball World Championships they co-won the event in 1979 and were runners up in 1987 and second runners up in 1983. Netball has declined in popularity in recent years. Basketball is commonly played in Trinidad and Tobago in colleges, universities and throughout various urban basketball courts. Rugby continues to be a popular sport, and Horse Racing is regularly followed in the country.

See also


  1. Archipelagic Waters and Exclusive Economic Zone Act No 24 of 1986
  2. Hart, Marie. (1965). The New Trinidad and Tobago, p. 13. Collins. London and Glasgow. Reprint 1972.
  3. Besson, 2000
  4. (Brereton 1981)
  5. Brereton, Bridget(1981). A History of Modern Trinidad 1783-1962. London: Heinemann Educational Books
  6. Williams, Eric (1962). History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago. London : Andre Deutsch.
  7. Meighoo, Kirk(2008)'Ethnic Mobilisation vs. Ethnic Politics: Understanding Ethnicity in Trinidad and Tobago Politics',Commonwealth & Comparative Politics,46:1,101–127
  9. (Deen, Shamshu (1994). Solving East Indian Roots in Trinidad. Freeport Junction. H.E.M. Enterprise. (ISBN 9768136251)
  10. Tinker, Hugh (1991). A New System of Slavery: Export of Indian Labour Overseas (1830-1920). Hansib Publishing (Caribbean) Ltd.
  11. Mohammed, Patricia (2002). Gender Negotiations Among Indians in Trinidad 1917-1947. Palgrave Macmillan.
  12. Carmichael, Gertrude (1961). The History of the West Indian Islands of Trinidad and Tobago. 1498-1900, p. 14. Alvin Redman, London.
  13. Trinidad and Tobgao government website
  14. Ibid.
  15. Trinidad News
  16. U.S. State Department
  17. US Energy Information Administration - LNG
  18. Government of Trinidad and Tobago Information Services press release on water taxis
  19. Demographic Data
  20. 2000 Census information
  21. Secretariat for The Implementation of Spanish, Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
  22. Caesar vs. Trinidad and Tobago.
  23. 20th Century Percussion

Further reading

  • Besson, Gérard & Brereton, Bridget. The Book of Trinidad (2nd edition, 1992), Port of Spainmarker: Paria Publishing Co. Ltd.; ISBN 976-8054-36-0.
  • Besson, Gerard. Land of Beginnings - A historical digest, Newsday Newspaper, 27 August 2000.
  • Boomert, Arie. Trinidad, Tobago and the Lower Orinoco Interaction Sphere: An archaeological/ethnohistorical study. Alkmaar: Cairi Publications, 2000.
  • Lans C: Creole Remedies of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Mendes, John. Cote ce Cote la: Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary. Arimamarker, Trinidadmarker. 1986
  • Saith, Radhica and Lyndersay, Mark. Why Not a Woman? Port of Spain: Paria Publishing Co. Ltd. ISBN 976-8054-42-5; 1993

External links

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