Trinidad and Tobago, or Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, an island country in the West Indies off the coast of Venezuela. It consists of two main islands—Trinidad and Tobago—and several islets, totaling 1,980 square miles (5,128 km2). Trinidad is by far the larger of the two main islands. Low mountains, called the Northern Range, cross the northern part of the island, reaching a maximum elevation of nearly 3,100 feet (945 m). Lower belts of hilly to mountainous land, with intervening lowlands, cross central and southern Trinidad. Tropical forests cover roughly half of the island. Swamps are found along parts of the east and west coasts. Tobago, 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Trinidad, is a hilly to mountainous island with sandy beaches.
Both islands have a tropical climate, with a rainy season extending from June to December. Yearly rainfall averages from 50 inches (1,270 mm) to more than 100 inches (2,540 mm), depending on location. Daily temperatures range from about 72° to 88° F. (22° to 31° C.), with little variation throughout the year.
The country's basic currency unit is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar.
|Facts in brief about Trinidad and Tobago|
|Official language: English.|
|Total land area: 1,981 mi2 (5,130 km2). Coastline—292 mi (470 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—Mt. Aripo, 3,085 ft (940 m). Lowest—sea level.|
|Population: Current estimate—1,316,000; density, 664 per mi2 (257 per km2); distribution, 74 percent urban, 26 percent rural. 2000 census—1,262,366.|
|Chief products: Asphalt, oil, sugar.|
|National anthem: "Forged from the Love of Liberty."|
|Flag: Trinidad and Tobago's flag has a black stripe outlined by thin white stripes on a red background. The black and white stripes run diagonally from the upper-left corner of the flag to the bottom right.|
|Money: Basic unit—Trinidad and Tobago dollar. One hundred cents equal one dollar.|
Gas and petroleum forms the basis of the country's economy, providing the main source of export income and government revenue. Crude oil is produced in southern Trinidad, mainly offshore. Large refineries are located on the southwest coast. Trinidad also produces large amounts of natural gas. Pitch Lake, near La Brea, is a major source of natural asphalt.
The climate, beaches, and annual carnival season attract many visitors to the islands, making tourism a major economic activity.
Agriculture is only moderately important, both by value and employment. The production of sugarcane is the leading activity. Other commercial crops include citrus fruits, cacao, and coffee. Numerous small farms produce for family use and local consumption. There is relatively little livestock raising and commercial fishing.
Most of Trinidad and Tobago's roads are paved, and bus and truck transportation is extensive. Port of Spain is the capital and largest city. Port of Spain's seaport is the leading general cargo port and a port of call for many cruise ships.
Most people live on the island of Trinidad. About 40 per cent of the people are blacks, another 40 per cent East Indians, and the rest of mixed or European ancestry. English is the predominant language. Christianity, represented mainly by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, is the principal religion. Among the East Indians, Hindus out-number Muslims.
Primary and secondary education is free and, for ages 6 to 12, compulsory. Many schools are run jointly by religious organizations and the government. The literacy rate is about 95 per cent. Institutions of higher learning include the Trinidad campus of the University of the West Indies, at St. Augustine, and several teacher-training and technical colleges.
Under the constitution of 1976, Trinidad and Tobago is a republic. A president selected by Parliament serves as head of state. The prime minister, who is the head of government, and the cabinet are responsible to Parliament. A 31-member Senate and a 36-member House of Representatives make up the Parliament. Trinidad and Tobago has three major political parties, which include the People's National Movement (PNM), the United National Congress (UNC), and the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR).