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Trinidad and Tobago

Did you know: 

Kamla Persad-Bissessar became the first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago in May 2010.

Sir Vidia Naipaul, born in Chaguanas, Trinidad, in August 1932, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001; Earl Lovelace won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1997; and Sharon Millar the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2013.

Brian Lara, born in Santa Cruz, Trinidad, in May 1969, was Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 1994 and 1995.

Scholarships for postgraduate study are awarded by Trinidad and Tobago to citizens of other Commonwealth countries under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.

Key facts

Joined Commonwealth: 
1962
Population: 
1,341,000 (2013)
GDP: 
3.5% p.a. 1990–2013
UN HDI: 
World ranking 64
Official language: 
English
Timezone: 
GMT minus 4hr
Currency: 
Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TT$)

Geography

Area: 
5,128 sq km: Trinidad (4,828 sq km) and Tobago (300 sq km).
Coastline: 
362km
Capital city: 
Port of Spain
Population density (per sq. km): 
262

The country, the most southerly of the West Indian island states, situated 11.2 km off the Venezuelan coast, consists of two islands: Trinidad and Tobago.

Main towns: 

Port of Spain (capital, pop. 37,074 in 2011), Chaguanas (83,516), San Juan (greater Port of Spain, 56,200), San Fernando (48,848), Arima (greater Port of Spain, 33,606), Point Fortin (20,235), Tunapuna (greater Port of Spain, 19,100), Sangre Grande (17,500) and Princes Town (11,000) on Trinidad; and Scarborough (4,800) on Tobago.

Transport: 

There are 8,320 km of roads, 51 per cent paved. There is no railway.

Port of Spain and Point Lisas are the main ports. Point Lisas deep- water port on the west coast serves the petro-chemical industries. Other terminals are at Pointe-à-Pierre, Point Fortin and Guayaguayare (petroleum); Claxton (cement); Tembladora (bauxite); Brighton (asphalt); Chaguaramas (dry-docks); and Scarborough on Tobago. Tourist cruiseships dock in Scarborough and Port of Spain.

Piarco International Airport, 25 km east of Port of Spain, is a major regional centre for passenger and cargo traffic and aviation-related industries. Crown Point International Airport on Tobago can handle wide-bodied intercontinental aircraft.

International relations: 

Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, Association of Caribbean States, Caribbean Community, Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of American States, United Nations and World Trade Organization.

Trinidad and Tobago hosts the secretariat of the Association of Caribbean States in Port of Spain.

Topography: 

Trinidad and Tobago are unique among Caribbean islands in that only 10,000 years ago they were a part of the South American mainland; the geology and rich flora and fauna are closely akin to Venezuela. A mountain range runs along the north coast, rising to Trinidad’s highest point, El Cirro del Aripo (940 metres); there are rolling hills in the south and the flat Caroni Plain lies in between. Trinidad is well supplied with rivers, some of which end in mangrove swamps on the coast. The Pitch Lake in the south-west is the world’s largest natural reservoir of asphalt. A string of small islands off the north-west peninsula are the remnants of the land-link with the continent. There are sandy beaches in the north and east, and Trinidad has many excellent harbours. Tobago also has a central mountain range descending to a plain in the south-west and many fine beaches.

Climate: 

Tropical, tempered by north-east trade winds, with a temperature range of 22–31°C and an average annual rainfall of 1,631 mm. The dry season is January to May and the wet season June to December, with a short dry sunny season called the Petit Careme during September and October.

Environment: 

he most significant environmental issues are water pollution from agricultural chemicals, industrial wastes and raw sewage; oil pollution of beaches; deforestation; and soil erosion.

Vegetation: 

Forest covers 44 per cent of the land area, having declined at 0.3 per cent p.a. 1990–2010. The forest is tropical evergreen: high in the mountains are mountain mangrove, tree-ferns and small palms; on the lower slopes, hog-plums and sand-box; and in the fresh and brackish swamps, mangrove and gable-palms. The most important agricultural areas are in the central plain of Trinidad. Arable land comprises five per cent and permanent cropland four per cent of the total land area.

Wildlife: 

There are many more species of birds and butterflies than on any other Caribbean island, including 15 varieties of hummingbird (in all some 130 species of birds). There is a wildlife sanctuary in the Northern Range on Trinidad at El Tucuche with agoutis, golden tree-frogs and more than 400 species of birds, and the Caroni Swamp reserve is the home of thousands of scarlet ibis. The government has proposed a National Parks and Wildlife Bill, which aims to protect endangered species of which there are now relatively very few. Two mammal species and four bird species are thought to be endangered (2014).

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