Trinidad and Tobago


Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidadian and Tobagonian.
an independent republic in the West Indies, comprising the islands of Trinidad and Tobago: member of the Commonwealth of Nations. 1,273,141; 1980 sq. mi. (5128 sq. km). Cap.: Port-of-Spain.

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Trinidad and Tobago

Introduction Trinidad and Tobago
Background: The islands came under British control in the 19th century; independence was granted in 1962. 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. Geography Trinidad and Tobago -
Location: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela
Geographic coordinates: 11 00 N, 61 00 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 5,128 sq km land: 5,128 sq km water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Delaware
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 362 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM continental shelf: 200 NM or to the outer edge of the continental margin contiguous zone: 24 NM
Climate: tropical; rainy season (June to December)
Terrain: mostly plains with some hills and low mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: El Cerro del Aripo 940 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, asphalt
Land use: arable land: 14.62% permanent crops: 9.16% other: 76.22% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: outside usual path of hurricanes and other tropical storms Environment - current issues: water pollution from agricultural chemicals, industrial wastes, and raw sewage; oil pollution of beaches; deforestation; soil erosion Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: Pitch Lake, on Trinidad's southwestern coast, is the world's largest natural reservoir of asphalt People Trinidad and Tobago
Population: 1,163,724 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23% (male 136,807; female 131,177) 15-64 years: 70.2% (male 419,847; female 396,643) 65 years and over: 6.8% (male 35,146; female 44,104) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.52% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 13.66 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 8.81 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -10.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/ female total population: 1.04 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 24.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.59 years female: 71.25 years (2002 est.) male: 66.04 years
Total fertility rate: 1.8 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.05% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 7,800 (1999 est.)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 530 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Trinidadian(s), Tobagonian(s) adjective: Trinidadian, Tobagonian
Ethnic groups: black 39.5%, East Indian (a local term - primarily immigrants from northern India) 40.3%, mixed 18.4%, white 0.6%, Chinese and other 1.2%
Religions: Roman Catholic 29.4%, Hindu 23.8%, Anglican 10.9%, Muslim 5.8%, Presbyterian 3.4%, other 26.7%
Languages: English (official), Hindi, French, Spanish, Chinese
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 94% (2000) male: 95.9% (1999) female: 91.7% (1999) Government Trinidad and Tobago
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago conventional short form: Trinidad and Tobago
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Port-of-Spain Administrative divisions: 8 counties, 3 municipalities*, and 1 ward**; Arima*, Caroni, Mayaro, Nariva, Port-of-Spain*, Saint Andrew, Saint David, Saint George, Saint Patrick, San Fernando*, Tobago**, Victoria
Independence: 31 August 1962 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 31 August (1962)
Constitution: 1 August 1976
Legal system: based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Arthur Napoleon Raymond ROBINSON (since 18 March 1997) head of government: Prime Minister Patrick MANNING (since 24 December 2001) cabinet: Cabinet appointed from among the members of Parliament elections: president elected by an electoral college, which consists of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, for a five-year term; election last held 10 December 2001 (next to be held NA 2006); the president usually appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives election results: Arthur Napoleon Raymond ROBINSON elected president; percent of electoral college vote - 69%
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (31 seats; members appointed by the president for a maximum term of five years) and the House of Representatives (36 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: House of Representatives - last held 10 December 2001 (next to be held by December 2006) note: Tobago has a unicameral House of Assembly, with 15 members serving four-year terms election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote - UNC 49.9%, PNM 46.5%; seats by party - UNC 18, PNM 18
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Judicature (comprised of the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeals; the chief justice is appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; other justices are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission); High Court of Justice; Court of Appeals the highest court of appeal is the Privy Council in London Political parties and leaders: National Alliance for Reconstruction or NAR [Hochoy CHARLES]; People's Empowerment Party or PEP [leader NA]; People's National Movement or PNM [Patrick MANNING]; Team Unity or TUN [Ramesh MAHARAJ]; United National Congress or UNC [Basdeo PANDAY] Political pressure groups and Jamaat-al Musilmeen [Yasin BAKR]
leaders: International organization ACP, C, Caricom, CCC, CDB, ECLAC,
participation: FAO, G-24, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Mackisack LOGIE chancery: 1708 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 consulate(s) general: Miami and New York FAX: [1] (202) 785-3130 telephone: [1] (202) 467-6490 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Roy
US: AUSTIN embassy: 15 Queen's Park West, Port- of-Spain mailing address: P. O. Box 752, Port-of-Spain telephone: [1] (868) 622-6371 through 6376 FAX: [1] (868) 628-5462
Flag description: red with a white-edged black diagonal band from the upper hoist side Economy Trinidad and Tobago -
Economy - overview: Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses. A leading performer in the past 4 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 expected recovery of the global economy, along with anticipated higher oil prices, are plus factors for 2002. Negative factors are persistent high unemployment and the political uncertainties following the contentious selection of a new government in December 2001.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $10.6 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $9,000 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.6% industry: 43.2% services: 55.2% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 21% (1992 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 564,000 (2000) Labor force - by occupation: construction and utilities 12.4%, manufacturing, mining, and quarrying 14%, agriculture 9.5%, services 64.1% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 11.8% (2001)
Budget: revenues: $1.54 billion expenditures: $1.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $117.3 million (1998)
Industries: petroleum, chemicals, tourism, food processing, cement, beverage, cotton textiles Industrial production growth rate: 4.2% (2001) Electricity - production: 5.153 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 99.59% hydro: 0% other: 0.41% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 4.792 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: cocoa, sugarcane, rice, citrus, coffee, vegetables; poultry
Exports: $4.1 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, steel products, fertilizer, sugar, cocoa, coffee, citrus, flowers
Exports - partners: US 45.9%, Caricom countries 26.1%, Latin America 9.5%, EU 5.7% (1999)
Imports: $3.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, live animals
Imports - partners: US 39.8%, Venezuela 11.9%, EU 11%, Caricom 4.8% (1999)
Debt - external: $2.2 billion (2000 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $24 million (1999 est.)
Currency: Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD)
Currency code: TTD
Exchange rates: Trinidad and Tobago dollars per US dollar - 6.2466 (January 2002), 6.2332 (2001), 6.2998 (2000), 6.2989 (1999), 6.2983 (1998), 6.2517 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September Communications Trinidad and Tobago Telephones - main lines in use: 252,000 (1999) Telephones - mobile cellular: 17,411 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: excellent international service; good local service domestic: NA international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Barbados and Guyana
Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 12, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 680,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 4 (1997)
Televisions: 425,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tt Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 17 (2000)
Internet users: 42,800 (2001) Transportation Trinidad and Tobago
Railways: minimal agricultural railroad system near San Fernando; common carrier railway service was discontinued in 1968 (2001)
Highways: total: 8,320 km paved: 4,252 km unpaved: 4,068 km (1996)
Waterways: none
Pipelines: crude oil 1,032 km; petroleum products 19 km; natural gas 904 km
Ports and harbors: Pointe-a-Pierre, Point Fortin, Point Lisas, Port-of-Spain, Scarborough, Tembladora
Merchant marine: total: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,910 GRT/7,546 DWT ships by type: cargo 2, petroleum tanker 1 note: includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: United States 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 6 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 3 over 3,047 m: 1 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 3 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Military Trinidad and Tobago
Military branches: Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force (including Ground Force, Coast Guard, and Air Wing), Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 347,831 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 248,324 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $90 million (1999)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.4% (1999)
GDP: Transnational Issues Trinidad and Tobago Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe; producer of cannabis

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officially Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Island state of the West Indies, comprising the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

Forming the two southernmost links in the Caribbean chain (see Caribbean Sea), the islands lie northeast of Venezuela and northwest of Guyana. Area: 1,980 sq mi (5,128 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 1,304,000. Capital: Port of Spain. The people are mainly of East Indian and African ancestry. Language: English (official). Religions: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Islam. Currency: Trinidad and Tobago dollar. The islands are mostly flat or rolling, with narrow belts of mountainous highlands and luxuriant rain forests. The Caroni Swamp, an important bird sanctuary on Trinidad, supports populations of flamingo, egret, and scarlet ibis. The country has large reserves of petroleum and natural gas, as well as the world's largest supply of natural asphalt. Other industries include agriculture, fishing, and tourism. Chief crops include sugarcane, citrus fruits, cocoa, and coffee. It is a republic with two legislative houses; its chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. When Christopher Columbus visited Trinidad in 1498, it was inhabited mostly by Arawak Indians, though there were probably some Carib speakers as well; Caribs inhabited Tobago. The islands were settled by the Spanish in the 16th century. In the 17th–18th centuries African slaves were imported for plantation labour to replace the original Indian population, which had been decimated by the impact of culture shock, slavery, and diseases introduced by the Europeans. Trinidad was surrendered to the British in 1797. The British attempted to settle Tobago in 1721, but the French captured the island in 1781 and transformed it into a sugar-producing colony. The British acquired it in 1802. After slavery ended in the islands (1834–38), immigrants from India were brought in to work the plantations. Trinidad and Tobago were administratively combined in 1889. Granted limited self-government in 1925, the islands became an independent state within the Commonwealth in 1962, and a republic in 1976. Political unrest was followed in 1990 by an attempted Muslim-fundamentalist coup against the government.

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▪ 2009

Area:
5,155 sq km (1,990 sq mi)
Population
(2008 est.): 1,305,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President George Maxwell Richards
Head of government:
Prime Minister Patrick Manning

      Trinidad and Tobago's success in discovering offshore natural gas was again evident in January 2008 when Petro-Canada announced that its Cassra-1 well (located in Block 22 north of Tobago) had identified 600 billion–1.3 trillion cu ft of new reserves. Further analysis would provide a more detailed estimate of the reserves in the four-well Block 22 project.

      Prime Minister Patrick Manning in February insisted that the government would not introduce a formal state of emergency to deal with the increasing—largely drug-related— murder rate, as had been recommended by several nongovernmental organizations. Manning argued that the circumstances “did not warrant” such drastic action.

      The Trinidad and Tobago-based RBTT bank, one of the leading financial institutions in the Caribbean, was acquired by the Royal Bank of Canada for U.S.$2.2 billion in March. More than 98% of RBTT's shareholders voted in favour of the sale, but there was some opposition from nonshareholders to what many regarded as a national and regional asset's falling into foreign hands. The government reported in April that it planned to vigorously pursue the goal of making Port of Spain an international financial centre along the lines of Singapore, Dublin, and Dubai, U.A.E., rather than a tax haven like many other offshore Caribbean banking centres.

      Trinidad and Tobago took the lead in August in inspiring a joint declaration involving itself and three other Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) countries—Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The quartet agreed to work toward complete economic union, independent of the rest of Caricom, by 2011 and to establish a form of political union by 2013.

David Renwick

▪ 2008

Area:
5,155 sq km (1,990 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 1,303,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President George Maxwell Richards
Head of government:
Prime Minister Patrick Manning

 In parliamentary elections held on Nov. 5, 2007, in Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister Patrick Manning's ruling People's National Movement took 26 of the 41 seats in the parliament, while the United National Congress Alliance (UNC) party won the remainder. The Congress of the People party, which had broken off from the UNC, failed to garner representation.

      Pres. George Maxwell Richards appointed a three-man tribunal in May to investigate whether Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma should be removed from office. Sharma allegedly had attempted to influence the magistrate's verdict in the trial of former prime minister Basdeo Panday, who had failed to declare all of his assets to the Integrity Commission.

      The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries confirmed in May that cross-border natural gas in reservoirs straddling blocks located in Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela could amount to about 283 billion cu m (10 trillion cu ft), 27% of which was on the Trinidad and Tobago side. U.S. consultants Ryder Scott reported in August that Trinidad and Tobago's proven natural gas reserves had fallen by 49 billion cu m (1.72 trillion cu ft) to 483 billion cu m (17.05 trillion cu ft.) This announcement was worrisome because the commercialization of natural gas had been the basis of the country's rapid industrial development in the past decade.

David Renwick

▪ 2007

Area:
5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 1,301,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President Maxwell Richards
Head of government:
Prime Minister Patrick Manning

      Trinidad and Tobago's maritime border dispute with neighbouring Barbados was finally settled in April 2006 when the Law of the Sea Arbitration Panel in The Hague agreed on a straight-line demarcation halfway between the two Caribbean countries. Though this differed from the boundary claims that both had put forward, they appeared satisfied with the outcome.

      The chairman of the official opposition United National Congress (UNC) party, former prime minister Basdeo Panday, in April was found guilty of having failed to declare his London bank account to the Integrity Commission, which monitored the assets of all parliamentarians. He was sentenced to two years' hard labour and the payment of a fine. At year's end Panday was free on bail pending the outcome of an appeal. In September, after protracted disagreements with his colleagues (including Panday), Winston Dookeran resigned as political leader of the UNC and launched a new party, the Congress of the People.

      The government in July approved the largest infrastructure project in the country's history, a $2.5 billion rapid-rail system designed to help alleviate growing congestion on most of the major highways.

      Prime Minister Patrick Manning in September accused the U.S. government of being so preoccupied with the “war on terrorism” that it was “studiously ignoring” the needs of the Caribbean, specifically those of Trinidad and Tobago, which supplied the U.S. with more than 70% of the liquefied natural gas used as an energy source in that country.

David Renwick

▪ 2006

Area:
5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 1,298,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President Maxwell Richards
Head of government:
Prime Minister Patrick Manning

      In January 2005 the ruling People's National Movement (PNM) party strengthened its hold on the institutions of government in Trinidad and Tobago. The PNM retained control of the Tobago House of Assembly, winning 11 of the 12 seats for a net pickup of 3. The last seat went to the opposition Democratic Action Committee.

      The United National Congress (UNC), the official opposition party in Trinidad and Tobago's House of Representatives, was, by contrast, weakened in April when two of its MPs, Fuad Khan and Gillian Lucky, declared themselves no longer bound by the party whip. They expressed dissatisfaction over the path the party was taking and were particularly troubled by UNC leader and former prime minister Basdeo Panday's declaration that “politics has its own morality and that if one wishes to hold on to one's professional integrity one ought to leave politics.” Panday spent a week in jail in May–June after refusing bail on a corruption charge linked to the construction of a new international airport while he was prime minister. His wife, Oma, and former UNC works minister Carlos John were also charged alongside Panday, who eventually agreed to step down as leader of the UNC in October. Winston Dookeran, an MP for the St. Augustine constituency, succeeded him.

      Explosions rocked Port of Spain throughout the year. Some form of terrorism appeared evident as bombs went off in the capital city's main shopping area, Frederick Street, in July, in a nearby street in August, outside a restaurant in downtown Independence Square in September, and outside a popular bar in St. James, west of Port of Spain, in October. No one claimed responsibility for the bombings, and there were no fatalities.

David Renwick

▪ 2005

Area:
5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 1,286,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President Maxwell Richards
Head of government:
Prime Minister Patrick Manning

      Trinidad and Tobago's labour minister, Larry Achong, resigned from Prime Minister Patrick Manning's cabinet in March 2004 because of the government's failure to enact a special minimum wage for the heavy construction (energy) sector, which had been opposed by business groups. Achong had publicly backed the measure and felt he had been compromised. He continued to support the Manning government in Parliament, however.

      At a conference held in Tobago in April, Manning told Western Hemisphere energy ministers that Trinidad and Tobago was planning to add two more liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants after the processing unit Train IV came onstream in early 2006. This reflected a determination on the country's part to remain the leading supplier of LNG to the U.S.

      Trinidad and Tobago's rapid pace of heavy industrial development reached a new milestone in May when the world's largest aluminum company, Alcoa Inc., announced that it would build a new smelter in the country. The complex, which was to include a new power plant and downstream fabrication, would cost $1 billion to construct.

      In July former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger paid a flying visit to discuss U.S.–Trinidad and Tobago energy relations and other matters with Manning. In September Manning was quoted as having said that the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard could patrol the Caribbean Sea as far north as Antigua, to protect against drug traffickers taking advantage of vulnerable regional economies, once the U.S. government was prepared to foot the bill.

David Renwick

▪ 2004

Area:
5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 1,279,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
Presidents Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson and, from March 17, Maxwell Richards
Head of government:
Prime Minister Patrick Manning

      Parliament, sitting as an electoral college, voted Max Richards, former principal of the Trinidad and Tobago campus of the University of the West Indies, into office in February 2003 as the country's new president; he was sworn in the next month.

      The government made the long-expected move in midyear to downsize the sugar industry, which had once been the backbone of the Trinidad and Tobago economy but had fallen on hard times in recent decades as production costs outran prices available even in the protected European Union market. The entire 9,000-member workforce at the state-owned sugar producer and refiner, Caroni Ltd., was laid off, and the workers received $16.6 million in compensation. In the future, sugar would be produced mainly to meet local demand.

      The People's National Movement party, which won the general election in 2002, also emerged victorious in the local government election in July 2003 and won control of 9 of the 14 municipalities and regional corporations. The United National Congress took four of the local government bodies, and there was a dead heat in one.

      In August the London-based World Markets Research Centre ranked Trinidad and Tobago as the Caribbean country most vulnerable to targeting for terrorism.

David Renwick

▪ 2003

Area:
5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 1,304,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson
Head of government:
Prime Minister Patrick Manning

      Parliament failed to elect a speaker at its first meeting of 2002 in April. The opposition United National Congress (UNC) party declined to cooperate in the process, even voting against its own nominees. A second attempt was made at another sitting in August and produced the same result, which left Prime Minister Patrick Manning with no option but to advise the president to dissolve Parliament and call a fresh election. This was duly held on October 7, and Manning's People's National Movement emerged clearly victorious, with 20 seats in the House of Representatives to the UNC's 16.

      Manning, who assumed the portfolio of finance minister as well as prime minister, presented the first budget of his new term later that month. The budget provided for $3.3 billion in public expenditure during fiscal year 2002–03.

      Prior to the election, the authorities had charged former prime minister Basdeo Panday with having failed to declare money held in a London bank account. Panday had been obliged to declare assets under local integrity legislation.

David Renwick

▪ 2002

Area:
5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 1,298,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Basdeo Panday and, from December 24, Patrick Manning

      The unexpected outcome (an 18–18 parliamentary seat tie) of the early general election called on Dec. 10, 2001, in Trinidad and Tobago after a United National Congress (UNC) government lost its majority in the House of Representatives, created uncertainty for a period of time. The two party leaders, UNC's Basdeo Panday and the People's National Movement's (PNM's) Patrick Manning, agreed to let chief of state Pres. Arthur Robinson settle the issue. Robinson opted for Manning, a choice that did not go down well with Panday, who, at year's end, was calling loudly for a fresh election within six months.

      In January 2001—for the first time since the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) was established in 1980—the PNM had wrested control of the THA from the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR). In February Dhanraj Singh, the former minister of local government, was charged with the murder of a former UNC local government councillor, Hansraj Sumairsingh. At year's end his trial was still under way.

      Local Muslim leader Yasin Abu Bakr, who had led a short-lived insurrection in 1990, denied in September that he had any connection with wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden. As with other countries in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago had been on heightened alert since the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11.

David Renwick

▪ 2001

Area:
5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 1,292,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson
Head of government:
Prime Minister Basdeo Panday

      The nation was treated during the early months of 2000 to the rare spectacle of the chief of state, Pres. Arthur Robinson, and the head of government, Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, trading harsh words. The issues in contention were the dismissal by Panday of two senators from Tobago, Robinson's home territory before he became president; the “misrepresentation” of the state of Robinson's health by government spokesmen in Parliament; and the failure of Panday to “consult” with the president on matters of state, as required by the constitution. These disagreements were eventually resolved.

      In an unprecedented development, the local courts ruled against Prime Minister Panday in two cases during the year. In September Panday was found to have acted “unconstitutionally” in excluding a local media company, known to be critical of his administration, from being considered for a cellular license.The following month he was found guilty of having defamed the character of the same company's chairman, Ken Gordon, by referring to him in a public speech as a “pseudo-racist.”

      Prime Minister Panday's governing United National Congress (UNC) gained a narrow victory in the country's racially charged parliamentary elections in December. The UNC, supported mostly by people of East Indian descent, won 19 seats; the opposition People's National Movement (PNM), with mainly Afro-Trinidadian supporters, won 16 seats. A third party, the National Alliance for Reconstruction, gained one seat. By year's end the PNM was threatening legal challenges to two victorious UNC candidates, alleging that the candidates were citizens of other countries.

David Renwick

▪ 2000

Area:
5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 1,289,000
Capital:
Port of Spain
Chief of state:
President Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson
Head of government:
Prime Minister Basdeo Panday

      Low oil prices for most of 1999 did not adversely affect the Trinidad and Tobago economy, thanks to higher oil production, increased refinery activity, and continued buoyancy in the gas sector. Growth in real gross domestic product was estimated at close to 7%. In May the Australian company BHP gave a further boost to energy prospects when it discovered a new gas field off Trinidad's northeast coast.

      Trinidad and Tobago achieved something of a modern record for a Western democracy when the authorities hanged nine people during a four-day period in June. A 10th killer was hanged in July despite interventions and protests against the death penalty by international human rights organizations.

      Local government elections in July witnessed a resurgence of the fortunes of the opposition People's National Movement party, which won 66 of the 124 local council seats in Trinidad, three more than it had obtained in the 1996 local poll. The governing United National Congress, by contrast, lost five, finishing with 56.

David Renwick

▪ 1999

      Area: 5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 1,275,000

      Capital: Port of Spain

      Chief of state: President Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson

      Head of government: Prime Minister Basdeo Panday

      Major developments in the all-important energy sector dominated events in Trinidad and Tobago during 1998. In January Amoco Trinidad announced the discovery of 40 million-70 million bbl of oil in one of its offshore fields; the estimate was later upgraded to 50 million-100 million bbl. In February the government signed production-sharing contracts with several international oil companies for exploration in the deep waters off the eastern coast of Trinidad, where billions of barrels of oil were believed to be located. In July Enron Oil and Gas Co. of the U.S. said that it had discovered the largest gas field in its history, estimated to contain 17 billion-28 billion cu m (600 billion-1 trillion cu ft), off Trinidad's southeast coast.

      The nation's eighth ammonia plant, Farmland Ammonia, owned by two U.S. companies, was officially inaugurated in July. Its production capacity of 600,000 tons a year made Trinidad and Tobago the world's largest exporter of ammonia.

DAVID RENWICK

▪ 1998

      Area: 5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 1,276,000

      Capital: Port of Spain

      Chief of state: Presidents Noor Mohammed Hassanali and, from March 19, Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson

      Head of government: Prime Minister Basdeo Panday

      The official opposition party, the People's National Movement (PNM), lost two of its members in the House of Representatives in February when both Vincent Lasse and Rupert Griffith crossed the floor to join forces with the coalition government in the capacity of "independents." Both men were given ministerial posts, though they were not invited to join the Cabinet. Their defection reduced the PNM's strength in the House to 15 seats while boosting the United National Congress-led coalition government's support to 21.

      Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson, prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago when the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) party was in power during 1986-91, was elected president by an electoral college on February 14 and was sworn in on March 19. He replaced Noor Mohammed Hassanali, who retired after having served two five-year terms. In July the NAR, whose sole member in the House was part of the coalition, elected a new leader, Nizam Mohammed. Mohammed was given a mandate to "reestablish the party as an independent political organization."

DAVID RENWICK
      This article updates Trinidad and Tobago.

▪ 1997

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Trinidad and Tobago consists of two islands in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela. Area: 5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 1,262,000. Cap.: Port of Spain. Monetary unit: Trinidad and Tobago dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of TT$6.03 to U.S. $1 (TT$9.50 = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Noor Mohammed Hassanali; prime minister, Basdeo Panday.

      The nation's new coalition government started 1996 briskly with its first budget in January, reducing the top rate of income tax from 38% to 35% and lowering the corporation tax by the same amount. Total expenditure was set at TT$9.6 billion for 1996.

      Atlantic LNG, a consortium including Amoco and British Gas, was given permission in April to build a plant, at an estimated cost of about U.S.$1 billion, to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the U.S. and Spain. When completed in mid-1999, it would be only the second LNG export plant in the Western Hemisphere.

      (DAVID RENWICK)

      This article updates Trinidad and Tobago.

▪ 1996

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Trinidad and Tobago consists of two islands in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela. Area: 5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 1,265,000. Cap.: Port of Spain. Monetary unit: Trinidad and Tobago dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of TT$5.70 to U.S. $1 (TT$9.02 = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Noor Mohammed Hassanali; prime ministers, Patrick Manning and, from November 9, Basdeo Panday.

      The illicit-drug-related criminal activity that bedeviled Trinidad and Tobago for most of 1995 took a particularly vicious turn in June when unknown gunmen assassinated Selwyn Richardson, who had established a reputation as an anticorruption fighter while serving as attorney general from 1981 to 1991.

      In July and August the country came close to a constitutional crisis when the speaker of the House of Representatives, Occah Seapaul, refused to resign at the request of Prime Minister Patrick Manning after she gave questionable testimony in a court matter. Instead, she chose a confrontational approach and began suspending government members, thus endangering its parliamentary majority. Manning invoked a state of emergency and put the speaker under house arrest; the government then introduced a bill in the legislature providing for the removal of a speaker.

      With the economic situation improving, Manning decided to call a general election in early November, one year ahead of time. His gamble did not pay off, however. His People's National Movement retained only 17 of the 21 seats it had won in the previous election, and the United National Congress (UNC), led by Basdeo Panday, also won 17. Manning said that he would not enter a coalition, and the UNC teamed up with the National Alliance for Reconstruction, which had held on to the two Tobago seats, to form a government. Panday, the first Trinidadian of Indian descent to hold the office, was sworn in as prime minister on November 9. (DAVID RENWICK)

      This updates the article Trinidad and Tobago.

▪ 1995

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Trinidad and Tobago consists of two islands in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela. Area: 5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 1,273,000. Cap.: Port of Spain. Monetary unit: Trinidad and Tobago dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of TT$5.58 to U.S. $1 (TT$8.88 = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Noor Mohammad Hassanali; prime minister, Patrick Manning.

      In legislative by-elections held in 1994 to replace three sitting members of the legislature who had died early in the year, the People's National Movement party lost two seats to the opposition. Prime Minister Patrick Manning, concerned over his party's losses, hinted that he might call elections in 1995, a year early.

      Amoco Trinidad Oil Co. identified an additional 56.6 billion cu m (2 trillion cu ft) of natural gas in its east coast offshore fields in June and August. As a result, the company gained enough gas reserves to fulfill almost all the requirements of its proposed 12 million-cu m (425 million-cu ft)-per-day liquefied natural gas plant in Trinidad, which would be the first in the Western Hemisphere.

      In July, against the background of a deteriorating crime situation, the government ended its self-imposed 15-year moratorium on hanging and executed convicted murderer Glen Ashby. The move drew international protests, in part because Ashby was put to death only minutes before the Privy Council in London agreed to a stay of execution on constitutional grounds.

      The amnesty granted to the 114 members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen sect who had stormed the legislature in July 1990 and held Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson and several of his ministers hostage for five days was declared invalid in September. The court, however, ruled that the group should not be rearrested or tried for the offenses they committed. (DAVID RENWICK)

      This updates the article Trinidad and Tobago.

▪ 1994

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Trinidad and Tobago consists of two islands in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela. Area: 5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 1,249,000. Cap.: Port of Spain. Monetary unit: Trinidad and Tobago dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of TT$5.48 to U.S. $1 (TT$8.30 = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Noor Mohammad Hassanali; prime minister, Patrick Manning.

      Nucor Corp., a leading U.S. steel company, agreed in January 1993 to establish the world's first commercialized iron carbide plant at the Point Lisas industrial estate in central Trinidad. It was designed to produce 320,000 metric tons a year for export to the firm's plants in the U.S.

      In March the government began its privatization program in earnest when it sold its 51% interest in the Fertilisers of Trinidad and Tobago's (Fertrin) ammonia plant and its 100% holding in the Trinidad and Tobago Urea Co. for U.S. $175 million. The government was to sell at least 28 of the 32 corporations in which it had 100% interest.

      The Trinidad and Tobago dollar was made freely convertible and allowed to float on the foreign exchange market in April. A depreciation of 26% against the U.S. dollar immediately took place. The measure was designed to create confidence in the Trinidad and Tobago dollar, attract investment, and encourage exports.

      In June a major expansion of methanol capacity was announced under which two German firms bought 31% of the state-owned Trinidad and Tobago Methanol Co. The plant was to be expanded so as to produce an additional 550,000 metric tons a year, enabling the country to produce over 1.6 million metric tons of methanol by 1996, making Trinidad and Tobago the world's largest methanol exporter.

      In August Prime Minister Patrick Manning, along with four other Caribbean leaders, met U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton in Washington, D.C., to explain that the Caribbean Community policy of forging closer links with Cuba could be accommodated within the framework of overall U.S. policy.

      (DAVID RENWICK)

      This updates the article Trinidad and Tobago.

* * *

Introduction
Trinidad and Tobago, flag of   island country of the southeastern West Indies. It consists of two main islands—Trinidad and Tobago—and several smaller islands. Forming the two southernmost links in the Caribbean chain, Trinidad and Tobago lie close to the continent of South America, northeast of Venezuela and northwest of Guyana. Trinidad, by far the larger of the two main islands, has an area of about 1,850 square miles (4,800 square km). It is 7 miles (11 km) from the Venezuelan coast at its nearest point and is separated from it by the Gulf of Paria (Paria, Gulf of) and two narrow channels, where there are several small islands and rocks. Tobago, much smaller with an area of about 115 square miles (300 square km), lies 20 miles (30 km) to the northeast of Trinidad. Extending diagonally from southwest to northeast, Tobago is about 30 miles (50 km) long and more than 10 miles (16 km) across at its widest point. Little Tobago lies about a mile off Tobago's northeastern coast. Also called Bird of Paradise Island, Little Tobago was once noted as the only wild habitat of the greater bird of paradise outside of New Guinea; however, the bird is no longer found there.

      Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1962 and obtained membership in the Commonwealth and the United Nations that same year. It became a republic in 1976. The capital of Trinidad and Tobago is Port of Spain, located on the northwestern coast of Trinidad.

Relief and drainage
 Physiographically, the islands represent an extension of the South American mainland. The outstanding physical feature of the island of Trinidad is its Northern Range, a continuation of the coastal ranges of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela. The range runs east-west at an average elevation of about 1,500 feet (460 metres), rising to 3,084 feet (940 metres) at Mount Aripo (El Cerro del Aripo), the country's highest peak. The Northern Range is the site of a large number of waterfalls, the most spectacular of which are the Blue Basin Falls and the Maracas Falls, both 298 feet (91 metres) high. On the southern side of the range, foothills with an elevation of approximately 500 feet (150 metres) descend to the Northern Plain.

      Running across the centre of the island, from southwest to northeast, is the Central Range, the highest point of which is Mount Tamana (1,009 feet [308 metres]). A third row of mainly low hills, the Southern Range, adds further variety to the mostly flat or undulating surface of Trinidad.

      The three mountain ranges determine the island's drainage pattern. Rivers are numerous but short, the longest being the Ortoire in the south and the Caroni in the north. In low-lying areas swamps can be found; among them are the Caroni Swamp in the northwest and clusters along the eastern (notably the Nariva Swamp) and southern coasts.

      An oil-bearing belt occupies the southern one-fourth of the island, extending west into the Gulf of Paria and east into the Atlantic Ocean. Gas and water seepages give rise to mud volcanoes of various types, the best-known of which is called the Devil's Woodyard. In the southwest of the island is the deep asphalt deposit known as Pitch Lake.

      The island of Tobago is physiographically an extension of the Venezuelan coastal range and the Northern Range of Trinidad. Its dominant feature is the Main Ridge, which runs from northeast to southwest, rising to heights of about 1,800 feet (550 metres). The ridge slopes more gently to the southwest onto a coral plain. The coral formation has given rise to a number of reefs, one of which, Buccoo Coral Reef, is known for its marine life and is popular for scuba diving and snorkeling. Over the years, the reef and its marine life have suffered serious damage from pollution and tourist activity. Tobago has only a few short streams.

Climate
 The climate of Trinidad and Tobago is tropical, with high relative humidity. The coolest months are January and February, when the average minimum temperature is about 68 °F (20 °C). The warmest months are April, May, and October, which have an average maximum temperature of about 89 °F (32 °C). In general, mean temperatures range between 77 °F (25 °C) in February and 85 °F (29 °C) in April. Temperatures vary significantly between day and night, and the climate along the coast is tempered by sea breezes.

      There is a main dry season from January to May and a lesser dry season (Petite Carême, or Indian Summer) in September and October. The prevailing winds are the northeast trades. The islands are outside the main hurricane zone, but Tobago occasionally is struck by disastrous hurricanes (e.g., in 1847 and 1963).

Plant and animal life
      Vegetation zones are well defined on both islands. In general, the highest areas coincide with the most luxuriant tropical rainforest vegetation. Cultivated estates or small settlements are established in clearings on the hills. In the dry season the hills are dotted with the orange flowers of the mountain immortelle, a large flowering tree that grows to a height of about 80 feet (25 metres), and the flowers of the pink poui and yellow poui trees. Sugarcane, the main agricultural crop, is grown on Trinidad's Central Plain.

      The Caroni Swamp, a bird sanctuary, is frequented by flocks of white flamingos and egrets as well as populations of scarlet ibis—a national bird. Despite its protected status, the sanctuary's bird population, including that of the scarlet ibis, has declined markedly since the 1970s, the result of illegal hunting and of pollution. The Nariva Swamp, which has a varied bird and mammal population including the manatee, has similarly come under threat despite its protected status, especially from illegal rice farms. The greater bird of paradise was introduced to the island of Little Tobago, a bird sanctuary, but had disappeared by the early 21st century.

      The forests on both Trinidad and Tobago are hunting grounds for small game, the most-sought-after being the paca, or lappe. Other animals include the agouti (a short-haired, short-eared, rabbitlike rodent), quenck (collared peccary; a wild hog), tattoo (an armadillo), prehensile-tailed porcupine, and iguana. Four main groups of reptiles are present on the islands: snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles (one kind, the caiman, related to the alligators). Trinidad's other indigenous animals include howler monkeys and ocelots, but the latter have disappeared from the wild and the former are rare. In general, the island's fauna has come under severe stress from rapid urbanization and industrial development.

Ethnic groups
      The original inhabitants of Trinidad migrated from the Orinoco River delta region of northeastern South America and probably spoke an Arawakan language (Arawakan languages). It seems likely that by the time the Spanish established a presence there in the 16th century there was also a population of Cariban (Cariban languages) speakers, mostly on the north coast. Today a group called the Santa Rosa Caribs of Arima claims partial descent from the original inhabitants and seeks to keep their heritage alive. Tobago was settled by Cariban-speaking Indians when Europeans first arrived there.

      The ethnic makeup of Trinidad is dominated by two groups, roughly equal in size: blacks, descended from slaves brought in to work on cotton and sugar plantations beginning in the late 18th century, and Indo-Trinidadians, or East Indians, whose ancestors were primarily labourers who immigrated from the Indian subcontinent as plantation workers after the abolition of slavery in the mid-19th century. Migrants from Spain and other European countries, Africa, East and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East have all contributed to the ethnic composition of the islands' population. Although English is the official language, most people speak Trinidad English, a creole language. A few people, mostly in rural areas, speak a French-derived creole, Spanish, or Hindi.

Religion
      Under the Spanish, Roman Catholicism was the official religion, and it was strengthened by French immigration during the French and Haitian revolutions. Anglicanism and Protestantism gained a foothold in various forms with the advent of the British. People from the Indian subcontinent brought with them their languages and their Hindu and Muslim religions. Both Sunni and Shīʿite Muslim groups are present. Further diversification followed with the immigration of Syrians and Lebanese. African-influenced religious sects include the Shango, or Orisha, faith, derived from the Yoruba culture of modern Nigeria, and the Spiritual Baptists, a syncretic Protestant-African church. In the late 20th century there was a striking increase in the adherents of Hinduism and of various fundamentalist, Evangelical, or Pentecostal churches, mainly of U.S. origin.

Settlement patterns
      Soils, climate, and vegetation all have influenced the pattern of local settlement. Villages stretch ribbonlike along the major roadways. In Trinidad, though not in Tobago, villages are so diverse in plan that it would be difficult to call any typical. Even in the sugar belt of the Central Plain, with its mainly (though not exclusively) East Indian population, patterns vary. Kinship tends to be the important structural element in the life of the traditional East Indian village in Trinidad; caste may also have a localized influence. Traditionally, multiple generations of a family tended to live together or in close proximity, although the extended-family system began giving way to a nuclear-family structure in the late 20th century. Religious rites and festivals, such as Diwali (the Hindu Festival of Lights) and various forms of puja (ceremonial offering), are important events. Houses vary in size and architecture from the simple wooden hut to the well-built two- or three-story dwelling, brightly painted and roofed with corrugated-iron sheeting or clay tiles.

      A somewhat different lifestyle prevails in villages inhabited by people predominantly of African descent, though many villages have both East Indian and African characteristics. The family unit is nuclear rather than extended and may be based upon marriage or upon a stable extralegal relationship. Families headed by women are common.

      These different rural cultural streams converge on the capital, Port of Spain. This city, with its mixed population and European influence (seen particularly in its architecture and its French Creole heritage), is notably cosmopolitan. The large city of San Fernando, located south of Port of Spain on the west coast, has a significant East Indian population. Scarborough, the chief town in Tobago, is an administrative centre and market town.

Demographic trends
      The first census of Trinidad and Tobago, in 1851, recorded a relatively small population of roughly 70,000. By 1921 that figure had more than tripled. However, by the late 20th century the population growth rate was moderating, the result of increased use of family-planning methods—with resulting declines in fertility and birth rates—and emigration from the islands. This was offset somewhat by considerable immigration to Trinidad from the Lesser Antilles and Guyana.

Economy
      The petroleum industry dominates the economy, which is thus subject to fluctuations in the global energy market. Tourism and manufacturing are of great importance. Privatization of some state-owned enterprises was undertaken during the 1980s and '90s. In Tobago tourism is by far the largest sector of the economy.

Agriculture
      Agriculture's contribution to the economy is negligible. Traditionally important agricultural export commodities included sugar, cocoa, and coffee; however, the sugar sector experienced a steep decline in the early 21st century when estate-based production of sugar was ended with the closure of the state-owned sugar-producing company. Other agricultural products include coconuts, citrus fruits, rice, poultry, and vegetables. Indo-Trinidadians dominate food production and comprised the majority of sugar workers. In Tobago agriculture declined markedly after a disastrous hurricane in 1963.

Resources
      Commercial petroleum drilling began in the early 20th century on Trinidad, and oil production subsequently expanded to offshore exploration as well. Large natural gas reserves off the coasts of Trinidad and Tobago are also exploited. Although oil production has declined from its peak in the late 1970s, both oil and natural gas contribute substantially to the country's economy. Liquefied natural gas is a major export commodity. In addition to the large quantity of natural asphalt in Pitch Lake, Trinidad also has deposits of coal, gypsum, limestone, sand and gravel, iron ore, argillite, and fluorspar.

Manufacturing
      Oil production and refining and the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are the major industries, but government policy has encouraged economic diversification to reduce dependence on imports and on petroleum and LNG production. Industrial plants are engaged in the manufacture of chemicals and iron and steel products and in the assembly of consumer durables, including motor vehicles and radio and television receivers. Trinidad has chemical and fertilizer plants and a steel mill. The large-scale production of liquefied natural gas began in the 1990s. The government started fostering intensive industrial development in several areas in the late 20th century, notably in the central and southern area.

Services and taxation
 While petroleum and natural gas continue to make the most substantial contributions to the national economy, services are a growth area, especially in the tourist sector. Tourism is based particularly in Tobago and on Trinidad's northwestern peninsula. The beaches and the annual Carnival celebration are tourist draws. Yachting is expanding rapidly, with several marinas and related service activities, especially in the Chaguanas area. Income and other taxes make up about one-third of government revenues.

Transportation
      The islands are served by a fairly well-developed network of highways and main and local roads, but there is heavy congestion in urban areas. State-owned shipping lines and airline services connect Tobago to Trinidad. Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and Crown Point International Airport in Tobago have interisland connections and links to elsewhere in the Caribbean, North and South America, and western Europe. Port of Spain is the chief commercial port; petroleum exports are handled in ports in the south, such as Point Fortin, Pointe-à-Pierre, and Brighton. There are extensive port facilities at Point Lisas.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      The first constitution of independent Trinidad and Tobago, promulgated as a British Order in Council (1962), provided for a governor-general appointed by the British monarch, a cabinet, and a bicameral Parliament, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Under the constitution adopted in 1976, Trinidad and Tobago is a republic. The head of state is the president, who is elected by the Parliament; the prime minister is the head of government. The president appoints the prime minister from the House of Representatives—almost always the leader of the majority party.

      The members of the House of Representatives are elected by universal adult suffrage every five years; the members of the Senate are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and the minority party leader, except for a number of independent senators appointed at the president's sole discretion. Senators serve until the dissolution of Parliament or upon the request of the president that they vacate office. The voting age is 18.

      Since 1980 Tobago has had a separate House of Assembly consisting of 12 members elected by district at a primary election, four appointed councillors, and a presiding officer, who may or may not be a member of the assembly. In January 1987 Tobago was granted full internal self-government, insofar as such self-government does not conflict with the unitary state as provided by the constitution. The legislation provides for a measure of devolution of executive powers in areas such as revenue raising and collection, agriculture, industry, tourism, environmental conservation, and social services.

      Trinidad is divided into 14 local government authorities: 2 city councils (Port of Spain and San Fernando), 3 borough councils (Arima, Chaguanas, and Point Fortin), and 9 counties.

Health and welfare
      Demand for housing in the urban areas is high, but construction has been hampered by population movement, high construction costs, shortage of land, and inadequate long-term financing. State provision for social security consists of noncontributory old-age pensions, noncontributory government employee pension plans provided out of public revenues, and workers' compensation compulsorily paid by employers. A national health insurance program has been established. There is a network of public clinics and hospitals where treatment is free or low-cost, but concerns about the quality of the care they offer have led to a proliferation of private, fee-paying hospitals and clinics.

Education
      Education is free at the primary and secondary levels and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 12. A campus of the University of the West Indies, offering courses in engineering, business administration, law, medicine, social science, natural science, education, agriculture, and humanities, is located in St. Augustine, about 10 miles (16 km) east of Port of Spain. The University of Trinidad and Tobago (established 2004), with campuses throughout the islands, provides technical and professional training in the sciences, technology, education, and other fields. The University of the Southern Caribbean (1927; Seventh-day Adventist) is a private degree-granting institution near St. Joseph, Trinidad. There are also technical and vocational institutes and several nonuniversity tertiary-level institutions, both public and private.

Cultural life
      The islands of Trinidad and Tobago have produced writers of international stature, including Samuel Selvon (Selvon, Samuel), Earl Lovelace (Lovelace, Earl), and Nobel Prize for Literature winner V.S. Naipaul (Naipaul, Sir V.S.), as well as the noted cultural historian and cricket writer C.L.R. James (James, C.L.R.). The islands are known for steel-band and calypso music and for the dance known as the limbo. Derived from African music and dance forms, these are important features of the annual Carnival celebration, which to many represents the ultimate creative expression of the islands. Indo-Trinidadian music and dance underwent a renaissance beginning in the 1970s and are an important part of the country's cultural scene. Cricket and football (soccer) are the most popular sports.

Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson David Watts Bridget M. Brereton

Colonial period
      When Christopher Columbus (Columbus, Christopher) reached Trinidad in 1498 on his third voyage, the island was inhabited by Arawakan-speaking tribal groups originally from the Orinoco River delta region and a smaller number of Cariban speakers. In the 16th century many of these Trinidadian Indians (Central American and northern Andean Indian) were captured by Spanish slave traders and sent to work in other Spanish possessions, but there was no effective Spanish presence on the island until 1592. In that year Antonio de Berrio came in search of Eldorado (the mythical land of gold); he took official possession of the island and founded St. Joseph, which served as the capital until 1784. Even after 1592 the development of the island proceeded slowly. Few Spaniards emigrated to Trinidad, only a handful of African slaves (slavery) were imported, and there was little production or export. In the 17th and early 18th centuries, tobacco and, later, cacao were cultivated using Trinidadian Indian labour, but after a disastrous failure of the cacao crop in the 1720s the industry declined. The island remained undeveloped until the late 18th century.

      From 1776 the Spanish government encouraged Roman Catholics from the other Caribbean islands to settle in Trinidad with their slaves. This immigration became significant after the cedula (decree) of 1783, which offered generous land and tax incentives to settlers, and transformed Trinidad's population, economy, and society. Most of the settlers were French, and French influence became dominant. Many slaves were brought in from the other colonies and from Africa. Plantations were established, production of cotton and sugar began, and trade increased markedly. By 1797, when Britain (British Empire) seized the island from Spain, Trinidad had begun its development as a plantation economy and a slave society.

      Trinidad was formally ceded to Britain in 1802. Under British rule, Trinidad's development as a sugar colony continued, although in 1806–07 the slave trade was completely prohibited. Slavery was abolished in two stages between 1834 and 1838, and the sugarcane planters were unable to secure the steady, tractable, and cheap labour they wanted. In 1845 the immigration of indentured workers from the Indian subcontinent began; it continued until 1917. As early as 1870, about one-fourth of the total population consisted of Indo-Trinidadians. The original Trinidadian Indian inhabitants had by then virtually disappeared. Other immigrants came to Trinidad after 1838 from the smaller British Caribbean colonies, Africa (as free settlers rescued from foreign slave ships), Madeira, China, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, and the United Kingdom. Trinidad's population became one of the most heterogeneous in the Caribbean.

      Tobago, also sighted by Columbus in 1498, did not have any permanent European settlement until the 18th century. Its development as a sugar colony began when it was ceded to Britain in 1763 and continued throughout the period from 1763 to 1814, during which time Tobago changed hands between Britain and France several times. Tobago's sugar production peaked in the 1790s but began an irreversible decline after 1807. Tobago was ceded to Britain for the last time in 1814, but by then its importance as a sugar-exporting colony had already begun to wane. Tobago had its own bicameral legislature until 1874. In 1889, with the island's economy in shambles as a result of the collapse of its sugar industry, Tobago was amalgamated with Trinidad, while retaining a subordinate legislature and separate taxes. In this way the united colony of Trinidad and Tobago was created. In 1899 Tobago became a ward (administrative district) of Trinidad and Tobago.

      Unlike most of the other British West Indian colonies, including Tobago, Trinidad was never granted a bicameral legislature with an elected assembly. Instead, it was governed as a crown colony, with a governor and (from 1831) a legislative council consisting of top officials and so-called unofficial members nominated by the governor. The constitution of the crown colony underwent no significant modification until 1925.

      During the British colonial period, many activists sought to change the constitution to allow the inclusion of some elected members on the Trinidad and Tobago Legislative Council. In 1925 a constitutional reform did that, adding seven elected members. Further agitation—especially an islandwide series of strikes and riots in 1937 under Grenadan-born labour leader Uriah Butler—led to the grant of universal suffrage in 1945 and other constitutional reforms that provided for a measure of self-government. For about 10 years after universal suffrage, politics in the colony were characterized by individualism and confusion, but in 1956 the People's National Movement (PNM) won a victory at the polls and formed the first party-based cabinet government, under the PNM's founder and leader, Eric Williams (Williams, Eric). Trinidad and Tobago attained independence in 1962 and became a republic within the Commonwealth in 1976.

Independent Trinidad and Tobago
      The PNM won six consecutive elections and held power from 1956 to 1986. This continuity and stability in government were accompanied by economic problems and social unrest, which broke out in widespread disturbances in 1970–71. The oil boom in 1973–81 brought sudden prosperity to most sections of the population, and Trinidad and Tobago entered a period of rapid development and industrialization. A substantial state sector and fairly comprehensive social welfare programs were created from the petroleum profits, while the private sector expanded rapidly. A collapse in oil prices, along with the PNM's failure to win support from most Indo-Trinidadians and deep-seated corruption, led to a marked decline in the party's popularity after 1981, the year of Williams's death.

      In December 1986 the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), a coalition party led by A.N.R. Robinson, won the majority of seats on a program calling for divestment of most state-owned companies, reorganization of the civil service, and structural readjustment of the economy in the light of shrinking oil revenues. Although the NAR government succeeded somewhat in stimulating economic growth while keeping inflation low, its policies were widely resented, and the party was damaged by splits and defections. In July 1990 a small radical Muslim group attempted a coup, in which several ministers, including Robinson, the prime minister, were held hostage for six days. The NAR was defeated in elections in December 1991, and the PNM returned to power.

      The PNM government of 1991–95 continued most of the economic and social policies inaugurated by its NAR predecessors. In 1995 the prime minister called an early general election. The result was a tie between the PNM and the main opposition party, the United National Congress (UNC), which was supported chiefly by Indo-Trinidadians; the two Tobago seats went to the NAR, led by Robinson. The latter gave his support to the UNC, whose leader, Basdeo Panday, thus became prime minister. Panday was the first Indo-Trinidadian prime minister, and his government was the first in Trinidad and Tobago to be controlled by a party whose electoral base was the Indo-Trinidadian population. After leaving office, Panday was charged in 2002 with having failed to declare assets to the parliamentary Integrity Commission.

      The UNC government pursued economic and social policies generally similar to those of the NAR and PNM governments of 1986–95. There was considerable new investment, especially in tourism, petrochemicals, and natural gas. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Trinidad and Tobago has continued its rapid pace of industrial development, which included building liquefied natural gas plants and steel smelters. The state-owned sugar producer and refiner, Caroni Ltd., was closed down in 2003, but some independent cane farmers continued production for the rum industry. Others turned to the cultivation of alternative crops such as cassava and fruits, and a compensation plan was offered to former sugar-industry workers.

Bridget M. Brereton

Additional Reading
Geography is discussed in Helmut Blume, The Caribbean Islands (1976; originally published in German, 1968); and Jeremy Taylor, Masquerade: The Visitor's Introduction to Trinidad and Tobago (1986; also published as Trinidad and Tobago: An Introduction and Guide, 1991).History is explored in Eric E. Williams, History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago (1962, reprinted 2002); Arie Boomert, “The Arawak Indians of Trinidad and Coastal Guiana, ca. 1500–1650,” Journal of Caribbean History, 19(2):123–188 (1984); Linda A. Newson, Aboriginal and Spanish Colonial Trinidad: A Study in Culture Contact (1976); Bridget Brereton, Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad, 1870–1900 (1979, reissued 2002), which explores the multiethnic population characteristics of Trinidad, and A History of Modern Trinidad, 1783–1962 (1981; reissued 1989); Donald Wood, Trinidad in Transition (1968, reissued 1986); Kelvin Singh, Race and Class Struggles in a Colonial State: Trinidad 1917–1945 (1994); and Selwyn D. Ryan, Race and Nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago (1972). A useful reference work is Michael Anthony, Historical Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago (1997). Sources on Tobago's history include Douglas Archibald, Tobago, “Melancholy Isle”, 3 vol. (1987–2003); K.O. Laurence, Tobago in Wartime, 1793–1815 (1995); and C.R. Ottley, The Story of Tobago, Robinson Crusoe's Island in the Caribbean (1973). Susan E. Craig-James, The Changing Society of Tobago, 1838–1938: A Fractured Whole, 2 vol. (2007), is the major modern work on 19th- and 20th-century Tobago.Bridget M. Brereton

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