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Country Facts

Trinidad and Tobago is a twin-island state lying at the southernmost end of the Caribbean archipelago stretching from Florida in the United States of America to Venezuela in South America and enclosing the Caribbean Sea. The islands of Trinidad and Tobago lie between 10° 2' and 11°12' N Latitude and 60°30' and 61°56' W Longitude. Tobago is situated 30 km to the north east of Trinidad. Trinidad has a landmass of 4,828 sq km or 1,864 square miles. Tobago has an area of 300 sq km or 116 square miles.

There are several smaller islands around the coast of Trinidad and Tobago which are ideal reserves for wild life. Most notable of these are "Little Tobago", a bird sanctuary for the world-famed `Bird of Paradise' and the islands of Monos, Gasparee and Chacachacare which stand in the sea like stepping-stones between Trinidad and Venezuela. Trinidad is separated from Venezuela by the Gulf of Paria, one of the finest natural harbours in the world.

The islands have a tropical climate with two main seasons: a dry season that runs from January to May and a rainy season that runs from June to December.

Brief background

Trinidad

The original inhabitants of Trinidad were the Amerindian tribes, the Caribs and the Arawaks. Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Trinidad in 1498 and took possession of it on behalf of the Crown of Spain. However, it was not colonized by the Spaniards until 1532. In the late 1790s there was a considerable influx of Colonists mainly French, driven from Haiti, Grenada and other French speaking colonies by the events of the French Revolution. Later, others were attracted by a proclamation issued by the Spanish Government called the 'Cedula of Population' which offered large tracts of land in Trinidad on very favourable terms to Catholic settlers. Trinidad was captured by a British naval expedition headed by Sir Ralph Abercromby in 1797 and was formally ceded to the British Crown in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens.

Tobago

Tobago was initially isolated and unknown to Europeans for many decades after the discovery of Trinidad. The island was visited by the English captain Robert Dudley in 1596 but remained uninhabited until 1632 when a party of about 200 Zealanders was sent there by a company of Dutch merchants. For the next 200 years, the island was ruled by the Dutch, the English and the French, all of them rival colonists. In 1763, Tobago was ceded to Britain, captured by the French in 1781 and recaptured by the British in 1793.

After changing hands several times, the island was ceded to Britain in 1814 by the Treaty of Paris .

Trinidad and Tobago

On April 6, 1889, Trinidad and Tobago became united as one territory. Tobago, at the insistence of the British Government, became a ward of the colony of Trinidad and the finances of the two islands were merged.

Following the abolition of slavery in 1838, the population of both islands, more so Trinidad, increased steadily. In 1845, East Indians from India were introduced as indentured labourers. Portuguese from Madeira came as early as 1834 and Africans from Sierra Leone, Europeans and Chinese migrated to the island following the introduction of the East Indians. These settlers by far and large, owe their presence here to the cultivation of sugar cane, and to the events that followed its introduction into the region. From settlement and conquest, the people of Trinidad and Tobago have moved from Crown Colony, self-government, and independence to the status of an independent Republic within the Commonwealth. Trinidad and Tobago gained independence from Britain on 31 August 1962 and became a Republic within the Commonwealth on 24 September 1978.

The history of Trinidad and Tobago has produced a rich cultural heritage. This coupled with its geographic location, stable political environment, wealth of natural resources and an educated population make for attractive investment opportunites. Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas. The energy sector is the mainstay of the economy of Trinidad and Tobago contributing approximately 34.1% to the country's GDP, 85.5% to merchandise exports and 37.1% to Government revenues in 2004.