Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago, officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles.
Trinidad and Tobago (i/ˌtrɪnɨdæd ən tɵˈbeɪɡoʊ/), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. It shares maritime boundaries with other nations including Barbados to the northeast, Guyana to the southeast, and Venezuela to the south and west.
The country covers an area 5,128 square kilometres (1,980 sq mi) and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous smaller landforms. Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the main islands, comprising about 94% of the total area and 96% of the total population of the country. The nation lies outside the hurricane belt.
The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on 18 February 1797. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands between Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers. Trinidad and Tobago was ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. The country obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976. 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 is the birthplace of steelpan, calypso, soca, chutney 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.[clarification needed] Others have reported that kairi and iere simply mean island. Christopher Columbus renamed it "La Isla de la Trinidad" ("The Island of the Trinity"), fulfilling a vow 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), although the English pronunciation is /təˈbeɪɡoʊ/, 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, a Spanish soldier intent on conquering the island of Trinidad, landed on its southwest coast with a small army of men in the 1530s as a means of controlling the Orinoco and subduing the Warao. Sedeno and his men fought the native Carib Indians on many occasions, and subsequently built a fort. 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. San José de Oruña (St Joseph) was established by Antonio de Berrío on this land. Sir Walter Raleigh, searching for the long-rumored "City of Gold" in South America, 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.
In the 1700s, Trinidad belonged as an island province to the Viceroyalty of New Spain together with Central America, present-day Mexico and Southwestern United States. However, Trinidad in this period was still mostly forest, populated by a few Spaniards with their handful of slaves and a few thousand Amerindians. 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 30 fanegas (13 hectares/32 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 Martiniquan planters and their slaves to Trinidad where they established an agriculture-based economy (sugar and cocoa) for the island.
The population of Port of Spain 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. The total population of Trinidad in 1797 was 17,718, of which 2,151 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 Chaguaramas. The Spanish Governor Chacon decided to capitulate without fighting. Trinidad became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population and Spanish laws. 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 sugarcane 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 the Slavery Abolition Act 1845 (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 1 August. 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 80% of slave owners having less than 10 slaves each.: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 1 May 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 including 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 indentureship contracts were soon extended to 10 years after the planters complained 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 19th and early 20th centuries. 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 sugarcane industry concomitant 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 that 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, petroleum 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 in 1498, naming it Bellaforma, but did not land on the island. The present name of Tobago is thought to be a corruption of its old name, "Tobaco".
The Dutch and the Courlanders[disambiguation needed] (people from the small duchy of Courland and Semigallia in modern-day Latvia) established themselves in Tobago in the 16th and 17th centuries and produced tobacco and cotton. Over the centuries, Tobago changed hands between Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers. 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 Chinese, Indian, Tamil and free African indentured labourers, as well as Portuguese from Madeira, arrived to supply labour in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Emigration from Barbados and the other Lesser Antilles, Venezuela, Syria, and Lebanon also impacted on the ethnic make-up of the country.
Trinidad and Tobago gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. Eric Williams, a noted Caribbean historian, widely regarded as "The Father of The Nation," was the first Prime Minister; he served from 1956, before independence, until his death in 1981.
The presence of American military bases in Chaguaramas and Cumuto 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 Jamaica 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 and the public service are the mainstay of the economy of Tobago, though authorities have begun to diversify the island. The bulk of tourist arrivals on the islands are from Western Europe.
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 Kamla Persad-Bissessar. 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.
From 24 December 2001 to 24 May 2010, the governing party has been the People's National Movement (PNM) led by Patrick Manning; the Opposition party was the United National Congress (UNC) led by Basdeo Pandey. Another recent party was 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 votes in the 2007 general elections but failed to win a seat. Prior to 24 May 2010, the PNM held 26 seats in the House of Representatives and the UNC Alliance (UNC-A) held 15 seats, following elections held on 5 November 2007.
After just two and a half years, Prime Minister Patrick Manning dissolved Parliament in April 2010, and called a general election on 24 May 2010. After these general elections, the new governing coalition is the People's Partnership led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Persad-Bissessar and “the People’s Partnership” wrested power from the Patrick Manning-led PNM, taking home 29 seats to the PNM’s 12 seats, based on preliminary results.
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 three years, but have not been held since 2003, four extensions having been sought by the government.
Trinidad and Tobago is a leading member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) 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.
Trinidad is split into 14 regional corporations and municipalities, consisting of 9 regions and 5 municipalities and administered by the Municipal Corporations Act 21 of 1990 and its amendments. The island of Tobago is governed by the Tobago House of Assembly:
Orders and decorations
There are four categories and ten classes of National Awards:
- The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (formerly The Trinity Cross Medal of the Order of the Trinity) in Gold only.
- The Chaconia Medal of the Order of the Trinity, in Gold, Silver and Bronze.
- The Hummingbird Medal of the Order of the Trinity, in Gold, Silver and Bronze.
- The Public Service Medal of Merit of the Order of the Trinity in Gold, Silver and Bronze.
Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard members during a practice exercise at Staubles Bay in Chaguaramas for the arrival of Prince Charles in 2008.
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 Britain, the TTDF is one of the largest military forces in the English-speaking Caribbean.
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 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) off the Venezuelan coast. Covering an area of 5,128 km2 (1,980 sq mi), the country consists of the two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous smaller landforms – including Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande (or Gasparee), Little Tobago, and St. Giles Island. Trinidad is 4,768 km2 (1,841 sq mi) in area (comprising 93.0% of the country's total area) with an average length of 80 km (50 mi) and an average width of 59 kilometres (37 mi).
Tobago has an area of about 300 km2 (120 sq mi), or 5.8% of the country's area, is 41 km (25 mi) long and 12 km (7.5 mi) 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.
Although it is located just offshore from South America, Trinidad and Tobago is generally included as part of the West Indies by virtue of its geographical and historical heritage in the Caribbean.
The terrain of the islands is a mixture of mountains and plains. The highest point in the country is found on the Northern Range at El Cerro del Aripo, which is 940 metres (3,080 ft) above sea level.
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 Spain, the capital, San Fernando, and Chaguanas. The main town in Tobago is Scarborough. 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 Range fold and thrust belt consists of Cretaceous and Eocene sedimentary rocks, with Miocene formations along the southern and eastern flanks. The Naparima Plains and the Nariva Swamp 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 Hills. 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.
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.
Record temperatures for Trindad and Tobago are 39°C (100.4°F) for the high in Port of Spain, and a low of 12°C
Being so close to continental South America, the biological diversity of Trinidad and Tobago is unlike that of most other Caribbean islands, and has much in common with Venezuela. That biodiversity is distributed through the following main ecosystems: coastal and marine (coral reefs, mangrove swamps, open ocean and seagrass beds), forest, freshwater (rivers and streams), karst, man-made ecosystems (agricultural land, freshwater dams, secondary forest), and savanna. On 1 August 1996, Trinidad and Tobago ratified the 1992 Rio Convention on Biological Diversity, and has produced a biodiversity action plan and four reports describing the country's contribution to biodiversity conservation. The importance of biodiversity to the well-being of the country's people through provision of ecosystem services was formally acknowledged.
Information about vertebrates is good, with 467 bird species (1 endemic), more than 100 mammals, about 90 reptiles (1 endemic), about 30 amphibians (1 endemic), 50 freshwater fish and at least 950 marine fish. Information about invertebrates is dispersed and very incomplete. About 650 butterflies, at least 672 beetles (from Tobago alone) and 40 corals have been recorded.
Although the list is far from complete, 1647 species of fungi, including lichens, have been recorded. The true total number of fungi is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7% of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered. A first effort to estimate the number of endemic fungi tentatively listed 407 species.
Information about micro-organisms is dispersed and very incomplete. Nearly 200 species of marine algae have been recorded. The true total number of micro-organism species must be much higher.
Thanks to a recently published checklist, plant diversity in Trinidad and Tobago is well documented with about 3,300 species (59 endemic) recorded.
Trinidad is one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the Caribbean and is listed in the top 40 (2010 information) of the 70 High Income countries in the world. It has one of the highest GDP per capita of USD $20,300 (2011) in the Caribbean. In November 2011, the OECD removed Trinidad and Tobago from its list of Developing Countries. 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 centre, 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 cubic feet per day (110,000,000 m3/d), compared with 3.2×10
^6 cu ft/d (91,000 m3/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.[original research?] The international airport 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. The Ministry of Works estimates that an average Trinidadian spends about four 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.
Telephone service is relatively modern and reliable.[original research?] 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, and their cellular monopoly was broken in June 2005 when licences were granted to Digicel and Laqtel. Laqtel however never started business.
The transport system in Trinidad and Tobago consists of a network of roads across both major islands, ferries connecting Port of Spain with Scarborough and San Fernando, and commercial airports on both islands. 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 Airport located in Piarco. It was opened on 8 January 1931. Elevated at 17.4 metres (57 ft) above sea level it comprises an area of 680 hectares (1,700 acres) and has a runway of 3,200 metres (10,500 ft). 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, two 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. 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, the national airline, operates its main hub at the Piarco International Airport and services the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and South America. The airline is wholly owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. After an additional cash injection of US$50 million, the Trinidad and Tobago government acquired the Jamaican airline Air Jamaica on 1 May 2010, with a 6–12 month transition period to follow.
As of 2005, most (96%) of the country's 1.3 million inhabitants reside on the island of Trinidad with the remainder (4%) in Tobago. The ethnic composition of Trinidad and Tobago reflects a history of conquest and immigration. Two major ethnic groups, Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians and Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonians, account for almost 80% of the population, while people of mixed race, European, Chinese, Syrian–Lebanese and Amerindian descent make up most of the rest of the population.
|Religion in Trinidad and Tobago|
Many different religions are present in Trinidad and Tobago. Among Christian denominations (65.7%) are Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Seventh-day Adventists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Jehovah's Witnesses and other Evangelical groups. Other religious groups include Hindus (25.6%) and Muslims (6.6%) (2000 census).
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.
Similarly, there is a noticeable increase in numbers of a number 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 Buddhism and Taoism are followed by the Chinese community. There is also a small Baha'i community.
English is the country's official language (the local variety of standard English is Trinidadian English or more properly, Trinidad and Tobago Standard English (TTSE)), but the main spoken language is either of two English-based creole languages (Trinidadian Creole or Tobagonian Creole) which reflects the Amerindian, European (including Spanish), African and Indian heritage of the nation. Both creoles contain elements from a variety of African languages; Trinidadian English Creole, however, is also influenced by French and French Creole (Patois). Spanish is estimated to be spoken by around 5% of the population, and has been promoted by recent governments as a "first foreign language".
Most of the Indian arrivals spoke Bhojpuri and attempts are being made to preserve this, including the promotion of an Indo-Trinidadian musical form called Pichakaree, which is typically sung in a mixture of English, Hindi and Bhojpuri.
Children generally start pre-school at the early age of two and a half 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 First Year and Second Year, 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, up to the level of the Bachelors degree, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) 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.
Trinidad and Tobago is 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. Trinidad is also the birthplace of Soca, Chutney, Parang, and Carnival (in the form that has been widely copied in the Caribbean and around the world). The diverse cultural and religious background also allows for many festivities and ceremonies throughout the year.
Trinidad and Tobago claims two Nobel Prize-winning authors, V.S. Naipaul and St Lucian-born Derek Walcott (who founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, working and raising a family in Trinidad for much of his career). 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.
Geoffrey Holder, brother of Boscoe Holder, and Heather Headley are two Trinidad-born artists who have won Tony Awards for theatre. Holder also has a distinguished film career, and Headley has won a Grammy Award as well. Recording artists Billy Ocean and Nicki Minaj are also Trinidadian. Interestingly, four actors who appeared on Will Smith's sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" are Trinidadian: Tatyana Ali, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Karyn Parsons were series regulars as Will's cousins Ashley, Carlton and Hillary respectively, while Nia Long played Will's girlfriend Lisa. Foxy Brown, Dean Marshall, Sommore, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gabrielle Reece, pop singer Haddaway, and Tracy Quan are all of Trinidadian descent. Trinidad & Tobago also has the distinction of being the smallest country to have two Miss Universe titleholders: Janelle Commissiong in 1977 and Wendy Fitzwilliam in 1998.
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 gold medal by Keshorn Walcott in the men's javelin throw in 2012. 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 Athens. Swimmer George Bovell III has also won a bronze medal in the Men's 200m IM in 2004. Also in 2012 Lalonde Gordon competed in the XXX Summer Olympics where he won a Bronze Medal in the 400 meters, being surpassed by Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic and Kirani James of Grenada. Keshorn Walcott ( as stated above ) came first in javelin and obtained a Gold medal making him the second Trinidadian in all of Trinidad and Tobago's history to obtain one, this also makes him the first western athlete since about 40 years ago to obtain Gold in the javelin sport, and the first athlete from the country to win a gold medal in a field event in the Olympics.
Cricket is one of the most popular sports of Trinidad and Tobago, with intense inter-island rivalry with its Caribbean neighbours. Trinidad and Tobago is represented at Test cricket, One Day International as well as Twenty20 cricket level 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 Tobago 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 Manama 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 in a controversial qualification campaign for the 1974 FIFA World Cup. Following the match, the referee of their critical game against Haiti was awarded a lifetime ban for his actions. Trinidad and Tobago again fell just short of qualifying for the World Cup in 1990, needing only a draw at home against the United States but losing 1–0. Trinidad and Tobago hosted the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Championship, and hosted the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.
Netball has long been a popular sport in Trinidad and Tobago, although it has declined in popularity in recent years. At the Netball World Championships they co-won the event in 1979, were runners up in 1987, and second runners up in 1983.
Rugby Union is played in Trinidad and Tobago.
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.
There is also the Trinidad and Tobago national baseball team which 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.
The flag was chosen by the Independence committee in 1962. Red, black and white symbolize the warmth of the people, the earth and water 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 Hummingbird. The shield bears three ships, representing both the Trinity, and the three ships that Columbus sailed.
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