Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a Caribbean nation composed of several islands in the Lesser Antilles. In addition to the main islands of Trinidad and Tobago, there are a number of smaller islets and cays within the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. All told, the country covers an area just short of two thousand square miles, and includes a population of about one million three hundred thousand permanent residents. Most of the nation’s landmass and population are concentrated on the island of Trinidad, which dwarves the other islands in the country. Trinidad and Tobago were originally settled some seven thousand years ago, and subsequently changed hands repeatedly between different Amerindian groups. The first European to discover Trinidad and Tobago was Christopher Columbus, who came across Trinidad during one of his voyages to the New World in 1498. Permanent settlements arrived shortly thereafter, and Trinidad and Tobago was influenced by the French, British, and Spanish in turn. Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation in the year 1962, and became a Commonwealth nation in 1976, although the country’s government system and culture continue to bear heavy British influences.
Trinidad and Tobago’s location in the Caribbean Sea guarantee great weather throughout almost the entire year. The archipelago has an average annual temperature hovering around eighty degrees Fahrenheit, and the islands are situated outside of the Caribbean’s hurricane belt. The major islands of Trinidad and Tobago aside from the two principal landmasses are Little Tobago, Saint Giles Island, Chacachacare, Gaspar Grande, Huevos, and Manos. Trinidad and Tobago is a relatively mountainous nation, and includes a number of mountain ranges including the Northern Range. The Northern Range is home to El Cerro del Aripo, a mountain which is the highest point in the country, measuring in at nearly three thousand one hundred feet above sea level. Trinidad and Tobago have a more diverse economy than many other nations in the Caribbean. Specifically, the oil industry is the most important component of the country’s economy, whereas other Caribbean nations rely much more heavily on tourism. Although tourism is a rapidly growing sector, much of the country’s considerable wealth and economic strength come from manufacturing, agricultures, and oil.
Trinidad and Tobago are primarily accessible by boat or ferry, although many of the archipelago’s international visitors arrive at the Picaro International Airport. Trinidad and Tobago have a fairly diverse population in terms of both ethnicity and religious faith, mirroring many other Caribbean nations. Trinidad and Tobago provides free education for residents through college, and includes such post secondary institutions as the University of the Southern Caribbean, the University of Trinidad and Tobago, and the University of the West Indies. Trinidad and Tobago has a rich and fascinating culture, serving as the origin of both the steelpan drum and calypso music. Some notable residents of Trinidad and Tobago over the years include authors V.S. Naipaul and Derek Walcott, as well as musician Edmundo Ros and Peter Minshall. Trinidad and Tobago have an active sports community, which excels in Olympic events such as weightlifting and track and field as well as cricket and soccer.