|General 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.
Area comparative: Slightly smaller than
Climate: Tropical; rainy season
(June to December)
Terrain: Mostly plains
with some hills and low mountains.
Population: 1,163,724 (July 2002 est.)
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
Religions: Roman Catholic 29.4%, Hindu 23.8%,
Anglican 10.9%, Muslim 5.8%, Presbyterian 3.4%, other
Language: English (official), Hindi, French,
Government type: Parliamentary democracy
Legal system: Based on English common law;
judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme
Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic 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.
Communication/Telephone system: Excellent international
service; good local service.
Places of interest: The twin islands of Trinidad
and Tobago are the Caribbean's odd couple. Trinidad
is a densely populated, thriving island with a cosmopolitan
population and strong regional influence. It's famous
for hosting the loudest, wildest and most popular
Carnival in the Caribbean. In contrast, Tobago is
relaxed, slow-paced and largely undeveloped, and travelers
who enjoy its beaches, reefs and bird-life still tend
to think of the island as the last undiscovered gem
in the Caribbean.