Flag of Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad & Tobago

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying northeast of the South American nation of Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. It also shares maritime boundaries with Barbados to the northeast and Guyana to the southeast. The country covers an area of 5,128 square kilometres (1,979 sq mi) and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and 21 smaller islands. Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the main islands; Tobago is much smaller, comprising about 6% of the total area and 4% of the population.

Originally settled by Amerindians of South American origin at least 7,000 years ago, Trinidad and Tobago was occupied by Arawakan- and Cariban-speaking peoples at the time of European contact in 1498. A history of slavery and indentureship has left the country with a mixture of African, Indian, mixed-race, European, Middle Eastern and Chinese people. All these groups have left an imprint on the national culture. Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation (from the United Kingdom) in 1962 and a republic in 1976.

Along the north of Trinidad runs the Northern Range of mountains, looming over the country's capital, Port of Spain. On the north and east coasts lie beautiful beaches. Port of Spain, surrounded by lush green hills, is the capital and business hub of oil-rich Trinidad. Bazaars throng beneath modern skyscrapers and mosques rub shoulders with cathedrals. San Fernando is the island's second town and the main commercial centre in the south. Close by is the fascinating natural phenomenon of the Pitch Lake, a 90-acre (36.4 hectares) lake of asphalt which constantly replenishes itself.

Tobago is very different from her sister isle 32km (20 miles) away. It is a tranquil island with calm waters and a number of fine beaches, each with their own flavour. They include Pigeon Point on the southwest coast. Buccoo Reef, an extensive coral reef, lies offshore. Excursions can be made in glass-bottomed boats and it is an excellent place for snorkelling. Local dishes include quenk (wild pig) and pastelles (meat folded into cornmeal and wrapped in a banana leaf). Trinidad has a wide and varied nightlife including nightclubs with calypso, limbo dancers and steel bands. In Tobago, the main Calypsonians from Trinidad travel over to perform at Shaw Park, Scarborough and Roxborough.

Map of Trinidad and Tobago