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Facts About Trinidad

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.
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Port-of-Spain
Currency: 1 Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD) = 100 cents

Geography of Trinidad

Location: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela
Geographic coordinates: 11 00 N, 61 00 W
total: 5,128 sq km
land: 5,128 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 362 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; rainy season (June to December)
Terrain: mostly plains with some hills and low mountains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: El Cerro del Aripo 940 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, asphalt
Land use:
arable land: 15%
permanent crops: 9%
permanent pastures: 2%
forests and woodland: 46%
other: 28% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 220 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: outside usual path of hurricanes and other tropical storms
Environment – current issues: water pollution from agricultural chemicals, industrial wastes, and raw sewage; oil pollution of beaches; deforestation; soil erosion
Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: Pitch Lake, on Trinidad’s southwestern coast, is the world’s largest natural reservoir of asphalt.

People of Trinidad

Columbus landed in Trinidad in 1498, and the island was settled by the Spanish a century later The original inhabitants–Arawak and Carib Indians–were largely wiped out by the Spanish colonizers, and the survivors were gradually assimilated. Although it attracted French, free Black, and other non-Spanish settlers, Trinidad remained under Spanish rule until the British captured it in 1797. During the colonial period, Trinidad’s economy relied on large sugar and cocoa plantations.

Tobago’s development was similar to other plantation islands in the Lesser Antilles and quite different from Trinidad’s. During the colonial period, French, Dutch, and British forces fought over possession of Tobago, and the island changed hands 22 times–more often than any other West Indian island. Tobago was finally ceded to Great Britain in 1814. Trinidad and Tobago were incorporated into a single colony in 1888.

In 1958, the United Kingdom tried to establish an independent Federation of the West Indies comprising most of the former British West Indies. However, disagreement over the structure of the federation and Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago’s withdrawal soon led to its collapse. Trinidad and Tobago achieved full independence in 1962 and joined the British Commonwealth.

Trinidad and Tobago’s people are mainly of African or East Indian descent. Virtually all speak English. Small percentages also speak Hindi, French patois, and several other dialects. Trinidad has two major folk traditions: Creole and East Indian. Creole is a mixture of African elements with Spanish, French, and English colonial culture. Trinidad’s East Indian culture came to the island with indentured servants brought to fill a labor shortage created by the emancipation of the African slaves in 1833. Most remained on the land, and they still dominate the agricultural sector, but many have become prominent in business and the professions. East Indians have retained much of their own way of life, including Hindu and Muslim religious festivals and practices.

Population: 1,088,644 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 25% 
15-64 years: 68%
65 years and over: 7%
Population growth rate: -0.49% 
Birth rate: 13.84 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 8.84 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -9.92 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 25.76 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.97 years
male: 65.45 years
female: 70.59 years 
Total fertility rate: 1.83 children born/woman 
noun: Trinidadian(s), Tobagonian(s)
adjective: Trinidadian, Tobagonian
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 1.2%
Religions: Roman Catholic 29.4%, Hindu 23.8%, Anglican 10.9%, Muslim 5.8%, Presbyterian 3.4%, other 26.7%
Languages: English (official), Hindi, French, Spanish, Chinese
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 98.8%
female: 97% (1995 est.)

Trinidad Economy

Economy – overview: Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses. Successful economic reforms were implemented in 1995, and foreign investment and trade are flourishing. Persistently high unemployment remains one of the chief challenges of the government. The petrochemical sector has spurred growth in other related sectors, reinforcing the government’s commitment to economic diversification. Tourism is growing, especially in the pleasure boat sector. New investment and construction also will continue to drive the economy.

GDP: purchasing power parity – $11.2 billion (2000 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5% (1999 est.), 5% (2000 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $9,500 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 44%
services: 54% (1998 est.)
Population below poverty line: 21% (1992 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.5% (1999 est.)
Labor force: 558,700 (1998)
Labor force – by occupation: construction and utilities 12.4%, manufacturing, mining, and quarrying 14%, agriculture 9.5%, services 64.1% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 14.2% (1998)
revenues: $1.54 billion
expenditures: $1.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $117.3 million (1998)
Industries: petroleum, chemicals, tourism, food processing, cement, beverage, cotton textiles
Industrial production growth rate: 7.5% (1995)
Electricity – production: 4.763 billion kWh (1998)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.27%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.73% (1998)
Electricity – consumption: 4.43 billion kWh (1998)
Agriculture – products: cocoa, sugarcane, rice, citrus, coffee, vegetables; poultry
Exports: $2.4 billion (f.o.b., 1998)
Exports – commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, steel products, fertilizer, sugar, cocoa, coffee, citrus, flowers
Exports – partners: US 36.9%, Caricom countries 29.4%, Central and South America 9.7%, EU 6.3% (1998)
Imports: $3 billion (c.i.f., 1998)
Imports – commodities: machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, live animals
Imports – partners: US 44.7%, Latin America 18.9%, EU 13.7%, Japan 4.8% (1998)
Debt – external: $2.2 billion (1997 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: $121.4 million (1995)
Currency: 1 Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD) = 100 cents

Map of Trinidad