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State

Capital

Trinidad and Tobago

Port of Spain

Currency unit

Trinidad $

Connections

Caribbean

Empire

Spain

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

The islands are off the coast of South America but culturally belong more to the Caribbean.

The islands were visited by Columbus in 1498 on his third voyage. They are close to the mainland of South America and off the shore of Venezuela.

The original inhabitants of Trinidad were Arawak Indians while Tobago was inhabited by Caribs. The Arawaks were related to the main Indian language groups still found in northern South America. The Caribs were a group who in the 15th century were spreading throughout the Caribbean area and displacing the Arawaks. During Spanish rule the Indians were exterminated after being made slaves.

The Spaniards occupied Trinidad until 1797 when it was annexed by Britain. Tobago was annexed by France in 1781 and then taken by the British during the Napoleonic wars in 1802. The two islands were combined administratively in 1899. Independence came in 1962.

The people of the islands came first from Africa as slaves, then when slavery had been abolished East Indians (mostly Hindus) from British India were brought to work as "indentured laborers" - contract slaves. But the islands have an exceptionally mixed population as there have also been Chinese, Spanish, English and French settlers. All these have influenced the culture of the islands. No doubt the Arawaks also are represented in the genes of the modern population.

Languages

Creole English

Spanish

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

Since independence the island has had a democratic system with at least one change of government party. However in 1990 there was an attempted coup by a militant Muslim group which although quickly suppressed tended to indicate some degree of alienation of parts of the population and suggested possible instability.

An attempted coup in 1990 by a disaffected extreme Muslim group probably had very little popular support, but as in many third world countries, the political system - a Westminster model - often seems remote from the interests and needs of the people.

At the December 1991 elections the ruling party was swept out of power by the opposition People's National Movement which had ruled the country for most of the 30 years since independence. The First Past the Post electoral system exaggerated the swing in sentiment.

The two main parties represent the two main ethnic groups: Hindus and Africans (the descendants of the African slaves). In the last election they each got 18 seats in the 36 member parliament resulting in a deadock. The president appointed Patrick Manning, the leader of the "African" group, as Prime Minister. The "Indian" group has seldom led the government. In June 2002 government was reported as being paralysed by the impasse.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

The island of Trinidad is situated in a continuation of the oil fields of Venezuela. A deposit of asphalt or bitumen was a famous product of the island and oil is an important source of foreign exchange, making the country one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean. There is also sugar growing and refining and tourism. However, oil production is declining. While the price was low people experienced cuts in public spending.

Member CARICOM

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Trinidad could be a good site for an OTEC industry.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Drug trafficing is becoming a serious law and order problem, while making the criminal classes wealthier and introducing corruption into the whole political system. Guns have been imported by the criminals and the murder rate is so high that in August 2011 the government declared a state of emergency and a night time curfew, with extra powers for the police. But are they tackling the real controllers of the drug trade?

Climate effects

Last revised 26/11/11


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