Trinidad and TobagoClick here to go to Trinidad and Tobago Economy Click here to go to important historical dates in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago are the most southerly of the West Indian Islands. These islands are located just off the coast of Venezuela on the South American mainland. They are between 10N to 11N and 60W and 62W. These are two islands but one Republic.
When Christopher Columbus landed on this island on the 1st. August 1498, he met the local inhabitants. He claimed it for the King of Spain. The original inhabitants were called Arawaks - a peaceful and stable society that cultivated the land- and Caribs -a more warlike tribe that traveled throughout the many islands of the Caribbean-. The Caribs also plundered the crops that the arawaks grew.
Spain ruled Trinidad from 1498 to 1797 when the British under Sir Ralph Abercromby defeated the Spanish and took over the island. Tobago on the other hand was colonized by the French Dutch and British on different occasions until the Britishjoined Tobago to Trinidad. Hence the two islands became one country.
Trinidad and Tobago gained Independence from Britain on 31st. August 1962 and became a Republic on 24 th. September, 1976.
Trinidad and Tobago is governed by:-
1. A President who is the Commander in Chief of the Defense Forces and A 2-Chamber Legislature comprising the Upper House or Senate and the Lower House or the House of Representatives.
The Senate comprises 31 members who are all nominated. The Political Party that enjoys the majority in the House of Representatives nominates 9 members plus 7 others representing various interests like the business, religion, non governmental organizations etc., the President of the Republic nominates 9 Independent Senators and the Opposition Party nominates 6 members. Proceedings are chaired by a Senate President who also acts for the President of the country when the need arises.
2. The House of Representatives.
This -the Lower House- comprises 36 representatives who are elected for a period of 5 years. National Elections are held every 5 years. The Prime Minister is elected by the Electoral College which is a joint sitting of both Houses -the Senate and the House of Representatives-.
The Leader of the Political Party enjoying the majority of members is usually elected as Prime Minister. Real power lies in the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet are the Executive arm of the Government. The Judiciary and the Elections and Boundaries Commission are independent institutions.