The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on 18 February 1797. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers. Trinidad and Tobago (remaining separate until 1889) were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. The country Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country's economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals.
Both Trinidad and Tobago were originally settled by Amerindians of South American origin. Trinidad was first settled by pre-agricultural Archaic people at least 7,000 years ago, making it the earliest-settled part of the Caribbean. Ceramic-using agriculturalists settled Trinidad around 250 BC, and then moved further up the Lesser Antillean chain. At the time of European contact, Trinidad was occupied by various Arawakan-speaking groups including the Nepoya and Suppoya, and Cariban-speaking groups such as the Yao, while Tobago was occupied by the Island Caribs and Galibi.
Trinidad and Tobago are southeasterly islands of the Antilles, situated between 10° 2' and 11° 12' N latitude and 60° 30' and 61° 56' W longitude. At the closest point, Trinidad is just 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) off the Venezuelan coast. Covering an area of 5,128 km2 (1,980 sq mi), the country consists of the two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous smaller landforms – including Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande (or Gasparee), Little Tobago, and St. Giles Island. Trinidad is 4,768 km2 (1,841 sq mi) in area (comprising 93.0% of the country's total area) with an average length of 80 km (50 mi) and an average width of 59 kilometres (37 mi). Tobago has an area of about 300 km2 (120 sq mi), or 5.8% of the country's area, is 41 km (25 mi) long and 12 km (7.5 mi) at its greatest width.
Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the Caribbean and is listed in the top 40 (2010 information) of the 70 High Income countries in the world. It has one of the highest GDP per capita of USD $20,300 (2011) in the Caribbean. In November 2011, the OECD removed Trinidad and Tobago from its list of Developing Countries. Trinidad's economy is strongly influenced by the petroleum industry. Tourism and manufacturing are also important to the local economy. Tourism is a growing sector, although not proportionately as important as in many other Caribbean islands.
Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso music and the steelpan, which is widely claimed in Trinidad and Tobago to be the only acoustic musical instrument invented during the 20th century. Trinidad is also the birthplace of Soca, Chutney, Parang, and Carnival (in the form that has been widely copied in the Caribbean and around the world). The diverse cultural and religious background also allows for many festivities and ceremonies throughout the year.
Trinidad and Tobago claims two Nobel Prize-winning authors, V. S. Naipaul and St Lucian-born Derek Walcott (who founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, working and raising a family in Trinidad for much of his career). Edmundo Ros, the "King of Latin American Music", was born in Port of Spain. Designer Peter Minshall is renowned not only for his Carnival costumes but also for his role in opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics, the 1994 Football World Cup, the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 2002 Winter Olympics, for which he won an Emmy Award.
5 Tourist Attractions in Trinidad and Tobago
- Aripo Caves
- Maracas Beach
- Fort George
- Caroni Bird Sanctuary