The facts about Trinidad and Tobago (pronounced To-bay-go) in a nutshell. Basic local knowledge you'll find useful when planning a vacation or business trip to this exciting twin island, Caribbean nation.
Exactly where is Trinidad and Tobago? They are the most southerly islands of the Caribbean, laying just north of Venezuela and Guyana; just south of Grenada and Barbados; and happily, just below the hurricane belt.
At it's closest point Trinidad is only 7 miles (11k) off the South American coast, and while Trinidad and Tobago sits on the South American continental shelf, the islands, their language, and their culture are closely linked with the rest of the English speaking Caribbean, North America, and Britain.
Trinidad's climate is moderated by constant tradewinds, which keep the average temperature around 86-89°F (30°C) during day and approximately 72-74°F (26°C) at night. You need not worry about temperature fluctuations during your visit because it rarely reaches 90°F, or dips below 70°F.
Trinidad and Tobago experience about 40 inches of rainfall annually, which can mostly be attributed to short bursts of heavy tropical showers. There are 2 seasons: the wet, June through December, when bugs can sometimes be a problem; and the dry season, January through July, when blue skies traditionally prevail.
Here is some important general information you should know about Trinidad and Tobago before you travel:
A valid passport, with a minimum of 6 months validity remaining, is required to enter the country; the national capital is Port-of Spain, Trinidad; the time is GMT minus 4 hours; and the official language is English.
If you intend to rent a car or pack electronics you should be aware that vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road in Trinidad and Tobago; and the electrical supply is 110/220 volts AC, 60Hz US pattern twin plus earth plugs are standard.
Wearing camouflage clothing is against the law in Trinidad and Tobago, as is topless or nude bathing at public beaches. Wearing nothing but a bathing suit in public is also an offense, at any time other than during Carnival or when you are at the beach. Men should wear shirts and women, skirts etc.
There is at least 1 Public Holiday for each major religion, check here to confirm variable dates, or try our Trinidad and Tobago festival dates:
Carnival Monday and Tuesday, the 2 days immediately before Lent, while not official bank holidays, are treated as such. Here is a list of up coming Trinidad Carnival dates:
Even though there have been several attempts to remove Corpus Christi, a uniquely Roman Catholic celebration, from the calendar, it continues to be a public holiday in Trinidad because it was included in the Articles of Capitulation signed in 1797, between the Spanish and the British.
Now for a few quick economic facts about Trinidad and Tobago:
Unlike the rest of the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago is primarily a business and industry-based economy, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals.
Trinidad is an oil producing nation, and the fifth largest producer of natural gas in the world supplying two thirds of all LNG imported into the USA. Trinidad's Tran 4, is currently the largest LNG plant in the world. Consequently, Trinidad and Tobago is the wealthiest independent Caribbean country, boasting a comparatively high standard of living and literacy rate.
While Tobago has been referred to as "the jewel of the Caribbean" and has a more tourist-based economy, what you need to know about Trinidad and Tobago is that as a whole they do not depend on tourism as a major source of revenue.
The colors of the Trinidad flag represent the elements. Red symbolized fire, the energy of the sun, and the courage and warmth of the people. Black symbolizes earth, strength, unity of purpose, and the natural wealth of the land. And White symbolizes water, the sea by which the land is bound, the cradle of our heritage, the purity of national aspirations, and the equality of all men.
Trinidad and Tobago's national flower is the Chaconia, or Wild Poinsettia. Trinidad's national bird is the Scarlet ibis, and Tobago's is the Coc'rico.
To learn a few facts about Trinidad and Tobago's political structure read on...
Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation in 1962. The country severed it links with the British monarchy in 1976 and became a republic within the Commonwealth; however the British Privy Council was retained as the final Court of Appeal, until the Caribbean Court of Justice can be fully ratified. Tobago was granted full self-government in 1987.
Trinidad and Tobago is a stable republic, with a parliamentary system, based on the Westminster model, that has successfully faced several constitutional challenges.
The President, the head of state, is elected by the Electoral Collage consisting of the full Parliament. The Parliament consists of 2 chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister, the head of the government, is elected by a general election held every 5 years.
What is little known about Trinidad and Tobago is that it has one of the largest, and largely unseen, military forces in the English speaking Caribbean. And that the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force is often engaged on international missions in the Caribbean region, such as UN missions to Haiti in 1993 and 1996.
The most socially useful facts, about Trinidad and Tobago, you should remember are those associated with the national passion for sport, particularly cricket and football (soccer for those in the USA):
Trinidad batsman, Brian Lara, currently holds the world record for the highest individual score in first-class cricket, 501 not out for Warwickshire in 1994. In 2007 Trinidad and Tobago's football (soccer) team, the Soca Warriors, qualified for the World Cup in Germany, the smallest nation ever to do so.
Most recently, Richard Thompson won the silver medal in the 100 meters at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing;
George Bovell won a bronze medal for 200m swimming at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney;
Ato Boldon won silver in the 100-meter dash, and a bronze in the 200-meter dash at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, having previously won bronze medals in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics;
Hasley Crawford won Trinidad and Tobago's first ever gold medal by winning the 100 meter dash at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal; and Rodney Wilkes won Trinidad and Tobago's first ever Olympic medal with his silver for weightlifting at the 1948 London Olympics. There have been others in between.
When the world discovered the natural beauties of Trinidad and Tobago, Penny Commissiong became Miss Universe 1977, Giselle Laronde became Miss World 1986 and Wendy Fitzwilliam became Miss Universe 1998.
You may have heard Calypso's sung by Harry Belafonte; 'Yellow Bird', 'Shame and Scandal in the Family', or the old standard 'Run and Coco Cola'.
What you may not know is that calypso is Trinidadian folk music, and several of the calypso's made famous by Harry Bellefonte were either styled upon Trinidad calypso's, or written by Trinidad calypsoians.
Trinidad is the birthplace of calypso, a rhythm of West African roots that's been adopted by many Caribbean islands.
When talking about Trinidad music we must mention Trinidad Soca. Soca, the new sound of the Caribbean, is a modem up-tempo version of calypso created in Trinidad by Garfield Blackman, who also known as Ras Shorty I and Lord Shorty. Soca is a blend of calypso, African and East Indian rhythms; a fast, modern but uniquely Caribbean beat that will set your feet jumping when you visit.
Have you ever tried to do the limbo at an office party? It's fun. But did you know that the Limbo is a traditional folk dance from Trinidad? Limbo was first popularized during the 1940s and 50s when calypso became the newest craze in the West.
We'll introduce you to more about Trinidad and Tobago culture, this multi-ethnic callaloo in the pages of Amazing-Trinidad-Vacations.com.
These Trinidad photos essays and carnival videos will provide you with an overview of Trinidad's culture and customs, a bit about Trinidad food, and what to expect from Trinidad bird watching and eco tours.
You've also heard steelband music, perhaps without realizing it. Steelband music is a sound that has become synonymous with tropical island vacations, and Caribbean holidays; and is regularly used on television and radio advertising all over the world.
Steel-drums, or more correctly steel-pan, or pan as it's known in the Caribbean, was invented in Trinidad during the early 1940s, and heard publicly for the first time when Trinidad Carnival resumed after World War II.
Steelband music and techniques are now taught at several major universities, internationally.
Now you probably know more about Trinidad and Tobago than your travel agent...
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