POPULATION: 1,260,000 (1993 estimate).
POPULATION DENSITY: 245.7 per sq km.
CAPITAL: Port of Spain. Population: 51,076 (1991).
GEOGRAPHY: Trinidad and her tiny sister island of Tobago lie off the Venezuelan coast. Along the north of Trinidad runs the Northern Range of mountains, looming over the countrys capital, Port of Spain. South of Port of Spain on the west coast the terrain is low, and the Caroni Swamps contain a magnificent bird sanctuary largely inhabited by the scarlet ibis. On the north and east coasts lie beautiful beaches. Central Trinidad is flat and largely given over to agriculture.
LANGUAGE: The official language is English. French, Spanish, Hindi and Chinese are also spoken.
Religion: 36% Roman Catholic, 23% Hindu, 21% Anglican, 14% other Christian denominations and 6% Muslim.
TIME: GMT - 4.
ELECTRICITY: 115-220 volts AC, 60Hz. Continental 2-pin plugs are standard, though variations may be found.
COMMUNICATIONS: Telephone: IDD is available. Country code: 1 868. Outgoing international code: 01. Fax: Most hotels and guest houses have facilities. Internet: Most hotels and guest houses have facilities. There are also many public Internet cafes available. Post: The main Post office is on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. Airmail to Western Europe takes up to two weeks. The main Post office in Tobago is in Market Square, Scarborough. Press: English-language dailies include The Trinidad Guardian, The Trinidad Express and The Newsday. .
BBC World Service and Voice of America frequencies: From time to time these change.BBC: MHz 17.82 11.86 9.640 5.975
Voice of America: MHz 15.21 11.70 6.130 5.995
History: The history of Trinidad & Tobago is one of invasion and conquest from its first discovery in 1498 by Christopher Columbus, who claimed it for Spain. A Spanish colony was founded on Trinidad in 1532 but was destroyed by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595. Subsequently it was raided by the Dutch, the French (with the Spanish as their allies on this occasion) and finally the British, which resulted in the island being ceded to the British Crown in 1802.
The history of Tobago was equally stormy after the Spanish first defeated the native Caribs. After many attempts to settle there by the English, French, Dutch and various pirates of indeterminate nationality, the island was finally ceded to the British in 1877. In 1888 Tobago was politically amalgamated with Trinidad, and after the break-up of the West Indian Federation the islands were granted full independence in 1962.
The leading political figure of the islands since then has been Eric Williams, who served as Prime Minister from independence until his death in 1981. His party, the Peoples National Movement (PNM), won every general election from independence until the mid-1980s. At the general election in 1986, the 3-year-old National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), a coalition of four opposition parties under the leadership of Arthur Robinson, formed a government for the first time. The Robinson government took Trinidad into the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM) in 1988, although the benefits were more than offset by the collapse of oil prices which cut government revenues and plunged the country into recession.
The domestic political arena was relatively quiet until July 1990 when an attempted coup was staged by a 100-strong fanatical Muslim group led by a Trinidadian, Yasim Abu Bakr. For five days, the group held the Government building and the nearby television centre from where they broadcast their various demands and threats to kill the hostages which they had taken, including Prime Minister Robinson. Although the coup was successfully beaten, at the cost of a handful of fatalities and the destruction of a few parts of the city, Trinidads political innocence was destroyed.
In December 1991, a year and a half after surviving the coup attempt, Arthur Robinson and the NAR were heavily defeated at the polls by the PNM whose leader Patrick Manning has took over as Prime Minister. The PNM, which has dominated the countrys politics for nearly forty years, draws most of its support from the Afro-Caribbean population.
Government: The President is the constitutional Head of State, with executive power vested in a Prime Minister and a cabinet. Parliament is bicameral, comprising the Senate, with 31 appointed members, and the House of Representatives, with 41 members elected by universal adult suffrage. Since 1980, Tobago has had its own 15-seat House of Assembly, with 12 members elected and three selected by the ruling party. The island was granted full internal self-government in January 1987.
Santa Margarita Circular
St. Augustine, Trinidad, W.I.
Phone: (868) 662-5449
Fax: (868) 662-5451
E-mail: Click Here To Contact Us
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