Trinidad and Tobago: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Trinidad and Tobago.



Location--A 2-island nation in the West Indies, lying 7 mi. off the northeast coast of Venezuela. Trinidad is the most southerly of the Lesser Antilles. Tiny Tobago lies 20 mi. off the northeast corner of Trinidad.

How Created--Columbus discovered Trinidad on July 31, 1498, on his 3rd voyage. After the French and Haitian revolutions, many French planters fled to Trinidad with their slaves. Great Britain captured the island from the Spanish in 1797, and it became an official British colony in 1802 (Treaty of Amiens). Tobago, although discovered by Columbus, was not claimed for Spain. James I claimed it for Great Britain in 1608, but the island changed hands many times among the Dutch, French, Spanish, and British, until it finally was ceded to Britain in 1814. Tobago's economic problems, including its extremely small size, falling world prices for sugar, and labor shortage after the abolition of slavery, obliged it to join with Trinidad as a single colony in 1889. The 2-island nation has been independent since 1962.

Size--The 2 islands together total 1,980 sq. mi. (5,128 sq. km.); Trinidad: 1,864; Tobago: 116.

Population--1,200,000: black, 40%; East Indian, 40%; mixed, 16%; white, 2%; Chinese, 1%; other, 1.1%. 36.2% Roman Catholic, 23% Hindu, 21.1% Anglican, 6% Muslim, 3.9% Presbyterian, 9.8% other. The 1970 census revealed that Trinidad has more East Indians than blacks, but the Negro-controlled government changed the figures before releasing them.

Who Rules--The islands form an independent nation within the British Commonwealth. Currently operating under a 1961 Constitution which provides for a ministerial-type system, the Government is considering a new constitution establishing a republican form of government.

Who REALLY Rules--Although no longer a Crown Colony, the islands still recognize the Queen as head of state, and Britain maintains a governor-general in Port-Of-Spain. Foreign interests, particularly the U.S., control the oil and sugar industries, and hence the economic and political life of the nation.

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