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Useful Notes / Trinidad and Tobago

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A nice little country composed of a major island called Trinidad, a minor island named Tobago (actually the top of an underwater volcano) and some little islets nearby. The islands are so close to Venezuela that you could think they’re part of that country; however, they are considered part of The Caribbean because of their cultural ties with it (and the fact that the official language is English, not Spanish, albeit an English spiced with a lot of local words).

The island of Trinidad was originally inhabited by tribes coming from South America, until the arrival of the Spaniards. The British took the island by the end of the eighteenth century. The island of Tobago was initially settled by the Dutch, but it ended up changing hands between the European powers until it ended under the firm control of the English, when they combined it with Trinidad to form one entity. Eventually, the country achieved its independence in 1962.

The country has prospered and is one of the most developed countries in the Caribbean. The fact that oil and gas deposits are around has helped the economy. Not to mention tourism, especially on the island of Tobago.

This is also where the limbo dance originated (not from Hawaii, as it’s commonly believed). Also, the musical instrument known as the steelpan (aka steel drum) is commonly associated with Jamaica, where, in fact, it was actually developed in Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago shares a general Anglophone Caribbean culture with Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados, and other former British colonies in the area. However, it can probably be stated that the nation it shares the strongest cultural ties with is Guyana. Like Guyana and unlike Jamaica and Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago saw a large influx of indentured workers from British India in the 19th century after the abolition of slavery in The British Empire, leaving a much stronger Indian stamp on the culture than the other Anglophone Caribbean countries (especially in cuisine; the Trinidadian kitchen is heavily influenced by India). Many Trinidadians are therefore of Indian or mixed West African and Indian descent, called "Dougla". Trinidad is where Chutney Music was invented, and it is extremely popular in both countries and among the diaspora from both countries. Similarly, Trinidad is where the Calypso (which primarily uses steel drums) and Soca music styles originated, with the popular Andrews Sisters hit "Rum and Coca-Cola" originating as a satirical calypso by Lord Invader commenting on the presence of American soldiers in Trinidad during World War II.

Yoruba Mythology from West Africa influenced the local folklore.

Notable Trinidadians:

  • Perhaps the most famous writer of the country is Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, also known as V. S. Naipaul, who writes books about colonialism (and who is also known for his Flame Bait comments), and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001.
  • German singer Haddaway (he of "What is Love" fame) was born in Port of Spain and lived there until his parents separated, living between his father in Europe and his mother in America before moving to Cologne in 1987.
  • Multi-talented artist Geoffrey Holder, perhaps best known for The Wiz and as the Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die.
  • Nicki Minaj (born Onika Tanya Maraj) lived in Port of Spain until she was five years old when her mother brought her to New York.
  • Winston Duke was born in Tobago before moving to the US at the age of nine.
  • Anslem Richardson: American actor of Trinidadian descent.
  • Lorraine Toussaint lived in Trinidad until the late 1960s.
  • Rudolph Walker: British actor who lived in Trinidad until he was 20.
  • Nina Baden-Semper: British actress who also lived in Trinidad.

The Trinidadian/Tobagonian flag
The red field symbolizes courage, crossed by the diagonal black band of dedication, in turn with white fimbriations signifying purity and equality.

The Trinidadian/Tobagonian national anthem

Forged from the love of liberty
In the fires of hope and prayer
With boundless faith in our destiny
We solemnly declare:
Side by side we stand
Islands of the blue Caribbean sea,
This our native land
We pledge our lives to thee.
Here every creed and race find an equal place,
And may God bless our nation
Here every creed and race find an equal place,
And may God bless our nation.

  • Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
    • President: Christine Kangaloo
    • Prime Minister: Keith Rowley
    • House Speaker: Bridgid Annisette-George
    • Senate President: Nigel de Freitas
    • Chief Justice: Ivor Archie
    • Opposition Leader: Kamla Persad-Bissessar

  • Capital: Port of Spain
  • Largest city: San Fernando
  • Population: 1,366,725
  • Area: 5,131 km
(1,981 sq mi) (164th)
  • Currency: Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TT$) (TTD)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: TT
  • Country calling code: 1 (area code 868)
  • Highest point: El Cerro del Aripo (940 m/3,084 ft) (163rd)
  • Lowest point: Caribbean Sea (7,686 m/25,217 ft) (-)