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Trinidad and Tobago

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Continent:America National flag
National flag: Trinidad and Tobago
Capital city:Port of Spain
Area:5,128 km2 ( 162. )
Population:1,088,644 Person ( 150. )
People density:212 Person / km2
GDP per capita:4,400 $ / Person ( 49. )
GDP:4,790,033,600 $
Official language:english

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Just off the coast of the South American mainland they were once part of, Trinidad and Tobago (usually shortened to T&T) form the southernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles chain and the most influential republic in the Eastern Caribbean. They are the most exciting, underexplored and uncontrived of Caribbean islands, rich in indigenous culture. A cultural pacemaker best known as the home and heart of West Indian Carnival, the nation can also boast having the most diverse and absorbing society in the region.

Trinidad and Tobago remain relatively inexpensive, and are well geared to independent travellers without being fully fledged tourist resorts. Natural reserves of gas and oil combined with a strong manufacturing industry have ensured economic independence, and you’ll find the islands refreshingly unfettered by the pretensions of the tourist trade. Visitors are not corralled in all-inclusives or holed up on private beaches, and – though you could easily spend two weeks exploring seashores, which range from palm-lined white sand fringed by limpid waters to secluded, wave-whipped outcrops – you’ll find there’s far more to T&T than suntans and snorkelling.

These are among the richest destinations in the Caribbean for eco-tourism, combining the characteristic flora and fauna of the region with the wilder aspect of the South American mainland. You’d be hard pressed to come up with anywhere that offers such a variety of habitats in such a compact area (Trinidad covers no more than 4830 square kilometres, Tobago just 300). In Trinidad, you can hike through undisturbed tropical rainforest where towering canopies of mahogany and teak bedecked with lianas and epiphytic plants shelter red howler monkeys and ocelots. The wetlands and mangrove swamps harbour all manner of exotic wildlife, while leatherback turtles lay eggs on remote beaches. Huge blue emperor butterflies flit around the cool waters of innumerable inland rivers and waterfalls, and the birdwatching – with more than 430 brilliantly hued species – is among the world’s best. Tobago is best known for its glorious beaches and stunning coral reefs, declared third best in the Caribbean by Jacques Cousteau and favoured by graceful seven-metre manta rays and shoals of technicolour tropical fish.

Equally absorbing are T&T’s vital, crowded and dynamic towns and cities, unique showcases for the architectural, religious and cultural traditions of their cosmopolitan populations. Fretworked townhouses, Georgian-style mansions and barrack-house complexes built for plantation workers sit side by side with temples, mosques, Catholic cathedrals and Anglican churches. The varied ethnic groups brought to labour in the islands after the slaves there were freed in 1834 have given rise to a remarkably varied populace, hailing from India, China, Portugal and Syria as well as Africa, England, France and Spain. Though racial tensions are inevitably present, Trinbagonians (as they’re collectively known) generally coexist with good humour, and are proud of the multiculturalism that has so enriched the life of the nation. Nowhere is this more visible than in a lively music scene that rivals even that of Jamaica. The steel drum was invented in the Port of Spain suburb of Laventille, while calypso, first developed in African communities, evolved into contemporary soca. That in turn has spawned the Indian-influenced chutney soca and the danceable beats and politically conscious lyrics of rapso.

Trinbagonians have a less harrowing past to contend with than many of their Caribbean neighbours. Neglected by the Spanish for most of their three centuries of rule, Trinidad experienced full-scale slavery for only fifty years, while the Dutch, French and English were too busy fighting over Tobago to dedicate it to the demands of King Sugar. Consequently, the national psyche is characterized by a strong sense of identity and a laid-back enjoyment of the good things in life, the latter best displayed in the local propensity for liming – taking time out to meet friends, talk and sink a Carib beer or some rum. Thirteen public holidays and numerous local festivals are mere limbering up for the republic’s most famous party, the annual pre-Lenten Carnival, where the no-holds-barred debauchery of opening night Jouvert celebrations is followed by two days of pure joy as 5000-strong bands of intricately costumed revellers take to the streets in a celebration of life.

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Map of country Trinidad and Tobago

Map of country  Trinidad and Tobago

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