In the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago you will find more than swaying palms and sun-kissed beaches. When you visit these historic islands you will enjoy a multicultural feast prepared by descendants of settlers from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East. Trinidad and Tobago, along with the rest of the south-eastern Caribbean were inhabited by the Taino and the Kalinago, the indigenous Amerindian groups that settled the islands. These were the people that Christopher Columbus met when he arrived in Trinidad on his third journey to the Americas in 1498. It was then that Columbus gave the southernmost Caribbean island its name, Trinidad, after the Holy Trinity. The Taino however called it Iere, the land of the humming bird. Trinidad was neglected by Spain as it did not possess gold or other valuable minerals. Nearly a century would pass before the first European community, San Jose de Oruna (St. Joseph), was established just east of the modern capital of Port of Spain. Spain’s lack of commitment to develop Trinidad made it easy prey for England’s Sir Walter Raleigh, who sacked the town in 1595 and discovered the famous Pitch Lake in La Brea. No attempts were made to colonize Tobago by the Spanish, but in the 17th century the English, French and Dutch fought to control the strategic island, along with pirates who used it as a base for raiding other West Indian outposts. Britain gained control of Trinidad in 1797 and Tobago in 1814. Life on the islands, like the rest of the region was characterized by the plantation system. Each island enjoyed brief periods of prosperity with sugar (Trinidad) and cocoa (Tobago). Enslaved Africans provided the labour for the plantations until 1838. From this point on however, landowners in Trinidad imported thousands of indentured workers from India, and to a lesser extent China and the Middle East. Their descendants have given Trinidad its multi-ethnic charm and cosmopolitan flavour. In 1898 the two islands were joined when Tobago became a ward of Trinidad. The union was a result of economic downturns caused by the collapse of the sugar market in the late 19th century. United, Trinidad and Tobago gained independence in 1962, led by Dr Eric Williams, and became a Republic in 1976. Trinidad and Tobago has a rich cultural heritage and now visitors from around the world flock to the islands each year to enjoy a unique patchwork of festivals celebrating a variety of religious and secular traditions. The islands also have abounding natural resources including spectacular reefs, abundant wildlife and oil and natural gas deposits.
After weathering the effects of the global economic turndown Trinidad and Tobago has returned to positive growth with Gross Domestic Product expected to grow between 2-3 per cent over the next 3 years. Many sectors are poised to increase output and market reach. The energy services sector grew 44 per cent on average over the last 3 years and the natural gas sector has successfully expanded into new global markets. Opportunities for investment will continue to grow with on-going exploration activity. Strong fiscal policy and economic management contribute to the stability of the Trinidad and Tobago Economy through turbulent global economic times. Fiscal debt for 2012 was 3.6 per cent of GDP, in line with the commitment to decrease our already low debt to GDP ratio by 1 per cent every year to bring the fiscal position to balance with the next 5 years. Trinidad maintains its reputation as the region’s leading centre of economic activity, investment and leisure with commitment to the growth and advancement energy and non-energy sectors across the economy. Foreign Direct Investment was UD$1.1billion for 2011 and opportunities for investment are increasing across the multiple sectors identified for development of the non-energy economy including Finance, Culture and the Creative Industries, Maritime, Agriculture and Food Processing, Tourism and Information and Communications Technology. More than 150 international companies, including British Gas, Citibank and Unilever have established bases of operation on our shores and we are committed to achieving continuous improvements that make doing business here both simple and prosperous.
Meetings, Conventions and Exhibitions
Trinidad & Tobago was the host nation for the 5TH Summit of the Americas from April 17-19, 2009 where Regional leaders had their first face-to-face meeting with United States President Barack Obama. The twenty-first Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations in 2009 was held in Port of Spain Trinidad between 27 – 29 November 2009 where the issue of global warming dominated discussions. Trinidad and Tobago became the smallest country to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2006. The nation hosted the FIFA U-17 World Championship 2001 as well as the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup women’s football tournament 2010.
Restaurant and Bar Hopping
Our reputation for sumptuous, mouth-watering culinary fare is a legacy of Trinidad’s cultural and ethnic diversity. The flavours of the India, Africa, China, Syria and Europe have combined to create a distinct taste that is all our own. Restaurants and bars, from white linen service to street stalls, are found in every corner of Trinidad and food festivals are growing in popularity.
Bargains abound in Trinidad. You can shop just about anywhere on the island, from towns boasting hundreds of small variety shops and family-run businesses to large multi-level shopping malls. Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, is also known for its fabric merchants and their vast inventory of textiles for all occasions.
Many countries in the world boast of Carnival celebrations, but none quite so stunning and all-embracing as Trinidad’s national festival. Whether you decide to be a spectator on the sidelines, douse yourself in chocolate and join the J’Ouvert revelry or don a fabulous costume and dance the day away, our Carnival is an unforgettable experience.
The diversity of our people is also reflected in the islands’ numerous festivals. Each individual culture is celebrated by the collective peoples that inhabit these islands. In Trinidad and Tobago, we celebrate the Hindu festival of Divali, the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr and numerous Christian festivals, including Christmas.
The steelpan is Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument. During the Carnival season, music lovers crowd the “yards” of their favourite bands as they practice in preparation for Panorama, the annual competition for steel pan bands. These sessions are free, open to the public, and can stretch into the wee hours of the morning. Outside of the Carnival season, music lovers can look forward to the Laventille Steelband Festival, a street parade, and Pan Yard Sensations, a series of steelpan concerts hosted by the Tourism Development Company Limited.
There is an adventure for every day of the week, from hiking through rain forests on the trail of hidden waterfalls and exploring deep caves, to cycling through verdant countryside, turtle watching and kayaking past wildlife filled forests.
For eco enthusiasts, Trinidad has more than 450 bird species, 108 types of mammals, 55 reptiles, 25 amphibians and 620 types of butterflies; ranking the island as one of the richest outposts of biodiversity in the Caribbean. It’s South America in a Caribbean Island.
Trinidad is home to some of the most diverse and spectacular bird life in the Caribbean. This variety can be attributed to the island’s location on the tip of South America. Home to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, a world renowned centre for bird watching, Trinidad’s size and accessibility to popular sites, ensures many species can be seen without long drives or treks.
With an abundance of game fish, Trinidad is a sport angler’s dream. Fed by the rich outflow of the Orinoco River, Trinidad’s waters attract big game fish. Species such as Tarpon, Tuna and Shark are plentiful year round with Sailfish, Marlin, Wahoo and Dolphin making seasonal appearances. Trinidad also plays host to several exciting international fishing tournaments, including the Kingfish Tournament in June, Tarpon Bash in August and Wahoo Tournament in early March.