Trinidad and Tobago

First colonized by the Spanish, the islands came under British control in the early 19th century. The islands’ sugar industry was hurt by the emancipation of the slaves in 1834. Manpower was replaced with the importation of contract laborers from India between 1845 and 1917, which boosted sugar production as well as the cocoa industry. The discovery of oil on Trinidad in 1910 added another important export. Independence was attained in 1962.

The country is one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean thanks largely to petroleum and natural gas production and processing. Tourism, mostly in Tobago, is targeted for expansion and is growing. The government is coping with a rise in violent crime.

Trinidad and Tobago Flag

Trinidad and Tobago Flag


Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela

Geographic coordinates:
11 00 N, 61 00 W

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

total: 5,128 sq km
country comparison to the world: 174
land: 5,128 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than Delaware

Land boundaries:
0 km

362 km

Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin

tropical; rainy season (June to December)

mostly plains with some hills and low mountains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: El Cerro del Aripo 940 m

Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, asphalt

Land use:
arable land: 4.87%
permanent crops: 4.29%
other: 90.84% (2011)

Irrigated land:
36 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
3.84 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.23 cu km/yr (67%/25%/8%)
per capita: 177.9 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards:
outside usual path of hurricanes and other tropical storms

Environment – current issues:
water pollution from agricultural chemicals, industrial wastes, and raw sewage; oil pollution of beaches; deforestation; soil erosion

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note:
Pitch Lake, on Trinidad’s southwestern coast, is the world’s largest natural reservoir of asphalt

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People & Society

noun: Trinidadian(s), Tobagonian(s)
adjective: Trinidadian, Tobagonian

Ethnic groups:
East Indian 35.4%, African 34.2%, mixed – other 15.3%, mixed African/East Indian 7.7%, other 1.3%, unspecified 6.2% (2011 est.)

English (official), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), French, Spanish, Chinese

Protestant 32.1% (Pentecostal/Evangelical/Full Gospel 12%, Baptist 6.9%, Anglican 5.7%, Seventh-Day Adventist 4.1%, Presbyterian/Congretational 2.5, other Protestant .9), Roman Catholic 21.6%, Hindu 18.2%, Muslim 5%, Jehovah’s Witness 1.5%, other 8.4%, none 2.2%, unspecified 11.1% (2011 est.)

1,223,916 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.4% (male 121,386/female 116,661)
15-24 years: 13% (male 82,779/female 76,785)
25-54 years: 46.9% (male 298,156/female 276,205)
55-64 years: 9.5% (male 67,738/female 68,535)
65 years and over: 9.1% (male 50,107/female 65,564) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 43.1 %
youth dependency ratio: 29.8 %
elderly dependency ratio: 13.3 %
potential support ratio: 7.5 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 34.4 years
male: 34 years
female: 34.9 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
-0.11% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205

Birth rate:
13.8 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145

Death rate:
8.48 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80

Net migration rate:
-6.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 201

urban population: 13.7% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 2.21% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
PORT-OF-SPAIN (capital) 66,000 (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
46 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 112

Infant mortality rate:
total: 24.82 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 72
male: 26.05 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23.57 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.29 years
country comparison to the world: 136
male: 69.42 years
female: 75.24 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.71 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
42.5% (2006)

Health expenditures:
5.7% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 119

Physicians density:
1.18 physicians/1,000 population (2007)

Hospital bed density:
2.1 beds/1,000 population (2.1)

Drinking water source:
urban: 97.6% of population
rural: 93.3% of population
total: 93.9% of population
urban: 2.4% of population
rural: 6.7% of population
total: 6.1% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 92.1% of population
rural: 92.1% of population
total: 92.1% of population
urban: 7.9% of population
rural: 7.9% of population
total: 7.9% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
1.6% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
14,300 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
500 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
29.3% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 31

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
4.4% (2000)
country comparison to the world: 96

Education expenditures:
3.2% of GDP (2003)
country comparison to the world: 135

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.2%
female: 98.5% (2011 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2004)

Child labor – children ages 5-14:
total number: 1,201
percentage: 1 % (2006 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 10.5%
country comparison to the world: 108
male: 8.8%
female: 12.9% (2008)

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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
conventional short form: Trinidad and Tobago

Government type:
parliamentary democracy

name: Port of Spain
geographic coordinates: 10 39 N, 61 31 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:
9 regions, 3 boroughs, 2 cities, 1 ward
regions: Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Diego Martin, Mayaro/Rio Claro, Penal/Debe, Princes Town, Sangre Grande, San Juan/Laventille, Siparia, Tunapuna/Piarco
borough: Arima, Chaguanas, Point Fortin
cities: Port of Spain, San Fernando
ward: Tobago

31 August 1962 (from the UK)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 31 August (1962)

previous 1962; latest 1976; amended many times, last in 2007 (2012)

Legal system:
English common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court

International law organization participation:
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Anthony CARMONA (since 18 March 2013)
head of government: Prime Minister Kamla PERSAD-BISSESSAR (since 26 May 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed from among the members of Parliament
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elections: president elected by an electoral college, which consists of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 15 February 2013 (next to be held by February 2018); the president usually appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives
election results: as the only candidate nominated, Anthony CARMONA elected president; sworn in on 18 March 2013; percent of electoral college vote – 100%

Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (31 seats; 16 members appointed by the ruling party, 9 by the president, 6 by the opposition party to serve a maximum term of five years) and the House of Representatives (41 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives – last held on 24 May 2010 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: House of Representatives – percent of vote – NA; seats by party – UNC 21, PNM 12, COP 6, TOP 2
note: Tobago has a unicameral House of Assembly with 12 members serving four-year terms; last election held in January 2013; seats by party – PNM 12

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court of the Judicature (consists of a chief justice for both the Court of Appeal with 12 judges and the High Court with 24 judges)
note – Trinidad and Tobago can file appeals beyond its Supreme Court to the Caribbean Court of Justice, with final appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the parliamentary leader of the opposition; other judges appointed by the Judicial Legal Services Commission, headed by the chief justice and 5 members with judicial experience; all judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement normally at age 65
subordinate courts: Courts of Summary Criminal Jurisdiction; Petty Civil Courts; Family Court

Political parties and leaders:
Congress of the People or COP [Prakash RAMADHAR]
Democratic Action Congress or DAC [Hochoy CHARLES] (only active in Tobago)
Democratic National Alliance or DNA [Charles CARSON] (coalition of NAR, DDPT, MND)
Movement for National Development or MND [Garvin NICHOLAS]
National Alliance for Reconstruction or NAR [Lennox SANKERSINGH]
People’s National Movement or PNM [Keith ROWLEY]
Tobago Organization of the People or TOP [Ashworth JACK]
United National Congress or UNC [Kamla PERSAD-BISSESSAR]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Jamaat-al Muslimeen [Yasin ABU BAKR]

International organization participation:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Neil N. PARSAN (since 14 February 2011)
chancery: 1708 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 467-6490
FAX: [1] (202) 785-3130
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Margaret B. DIOP
embassy: 15 Queen’s Park West, Port of Spain
mailing address: P. O. Box 752, Port of Spain
telephone: [1] (868) 622-6371 through 6376
FAX: [1] (868) 822-5905

Flag description:
red with a white-edged black diagonal band from the upper hoist side to the lower fly side; the colors represent the elements of earth, water, and fire; black stands for the wealth of the land and the dedication of the people; white symbolizes the sea surrounding the islands, the purity of the country’s aspirations, and equality; red symbolizes the warmth and energy of the sun, the vitality of the land, and the courage and friendliness of its people

National symbol(s):
scarlet ibis (bird of Trinidad); cocrico (bird of Tobago)

National anthem:
name: “Forged From the Love of Liberty”
lyrics/music: Patrick Stanislaus CASTAGNE
note: adopted 1962; the song was originally created to serve as an anthem for the West Indies Federation; it was adopted by Trinidad and Tobago following the Federation’s dissolution in 1962

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Economy – overview:
Trinidad and Tobago attracts considerable foreign direct investment from international businesses, particularly in energy, and has one of the highest per capita incomes in Latin America. Economic growth between 2000 and 2007 averaged slightly over 8% per year, significantly above the regional average of about 3.7% for that same period; however, GDP has slowed down since then and contracted during 2009-2011 due to depressed natural gas prices and changing markets. Growth had been fueled by investments in liquefied natural gas, petrochemicals, and steel with additional upstream and downstream investment planned. Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, and its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources. It also supplies manufactured goods, notably food products and beverages, as well as cement to the Caribbean region. Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports, but only 5% of employment. Oil production has declined over the last decade as the country focused the majority of its efforts on natural gas.

The current administration has been working to arrest this decline by opening bid rounds and providing fiscal incentives for investments in on-shore and deep water acreage to boost oil reserves and production. The government keeps a close watch on the changing global gas markets and has shown flexibility in diversifying natural gas export destinations. Although Trinidad and Tobago enjoys cheap electricity from natural gas, the renewable energy sector has recently garnered increased interest. The country is also a regional financial center with a well-regulated and stable financial system. Other sectors the Government of Trinidad and Tobago targeted for increased investment and projected growth include tourism, agriculture, information and communications technology, and shipping. The economy benefits from a growing trade surplus with the US. The US is Trinidad and Tobago’s leading trade partner. The previous MANNING administration benefited from fiscal surpluses fueled by the dynamic export sector; however, declines in oil and gas prices have reduced government revenues, challenging the current government’s commitment to maintaining high levels of public investment. Crime and bureaucratic hurdles continue to be the biggest deterrents for attracting more foreign direct investment and business.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$27.14 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
$26.71 billion (2012 est.)
$26.66 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$27.13 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
1.6% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
0.2% (2012 est.)
-2.6% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$20,300 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
$20,100 (2012 est.)
$20,100 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
18.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
20% of GDP (2012 est.)
28.1% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 56.1%
government consumption: 16.9%
investment in fixed capital: 15.4%
investment in inventories: -20.2%
exports of goods and services: 94.3%
imports of goods and services: -62.5%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 0.3%
industry: 57.7%
services: 42% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
cocoa, rice, citrus, coffee, vegetables; poultry; sugar

petroleum and petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG), methanol, ammonia, urea, steel products, beverages, food processing, cement, cotton textiles

Industrial production growth rate:
1.2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142

Labor force:
621,000 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 3.8%
manufacturing, mining, and quarrying: 12.8%
construction and utilities: 20.4%
services: 62.9% (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate:
5.9% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
5.6% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
17% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

revenues: $7.847 billion
expenditures: $8.323 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
28.9% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-1.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82

Public debt:
37.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
37.9% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 October – 30 September

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.4% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
9.2% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
4.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38
7.25% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
7.5% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113
7.7% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$7.044 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
$6.221 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$20.12 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
$17.82 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$6.403 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
$6.059 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$15.17 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
$14.73 billion (31 December 2011)
$12.16 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:
$414.1 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
$959 million (2012 est.)

$12.86 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
$12.98 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
petroleum and petroleum products, liquefied natural gas, methanol, ammonia, urea, steel products, beverages, cereal and cereal products, sugar, cocoa, coffee, citrus fruit, vegetables, flowers

Exports – partners:
US 42.1%, Chile 7.1%, Argentina 6.5%, Spain 4.5% (2012)

$9.638 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
$9.065 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
mineral fuels, lubricants, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, chemicals, live animals

Imports – partners:
US 33.1%, Brazil 8.1%, Colombia 7.7%, Gabon 5.5%, Canada 4.4%, China 4.2% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$10.07 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
$9.897 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$4.823 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
$4.722 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$102 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
$12.44 billion (2007)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$3.829 billion (2007)
country comparison to the world: 64

Exchange rates:
Trinidad and Tobago dollars (TTD) per US dollar –
6.411 (2013 est.)
6.3907 (2012 est.)
6.3755 (2010 est.)
6.3099 (2009)
6.2896 (2008)

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