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Trinidad and Tobago - Overview

Trinidad and Tobago is well known as the home of lively living, with carnivals, steel bands and dancing regular events there. The islands lie close to the coast of Venezuela. Trinidad has a mountain range north of Port of Spain, while much of the rest of the island is flat. Tobago has some heavily wooded areas which include a protected rainforest as well as beaches.

The islands have a population of less than 1.5 million people and just 52,000 of these live in Port of Spain. Trinidad and Tobago is now a republic, having gained their independence from the UK in 1962. There is both an elected Prime Minister and President. The official language is English, although Spanish, French, Chinese and Hindi are also used. The islands sit in the GMT -4 time zone.

Trinidad's capital is Port of Spain and is a bustling town. It mixes the old Caribbean styles with the new skyscrapers and is home to many people of different cultures. The island's second town is San Fernando which has a busy commercial centre. The island of Tobago is situated to the northeast of Trinidad and is a much more tranquil place, attracting many holidaymakers with its excellent beaches and relaxing hotels. The capital of Tobago is Scarborough and the styles there reflect the island's colonial past with some buildings dating back to the 18th century.

The islands are also popular with those who enjoy water sports. Scuba diving is very popular as is sailing. Boat trips around the islands are particularly popular with tourists. Fishermen can usually find a kindred spirit on the islands and all types of fishing – from sea to river fishing – are available. The range of wildlife and nature reserves on the islands also brings in a number of people who enjoy bird watching and hiking.

The main industries of the islands are oil and gas, as well has being rich in asphalt deposits. Recent agreements with Venezuela have guaranteed investment into these industries. There is a small agricultural industry, supplying mainly coffee, cocoa and fruit. The local currency is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar.

The islands are home to a number of expats, who are attracted by the laid-back lifestyle, although there are several who have come to the island to work in one of the main industries. The islands are filled with friendly people and newcomers are made to feel welcome.

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