Nation at a Glance - Trinidad And Tobago

History

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.

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

Border Countries: 0 km

Total Area: 5,128 sq km Land: 5,128 sq km Water: 0 sq km

Climate: Tropical; rainy season (June to December)

Terrain: Mostly plains with some hills and low mountains

Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, asphalt

Land use: Agricultural land: 10.6% arable land 4.9%; permanent crops 4.3%; permanent pasture 1.4% Forest: 44% Other: 45.4% (2011 est.)

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.)

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

Religions: 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 0.9%), 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.)

Population: 1,220,479 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 99%; Male: 99.2%; Female: 98.7% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 9 regions, 3 boroughs, 2 cities, 1 ward

Economy: 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, contracting during 2009-2012, making small gains in 2013 and contracting again in 2014-2015.Energy production and downstream industrial use dominate the economy. Trinidad and Tobago produces about nine times more natural gas than crude oil on an energy equivalent basis with gas contributing about two-thirds of energy sector government revenue. Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports but less than 5% of employment. In 2013, Trinidad and Tobago was the world’s sixth-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter and is home to one of the largest natural gas liquefaction facilities in the Western Hemisphere. The United States is the country’s largest trading partner, accounting for 33% of its total imports and taking 44% of its exports.Trinidad and Tobago is buffered by considerable foreign reserves and a sovereign wealth fund that equals about one-and-a-half times the national budget, but the country is in a recession and the government faces the dual challenge of gas shortages and a low price environment. A projected 70% decrease in energy revenue to the government in 2016 will likely force cuts to the government budget, which has increased by 35% over the past six years.Economic diversification is a longstanding government talking point, and Trinidad and Tobago has much potential due to its stable, democratic government and its educated, English speaking workforce. 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 has targeted for increased investment and projected growth include tourism, agriculture, information and communications technology, and shipping. Unfortunately, a host of other factors, including low labor productivity, inefficient government bureaucracy, and corruption, have hampered economic development.

Agriculture - products: Cocoa, dasheen, pumpkin, cassava, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, hot pepper, pommecythere, coconut water, poultry

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

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