The two islands of the former UK colony of Trinidad and Tobago are the most southerly of the Caribbean Windward Islands, lying just 9 miles (15 km) off the coast of Venezuela.
Geography: Both islands are hilly and wooded. Trinidad has a rugged mountain range in the north, and swamps on its east and west coasts.
Climate: Tropical, with July–December wet season. Escapes the region’s hurricanes, which pass to the north.
People and Society: Trinidad’s East Indian community is the Caribbean’s largest and holds onto its Muslim and Hindu heritage. There are tensions with the mainly Christian blacks; political parties are divided along race lines. Blacks form the majority on Tobago. High rates of kidnapping and murder are an issue.
The Economy: Oil and natural gas: it provides 75% of US imports of liquefied natural gas, but only 12 years of reserves left. Associated industries: second-largest producer of methanol. Tourism on wildlife-rich Tobago.
Insight: Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of steel bands and Calypso music
Official Name: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Date of Formation: 1962
Population: 1.34 million
Total Area: 1980 sq. miles (5128 sq. km)
Density: 676 people per sq. mile
Languages: English Creole, English*, Hindi, French, Spanish
Religions: Catholic 32%, Hindu 24%, Protestant 28%, other 9%, Muslim 7%
Ethnic Mix: East Indian 40%, Black 40%, Mixed race 18%, White, Chinese 1%, other 1%
Government: Parliamentary system
Currency: Trin. & Tob. dollar = 100 cents