Of all the Caribbean Islands, Trinidad and Tobago is the most southern country. White sandy beaches, coconut trees, Rum & Coke and Carnival! While Trinidad is known for its spectacular carnivals, Tobago is host to an array of various species of animals and vegetation. Diving enthusiasts will marvel at the sea beds filled with all types of fish and corals whilst the natural beauty of the land will dazzle anyone.
Basic Fact Sheet:
• Flight only as from: Approximately 1145 Euros; the islands of Trinidad and Tobago are linked to each other by an Air Bridge; the national airline company is BWIA International at Port-of-Spain Airport; there is a regular ferry-boat service which takes 5 hours and 30 mins to cross over.
• Requirements: No compulsory visa; a passport valid for at least 6 months, a return ticket and a hotel reservation are required. The visit duration cannot exceed 3 months.
• Flight Time: about 9 hours from Paris.
• Time Difference: GMT -5 hours in winter ( -6 hours in summer).
• Language: English is the official language. Creole, Hindi and Spanish are also commonly used.
• Religion: 35% Catholics, 15% Anglicans, 25% Hindus, 6% Muslims, 4% Presbyterians and other communities.
• Currency: Trinidad and Tobago Dollar (TTD) and American Dollar.
• Health and safety: No compulsory vaccine but it is advised to get vaccinated against Yellow Fever. Update vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio; get vaccinated as well against Typhoid and Hepatitis A and B. It is much better to filter or boil water before consumption.
Trinidad and Tobago are located on the same geological zone as Haiti. Earth tremors have been observed in Trinidad.
• Area: 5148 km².
• Population: 1 300 000 inhabitants.
The year 1498 is marked by the discovery of Trinidad, populated at the time by numerous Amerindian tribes, and Tobago by Christopher Columbus. Spain took possession of Trinidad in 1532; slavery spread its wings. In 1797, the British in turn took hold of Trinidad whereas Tobago moved from Dutch ownership to the French and the Spanish. Finally the British obtained the island from the French who gave it up in 1814. Slavery was abolished in 1834. A few years later the two islands were administratively linked and got their autonomy only in 1956. On the 31st August 1962, Trinidad and Tobago became independent; Eric Eustace Williams is then the Prime Minister. In 1976, Trinidad and Tobago is declared Republic and becomes a member of the Commonwealth. In 1981, Georges Chambers becomes prime Minister. Muslim militants blew up the police headquarters in 1990 before taking over the parliament; the coup attempt lasted 3 days. In 1997, Arthur Ray Robinson became president.
These two islands are complementary: Trinidad is reputed for its carnival, the most famous of the Caribbean, while Tobago offers nature holidays and is also ideal for relaxing vacations.
The population of Trinidad and Tobago is composed of about forty different ethnic groups and has a naturally cheerful and lively disposition. Dancing, music and satires are dominating features of the carnival and of the daily lives of the inhabitants. They are truly devoted to cricket, their national sport, a British legacy. In the manner of Santeria in Cuba and Voodoo in Haiti, the Shango (or Xangô) Cult is going from strength to strength. Afro-American syncretism mixed with Anglican, Catholic, Protestant and Indian rituals, this religion blends in the ceremonies of West African tribes.
On the 7th and the 8th of February, the Trinidad Carnival takes place. It is considered as the most stunning of the whole of the Caribbean. In July, folkloric dances and crab and goat races can be watched at the ‘Tobago Heritage Festival’. Hossein is a major Muslim event that happens in autumn although the exact date depends on the Islamic calendar. Over three days, processions, songs, dances, fights and the presentation of tadjahs (miniature mosque models) follow one another. In October, “Eid-Ul-Fitr”, another Muslim event, takes place followed by the Hindus “Festival of Lights” in Trinidad in either October or November. Around the same time, on the Atlantic coast of Trinidad, in Manzanilla, there is the Hindu’s Katik-Nanan which is a purification ritual that involves bathing in the ocean.
The Trinidad and Tobago cuisine is influenced by its population; however the Creole cuisine is the most widespread due to its use of a large variety of exotic products.
Geography & Climate
Located 12 km away from Venezuela, Trinidad (4828 km²) and Tobago (303 km²) are set 35 km apart.
Trinidad is crossed over from the east to the west by mountains that are a continuation of the Venezuelan coastal cordillera. The island has sugarcane plantations. Its highest point is Mount Aripo at 940 meters. In the north and the central parts of the island, a number of caves have been carved in by erosion. Mud volcanoes can be found in the south of the island. The three main towns of Trinidad are Port of Spain, city of Arima which welcomes 40% of the population and finally San Fernando.
The central part of Tobago is taken over by a mountain range towering at 600 meters and covered with wild forests. Green plains extend to the north and to the south. Also in the north, superb sandy beaches have turned Tobago into a most appreciated tourist destination. Scarborough, in the south-western part of the island, is the capital of Tobago and has 17000 inhabitants.
The climate is tropical with temperatures set between 27°C to 32°C all year round. There is a dry season (January-May) and a wet season (June-December) with strong but short showers. There is no cyclone in Trinidad and Tobago.
Let’s start with a bit of history: The carnival’s traditions…
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