Facts at a glance:
Form of Government: A Republic, Parliamentary Democracy within the British Commonwealth
Head of State: President George Maxwell Richards
Head of Government: Prime Minister, the Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Location: 10ºN; 61ºW. The southernmost islands of the lesser Antilles chain; geologically, an extension of the South American continent; separated from Venezuela by the 11km (7mi) straits of the Gulf of Paria. Tobago is some 30km (19mi) northeast of Trinidad.
Area: 5,128 sq km (1,980 sq mi) total; Trinidad: 4,828 sq km (1,864 sq mi); Tobago: 300 sq km (117 sq mi).
Population: 1.17 million (2002)
Ethnic Make-Up: East Indian (40.3%); African descent (39.5%), mixed race (18.4%), Chinese and Other (1.2%), European (0.6%)
Adult Literacy: 97.9%
Currency: Trinidad & Tobago Dollar (TT$)
Exchange rate: US$1.00 = TT$6.089 (May 2002)
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time +1; GMT -4 (winter); GMT-5 (summer)
Phone Code: Regional code (868) plus the 7-digit local number
History: Although the first encounter with Europeans dates back to Christopher Columbus' landing on the islands in 1498, the first attempt to colonize Trinidad was not made until 1592 by the Spaniards. It remained under Spanish rule until 1797 when it was captured by the British and formally ceded to the United Kingdom in 1802. At various points in its history, Tobago was held by the Dutch, the French and the English but was formally ceded to the UK in 1814. In 1888 the two islands merged to form a single colony.
With the abolition of the African slave trade in 1834, large influxes of indentured labourers from India were introduced by plantation owners.
From 1958 until 1962 Trinidad and Tobago was a member of the autonomous Federation of the West Indies. Independence was achieved in November 1962 with Dr Eric Williams as Prime Minister. In August 1976, the country adopted a new constitution under which it became a republic within the British Commonwealth. In 1980 a Tobago House of Assembly was formed, with powers over that island's finances, economic development and social services. The current Head of State is a native of Tobago.
UWI Connections: Trinidad & Tobago is not only a contributing country but also hosts one of the three campuses of the University of the West Indies. Twelve years after its founding, a second campus of the UWI was established in 1960 at the former Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in St Augustine, Trinidad. The establishment of the St Augustine campus coincided with the creation of three new Faculties - Agriculture, Education and the Social Sciences. The Faculty of Engineering, which was opened at Mona in 1951 was also transferred to the St Augustine campus.
11,116 (2004/2005) students from the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago are registered at the UWI.