The two-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is perhaps the most wealthy of the countries in this region. It has a cosmopolitan population and tropical climate. Expatriates will find modern amenities, a landscape that includes some wonderful beaches, rain forests, and reefs as well as an interesting culture.
Trinidad is the larger of the two islands and is rich in natural resources, especially in oil and natural gas as is neighboring Venezuela.
Government and politics
Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the British Commonwealth. Its government is modeled on the British parliamentary process.
Legislative authority rests with the House of Representatives and the Senate. The bicameral House of Representatives has 36 elected members; the Senate has 31 members appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. The executive power rests in the hands of the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the majority party in Parliament and his cabinet.
The President is elected for a 5-year term by an Electoral College, consisting of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
There are currently two political parties with significant power in Trinidad and Tobago: the People's National Movement, a conservative party which holds a majority in the House of Representatives, and the United National Congress, a liberal party which holds 16 of the 36 seats.
Tobago has its own elected 12-member Assembly responsible for the administration of the island.
Like its neighbor Venezuela, the driving force behind the economy of Trinidad and Tobago is oil. First discovered in 1866, it continues to be a major revenue earner. Other natural resources of significant quantity are asphalt and natural gas. Newer industries include electronics, plastics, and financial and banking services.
Tourism, with the aid of government assistance, is growing in importance. Most tourists head to the sister island of Tobago, the more popular destination - especially during Carnival season.
In terms of agriculture the main products are bananas, citrus fruits, cocoa, coffee, rice and sugar cane.
The islands have a well-educated and skilled labor force. Many of the nation's graduates have studied in the UK and North America. In terms of employment the services industry employs the largest percentage, followed by construction and light manufacturing. A small percentage of the labor force is employed in the energy industry.
Unemployment is relatively low for the region. The continued growth of foreign investment and high prices for oil, petrochemical products, and liquefied gas sustains Trinidad and Tobago's robust economic growth and low inflation.