5,128 sq km (1,980 sq miles). Trinidad: 4,828 sq km (1,864 sq miles). Tobago: 300 sq km (116 sq miles).
1.2 million (2014).
238.7 per sq km.
Port of Spain.
Head of state:
President Anthony Carmona since 2013.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Keith Rowley since 2015.
115 volts AC, 60Hz. North American-style plugs with two flat pins (and sometimes a third grounding pin) are used.
Trinidad and Tobago: two very different islands, one mighty inviting destination. As the home of carnival, calypso and limbo dancing, not to mention Angostura Bitters, the country specialises in worldly contributions that have always been an assault on the senses. It’s raw in places, cosmopolitan in others and has a wondrous line-up of festivals and celebrations. What’s more, it punches way above its weight in the scenery stakes too. Diving? Hiking? Beaches? Waterfalls? Nightlife? Come on in.
To talk about it as one nation, however, is accurate but misleading. Oil-rich big brother Trinidad plays home to more than 95% of the country’s population and has all the vigour this would suggest. Port of Spain, surrounded by verdant hills, is the main city. Here, bazaars throng beneath modern skyscrapers and mosques share the skyline with cathedrals, while the whole place bounces to the beat of Carnival, one of the planet’s great parties. It takes place annually on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday – and more than meets the hype.
Beyond the capital beckon volcanoes, a self-replenishing asphalt lake and magnificent bird reserves, meaning the island is as famed among twitchers as it is among party animals.
Tiny Tobago, meanwhile, sitting 32km (20 miles) northeast of Trinidad, moves at an altogether gentler pace. No island was more fought over in the colonial era – it changed hands some 32 times, which says something about its appeal. It’s fertile, located outside the hurricane belt and is even said to be the inspiration behind Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Here, too, there are world-class attractions for nature lovers – it is home to the oldest protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere – and you’ll also find a spread of modern beach resorts. On both islands, meanwhile, the colourful jumble of different cultural influences has left T&T with a delicious, spice-led cuisine.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
There is a high level of gang related violent crime in Trinidad, particularly in the inner city neighbourhoods east of Port of Spain’s city centre, Laventille, Morvant and Barataria. This crime tends to occur within local communities but can sometimes affect visitors.
If possible, avoid travel outside major populated areas late at night and before dawn. There have been incidents of violence and fatal accidents caused by erratic driving to and from Piarco International airport, particularly on the Beetham/Churchill Roosevelt highway and Lady Young Road.
There have also been incidents of violent theft by gangs who follow cars travelling from the airport, and attack their victims when they reach their destination. There have been a number of incidents where debris (eg broken down cars and masonry bricks) have been left on the highway in order to force cars to stop. Always drive with windows closed and doors locked.
Crimes including rape, assault, robbery and theft have taken place inside route taxis (which stop to pick up additional passengers) or maxi taxis. Make sure your taxi is not a route taxi before getting in. If possible, use hotel or pre-booked taxis and drivers who work with set fares. Private taxis in Trinidad and Tobago are unmetered and unmarked but can be identified by vehicle registration plates beginning with ‘H’.
You should maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your living accommodation is secure. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use a hotel safe to store valuables, money and passports. Don’t walk alone in deserted areas even in daylight. Take care when withdrawing money from ATMs.
There has been at least 1 instance of violent sexual assault in the Chaguaramas/Macqueripe area; this occurred in the middle of the day and close to a road.
Theft from vehicles and property occurs in parts of downtown Port of Spain and other towns/cities. Take particular care around the port area or downtown, especially at night, and avoid straying into areas affected by gang violence. There have been robberies, some involving firearms, at tourist sites, including Fort George, the Pitch Lake, Las Cuevas beach and at supermarket car parks, shopping malls, nightclubs, restaurants and business premises.
There is a higher risk from opportunistic crime during the festive period and carnival season.
Most visits to Tobago are trouble free, but tourists (including British nationals) have been robbed. The inability of the authorities to catch and prosecute offenders remains a concern. Incidents of violent crime in Tobago are rare, but 2 German tourists were murdered on 22 November, on Minister’s Bay in the Bacolet area.
You should maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your living accommodation is secure. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use a hotel safe to store valuables, money and passports. Petty theft from cars is common.
Villas, particularly those in isolated areas, should have adequate security, including external security lighting, grilles and overnight security guards.
Don’t walk alone in deserted areas even in daylight. This includes beaches like Englishman’s Bay, King Peter’s bay and Bacolet beach unless you are in an organised group. Consult your tour operator if in doubt.
Be vigilant at all times and carry a mobile phone with roaming capability for use in emergency.
The standard of driving in Trinidad and Tobago is mixed. High speed road accidents on the main highways in Trinidad often result in fatalities. Some roads are narrow and winding, and the surface of a low standard. Take care when driving.
If possible, avoid travel outside major populated areas after dark, especially routes to and from Piarco International airport. There have been incidents of violence and fatal accidents caused by local erratic driving standards to and from the airport, particularly on the Beetham/Churchill Roosevelt Highway.
If you don’t have a vehicle, use hotel taxis to get around, particularly after dark.