Friday, 14 April 2017

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Twin Islands Worth Visiting

Trinidad and Tobago are an exercise in beautiful contradiction. In Trinidad, pristine mangrove swamps and rainforested hills sit side by side with smoke-belching oil refineries and ugly industrial estates.

Tobago has everything you’d expect from a Caribbean island, with palm trees and white sand aplenty, yet it’s relatively unchanged by the tourist industry.

Combined, this twin-island republic offers unparalleled birdwatching; first-class diving; luxuriant rainforests perfect for hiking, waterfall swimming and cycling; and electric nightlife, with the fabulous Carnival easily the biggest and best of the region’s annual blowouts.

Mayaro Bay stretches for nine miles on the east coast of the island of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The beach which lines the bay, Mayaro Beach, is a popular destination for holidays, long weekends, and is one of the traditional places to spend the Easter holidays. Not only do beach-goers swim, but they also kayak, bird watch, camp, and occasionally kite surf, making Mayaro a tourist hot spot.

Located at the southern end of Manzanilla Beach, Trinidad and Tobago, one can reach Mayaro Beach by traveling along the Mayaro-Guayaguayare road or the Mayaro-Naparima road.

The name ‘Mayaro’ originates from maya, a plant that grew in abundance locally, and ‘ro’ meaning ‘the place of’ in an Arawak tongue.

Unlike other beaches, such as Maracas and Las Cuevas, Mayaro is far less crowded and more private. This allows for an escape from the mass of tourists that pass through, as the privacy of the beach provides a true sense of relaxation. Despite this, luxurious resorts and commodious rental homes line the shore.

Along with resorts, restaurants are also conveniently placed nearby to allow for easy access after a swim, such as Ambrosia Restaurant & Lounge, Deon's Fast Foods, and The Neighbourhood Grill.

In terms of attractions, the Brigand Hill Lighthouse, White Diamond Casino, and Pointe-a-Pierre Golf Club are all in the area.

Manzanilla Beach,one of the most sparsely populated areas on the island, Manzanilla has become a choice tourism destination for visitors seeking a quieter and less commercial beach experience. There are a few resorts, such as the Coconut Cove, that cater to tourists visiting the region for leisure.

Despite its appeal as an attraction, Manzanilla is infamous for its consistently rough waters and dangerous undercurrents during high tide.

The beach is also known as a hatching site of the local leatherback sea turtle. Due to the abundance of these nests, Manzanilla beach has caught the attention of eco-tourists as a destination for turtle-watching.

Queens Beach Resort, is an exclusive, private and romantic island resort lush with tropical plants and adjacent to miles of clear blue waters

Queens Beach Resort spreads idyllically along a pristine beach. The resort, now re-launched, seamlessly extends the magic of the island’s blessed natural beauty in its design even as it offers the finest contemporary luxuries and services. A choice of gourmet cuisine, water sports, and recreation make for a complete and exclusive destination.

The resort is only 75 minutes by car, available 24 hours, from Piarco International Airport.

The ethnic composition of Trinidad and Tobago reflects a history of conquest and immigration.While the earliest inhabitants were of Amerindian heritage, since the 20th century the two dominant groups in the country were those of South Asian and of African heritage.

Indo-Trinidadians make up the country's largest ethnic group (approximately 37.6%). They are primarily descendants from indentured workers from India, brought to replace freed African slaves who refused to continue working on the sugar plantations. Through cultural preservation some residents of Indian descent continue to maintain traditions from their ancestral homelands.

Afro-Trinidadians and Tobagonians make up the country's second largest ethnic group, with approximately 36.3% of the population identifying as being of African descent. People of African background were brought to the island as slaves as early as the 16th century. 24.4% of the population identified in the 2011 census as being of "mixed" ethnic heritage. There are small but significant minorities of people of European, Chinese, and Levantine (Syrian/Lebanese) descent.

But don’t expect anyone to hold your hand. The oil and gas industry leaves tourism low on the priority list, so it’s up to you to take a deep breath, jump in and enjoy the mix.

Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a twin island country situated off the northern edge of the South American mainland, lying just 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and 130 kilometres (81 miles) south of Grenada. Bordering the Caribbean to the north, it shares maritime boundaries with other nations including Barbados to the northeast, Grenada to the northwest, Guyana to the southeast, and Venezuela to the south and west.

The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José María Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on 18 February 1797.

During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers, more times than any other island in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago (remaining separate until 1889) were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens.

The country Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976.

Trinidad and Tobago is the third richest country by GDP (PPP) per capita in the Americas after the United States and Canada. Furthermore, it is recognised as a high-income economy by the World Bank.

Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country's economy is primarily industrial,with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals. The country's wealth is attributed to its large reserves and exploitation of oil and natural gas.

Trinidad and Tobago is known for its Carnival and is the birthplace of steelpan, limbo, and the music styles of calypso, soca, parang, chutney, chutney soca, chut-kai-pang, cariso, extempo, kaiso, parang soca, pichakaree, and rapso.

Trinidad and Tobago are islands situated between 10° 2' and 11° 12' N latitude and 60° 30' and 61° 56' W longitude. At the closest point, Trinidad is just 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Venezuelan territory. Covering an area of 5,128 km2 (1,980 sq mi),the country consists of the two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous smaller landforms, including Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande (or Gasparee), Little Tobago, and St. Giles Island.

Trinidad is 4,768 km2 (1,841 sq mi) in area (comprising 93.0% of the country's total area) with an average length of 80 km (50 mi) and an average width of 59 kilometres (37 mi). Tobago has an area of about 300 km2 (120 sq mi), or 5.8% of the country's area, is 41 km (25 mi) long and 12 km (7.5 mi) at its greatest width. Trinidad and Tobago lie on the continental shelf of South America, and are thus geologically considered to lie entirely in South America.

The terrain of the islands is a mixture of mountains and plains. The highest point in the country is found on the Northern Range at El Cerro del Aripo, which is 940 metres (3,080 ft) above sea level.

As the majority of the population live in the island of Trinidad, this is the location of most major towns and cities. There are four major municipalities in Trinidad: Port of Spain, the capital, San Fernando, Arima and Chaguanas. The main town in Tobago is Scarborough.

Trinidad is made up of a variety of soil types, the majority being fine sands and heavy clays. The alluvial valleys of the Northern Range and the soils of the East-West Corridor are the most fertile.

It is estimated that 20% – 30% of measured GDP represents the hidden economy.Within the Trinidadian and Tobagonian business structure illicit activities and licit activities work side by side, with many business and political organisations being funded by institutionalised drug smugglers.

Within Trinidad and Tobago there are two main drug cartels, the Syrian/Lebanese drug cartels and the Indo Trinidadian drug cartels. The Syrian Lebanese drug cartels are the longest tenured drug cartel on the islands, having ridden the wave of cocaine exportation from the 1970s to the current day.

The Syrian Drug Cartels control the vast sway of financing and business interest on the island and exhibit monopolistic tendencies which limit free market policies in insurance, health, finance, heavy and light manufacturing, and land distribution.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the Caribbean and is listed in the top 40 (2010 information) of the 70 High Income countries in the world. Its GNI per capita of US$20,is one of the highest in the Caribbean.

In November 2011, the OECD removed Trinidad and Tobago from its list of Developing Countries.Trinidad's economy is strongly influenced by the petroleum industry. Tourism and manufacturing are also important to the local economy. Tourism is a growing sector, although not as proportionately important as in many other Caribbean islands. Agricultural products include citrus and cocoa.

Recent growth has been fuelled by investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals, and steel. Additional petrochemical, aluminium, and plastics projects are in various stages of planning. Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, and its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources but it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food, beverages, and cement, to the Caribbean region.

Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports, but only 5% of employment. The country is also a regional financial centre, and the economy has a growing trade surplus.

The expansion of Atlantic LNG over the past six years created the largest single-sustained phase of economic growth in Trinidad and Tobago. It has become the leading exporter of LNG to the United States, and now supplies some 70% of US LNG imports.

Trinidad and Tobago has transitioned from an oil-based economy to a natural gas based economy. In 2007, natural gas production averaged 4 billion cubic feet per day (110,000,000 m3/d), compared with 3.2×106 cu ft/d (91,000 m3/d) in 2005. In December 2005, the Atlantic LNG's fourth production module or "train" for liquefied natural gas (LNG) began production. Train 4 has increased Atlantic LNG's overall output capacity by almost 50% and is the largest LNG train in the world at 5.2 million tons/year of LNG.

Trinidad and Tobago, in an effort to undergo economic transformation though diversification formed InvesTT in 2012 to serve as the country's sole investment promotion agency. This agency is aligned to the Ministry of Trade and Industry and is to the be the key agent in growing the country's non-oil and gas sectors significantly and sustainably.

Trinidad and Tobago's infrastructure is good by regional standards.The international airport in Trinidad was expanded in 2001. There is an extensive network of paved roads with several good four and six lane highways including one controlled access expressway.

The Ministry of Works estimates that an average Trinidadian spends about four hours in traffic per day. Emergency services are reliable, but may suffer delays in rural districts.Private hospitals are available and reliable.Utilities are fairly reliable in the cities.Some areas, however, especially rural districts, still suffer from water shortages.

English is the country's official language (the local variety of standard English is Trinidadian English or more properly, Trinidad and Tobago Standard English, abbreviated as "TTSE"), but the main spoken language is either of two English-based creole languages (Trinidadian Creole or Tobagonian Creole), which reflects the Amerindian, European, African, and Asian heritage of the nation.

Both creoles contain elements from a variety of African languages; Trinidadian English Creole, however, is also influenced by French and French Creole (Patois).Spanish is estimated to be spoken by around 5% of the population and has been promoted by recent governments as a "first foreign language".

A majority of the early Indian immigrants spoke Trinidadian Hindustani,a form of the Bhojpuri dialect of Hindustani, which later became the lingua franca of Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians.

Attempts are being made to preserve the Trinidaian Hindustani language in the country, including the promotion of Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian musical forms called Pichakaree and Chutney, which are typically sung in a mixture of English and Trinidadian Hindustani.

The indigenous languages were Yao on Trinidad and Karina on Tobago, both Cariban, and Shebaya on Trinidad, which was Arawakan.

Many different religions are practised in Trinidad and Tobago. According to the 2011 census,Roman Catholics were the largest religious group in Trinidad and Tobago with 21.60% of the total population. Hindus were the second largest group with 18.15%, while the Pentecostal/Evangelical/Full Gospel denominations were the third largest group with 12.02% of the population. Significantly, respondents who did not state a religious affiliation represented 11.1% of the population.

The remaining population is made of Spiritual Shouter Baptists (5.67%), Anglicans (5.67%), Muslims (4.97%), Seventh-day Adventists (4.09%), Presbyterians or Congregationalists (2.49%), Irreligious (2.18%), Jehovah's Witnesses (1.47%), other Baptists (1.21%), Trinidad Orisha believers (0.9%), Methodists (0.65%), Rastafarians (0.27%) and the Moravian Church (0.27%).

Two African syncretic faiths, the Shouter or Spiritual Baptists and the Orisha faith formerly called Shangos, a less than complimentary term are among the fastest growing religious groups. Similarly, there is a noticeable increase in numbers of Evangelical Protestant and Fundamentalist churches usually lumped as "Pentecostal" by most Trinidadians, although this designation is often inaccurate.

A small Jewish community exists on the island. Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Bahá'í, and Buddhism are practiced by a minority of Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians. Several eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism are followed by the Chinese community. There is also a small Bahá'í community.

Trinidad and Tobago claims two Nobel Prize-winning authors, V. S. Naipaul and St Lucian-born Derek Walcott,who founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, working and raising a family in Trinidad for much of his career. Designer Peter Minshall is renowned not only for his Carnival costumes but also for his role in opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics, the 1994 Football World Cup, the 1996 Summer Olympics, and the 2002 Winter Olympics, for which he won an Emmy Award.

Geoffrey Holder brother of Boscoe Holder and Heather Headley are two Trinidad-born artists who have won Tony Awards for theatre. Holder also has a distinguished film career, and Headley has won a Grammy Award as well. Recording artists Billy Ocean and Nicki Minaj are also Trinidadian. Interestingly, three actors who appeared on Will Smith's sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air are of Trinidadian descent: Tatyana Ali and Alfonso Ribeiro were series regulars as Will's cousins Ashley and Carlton, respectively, while Nia Long played Will's girlfriend Lisa.

Foxy Brown, Dean Marshall, Sommore, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gabrielle Reece, pop singer Haddaway, Tracy Quan, Mike Bibby, Lauryn Williams, Fresh Kid Ice, and Roy Hibbert are all of Trinidadian descent.

Trinidad and Tobago also has the distinction of being the smallest country to have two Miss Universe titleholders and the first black woman ever to win: Janelle Commissiong in 1977, followed by Wendy Fitzwilliam in 1998; the country has also had one Miss World titleholder, Giselle LaRonde.

Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso music and the steelpan, which is widely claimed in Trinidad and Tobago to be the only acoustic musical instrument invented during the 20th century.

Trinidad is also the birthplace of soca music, chutney music, parang, and Carnival. The diverse cultural and religious background also allows for many festivities and ceremonies throughout the year such as Carnival, Diwali, and Eid festivities.

It is an industrial island with a diversified economy, based to a large extent on oil, natural gas, industry and agriculture. It is one of the leading gas-based export centres in the world, being the leading exporter of ammonia and methanol and among the top five exporters of liquefied natural gas.

This has allowed Trinidad to capitalise on the biggest mineral reserves within its territories. It is an oil-rich country and stable economically.