Monday, 5 March 2018

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Has One Of Highest Murder Rates In The World, Taxi Drivers Have Been Linked To Crime Including Murder, Kidnapping And Robbery

Trinidad and Tobago is a nation consisting primarily of two Caribbean islands just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela.

The country is the most industrialised and one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean.

Overall, tourism is not a major industry though the island of Tobago has proportionally more, leaving the islands replete with natural unspoiled beauty not found in most other Caribbean countries.

Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a twin island sovereign state that is the southernmost nation in the Caribbean.

It is situated 130 kilometres (81 miles) south of Grenada off the northern edge of the South American mainland, 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) off the coast of northeastern Venezuela.

It shares maritime boundaries with 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 until Spanish governor Don Jose Maria Chacon surrendered the island to a British fleet under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby in 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 were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens as separate states and unified in 1889.Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.

Both Trinidad and Tobago were originally settled by Amerindians of South American origin. Trinidad was first settled by pre-agricultural Archaic people at least 7,000 years ago, making it the earliest settled part of the Caribbean.

Ceramic-using agriculturalists settled Trinidad around 250 BC, and then moved further up the Lesser Antillean chain. It was known as Land of the Humming Bird by the indigenous peoples.

At the time of European contact, Trinidad was occupied by various Arawakan-speaking groups including the Nepoya and Suppoya, and Cariban-speaking groups such as the Yao, while Tobago was occupied by the Island Caribs and Galibi.

As of 2015, Trinidad and Tobago had the third highest GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP) in the Americas after the United States and Canada. It is recognised by the World Bank as a high-income economy.

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 celebration and as the birthplace of steelpan drums, the limbo, and music styles such as calypso, soca, parang and chutney.

The islands were first inhabited by Arawak and Carib people, who settled there from the South American mainland, and whose descendants make up a small minority of the population.

Trinidad was discovered by Christopher Columbus, who claimed it for Spain.The Spaniards brought their diseases but the Arawaks and Caribs were not used to their diseases so some soon died out.

Under Spanish rule, large numbers of French settlers established cocoa plantations in Trinidad and imported slaves to work them.

The British seized the island in 1798, and abolished slavery. To make up for the labor shortage the government encouraged heavy immigration from countries such as Portugal, France, Germany, China, and most importantly India.

Trinidad was united with Tobago in the 1880's. Throughout the early 1900's the country welcomed thousands of mostly black immigrants from other Caribbean countries, as well as Venezuela and Colombia.

Following World War II, TT was combined with various other British Caribbean countries into the West Indies Federation, but the different countries could not get along and the federation soon collapsed.

TT eventually achieved complete independence on August 31, 1962. Throughout the sixties and seventies, the country prospered thanks to large deposits of oil and natural gas, becoming the wealthiest nation in the Caribbean.

However, in the late eighties, oil prices dropped significantly, causing a major economic meltdown. Thousands of Trinidadians left the country at this time, in search of better opportunities elsewhere.

Throughout the 90's and 2000's the country recovered dramatically and it continues to improve today.

To date there are still descendants of Caribs and Arawaks in Trinidad and Tobago. In Arima, the Carib community celebrate their feast every August.

The country has a cosmopolitan society inhabited by many different peoples and cultures who live together in relative peace and harmony.

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-Trinidadian and Tobagonians 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 Amerindian, European, Chinese, and Arab descent.

English is the country's official language, the local variety of standard English is Trinidadian English or more properly, Trinidad and Tobago Standard English.

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 or 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, which is a form of the Bhojpuri and Awadhi dialect of Hindustani or Hindi-Urdu, which later became the lingua franca of Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians.

Attempts are being made to preserve the Trinidadian Hindustani language in the country, including the promotion of Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian musical forms called Pichakaree and Chutney.

These 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.

Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Baha', 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.

Women have a key role in Trinidadian demographics. While women account for only 49% of the population, they constitute nearly 55% of the workforce in the country.

The two islands have distinct personalities. Trinidad is the larger of the two, and is the location of most of the country's cities and activity.

It is also the country's industrial centre, noted for petroleum and natural gas production, which make T&T one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean.

Tobago is known for tourism, which is its main industry and is a popular tourist destination. Both islands have a share of natural beauty.

Because Trinidad and Tobago lie on the continental shelf of South America, their biological diversity is unlike that of most other Caribbean islands, and has much in common with that of Venezuela.

The main ecosystems are: coastal and marine that is coral reefs, mangrove swamps, open ocean and seagrass beds; forest; freshwater rivers and streams; karst; man-made ecosystems on agricultural land, freshwater dams, secondary forest; and savanna.

On 1 August 1996, Trinidad and Tobago ratified the 1992 Rio Convention on Biological Diversity, and it has produced a biodiversity action plan and four reports describing the country's contribution to biodiversity conservation.

The reports formally acknowledged the importance of biodiversity to the well-being of the country's people through provision of ecosystem services.

Information about vertebrates is good, with 472 bird species (2 endemics), about 100 mammals, about 90 reptiles a few endemics, about 30 amphibians a few endemics, 50 freshwater fish and at least 950 marine fish.

Information about invertebrates is dispersed and very incomplete. About 650 butterflies, at least 672 beetles from Tobago alone and 40 corals have been recorded.

Although the list is far from complete, 1647 species of fungi, including lichens, have been recorded.

The true total number of fungi is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7% of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered.

A first effort to estimate the number of endemic fungi tentatively listed 407 species.

Information about micro-organisms is dispersed and very incomplete. Nearly 200 species of marine algae have been recorded. The true total number of micro-organism species must be much higher.

Thanks to a recently published checklist, plant diversity in Trinidad and Tobago is well documented with about 3,300 species 59 of them endemic recorded.

Trinidad and Tobago, well within the tropics, both enjoy a generally pleasant maritime tropical climate influenced by the northeast trade winds.

In Trinidad the annual mean temperature is 18 °C (68.8 °F), and the average maximum temperature is 34 °C (93.2 °F).

The humidity is high, particularly during the rainy season, when it averages 85 to 87 %. The island receives an average of 2,110 millimeters (83.1 in) of rainfall per year, usually concentrated in the months of June through December, when brief, intense showers frequently occur.

Precipitation is highest in the Northern Range, which may receive as much as 3,810 millimeters (150 in). During the dry season, drought plagues the island's central interior. Tobago's climate is similar to Trinidad's but slightly cooler.

Its rainy season extends from June to December; the annual rainfall is 2,500 millimeters (98.4 in).

The islands lie outside the hurricane belt; despite this, Hurricane Flora damaged Tobago in 1963, and Tropical Storm Alma hit Trinidad in 1974, causing damage before obtaining full strength.

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.

Trinidad is traversed by three distinct mountain ranges. The Northern Range, an outlier of the Andes Mountains of Venezuela, consists of rugged hills that parallel the coast. This range rises into two peaks.

The highest, El Cerro del Aripo, is 940 meters (3,084 ft) high; the other, El Tucuche, reaches 936 meters. The Central Range extends diagonally across the island and is a low-lying range.

The Caroni Plain, extends southward, separating the Northern Range and Central Range. The Southern Range consists of a broken line of hills with a maximum elevation of 305 meters (1,001 ft).

There are numerous rivers and streams on the island of Trinidad; the most significant are the Ortoire River, and Caroni River.

Tobago is mountainous and dominated by the Main Ridge, which is 29 kilometers long with elevations up to 640 meters. There are deep, fertile valleys running north and south of the Main Ridge.

The southwestern tip of the island has a coral platform. Although Tobago is volcanic in origin, there are no active volcanoes. There are numerous rivers and streams, but flooding and erosion are less severe than in Trinidad.

The Northern Range consists mainly of Upper Jurassic and Cretaceous metamorphic rocks. The Northern Lowlands of the East-West Corridor and Caroni Plains consist of younger shallow marine clastic sediments.

South of this, the Central Range fold and thrust belt consists of Cretaceous and Eocene sedimentary rocks, with Miocene formations along the southern and eastern flanks.

The Naparima Plains and the Nariva Swamp form the southern shoulder of this uplift.

The Southern Lowlands consist of Miocene and Pliocene sands, clays, and gravels. These overlie oil and natural gas deposits, especially north of the Los Bajos Fault. The Southern Range forms the third anticlinal uplift.

It consists of several chains of hills, most famous being the Trinity Hills. The rocks consist of sandstones, shales, siltstones and clays formed in the Miocene and uplifted in the Pleistocene. Oil sands and mud volcanoes are especially common in this area.

It is estimated that the hidden economy represents 20–30% of measured GDP. 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 the most developed nation and one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean and is listed in the top 40 of the 70 high-income countries in the world.

Its gross national income per capita of US$20,070 in 2014 gross national income at Atlas Method 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), petrochemic0..................als, 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 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.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has recognized the creative industries as a pathway to economic growth and development. It is one of the newest, most dynamic sectors where creativity, knowledge and intangibles serve as the basic productive resource.

In 2015, the Trinidad and Tobago Creative Industries Company Limited, CreativeTT was established as a state agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry with a mandate to stimulate and facilitate the business development and export activities.

These were the Creative Industries in Trinidad and Tobago to generate national wealth, and, as such, the company is responsible for the strategic and business development of the three niche areas and sub sectors currently under its purview – Music, Film and Fashion.

MusicTT, FilmTT and FashionTT are the subsidiaries established to fulfil this mandate.

Cities Of Trinidad and Tobago

- Port-of-Spain is Capital city.

- San Fernando is a city in the South.

- Scarborough is Capital of Tobago.


Arima - birthplace of famous calypso artiste Lord Kitchener

Chaguanas - fastest growing and largest municipality mostly populated by descendants of East Indian indentured labourers

Point Fortin - south western municipality, which lies on the outskirts of the La Brea Pitch Lake and is known for oil production

Chaguaramas - a town with one of the major yachting centres, also famous for nightlife; venue of the 1999 Miss Universe Pageant.

- Princes Town

- Toco

- St. James, fondly known by locals as the city that never sleeps.

Other destinations in Trinidad and Tobago

- Caroni Bird Sanctuary and former sugar cane estates a very nice place to watch birds, many mosquitoes.

- North coast beaches Maracas, Las Cuevas, Tyrico, Blanchisseuse.

- La Brea Pitch Lake

- Lopinot Historical Site, museum built on former Cocoa estate owned by French Count Charles Joseph de Lopinot

- Roxborough, Northern Tobago, tropical rainforest reserve

- Down the Islands, the small islands off the north-west peninsula offer a calm retreat.

Nationals of Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Pakistan, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Swaziland, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe do not require a visa for the duration of their stay.

Nationals of all European Union/European Economic Area member states which are part of the Schengen Area may enter visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period.

Nationals of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela may enter visa-free for up to 90 days.

Nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia may enter visa-free for up to 30 days.

Nationals of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines may obtain a visa waiver on arrival at a cost of TT$400.

Nationals of all other countries not specified above require a visa. They may also obtain a visa waiver on arrival, provided that:

- They hold a copy of a pre-arranged approval from immigration.

- They are not citizens of Macedonia, North Korea or Vietnam.

- They are not holders of normal passports issued by China, Cuba and Haiti.

- All visitors require a passport valid for the length of their stay and a return or onward ticket. They must also show proof of funds to maintain themselves, and provide an address in TT, such as a hotel or family/friend.

When leaving the country, there is a departure tax of TT$75 on the ferry to Venezuela.

The transport system in Trinidad and Tobago consists of a dense network of highways and roads across both major islands, ferries connecting Port of Spain with Scarborough and San Fernando, and international airports on both islands.

The Uriah Butler Highway, Churchill Roosevelt Highway and the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway links the nation together.

Public transportation options on land are public buses, private taxis and minibuses. By sea, the options are inter-island ferries and inter-city water taxis.

The island of Trinidad is served by Piarco International Airport located in Piarco.

It was opened on 8 January 1931. Elevated at 17.4 metres (57 ft) above sea level it comprises an area of 680 hectares (1,700 acres) and has a runway of 3,200 metres (10,500 ft).

The airport consists of two terminals, the North Terminal and the South Terminal. The older South Terminal underwent renovations in 2009 for use as a VIP entrance point during the 5th Summit of the Americas.

The North Terminal was completed in 2001, and consists of 14 second-level aircraft gates with jetways for international flights, two ground-level domestic gates and 82 ticket counter positions.

Piarco International Airport was voted the Caribbean's leading airport for customer satisfaction and operational efficiency at the prestigious World Travel Awards (WTA), held in the Turks and Caicos in 2006.

In 2008 the passenger throughput at Piarco International Airport was approximately 2.6 million.

Piarco International Airport is the seventh busiest airport in the Caribbean and the third busiest in the English-speaking Caribbean, after Sangster International Airport and Lynden Pindling International Airport.

International airlines operate out of Piarco and offer flights to twenty-seven international destinations.

Caribbean Airlines, the national airline, operates its main hub at the Piarco International Airport and services the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and South America.

The airline is wholly owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. After an additional cash injection of US$50 million, the Trinidad and Tobago government acquired the Jamaican airline Air Jamaica on 1 May 2010, with a 6–12 month transition period to follow.

Caribbean Airlines, the national and state-owned airline of Trinidad and Tobago, is the largest in the Caribbean.

After the acquisition of the now defunct Air Jamaica, it became the largest airline and was voted as the Caribbean's leading airline.

The Island of Tobago is served by the A.N.R. Robinson International Airport in Crown Point. This airport has regular services to North America and Europe.

There are regular flights between the two islands, with fares being heavily subsidised by the Government.

The main airport is Piarco International Airport on Trinidad, approximately 25 km south east of Port of Spain.

Direct air service is available from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Orlando, New York (JFK), and Newark, USA; Toronto, Canada; London, UK; Caracas and Porlomar, Venezuela; Panama City, Panama; Paramaribo, Suriname; Georgetown, Guyana; Barbados and various other islands in the Caribbean.

Airlines serving Trinidad

- Caribbean Airlines, direct flights from Miami, New York, Ft Lauderdale, Orlando, Toronto, London, Caracas, Georgetown, Kingston, Paramaribo, Barbados, and other Caribbean islands

- American Airlines, direct flights from Miami

- British Airways, direct flights from London Gatwick

- Conviasa, direct flights from Porlamar

- COPA Airlines, direct and connecting flights from Central and South America via Panama

- Liat Airline, regional island hopper in the eastern Caribbean

- Surinam Airways, Paramaribo, Curaçao

- United Airlines, direct flights from Houston and Newark

- West Jet, direct flights from Toronto

- Jetblue, direct flights from New York City (JFK)

Airlines serving Tobago

- Tobago's ANR Robinson International Airport has limited direct service, mostly to London

- Caribbean Airlines, offering domestic flights from Trinidad as well as a direct flight from New York (JFK)

- Virgin Atlantic, direct flights from Gatwick London

- British Airways, direct Flights from Gatwick London

- Condor, charter service from Munich and Frankfurt

- Thomas Cook Airlines, charter service from Manchester

Please note that Condor is part of the Thomas Cook Group, and these airlines often combine routes to Tobago.

International departure tax is TT$200 about US$31.10, which is now included in the cost of your ticket at the point of sale.

From the airport you may use a bus to get into the city. This is not well at all signposted. To catch the bus, first purchase a ticket from the newsagency inside the terminal. This will be $4TT (65c USD).

You cannot pay on the bus, so ensure you get this ticket. There will also be a timetable showing departure times.

They are approximately every hour. The bus stops on the second traffic island outside of the terminal. You should see a very small sign.

Trinidad is a popular location among yacht owners. Most anchor in the Chaguaramas area on the far northwest side of the island.

The Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association provides services to boaters, who are locally known as yachties. Cruise ships can also dock at the Cruise Ship Complex in Port of Spain.

Taxi cabs are simply normal passenger cars with no special markings. However, their license plates start with the letter "H". They are found at Taxi stands which may be at a street corner or at the side of the road.

Taxi stands in the cities and boroughs are usually marked, but outside of the city they are not. However, one can hail a taxi from the side of the road and ask where they are going and the fare before hiring the taxi.

Alternatively, to get your attention, they will beep their horn at you as they approach. One pays for an individual seat and the taxicabs are shared, but a whole car can be hired if so desired, and if there are not a lot of passengers waiting.

Airport taxis are an exception to this in that one almost always has to hire the whole car. Prices can be agreed upon before embarkment.

There are larger taxis, called Maxi Taxis or simply Maxis that go along a specified route. These are similar to mini buses and are painted white or beige and have a colored band around them.

Each maxi usually holds approximately 11 or 25 passengers. The colour of the band indicates the area in which they travel. They have their own taxi stands and terminals.

In Port of Spain, the maxis depart and arrive at the City Gate terminal, and in San Fernando they depart and arrive at the bus terminal at King's Wharf. These Maxi Taxis travel to the east, south and central areas of the island.

In order to travel to the west there are a few designated areas such as the Diego martin/Petit Valley/Carenage/Chagaramas maxi stand located a few kilometers away from City Gate.

If so desired, a maxi taxi can be hired for a whole day on a chartered trip. These can be negotiated directly with the maxi taxi drivers in advance. Prices vary.

Gypsy cabs are available as well. Locally they are called "PH" because they are private cars illegally used for hire.

Use caution as "PH" drivers have been linked to crime including murder, kidnapping and robbery and carry no insurance for hired passengers.

All taxi fares are to be paid in cash in TT dollars. Some drivers accept US dollars, Canadian dollars or Euros, but they may not give you a favorable exchange rate. It's okay to ask your fare in advance.

In Maxi taxis, pay the conductor, or the driver if there is no conductor. Tipping is not expected except for airport taxis. However, if you feel generous, you can give a tip if you desire. Taxi drivers usually do not provide receipts.

If going off the usual designated route usually the main road, tell the taxi driver before you board the taxi.

Some may not want to go off the main road due to crime or bad roads. If you fail to notify them in advance, they may just drop you off at a close point to your destination and you'll have to walk.

Maxi taxis will usually not go off the designated route, however, some of them will ask passengers if an alternate route can be taken if there is excessive traffic.

If in doubt as to whether the maxi will miss your destination, ask the conductor.

Avoid looking for a taxi or maxi during rush hour(AM and PM, but PM is worse. The taxi stands tend to be crowded, and others may resort to stopping the taxi before the taxi stand.

The net result is that the taxi is full before it reaches the stand and the wait may be exceedingly long.

Some maxi and taxi drivers will want to put more than the legal number of passengers in the vehicle.

This is a dangerous and illegal practice, as there is no insurance coverage for any of the passengers if the maxi taxi is overloaded and gets into an accident. Politely decline or at least know what you're risking.

If your taxi or maxi is involved in a crash, make a report to the police as soon as possible in order to secure your legal rights. Taxi drivers are required to carry insurance for all passengers.

Police reports can be made in person to the police station that has jurisdiction. Ask a local. They will know. If you or someone requires immediate medical attention, dial 999 or 990.

Some taxi stands will fill up the taxis from the back going forward. This is more common in the cities and boroughs.

To stop a maxi taxi while on it i.e. at your destination push the stop button. They will sometimes not be labeled, but by law maxi taxis are required to have them.

Smoking in public buildings is against the law.

Buses are run by the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Buses and bus tickets are available at City Gate in Port-of-Spain, King's Wharf in San Fernando and various other terminals and bus stops. A ticket is required to board the bus. Bus drivers do not accept cash or credit cards.

There is now a domestic ferry operating on the island of Trinidad between the two main cities of Port-of-Spain in the north and San Fernando in the south.

The ferry ride is approximately 45 minutes between destinations and a one-way trip costs TT$15 approximately US$2.50.

Car rental is widely available, and driving is on the left side, the British style. There are several companies that rent cars including international chains such as Budget and Hertz.

There are also local companies such as Auto Rentals, Kalloo's and many others. It is best to reserve a car in advance. However, one can rent a car at the airport upon arrival.

The license plates of rental cars are usually designated with an R meaning Rental as the first letter.

Some private individuals will rent cars with plates designated with the letter P meaning Private, but this is an illegal practice and it is better to rent a car with an R plate.

However, it is becoming common practice for criminals to target drivers of rental cars since many locals seem to believe all foreigners are rich.

So more and more car rental firms are now outfitting their cars with P in hopes that it would disguise the fact that the car is actually a rental.

If you hold a driver's license from a country other than Trinidad and Tobago, this will be sufficient to allow you to drive in T&T for up to three months, and there is no need to obtain an International Driver's license.

Beware of drivers who do not follow the laws of the road. They may not stop at red lights, and make unannounced turns whenever, wherever.

If you're only accustomed to right-side driving US/ Canada/ Cont. Europe, strongly consider not driving at all. Basically, it is driving based on common sense. Drive to stay alive.

If you foresee the possibility of unpleasantness, especially one that can turn into a road rage incident, avoid it.

Speed limits are in effect (100 km/h on highways), but rarely enforced. In fact, the police use timers, not radar, to catch speeders.

It is a fun experience, if you can drive well, to enjoy the roads especially late at night or early morning.

Avoid speeding on the main highways in rush hour or around the Queen's Park Savannah at any time. Other than that, chances that you will be pulled over are next to nil.

Although you will see many drivers doing it, it is against the law to make a left turn on red which is equivalent to a right turn on red in Left Hand Drive countries such as the United States.

Look for signs indicating where U-Turns are not allowed.

Taxis and Maxi Taxis in particular have been linked to a lot of crashes and traffic deaths. They will often stop without warning to pick up or drop off passengers, make risky maneuvers and generally drive recklessly.

While these may illegal, the police don't seem to bother them except for occasional spot checks and road blocks.

Police action involving Maxi Taxis and Taxis usually happens when they cause serious traffic problems, in which case, it is not uncommon for the Police and the town or city to relocate the Maxi Taxis.

People will also park their vehicles in the middle of the road where there is no shoulder. Wait until the opposite lane clears, then go around the parked car.

In more populated areas, such as the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando, watch out for pedestrians, as jaywalking is the norm. Pedestrian crossing traffic signals are few and far between.

Additionally, they require people to push the button in most cases. Most people don't bother and just wait for traffic to clear, or run across the road.

Be cautious as hitting a pedestrian, jaywalking or not, can land you in more trouble than hitting a car.

Driving without insurance or with crooked insurers is fairly common. Sadly, it is not enforced as it is in the US or Europe.

Use caution and try to avoid an accident as the other person may not have insurance, or their insurance may not be willing to settle with you.

Many road signs are old and not highly visible. Distances are marked in kilometres. Some rural areas off the main highways may have homes whose ground floors are paved with cow dung and dirt, called leepay.

However, this trend is fast disappearing as Trinidad on a whole becomes more wealthy.

If planning to go to the other side of the island like Trinidad, get an early start and allow the entire day with nothing important scheduled for the late afternoon.

Although the island is not huge, getting somewhere can take longer than you might think. With the influx of used cars from Asia locally called foreign used cars and the growing economy, more people own cars than ever.

Therefore traffic jams are not uncommon, especially when going to Port of Spain.

There are two options for travel between Trinidad and Tobago, by ferry and by air.

Travelling by air will cost TT$300 (US$50) round trip or TT$150 one way per person. There are twelve flights per day. Flight time is approximately 25 minutes each way.

There are two types of ferry service - fast and conventional.

Travelling by fast ferry costs TT$50 one way and TT$100 return. Vessels are the T&T Express and The T&T Spirit, which are both owned by the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. The journey is approximately 2.75 hours.

The Express is the faster of the two ships, but the Spirit is newer and has better facilities.

Travelling by conventional ferry costs TT$37.50 one way and TT$75 return, but the journey is approximately 5.5 hours. Vessels are the MF Panorama and Warrior Spirit.

Vehicles can be taken aboard the ferry, but this incurs a different charge which varies by size and weight and you must purchase a separate kind of ticket which includes the ferry fee for the driverto be able to do this.

A return trip for a private car costs TT$350. This includes the cost of the driver. You are unlikely to be able to take a rental car on the ferry since you need to show vehicle registration documents.

From 1 November 2009, only tickets for same day travel can be purchased at the ferry terminals in Port of Spain and Scarborough.

For advance tickets, you must purchase tickets from some select travel agencies, at peak times tickets sell out quickly, particularly for vehicles. For ferry schedules and travel agencies, see the Port Authority website.

Popular beaches in Trinidad are Maracas, Tyrico, Las Cuevas, Toco, Mayaro, Chagville, Los Iros and Quinam. Most of the beaches on the North coast are beautiful, with powdery sand and clear blue water.

Los Iros and Quinam are okay, however Quinam's water may be brown, largely due to sediment from the orinoco river in South America. Although Maracas and Tyrico are not too far apart, you cannot walk from one to the other along the beach.

Popular beaches in Tobago include Pigeon Point, Store Bay, MT Irvine, Bucco, Grange, Englishman's Bay, Canoe Bay. Tobago's beaches are extremely beautiful.

You can get a bus to Maracas Beach for $4TTD. Get this from the PTSC terminal on South Quay Road. Make sure to purchase a return ticket as there're no ticket vendors at the beach. This bus leaves every 4.5 hrs from 4am until 5pm.

Buccoo Reef is a natural coral reef on the North Coast of Tobago. The reef is not in pristine condition due to years of abuse and neglect.

Please refuse any offers of shoes for walking on the coral as this will destroy what is left of the reef. Glass Bottom Boat tours are available from Pigeon Point and Store Bay.

The nylon pool is an area of shallow water on top of the reef. The water is crystal clear and looks like fishing line nylon, hence the name. A glass bottom boat tour will take you there and allow you to bathe.

Caroni Bird Sanctuary, located in the Caroni Swamp, this is a must for bird watchers. Several indigenous species of bird nest in the bird sanctuary, including one of the national birds,the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber).

Tours generally take place during dusk as the Scarlet Ibis returns to the swamp to roost.

It is also a good idea to wear thick clothing like jeans and a jacket/sweater as the mosquitoes in the bird sanctuary are especially vicious and are capable of biting through the thickest of clothing.

Divali and the Divali Nagar, the Hindu festival of lights, Divali, is celebrated in most areas in Trinidad and a few areas in Tobago.

Every year during one night in October-November small oil lamps called deyas are lit on the inside and outside of homes and in public places.

Additionally, there is a celebration and festival called the Divali Nagar, where Indian song, dance, plays and other cultural items are on display. The Divali Nagar takes place at the Divali Nagar Site in Chaguanas, Trinidad.

Many corporate sponsors set up booths and there is even an open air Indian restaurant where one can purchase Indian food including roti. Divali is a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago.

Emperor Valley Zoo in Port of Spain and the Botanical Gardens, Trinidad and Tobago's only zoo features a wide variety of animal species including birds, fish, lions, primates, snakes and other reptiles.

It is in the capital, Port of Spain. The Botanical Gardens contains many species of plants and is right next to the zoo, close to the President's house. The gardens are a perfectly picturesque picnic spot, despite the sparse amenities.

Fort George in Tobago,Tobago's Fort George offers a glimpse into Tobago's colonial history and beautiful views of the ocean.

Goat races in Tobago, Goat racing in Tobago on Easter Tuesday is a tradition dating back to 1925. Amazingly, it shares many similarities to horse racing, where there are owners, stables and trainers.

TTPBA Great Race, During the month of August mainly in second or last weekend of August there is an annual power boat race from Trinidad to Tobago called the Great Race. It starts at Pier 1 in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and ends at Store Bay in Tobago.

There are places to see the boats racing live such as Maracas Bay. The boats typically travel around the North West peninsula, then along the north coast then make a bee line to Tobago. The first finishers typically finish in an hour.

Jazz Festival in Tobago, this festival of music occurs in Tobago at the end of April and though is a recent addition to the calendar, has fast become a favored event, which means difficulty to book any last minute flights or rooms in Tobago around that time.

The La Brea Pitch Lake is the world's largest natural reservoir of asphalt. However, commercial excavation of asphalt has slowed down considerably, since other more cost effective materials are available for road construction.

The pitch lake is now primarily a tourist destination. Many go to bathe in its waters, which contain sulphur, which some say has healing properties.

Leatherback turtles on Matura Beach, the Leatherback sea turtles can be seen on Trinidad's Matura beach. Every year around Easter, the turtles return to Trinidad to lay their eggs. Tours are available from conservation groups.

Volunteer opportunities are also available. Since the turtles are an endangered species, it is illegal to kill the turtles or the eggs, therefore care and caution should be exercised so as not to disturb the turtles.

North coast, Toco/Matelot/Grand Riviere is beautiful and largely unspoiled. There are a lot of scenic beaches and undeveloped areas. At the North East tip of the island is the village of Toco.

The North East trade wind blows literally 24 hours per day and lounging on the beach can be quite relaxing.

Tobago heritage festival, every year during the last week in July and first week in August, the Tobago heritage festival takes place. It is a two week long show of Tobagonian dance, music, story telling, culture and food.

It is a showpiece into Tobago's long held traditions and a unique glimpse into the island's way of life.

Pre-Lenten Carnival, the annual festival of Carnival is one of the most famous things about Trinidad and Tobago.There are many beautiful dances and a lot of celebrating around this time.

Every year on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent, thousands of costumed revellers parade on the streets in an annual street party dubbed The Greatest Show On Earth.

They are accompanied by music from steel bands, with calypso and soca music played on large loudspeakers carried on large trucks.

In the build-up to the two day Carnival celebration there are other activities including Calypso tents - indoor calypso concerts, the Panorama steelband competition, Soca monarch, Chutney Soca monarch, as well as open air parties called fetes.

Carnival Monday and Tuesday are not official public holidays, but many businesses and all schools close for those two days anyway. Carnival derives from the French traditions which were adopted by African slaves.

Carnival is both a See and Do activity. One can just stand at the side of the road and watch the parade of the bands, or actually participate and play mas.

Many tourists participate in Carnival bands. Booking well in advance is a must as the spaces fill up quickly.

Getting in shape is also a must as many costumes are very skimpy. In fact some locals' physical fitness goals are centered around Carnival.

There are quite a few nightclubs in Trinidad and Tobago, especially in the Chaguaramas area. Pier 1, Anchorage, Base, MoBS2 to name a few.

Some very popular night clubs are Club Zen and 51 Degrees Lounge in Port of Spain and Sting nightclub in La Romaine, as well as Space la Nouba and Prive, both also in La Romaine.

Also the popular Rising Star on Rushworth street. However, due to the crime situation, caution is advised and it is a good idea to be with a group rather than by yourself.

One can play golf at several golf courses throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Some courses are 9 holes and others are 18 holes. Two popular golf courses are the St. Andrews' Golf course in Maraval just outside of Port of Spain and the Mt. Irvine Golf Course in Tobago.

This may not be as spectacular as in other parts of the world, nevertheless this activity is possible in Trinidad at Chaguaramas West of Port of Spain, Trinidad and also at Arouca.

English is the official language. Words are spelled with British spellings e.g. colour, labour, tyre, etc.. English is spoken with a strong accent in Trinidad and Tobago, so it can take some getting used to understanding the locals.

English Creole, though it's not referred to by locals by that name is very frequently used for informal communication among locals. It's mostly an oral language, and is seldom written.

A Trinidadian Dictionary, Cote Ci Cote La can be found at one of the many bookstores in the country and is an excellent souvenir to remember your vacation to Trinidad and Tobago.

Here's an example of just one of those many words that have radically different meanings from American English:

- liming ; meaning to hang out in public with your friends

Also, Hindi, French mostly Creole or Patois, Spanish, and Chinese are occasionally heard. It may seem, at times, you are in a country that only speaks a foreign language.

However, since virtually everyone knows standard British English, there's no need to ask. Of course, if someone does suddenly start talking in standard English take notice. They may very well be talking to you.

The currency on Trinidad and Tobago is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar, also known as the TT pronounced teetee. US dollars are also widely accepted.

Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted at many stores. American Express, Diners' Club, Discover, JCB and others are only accepted in a few places.

ATM (ABM) cards using Cirrus and Plus networks will work in local ATMs and will allow you to make withdrawals in TT dollars converted to your home currency.

The exchange rate when withdrawing from the ATM is slightly better than when exchanging cash.

As of 01/01/18 This is no longer true, due to a thriving black market, dollars trade at a premium meaning 10-30% difference between ATM rate and street changers. There are also ATMs in a few places such as shopping malls that will dispense US dollars.

Be advised that Trinidad and Tobago ATMs do not accept PINs longer than four digits. Consider changing it to four digits before you travel. As of December 2011, Republic Bank ATMs the Blue Machines accept six-digit PINs.

Prices in shops and stores are generally displayed and do not change according to the customer. Outdoor vendors, however, are another story: they are likely to charge a different, higher price for a foreigner than for a local.

A few will even suggest or demand payment in US dollars. You can try haggling, or just grin and bear it.

Most items except necessities and certain other items that are zero rated attract Value Added Tax (VAT) at the rate of 15%. The tax is collected at the time of sale.

Weights and measures are officially in Metric, however it is not uncommon for imperial or English units to still be used. Though the other units are the same, the imperial gallon is not the same as the U.S. gallon.

Due to its varied background, Trinidad and Tobago has excellent and varied food options. In particular, the Indian roots have added to some of the best foods of any country in the world.

If you can't tolerate extremely hot and spicy food, be sure to let the cook or waiter know in advance.

Popular throughout T&T are tasty rotis, Indian flatbreads stuffed with Channa or chickpea curry, usually some meat, and other items including green beans also known as bodi, pumpkin, and mangoes.

There are several types of roti available in Trinidad sada, which is similar to pita or naan; dhalpouri, which is filled with ground yellow split peas; and buss up shut, a heartier bread, with a silken texture.

Cheap breakfasts of sada roti and choka - vegetables of all kinds are available for about TT$3-4. But the most popular fast snack is a doubles. One Famous spot is "GEORGE DOUBLES" located in Woodbrook outside the ever famous "Brooklyn Bar".

Doubles is curried chick peas enclosed in two pieces of fried bread, and served your choice of condiments. It is a roadside snack, available everywhere at about TT$2-$4. Ali's Doubles is a chain that sells doubles.

There are a few locations around Trinidad, mostly in San Fernando. Eat hot.

Phoulourie is another popular roadside snack. Phoulourie are small balls, made of fried ground chick peas and flour.

It and other popular snack foods like roast corn, cow heel soup, aloo pies or fried potato pies and saheena or spinach dipped in batter and fried, are often available from street vendors, especially around the Savannah.

Trinidad and Tobago is also famous for its mouth watering callaloo, a soup made from green leafy vegetables, similar to spinach or kale, sometimes with crab or pigtail added vegetarians beware.

Callalloo is not the most appetizing of foods to look at, but it is certainly worth a try.

Another must try in T&T is the famous Bake and Shark or Shark 'n Bake. Most easily obtained along the north coast near Maracas Bay, pieces of Shark are deep fried, served in cut fried bread called fried bake, and accompanied by various sauces, most popular of which is a puree of chadon beni a herb similar to cilantro.

Another popular food traditionally associated with beach limes is pelau, usually accompanied with coleslaw. Pelau, is not, however, available for purchase at the beach, although you may be able to find it in a creole restaurant.

If you have a sweet tooth, there are many local sweets and candies to sample like Toolum, Tambran Ball, Guava Cheese, Sugar Cake, Paw Paw Ball, Benna Ball, Jub Jub, Kurma, Barfi, Ladoo, Peera.

Many of these will be available on the lookout on the way to Maracas Beach, and prepackaged in some supermarkets.

A few American style fast food chains are available including KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King. There are also a few franchised eat-in restaurants such as TGI Friday's and Ruby Tuesday.

There are a few local chains such as Royal Castle or chicken and chips, Chicken Unlimited. These local fried chicken chains have a different taste from American or European fried chicken chains.

Pizza Boys and Mario's are two popular local Pizza chains. The pizza is quite different from American or Italian pizza.

Chinese food is available in many places from Chinese takeout stores. It is Cantonese style but the spices are uniquely Trinidadian.

Then there is an excellent range of higher-end Middle-Eastern food at Joseph's who specializes in Lebanese and then the more everyday dine-in or take-out at Lawrence of Arabia in Shoppes of Maraval.

Barbecued chicken is another popular Trinbagonian dish. It is similar to American barbecue, but with local spices. There are roadside barbecue stands that sell a box of barbecued chicken with fries, salad and garlic bread.

One popular place is The Barbecue Hut which is an open air tent where patrons will buy barbecue to sit down and eat or take away. It is on the South Trunk Road in La Romaine, South Trinidad close to the Gulf City mall.

Be aware that it is run by Muslims therefore no alcohol is allowed on the compound.

The condiments available in Trinbagonian restaurants are ketchup, plain mustard, garlic sauce, shadon-beni sauce a cilantro-like herb, hot pepper and many more depending on location.

Soy sauce is available in Chinese restaurants, along with an extremely hot Chinese style pepper sauce . If taking hot pepper as a condiment, be warned. It is extremely hot.

You may see locals putting a lot of pepper on their food, but remember they have been eating it for years so they are accustomed to it. It is best to try a little and if you feel comfortable add more. If in doubt, avoid it.

Salt and black pepper are generally not available as in American restaurants.

Local bakeries sell pastries such as beef and chicken pies and currant rolls. They also sell hops bread which are rolls made with white or whole wheat flour. Hops bread is best eaten hot and can be enjoyed with cheese or butter for a quick snack.

Grocery stores sell a wide variety of packaged goods and produce. However, for really fresh produce, one can go to the market. Towns usually have a market day or days where sellers, usually local farmers, will bring their produce to sell.

The Government publishes prices for produce, however one may be able to bargain to get a better price. Again, while weights and measures are officially in Metric, most sellers use imperial units.

The most refreshing drink on a hot sunny day is a large glass of a very cold delicious Mauby, a beverage made with the bark of the mauby tree and spices, such as anise and cinnamon.

It is very refreshing and cooling, but may be an acquired taste, since it has a bitter aftertaste.

Cold soft jelly coconut water available along the roadsides costs about TT$8-10. And do try all the many varied local fruit juices, readily available chilled in most groceries.

Sorrel is a popular drink available during Christmas time. It is made from the boiled flowers of the Roselle (hibiscus sabdariffa) plant. It is red in colour and best enjoyed cold. It also has nutritious benefits.

Soft drinks are sweetened with cane sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup as is the common practice in North America. This gives soft drinks a different taste, which some argue is better.

Malta is a popular drink, made from malt and hops and available from local bars, restaurants and supermarkets. It is high calorie and full of B-vitamins, and best enjoyed ice cold.

Being a former sugar cane colony, Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its Rum. Popular brands of Rum are Black Label and Vat 19 by Fernandes and White Oak, Old Oak by Angostura.

Some Bars will allow you to buy individual rum drinks either straight with or without a chaser, or mixed. Some bars will allow you to purchase a whole bottle of Rum, or a half which is equivalent to half a bottle.

Some bars will sell a nip which is less than half. One can also purchase bottles of Rum in stores and at duty free stores at the airport to carry home. Puncheon Rum is a stronger type of Rum, no less than 75% alcohol.

It is not quite like moonshine but definitely stronger than regular Rum. In fact it may not be legal to take it back with you. However it is legal in Trinidad and Tobago and is available from many local bars.

Beer is available and quite popular. The two most popular brands of beer are Carib and Stag, which are brewed locally. Additionally, some imported beer such as Miller is available.

Other malt liquor drinks are available, brewed locally, such as Smirnoff Ice, and various stouts like Mackeson, Guinness Foreign Extra. There are no microbreweries in Trinidad, and beer-lovers may find the local beers not to their taste.

However, a few bars do import a wider variety of beers. Of particular note is the All Out bar at the Queen's Park Oval cricket ground in Port of Spain 94 Tragarete Road, where you will find a reasonable selection of English ales on draft, sold by the pint.

Wine, vodka, tequila and other spirits are usually imported. There are no wineries in Trinidad and Tobago, as the tropical climate is not conducive to the growing of grapes.

Many restaurants will serve a range of imported wines, however, and wine bars, such as More Vino in Woodbrook have opened in the past few years.

Not surprisingly, drinking alcohol in public is not frowned upon in Trinidad and Tobago. It is legal to drink alcohol in public. Public drunkenness may get you arrested only if you engage in disorderly conduct.

Also the legal drinking age is 18 yrs. However, during election day, sale of alcohol is prohibited and must not be overtly displayed.

There are a wide variety of lodging options. There are major hotels such as Crowne Plaza, Hyatt, and the Hilton.

There are also smaller guest houses, particularly in Tobago and beach houses at the coasts especially the East coast. Rates vary. On Trinidad, many cities and towns of limited interest to the typical tourist do not have any official accommodations.

Staying with locals may be the only option. However, Trinidad has developed a sporting and cultural infrastructure being multi-cultural with different religious denominations.

And can even boast of having world class facilities for swimming, cycling, football, cricket, netball and the arts.

For persons or groups of persons willing to experience or connect with similar groups at competitive rates, guest houses such as The Little Inn and the Miracle Healing cater for these niches.

Be careful where you park. High end hotels like the Normandie has reported a drastic increase in vehicular break in. Recently one was reported while the secured car park was almost empty and two security guards were on duty.

Tourist visas do not permit employment. In order to work, one must obtain a work permit for the job and there must be no suitably qualified nationals to fill the job.

In addition, to pay taxes, one needs to apply for a BIR file number used like a social security number and a PAYE number. One must file tax returns every year if taxes are owed, and pay those taxes.

Trinidad and Tobago has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Generally, it is best to travel with the sun. When it sets, make sure you are in a safe place with people you trust.

This is more important in Trinidad than in Tobago. In Port of Spain, areas east of Charlotte Street become increasingly unsafe.

But this shouldn't be considered an absolute boundary on some east-west streets you can go a block or two further. Stay out of East Dry River, Belmont, and Laventille.

In previous years crime tended to peak in the Carnival (January-March) and around Christmas (October-December) seasons, but recently crime activity was year round, but this has now drastically decreased due to the new change in government.

But it is still best to exercise some caution at night time, while in Trinidad and Tobago.

For extended stays, register yourself at your country's nearest diplomatic mission. They can provide assistance to their citizens. A listing of diplomatic missions in Trinidad and Tobago is available on the Trinidad and Tobago Government's website.

In an emergency dial 999 from any telephone for the police. Dial 990 for the fire department and 811 for an ambulance. These calls are free of charge from any telephone, including pay phones, no coins or cards required.

For foreigners with countries that have reliable police emergency assistance, it should be noted that when dialing "999" in an emergency the police do not always answer the call or show up when assistance is needed.

The islands are in an earthquake zone, though serious quakes are extremely rare.

The Tobago Tourist Board boasts that the wildlife in Tobago won't kill you, which is mostly true. The islands do have mosquitoes and isolated cases of dengue fever have been reported.

The tap water is generally safe to drink, though many visitors prefer bottled water because the public water often has a strong chlorine taste.

Use your best judgement if in an area where homes collect rain water from the roof, but very few problems are reported.

The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence at 3.0% or 1 in 33 adults, which is 5 times higher than the USA. The best advice is to use caution and use protection if engaging in sexual activity.

Condoms are available from pharmacies to help prevent the spread of AIDS and other STD's.

If you need prescription medication, it is best to bring enough with you for the duration of your trip. There is no guarantee that what you need will be available.

American OTC drugs are often available in many pharmacies, however, don't expect everything to be available. They may also be under different names whether American or European market names.

Public Healthcare is free to everyone in Trinidad and Tobago and is paid for by the Government and taxpayers.

Healthcare services are offered on a walk-in basis. There are a few major hospitals throughout the country as well as smaller health centers and clinics located regionally.

These can be found on the Ministry of Health's website. The public health facilities are way below the standard of what can be found in developed countries.

Industrial action strikes and sickouts by doctors and nurses happen from time to time, and some healthcare facilities are overcrowded and understaffed, with older equipment and medicines.

As an alternative there are also private healthcare facilities that offer healthcare services. Prices will vary and can be quite expensive. Private doctors are also available on an appointment basis.

Public Ambulance services are available to everyone by dialing 990. This service is operated by the fire department.

However these may prove to be unreliable since ambulances are limited and fire stations are often far away.

Private ambulance services are available. They are generally more reliable but are not free. In an emergency it may be better to arrange one's own transportation to a healthcare facility.

It's a good idea to greet a stranger before asking him or her a question. It's a better idea to avoid strangers when not in the company of others. There is no nude or topless bathing anywhere in Trinidad and Tobago.

Many Trinbagonians like to discuss sports. Being a former British colony, these discussions usually centre around football(soccer) and cricket.

In Trinidad and Tobago, many of the world's religions are well represented. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Baha'i are popular. Judaism is not very popular and is practised mostly among expatriates.

Atheism and agnosticism are not widespread although many people will hold agnostic beliefs without being openly agnostic.

Although Trinidad has a large Indian Hindu community, there are no taboos that Westerners would have a difficult time getting used to.

The cow is not so sacred as to prohibit eating beef or wearing leather although Hindus do not eat beef. A few ultra-conservative Hindus may take exception to all this, but they are very, very few in number.

Trinidadians can be extremely friendly and hospitable especially with guests who share a common religion with them.

Be sure to bring small gifts to show your appreciation, as some visitors who had no intention of visiting or staying with locals end up doing so anyway.

Some homes including a few guest houses, in rural areas are not connected to any underground water mains.

However, they may still have running water from a large, round, black outdoor water tank. If staying in such a place, be sure to conserve water especially in the dry season or year-round if it doesn't collect rainwater from the roof.

If the tanks run dry, water trucks for refills may be available. However, even underground piped water may be rationed during the dry season. In short, if you are not staying in a major hotel, ask about the water situation.

Trinidad's international area code is 868 under the North American Numbering Plan. From the U.S. and Canada, it's no different than calling other states and provinces (1+868), but costs more. Its top level domain is .tt and its ITU callsign prefixes are 9Y and 9Z.

All telecommunications in Trinidad and Tobago are now under the authority of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT)[19].

All telecommunications and broadcasting licenses and franchises in Trinidad and Tobago are obtained from and administered by TATT. Complaints about telecommunications service providers can also be made to them.

Landline telephones are available in larger hotels but may be unavailable in guest rooms of smaller guest houses.

The telephone company is Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago, which is jointly owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and Cable and Wireless.

Local calls incur toll charges, however, calls in the same area code and telephone exchange are billed at a flat rate for the whole call. Hotels, of course, may charge more if you use their telephones.

There are very few calling cafes around the country with the advent of the Skype calling via the internet.

For visitors who wants to make international calls, it might be a good idea to have a wifi-enabled device and take advantage of free wifi services where they may be available.

Most hotels, some restaurants and other businesses, since calling cafes are no longer to be found everywhere.

Trinidad and Tobago currently has two active operating cell phone or mobile telephone carriers - bmobile and Digicel.

They both operate under the GSM standard, with bmobile using the 1800MHz frequency band, and Digicel using the 850MHz and 1900MHz frequency bands.

There are roaming agreements with GSM carriers such as AT&T (ex Cingular) in the US, however the cost to roam may be prohibitive and calling within Trinidad may incur international toll charges.

One can purchase a prepaid SIM card and GSM phone from Digicel or bmobile stores for as little as TT$100 and use that card in an unlocked GSM phone for the duration of their stay.

You can also purchase a phone with SIM for that price. CDMA phones will not work in Trinidad and Tobago.

Pay phones are a hit or miss in Trinidad. Some phones may be vandalized, full and in need of maintenance or simply not working.

If you are lucky enough to find a working payphone, you can use either 25 cent coins or calling cards with an 800 number to access them. Some phones also accept phone cards which are pre-paid with a magnetic stripe.

Insert the card and make your call. Some phones in hotels and at the airport allow the use of foreign calling cards. Calls to local 800 numbers, 999 and 990 are free.

Internet cafés offer Internet access on public terminals at an hourly rate usually from TT$1 to TT$10.

Dialup access is available from TSTT and other independent ISP's. There are monthly plans and pay as you go access. Pay as you go service is available through the 619-EASY service for TT$0.75 per minute.

Roaming with foreign ISP accounts is available through an agreement between TSTT and IPASS, inc.

Broadband internet options in Trinidad are available. Two major companies that provide these services are TSTT(blink)and FLOW (Columbus Communications.)

Wi-Fi access is available in a some places such as Piarco airport hit or miss, Movie Towne and select hotels and restaurants. It is free of charge right now but this is subject to change.

EVDO and EDGE broadband access are also available, but may require contracts and a service commitment. Some hotels and guest houses provide free high speed internet.

Always inquire if you don't see it listed on their web site, as it may have been added recently. Flow offers wifi hotspots which are freely accessible to the public. TSTT offers bzone free to their broadband subscribers only.

There are other options including fixed wireless, DSL, cable modem only in a few areas and satellite but these are generally not available to tourists for a short term stay.

A somewhat outdated but still useful discussion of Trinidad and Tobago internet access options is available at the TTCS website.

The postal service is run by the Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation, TTPost. Postal rates are available on the TTPost website. Post offices are located close to the center of town in many places with red drop-off boxes in some places.

Thanks to restructuring of the postal service, TTPost has become comparable to the postal service in many developed countries and is generally reliable especially if you use service that comes with tracking.

Additionally, other services such as bill payment not UWI office and the purchase of inter island ferry tickets are available from TTPost.

- Two way radio

- Amateur radio

Be advised that ham radio tourism and DXpeditions are very risky in Trinidad and Tobago, mostly because of the difficulty in importing equipment.

The internationally allocated ITU prefixes in Trinidad and Tobago are 9Y and 9Z.

Otherwise one will need to apply for a license at TATT. The following are needed:

- Photo ID and photocopy (passport)

- Original and copy of certificate(s) showing a pass in an amateur radio exam, in English or accompanied by an English translation.

- Original and copy of your home amateur radio license, in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

- Form L-2 from TATT website, filled out and photocopied

- TT$20 application fee and TT$100 license fee

Appear in person at the TATT office at 76 Boundary Road, San Juan, Trinidad to apply. Processing time varies.

If you want to have the license arranged in advance, it is better to contact the Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Radio Society TTARS and they can assist you. Foreigners will be granted 9Y4/homecall for the duration of their stay.

It is at the discretion of the Technical officer issuing your license, but generally a license equivalent to US General class and above or its equivalent gets full privileges including HF.

Technician gets privileges above 30MHz only. In some cases they may deny Novice or Technician class amateurs altogether.

Importing equipment can be painless and easy or it can be a long, drawn out bureaucratic process. The difficulty of importing ham radio equipment has caused many tourists to simply forget about doing any ham radio activities in Trinidad and Tobago. It is best to operate at a local's station if you can.

You will need to have the equipment type approved by TATT. There is a form on their website. Call them in advance. One should also get a receipt showing the value of one's equipment.

When you go through customs and they search your bags, the customs officer will ask about the ham radio equipment if they see it. You should tell them what it is and show them your license.

They will tell you that you need to pay a bond equal to the value of the equipment and you will retrieve it before you leave. Otherwise they wil probably seize your equipment and there is no guarantee that you'll get it back.

Sometimes you'll just get lucky and they'll tell you to walk through. Sometimes they'll let you go with it but charge 20% customs duty. Officially the law says that ham radio equipment is duty free for nationals.

It's a gamble. It is best to not have your radio in the original boxes as this will more likely encourage customs officers to charge you a bond or duty.

You should carry as much of your equipment in your carry on luggage as possible. Incidents of theft from checked luggage, while not very frequent, do happen.

Repeaters and local frequencies
There are a few local repeaters that you can say hello on. Those are:

Citizens Band Radio (CB) is not licensed for use in Trinidad and Tobago. However, recent changes to the laws by the Telecommunications Authority have indicated that CB will be licensed and legal soon in Trinidad.

However, the CB prohibition did not stop many locals from purchasing and using CB's. As a tourist you may not be so lucky. It is best to not carry any CB radios into Trinidad. They will most likely be seized by customs.

Personal radio services (FRS, GMRS, MURS, PMR446)

FRS and GMRS are licensed for use in Trinidad and Tobago but other types may not be or may require an operator's license along with device registration with local authorities. Radios may be held by customs for inspection or seized.

Best to leave them at home. It is also illegal to use unlicensed devices within the territorial waters of Trinidad and Tobago.

This means that if you are on a cruise ship or other vessel docked in T&T waters, you may wish to leave the FRS/GMRS/MURS/PMR446 radios off and do not transmit. Other licensed services use those frequencies and you may interfere with them.

Marine radios, provided your radios are part of your boat's equipment and licensed by your home country, you should not have any issues bringing these in. Bringing these in other than installed in boats could result in them being seized.

Thanks to the liberalization of the telecommunications market, there are now many radio stations on the FM band. Most of the stations play music, with Caribbean reggae, Indian music, calypso/soca and American pop/hiphop being popular, in that order.

There are some local TV stations, the major one being TV6 on Channels 6 and 18. Most of them carry local programming, but TV6 carries American series, sitcoms and soap operas.

Some stations are cable only whereas others are low power so they are only available regionally.

Gayelle The Channel on Channels 23 and 27 is a 100% local television station that can give visitors to Trinidad and Tobago an interesting and entertaining insight into local life and culture.

Other local channels include; NCC 4, Synergy TV, Trinity Television and the Islamic Channel.

Cable television is also available. Most major American networks are available on cable including CBS, NBC and ABC. Cable TV is available at hotels and guest houses.

Satellite TV from DirecTV Latin America is also available, but their offerings are not as good as cable and they tend to feature more Spanish language programming.

Big dish satellite TV is also available

The national birds for Trinidad and Tobago are the scarlet ibis and the cocrico. The scarlet ibis is kept safe by the government by living in the Caroni Bird Sanctuary which was set up by the government for the protection of these birds.

The Cocrico is more indigenous to the island of Tobago and are more likely to be seen in the forest.

The National Anthem of the twin-island state is Forged From The Love of Liberty.

Other national songs include God Bless Our Nation and Our Nation's Dawning.

The flag was chosen by the Independence committee in 1962. Red, black and white symbolise the warmth of the people, the richness of the earth and water respectively.

Tourism Observer

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