Last updated: 09:19 PM ET, Thu May 02 2019
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Trinidad and Tobago

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King's Wharf - view from ship- in Trinidad and Tobago (photo via CaraMaria / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
King's Wharf - view from ship- in Trinidad and Tobago (photo via CaraMaria / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Trinidad & Tobago is a Caribbean nation consisting primarily of two islands just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. The country is replete with unspoiled natural beauty, and is a major attraction within the Caribbean.

First inhabited by Arawak and Carib people from South America, Trinidad was later claimed it for Spain. Trinidad was united with Tobago in the 1880s and achieved complete independence on August 31, 1962. The country has prospered thanks to large deposits of oil and natural gas. Trinidad has a cosmopolitan society inhabited by many different peoples and cultures.

The two islands have distinct personalities. Trinidad, the larger of the two, is home to most of the country's cities and activity, and is the industrial center, noted for petroleum and natural gas production. Tobago is known for tourism, which is its main industry. Both islands have their share of natural beauty and enjoy a generally pleasant maritime tropical climate influenced by the northeast trade winds.

Maracas beach trinidad and tobago lifeguard cabin side view empty beach (photo via Altinosmanaj / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Maracas beach in Trinidad and Tobago (Photo via Altinosmanaj / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Trinidad is traversed by three distinct mountain ranges. The Northern Range, an extension of Venezuela’s Andes Mountains, consists of rugged hills that parallel the coast. This range rises into two peaks. The highest, El Cerro del Aripo, is 3,084 feet high; the other, El Tucuche, reaches 3,071 feet. There are also many rivers and streams on the island of Trinidad; the most significant are the Ortoire River and the Caroni River.

Tobago is mountainous and dominated by the Main Ridge, which is 18 miles 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. Tobago is also home to numerous rivers and streams. There are several large formal gardens. The Botanical Gardens is located on the northern outskirts of Kingstown and features a wealth of tropical plants, flowers, trees and birds. Occupying 20 acres, the Gardens were created in the 1765 by General Robert Melville, governor of the British Caribbean islands, as a plant breeding center. They are one of the oldest of their kind in the Western Hemisphere and celebrated their 240th anniversary in 2005.

The Botanical Gardens was the destination of Captain Bligh’s second visit to the Caribbean in 1798 (his first ended in the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty), when he introduced breadfruit to the island. A descendant of one of his original breadfruit trees thrives in today’s gardens. Visitors there can also see the St. Vincent Parrot, the national bird. Entrance is free, however a friendly guide will take you on an informative tour for a small fee.

In Trinidad the annual mean temperature is 78.8°, and the average maximum temperature is 93.2°. Humidity is high, particularly during the rainy season, when it averages 85 to 87 percent. The rainy season extends from June to December.