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Trinidad and Tobago

History & Background

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a twin island, parliamentary democracy located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela. Colonized by the British in the nineteenth century, Trinidad and Tobago became independent of Britain on 31 August 1962. The country measures 5,128 square kilometers, its terrain primarily plains with some hills and low mountains. The climate of the islands is tropical, with a rainy season lasting from June to December.

Trinidad and Tobago's population was estimated to be about 1.3 million in 1999, with a high population density: 252 people per square kilometer. About two-fifths of the population is of African ancestry, another twofifths is identified locally as "East Indian" (although they are immigrants mainly from northern India), nearly one-fifth is considered "mixed," less than 1 percent is white, and about 1 percent is Chinese or other. Regarding religious affiliation, the population is about 29 percent Christian, 24 percent Hindu, 11 percent Anglican, 6 percent is Muslim, 3 percent Presbyterian, and 27 percent other. While English is the nation's official language, several other languages are spoken on Trinidad and Tobago, among them Hindi, French, Spanish, and Chinese.

Nearly three-quarters (73.6 percent) of Trinidad and Tobago's population lived in urban areas in 1999, with many Trinidadians and Tobagonians living in and around Port-of-Spain, the national capital. That year, the total fertility rate was estimated to be 1.8 (i.e., a woman bearing children throughout her childbearing years at current fertility rates would have about 2 children). The infant mortality rate in Trinidad and Tobago was 15.7 per 1,000 lives births in 1999, with the under 5 years child-mortality rate 20 per 1,000. One-quarter of Trinidad and Tobago's population was 14 years old or younger in the year 2000, while 68 percent was 15 to 64 years of age, and 7 percent of the population was 65 or older. That year, the life expectancy at birth in Trinidad and Tobago was 68.0 years—65.5 years for men and 70.6 years for women.

Trinidad and Tobago's gross domestic product in 1999 was US$6.9 billion, with much of the islands' economy tied to oil and natural gas. The unemployment rate was estimated to be about 14 percent in the year 2000, as the economy gradually recovered from a sharp decline experienced between 1983 and 1993 caused by falling oil prices. Unemployment among youth was significantly higher, reaching 30 percent for the 15- to 19-year-old age cohort. An economic reform package implemented in 1995 had successfully turned the economy around, and international investments in Trinidad and Tobago have increased substantially since then. In 1997 an estimated 9.5 percent of the labor force was employed in agriculture; 12.4 percent in construction and utilities; 14 percent in manufacturing, mining, and quarrying; and 64.1 percent in services. The contribution to the national economy in terms of percentage of GDP by sector was estimated as 1.9 percent from agriculture, 39.7 percent from industry, and 58.3 percent from services in 1999. Gross national product per capita (measured by the Atlas method) was US$4,750 in 1999. Nonetheless, an estimated 20 percent of the population was living in poverty at the start of the new millennium.

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Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceTrinidad and Tobago - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Education System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education