Read the full profile
Trinidad and Tobago
Geography, climate and population
The twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago is the most southerly of the Caribbean Island chain, at 11 km from the Venezuelan Coast. It has a total area of 5 130 km2. Trinidad is about 105 km long and 77 km broad with an area of 4 830 km2. The island of Tobago lies northeast of Trinidad from which it is separated by a channel about 31 km wide. It is 51 km long and 18 km broad with an area of 300 km2. The country is administratively divided in nine regions, three boroughs, two cities (Port of Spain and San Fernando in Trinidad), and one ward (Tobago). The capital is Port of Spain.
In 2012, the total physical cultivated area was estimated at 47 000 ha, of which 53 percent (25 000 ha) consisted of temporary crops and 47 percent (22 000 ha) of permanent crops. Permanent meadows and pasture cover 7 000 ha, which brings the total agricultural area to 54 000 ha (Table 1).
Trinidad is subdivided into five physiographic regions: (i) the Northern Range, a mountainous area running east-west, parallel to the north coast of Trinidad, with a maximum elevation of 940 m at Cerro del Aripo; (ii) the Central Range, which comprises rounded hills and ridges reaching a maximum elevation of 307 m at Tamana Hill just south of the Northern Basin; (iii) the Southern Range, which is a discontinuous range along the southern coast of Trinidad with a maximum elevation of 303 m in the Trinity Hills; (iv) the Northern Basin and (v) the Southern Basin, which lie between these ranges and consist of flat and undulating alluvial floodplains (lowlands); the Southern Basin includes the Nariva Swamp, the largest coastal wetland in this basin which is situated on the east coast. Tobago is subdivided into two physiographic regions: (i) the Main Ridge, comprised of metamorphic and volcanic rocks, occupies the northern third of the island, with the highest elevation of 550 m; (ii) the Coastal Plain, which is flat and coralline and occupies the southern two-thirds of the island.
The country has a tropical, warm and humid climate. Annual average precipitation in the country is 2 200 mm. The average annual rainfall of Trinidad is 2 000 mm. The evapotranspiration rate is very high accounting for up to 60 percent of the total rainfall received in some areas. In Tobago the average rainfall is 1 900 mm ranging from 3 800 mm in the Main Ridge to less than 1 250 mm in the south-western lowlands. There are two seasons, the dry season from January to May and the wet season from June to December, with a secondary dry season or Petit Carême occurring in September and October. Approximately 70-80 percent of annual rainfall occurs during the wet season.
Average temperature in the country is 27ºC. The maximum temperature is 33ºC, experienced in September, and the minimum temperature is 22ºC in February. Temperatures in Tobago are somewhat lower than in Trinidad with a marked decline of about 4oC in the Main Ridge area.
In 2013, the total population was about 1.3 million, of which around 86 percent was rural (Table 1). Population density is 261 inhabitants/km2. The average annual population growth rate in the 2003-2013 period has been estimated at 0.4 percent. About 96 percent of the population lives on the island of Trinidad, mostly concentrated in urban areas along the west coastal areas and at the foothills of its northerly located mountain range. Tobago’s population is concentrated in the southwest part of the island.
In 2011, 94 percent of the total population had access to improved water sources (97 and 93 percent in urban and rural areas respectively). In 2012, 92 percent of the total population had access to improved sanitation (both in urban and in rural areas).