ABOUT The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago are the southernmost isles of the Caribbean archipelago. Trinidad is located 10 1/2° N, 61 1/2°W Tobago is north east of Trinidad at 11° N, 60°W. The islands of Trinidad and Tobago were once connected to the South American continent and the islands flora and fauna reflect this historical link. The explorer Christopher Columbus encountered the islands' first inhabitants, the Amerindians in 1498. Trinidad remained part of the Spanish empire up until the arrival of the French in the 1780s. The island was then captured by the British in 1797 and became a British colony in 1802. The Dutch, British, French and Latvian settlers each ruled Tobago giving a unique twist to the cultural diversity on the island. However, Tobago was controlled primarily by the British from 1762 and the two islands were enjoined as one Crown colony in 1889. Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence from Britain in 1962 and became a republic nation in 1976. A visit to Trinidad today would reveal a multicultural melting pot stirred by the descendants of settlers from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East. But in 1498, when explorer Christopher Columbus set foot on Trinidad, things were very different. Trinidad and Tobago has an extensive network of highways and roads connecting most points of the islands, which makes it relatively easy to get around. Cars, taxis and privately owned minibuses, called maxi taxis, are the most popular form of transport on the islands. If you prefer to do your own exploring and discover the islands at your own pace, moving between Trinidad and Tobago is "no problem" with a daily ferry service between Port of Spain and Scarborough or via a 20 minute flight on the air bridge. .

CLIMATE Climate tropical Dry season from January to May Rainy Season from June to December

BEWARE Trinidad particularly the inner city neighbourhoods east of Port of Spain's city centre, Laventille, Morvant and Barataria suffers a high level of gang related violence and crime including murder. This tends to occur within local communities but can sometimes affect visitors. Theft from vehicles and property can be a problem in parts of downtown Port of Spain and in other urban areas. All visitors, whether arriving by sea or air, should take particular care if walking around the port area or downtown, especially at night, and avoid straying into areas affected by gang violence. There have also been robberies, some involving firearms, at tourist sites, including Fort George, the Pitch Lake, Las Cuevas beach and also at car parks of supermarkets, shopping malls, nightclubs, restaurants and business premises. During the festive period and carnival season, reports of opportunistic crime, such as muggings, robbery and car break-ins increase, even in well-populated areas. Take usual precautions when withdrawing money from ATMs and displaying perceived high-value items in public.