Named after its two main islands of Trinidad and Tobago, this country lies only 6.8 miles (11km) off Venezuela's northeastern coast. Its geography affords a tropical climate, beautiful beaches, lush rainforests and vibrant coral reefs. And, teamed with its diverse amenities, Trinidad and Tobago welcomes newcomers to a modern-day Caribbean paradise.
Given its rich and diverse history with native Amerindians and various eras of colonisation, Trinidad and Tobago is a multicultural dual-island country known for its unique mix of languages, religions and nationalities. Sizeable expat groups can be found in the cities of San Fernando, Scarborough and the capital, Port of Spain, with well-established African, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese and Portuguese communities on the islands.
Its cultural melting pot has influenced the local lifestyle, cuisine, music and traditions. Visitors to the country will likely try the local favourite street food known as 'doubles', a spicy flatbread with curry chickpeas, while the vibrant party scene can be enjoyed year-round – not to mention the colourful annual Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.
Behind the allure of a tropical, friendly Caribbean island life, prospective expats may be concerned about culture shock. Thankfully, with cosmopolitan cities and English being the official language, new arrivals will find it relatively easy to settle in.
Despite a relaxed exterior, the Trinidadians and Tobagonians are extremely professional in the workplace. As in neighbouring Venezuela, the oil industry is the main driver of the local economy and many expats work in the country’s oil refineries. Large numbers of expats are also employed in the electronics and financial industries. More foreign investors are becoming aware of the potential in Trinidad and Tobago, with its highly educated workforce and modern infrastructure, and are moving to the islands to set up their own businesses.
All of this has contributed to Trinidad and Tobago’s standing as a high-income country which offers modern accommodation, amenities, restaurants and services that appeal to both local and expat residents.
Families with children can integrate easily into their new lives in Trinidad and Tobago, given the many international schools on the islands and the decent public healthcare system. Still, most expats opt for private hospitals, particularly in Port of Spain, which makes it necessary to invest in health insurance before travelling.
Additionally, while there is crime on the islands, expats who take sensible safety precautions, such as keeping their valuables out of sight and being vigilant in crowded places, should not experience any difficulty.
Trinidad and Tobago offers expats a balanced lifestyle and rewarding quality of life. With its great climate, beautiful landscapes and abundance of outdoor pursuits, as well as its well-developed infrastructure, expats living here really do get the best of both worlds.
Population: Around 1.4 million
Capital city: Port of Spain
Largest city: San Fernando
Neighbouring countries: Trinidad and Tobago shares maritime borders with Barbados to the northeast, Grenada to the north, Guyana to the southeast, and Venezuela to the south and west.
Geography: The island of Trinidad comprises more than 90 percent of the land area of Trinidad and Tobago. The much smaller island of Tobago is situated to the northeast of Trinidad. The terrain of both islands is mostly mountainous with a few areas of plains.
Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
Major religions: Christianity and Hinduism. Several other religions are represented in the country, including Islam and Rastafarianism.
Main language: English
Money: While the Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD) is the official currency, the US dollar is widely accepted. Some banks allow expats to open accounts through their websites. ATMs are situated across the two islands, especially around the airports.
Tipping: In general, tipping isn't practised in Trinidad and Tobago, but when someone goes out of their way to do something for free, a small tip is appropriate.
Electricity: 115 volts, 60 Hz. USA-style plugs (types A and B) with two or three flat blades are used in Trinidad and Tobago.
International dialing code: +1 (868)
Internet domain: .tt
Emergency numbers: For police, dial 999. The number 990 is for fire and ambulance. Additionally, 811 is an ambulance hotline. Tobago's Emergency Relief line is 211.
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left. Buses are the most prevalent mode of public transport, but there are maxi-taxis and ferries between and around the islands as well.
Are you an expat living in Trinidad and Tobago?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Trinidad and Tobago. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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