Lying just a few kilometres from the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago are two islands on the south-eastern edge of the Antilles archipelago. Formerly a Spanish Colony they were British-ruled from 1802 until dependence in 1962. Today they have become one of the most developed Caribbean nations, whilst still retaining strong cultural roots and an embarrassment of tropical charms.
A strong base in petrochemical exports has provided a platform for a stable, growing economy and government initiatives have attracted a great deal of international business to Trinidad in particular, which has become a popular financial centre.
This slightly schizophrenic identity is underlies a fierce national pride born from a shared and sometimes sordid history. Come carnival time, Port of Spain is a rash of colourful costumes and ebullient steel drum rhythms, and the whole city will pack the streets, be they lined with ramshackle suburban shacks, imperious colonial mansions or towering glass skyscrapers.
There are plenty of secluded lagoons and white, tropical beaches to escape to when you’ve had enough, while the Northern Range provides fantastic hiking and mountain biking opportunities. Don a suit and sup wine in the sun with your business compatriots or dress down and head to the beach for some serious chill time; whether its the fast lane or the slow, Trinidad and Tobago have plenty of both.
There is an international airport on both Trinidad and Tobago, but the bulk of traffic goes to Trinidad. Many visitors arrive by cruise ship to Port of Spain. A weekly ferry connects to Venezuela.
There are twice daily departures by ferry between Trinidad and Tobago. The equivalent flight takes 20 minutes and costs around TT$300. Buses provide the majority of public transport on the islands themselves.
Climate: Tropical monsoon. Hot throughout year, heavy rainfall June to November. Temperature: 20-32°C (January-December). Rainfall: Max 240mm (August), Min 40mm (February).
Currency: Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD)
Business etiquette: Dress in a lightweight suit. Greet with a handshake. Business culture is fluid-time; deadlines are not as important as maintaining a relationship or getting a job done properly. It is important that you are seen to be experienced and skilled in your company’s trade if you are representing them.
Tipping: Tipping is not expected.
Duty free: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 1.5l wine or spirits; A reasonable quantity of perfume; Gifts to the value of US$200
Safety: Hurricane season is between June and November, so keep an eye on weather reports.
Laws: It is an offence to dress in camouflage clothing.
Healthcare: Vaccinations required for hepatitis A, tetanus and yellow fever. Public healthcare service is free but limited; health insurance is recommended for access to better quality facilities.
Socket type: Type D, Type G