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Trinidad and Tobago

1998 Trinidad and Tobago

According to Countryaah, although Trinidad & Tobago today constitute one state, the two islands have a different history. Trinidad is just 20 km from the mouth of the Orinoco River, was "discovered" by Columbus in 1498 and was initially subject to Spain. The island of Tobago had originally lived caribou, but when the Dutch arrived in it in 1632 it was uninhabited. Shortly afterwards, Spanish troops landed on Tobago. They feared that the Dutch from Tobago would launch an exploration of the Orinoco River course, where they believed gold was present.

Like the other European colonies in regions, the islands were subject to numerous invasions and occupations respectively. Dutch, French and English. Instability was the rule and Trinidad's slow population growth was a symbol of this. Three centuries after the arrival of the first Europeans, the population of 1783 consisted of 126 Europeans, 605 Africans (of whom 310 were slaves) and 2,032 Indians. From 1802 Trinidad became British colony, while Tobago became it from 1814.

As in almost every other island in the Caribbean, sugar was the basis of the economy. When slavery was abolished in 1834, Africans were replaced by contract workers from India and to a lesser extent China. This change is also reflected in the current ethnic and social composition, where the people of African origin are predominantly urban workers, while the Indian population constitutes a large peasantry. Yet some black workers settled down in the countryside, developing a social system for mutual aid - called gayap - similar to other Latin American small communities of Native American, African or mixed origin.

In 1924, the first movement of autonomy developed, and the same year the colony administration was reformed to allow some lower positions to be filled in elections - albeit with limited voting rights. During the same period, the formation of trade unions began, which also put forward the demand for independence. In 1950, the country gained internal autonomy, and the same year, Peoples National Movement (PNM) won the election, and its leader, Doctor Eric Williams, became the country's first prime minister. A post he held until his death in May 1981. After a brief period of integration into the West Indian Federation (1958-62), the country gained its independence in 1962. On August 31, 1976, a new constitution made it a republic.

Sugar production began to decline from the beginning of the 20th century and was gradually replaced by oil production, which in 1940 was the country's most important economic activity. The sharp rise in oil prices in the 1970's radically changed the economy and society. In 1972-82, revenue from oil increased five-fold and government spending increased accordingly. Unemployment fell to less than 10% and imports of goods - especially luxury goods - doubled. The country received the highest per capita income in Central and South America. The country became a consumer society. At the same time, Eric Williams' government initiated a nationalization of the oil industry, approaching its pricing policy with OPEC's while encouraging investment from multinational corporations.

 

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