Trinidad & Tobago #1 (1913)

Trinidad and Tobago #1 (1913)

Trinidad & Tobago #1 (1913)
Trinidad & Tobago #1 (1913)

The islands of Trinidad and Tobago became a unified British Crown colony in 1889, combined their postal administrations in 1913, were a province within the short-lived West Indies Federation from January 1, 1958, until achieving independence within the Commonwealth on August 31, 1962. The Republic of Trinidad & Tobago came into existence on August 1, 1976. The islands are situated between 10° 2′ and 11° 12′ N latitude and 60° 30′ and 61° 56′ W longitude. At the closest point, Trinidad is just 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) from Venezuelan territory. Covering an area of 1,980 square miles (5,128 km²) the country consists of the two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous smaller landforms, including Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande (or Gasparee), Little Tobago, and St. Giles Island.  Bordering the Caribbean to the north, it shares maritime boundaries with other nations including Barbados to the northeast, Grenada to the northwest, Guyana to the southeast, and Venezuela to the south and west. Chaguanas is the largest borough and fastest-growing city in Trinidad and Tobago, located in central Trinidad south of the capital, Port of Spain,

Trinidad is 1,841 square miles (4,768 km²) in area (comprising 93.0% of the country’s total area) with an average length of 50 miles (80 km) and an average width of 37 miles (59 km). Tobago is 19 miles (30 km) northeast of Trinidad and measures about 115 square miles (298 km²) in area, or 5.8% of the country’s area, 25.5 miles (41 km) in length and 7.5 miles (12 km) at its greatest width. Trinidad and Tobago lie on the continental shelf of South America, and are thus geologically considered to lie entirely in South America.

The terrain of the islands is a mixture of mountains and plains. The highest point in the country is found on the Northern Range at El Cerro del Aripo, which is 3,080 feet (940 meters) above sea level. As the majority of the population live in the island of Trinidad, this is the location of most major towns and cities. There are four major municipalities in Trinidad: Port of Spain, San Fernando, Arima and Chaguanas. The main town in Tobago is Scarborough. Trinidad is made up of a variety of soil types, the majority being fine sands and heavy clays. The alluvial valleys of the Northern Range and the soils of the East-West Corridor are the most fertile.

Trinidad and Tobago is a republic with a two-party system and a bicameral parliamentary system based on the Westminster System. The head of state of Trinidad and Tobago is the President, currently Anthony Carmona. The head of government is the Prime Minister, currently Keith Rowley. The President is elected by an Electoral college consisting of the full membership of both houses of Parliament.

The Prime Minister is elected from the results of a general election which takes place every five years. The President is required to appoint the leader of the party who in his opinion has the most support of the members of the House of Representatives to this post; this has generally been the leader of the party which won the most seats in the previous election (except in the case of the 2001 General Elections). Tobago also has its own elections, separate from the general elections. In these elections, members are elected and serve in the Tobago House of Assembly.

Parliament consists of the Senate (31 seats) and the House of Representatives (41 seats). The members of the Senate are appointed by the president. Sixteen Government Senators are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, six Opposition Senators are appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and nine Independent Senators are appointed by the President to represent other sectors of civil society. The 41 members of the House of Representatives are elected by the people for a maximum term of five years in a “first past the post” system.

The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus on July 31, 1498, to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José María Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on February 18, 1797. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers, more times than any other island in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago (remaining separate until 1889) were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens.

Today, Trinidad and Tobago is the third richest country by GDP per capita in the Americas after the United States and Canada. Furthermore, it is recognized as a high-income economy by the World Bank. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country’s economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals. The country’s wealth is attributed to its large reserves and exploitation of oil and natural gas.

Trinidad and Tobago is known for its Carnival and is the birthplace of steelpan, limbo, and the music styles of calypso, soca, parang, chutney, chutney soca, chut-kai-pang, cariso, extempo, kaiso, parang soca, pichakaree, and rapso.

Historian E. L. Joseph claimed that Trinidad’s Amerindian name was Cairi or “Land of the Humming Bird”, derived from the Arawak name for hummingbird, ierèttê or yerettê. However, Boomert claims that neither cairi nor caeri means hummingbird and tukusi or tucuchi does. Others have reported that kairi and iere simply mean island. Christopher Columbus renamed it La Isla de la Trinidad (“The Island of the Trinity”), fulfilling a vow made before setting out on his third voyage of exploration. Tobago’s cigar-like shape may have given it its Spanish name (cabaco, tavaco, tobacco) and possibly its Amerindian names of Aloubaéra (black conch) and Urupaina (big snail), although the English pronunciation is /təˈbeɪɡoʊ/, rhyming with lumbago, sago, and “may go”.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Trinidad — then called Kairi — was inhabited by the indigenous Arawak people, and Carib people. The island’s proximity to the continent makes it likely that it was among the earliest settled parts of the Caribbean. The island probably was taken by three migration waves from the continent at least 7,000 years ago. Ceramic-using agriculturalists settled Trinidad around 250 BC, and then moved further up the Lesser Antillean chain. It was known as ‘Land of the Humming Bird’ by the indigenous peoples. At the time of European contact, Trinidad was occupied by various Arawakan-speaking groups including the Nepoya and Suppoya, and Cariban-speaking groups such as the Yao, while Tobago was occupied by the Island Caribs and Galibi.

Columbus reported seeing Tobago on the distant horizon in 1498, naming it Bellaforma, but did not land on the island. The present name of Tobago is thought to be a corruption of its old name, Tobaco. The first contact with Europeans occurred when Christopher Columbus, who was on his third voyage of exploration, came ashore at Trinidad on July 31, 1498.

Trinidad is reported to have been densely populated at the beginning of the colonial period. In 1510, Trinidad was said to have the only “peaceful Indians” along the whole South American coast. The demand for slaves to supply the pearl-fisheries in nearby Isla Margarita led to them being declared “Caribs” (and thus, fair game for slavers) in 1511. As a consequence of this, Trinidad and Tobago became the focus of Spanish slaving raids, primarily to supply Margarita’s pearl fisheries.

In 1530, Antonio Sedeño was granted a contract to settle Trinidad, with an eye toward discovering long-rumored El Dorado and controlling the trade in slaves. In 1532, he attempted to establish a settlement, but was driven off the island following the Battle of Cumucurapo, (or The Place of the Silk Cotton Tree). He withdrew to Margarita, but he returned a year later and built a settlement at Cumucurapo (modern Mucurapo in what is now Port of Spain). After failing to attract more settlers to Trinidad, Sedeño was forced to withdraw in 1534.

In 1553, Juan Sedeño was authorized to settle Trinidad, but the contract was never fulfilled. In 1569, Juan Troche Ponce de León built the “town of the Circumcision”, probably around modern Laventille. In 1570, this settlement was abandoned. In 1592, Antonio de Berrio established the first lasting settlement, the town of San José de Oruña (the modern St. Joseph). Sir Walter Raleigh, who was searching for El Dorado, arrived in Trinidad on March 22, 1595, and soon attacked San José and captured and interrogated de Berrío, obtaining much information from him and from the cacique Topiawari.

In Tobago, the first Dutch colony of Nieuw-Walcheren (“New Walcheren”) was short-lived. In 1628, 68 colonists established Fort Vlissingen (“Fort Flushing”) near modern Plymouth. They were reinforced by a few hundred more settlers from Zeeland in 1629 and 1632. The settlement was destroyed and its inhabitants were massacred by the Spanish on January 1, 1637. Attempted colonies by Courland in 1637, 1639, and 1642 and England in 1649, 1642, and 1647 all failed.

In May and September 1654, Courish and Dutch colonies were reestablished successfully. The Courish colony of Neu-Kurland (“New Courland”) was centered at Fort Jacob on Great Courland Bay. The Dutch colony on the other side of the island had three forts: Lampsinsberg, Beveren, and Bellavista. In 1658, 500 Frenchmen joined the Dutch colony but formed their own settlement called Three Rivers (Le Quartier des trois Rivières). On December 11, 1659, the Courlanders peaceably surrendered their colony to the Dutch. At the time, the island held about 1,500 Europeans and around 7,000 African slaves working on 120 plantations, supporting six or seven sugar mills and two rum distilleries.

British Jamaican pirates captured the island in January 1666; the official English garrison surrendered to a French attack in August the same year. The Dutch admiral Abraham Crijnssen reclaimed a deserted colony in April 1667 and reestablished a fort. An attempt to restore the Courish Fort Jacob was suppressed in December 1668. In December, 1672, the British attacked and destroyed the Dutch colony as part of the Third Anglo-Dutch War. Dutch control was regained under the status quo ante provisions of the Second Treaty of Westminster in 1674; in September 1676, Fort Sterreschans was constructed near the ruins of Fort Vlissingen. This star fort was reinforced in February 1677, but French attacks in February, March, and December of that year finally succeeded in killing the Dutch governor and capturing the island.

Spanish missions were established as part of the Spanish colonization here as in its other new New World conquests. In 1687, the Catalan Capuchin friars were given responsibility for the conversion of the indigenous population of Trinidad and the Guianas.

Between 1687 and 1700, several missions were founded in Trinidad, but only four survived as Amerindian villages throughout the 18th century — La Anuncíata de Nazaret de Savana Grande (modern Princes Town), Purísima Concepción de María Santísima de Guayri (modern San Fernando), Santa Ana de Savaneta (modern Savonetta), Nuestra Señora de Montserrate (probably modern Mayo).

In 1713, the missions were handed over to the secular clergy. Due to shortages of missionaries, although the missions were established they often went without Christian instruction for long periods of time. Tensions between priests and Amerindians led to the Arena Massacre of 1699, wherein the Amerindians murdered the priests. After being hunted by the Spanish, the survivors are reported to have committed suicide by jumping off cliffs into the sea.

The mission of Santa Rosa de Arima was established in 1789 when Amerindians from the former encomiendas of Tacarigua and Arauca (Arouca) were relocated further east. They settled in Santa Rosa close to the town of Arima.

The census of 1777 recorded only 2,763 people as living on Trinidad, including some 2,000 Arawaks. The Spanish gave many incentives to lure settlers to the island, including exemption from taxes for ten years and land grants in accordance to the terms set out in the Cedula. In 1783, the proclamation of a Cedula of Population by the Spanish Crown granted 32 acres (129,000 m²) of land to each Roman Catholic who settled in Trinidad and half as much for each slave that they brought. Uniquely, 16 acres (65,000 m²) was offered to each “Free Coloured or Free Person of Colour” (gens de couleur libre, as they were later known), and half as much for each slave they brought. French planters with their slaves, free coloreds and mulattos from neighboring islands of Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica migrated to the Trinidad during the French Revolution. These new immigrants established the local communities of Blanchisseuse, Champs Fleurs, Paramin, Cascade, Carenage and Laventille. This resulted in Trinidad having the unique feature of a large French-speaking Free Coloured slave-owning class.

By the end of 1789 the population had jumped to over 15,000. By the time the island was surrendered to the British in 1797, the population had increased to 17,643: 2,086 whites, 1,082 free people of color, 1,082 Amerindians, and 10,009 African slaves. By 1960, the population was 827,957 and included erroneously no Amerindians.

In 1797, a British force led by General Sir Ralph Abercromby launched the invasion of Trinidad. His squadron sailed through the Bocas and anchored off the coast of Chaguaramas. The Spanish Governor Chacón decided to capitulate without fighting. Trinidad thus became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population and Spanish laws. British rule was formalized under the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.

In August, 1816, seven hundred former slaves from the U.S. South, who had escaped to the British lines during the War of 1812 and had been recruited as a Corps of Colonial Marines, were settled in Trinidad after serving for fourteen months at the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda. After rejecting British government orders for transfer to the West India Regiments, and on the Admiralty refusing to continue responsibility for them, they finally accepted, but only with reluctance, a government offer of settlement in Trinidad. These ex-Colonial Marines were organized by the authorities in villages according to their military companies.

In Trinidad and Tobago, as in other Caribbean slave colonies, an attempt was made to circumvent the abolition of slavery in 1833. The first announcement from Whitehall in England that slaves would be totally freed by 1840 was made in 1833. In the meantime, slaves on plantations were expected to remain where they were and work as “apprentices” for the next six years.

Trinidad and Tobago demonstrated a successful use of non-violent protest and passive resistance. On August 1, 1834, an unarmed group of mainly elderly ex-slaves being addressed by the Governor at Government House about the new laws, began chanting: “Pas de six ans. Point de six ans” (“Not six years. No six years”), drowning out the voice of the Governor.

Peaceful protests continued until a resolution to abolish apprenticeship was passed and de facto freedom was achieved. This may have been partially due to the influence of Dr. Jean Baptiste Phillipe’s book A Free Mulatto (1824). At the request of Governor Sir George Fitzgerald Hill, on July 25, “Dr. Jean Baptiste Phillipe the first coloured member of the Council, proposed a resolution to end apprenticeship and this was passed. […] Full emancipation for all was finally legally granted ahead of schedule on 1 August 1838.”

That year of 1838 also saw the abolition of the “apprenticeship” system in Jamaica, Barbados, and the Leeward and Windward Islands.

To deal with the problem of “shortage of labor”, Trinidad and Tobago planters compensated for the loss of their slaves by importing workers from the 1830s until 1917. Initially, Chinese, free West Africans, and Portuguese from the island of Madeira were imported. They were replaced by indentured servants from India who arrived on May 30, 1845. In addition, large numbers of ex-slaves migrated from the Lesser Antilles to Trinidad and Tobago.

The sugarcane plantations which dominated the economy of Trinidad and Tobago in the 19th century gradually gave ground to the cultivation of cacao. Trinidad and Tobago chocolate became a high-priced, much sought-after commodity. The Colonial government opened land to settlers interested in establishing cacao estates. French Creoles (white Trinidadian elites descended from the original French settlers) were being marginalized economically by large English business concerns who were buying up sugar plantations, and this gave them a fresh avenue of economic development.

Venezuelan farmers with experience in cacao cultivation were also encouraged to settle in Trinidad and Tobago, where they provided much of the early labor in these estates. Many of the former cocoa-producing areas of Trinidad retain a distinctly Spanish flavor and many of the descendants of the Cocoa Panyols (from ‘espagnol‘) remain in these areas including Trinidad and Tobago’s most famous cricketer, Brian Charles Lara.

After the slaves were freed, the plantation owners were desperate for new sources of labor. In 1839, the British government began a program of recruiting Indian laborers in Calcutta to be sent to Trinidad and British Guiana, now Guyana. They bound themselves to work as indentured laborers for a set number of years on the plantations. The mostly Hindu and Muslim laborers were compelled to work seven and a half hours a day, six days a week for three years, receiving about 13 cents a day for their work. At first, half of the recruits were women but, in 1840, the proportion was reduced to a third of the number of men. In 1844, the period of indenture was extended to five years with a guarantee that, if they wished, they would get a free passage home at the end of their service. In 1853, the law was again amended to allow the indentured laborers to re-indenture themselves for a second five-year term or, if they wished, to commute any portion of their contract by repayment of a proportionate part of their indenture fee.

Many Indian immigrants who had completed their indentureship also established cocoa estates, most notable of them being Haji Gokool Meah, a Kashmiri-born immigrant who went on to the become one of the wealthiest men in Trinidad and Tobago. The Indian community has steadily prospered and grown until now it makes up about 35% of the population of the nation (the largest ethnic group by about 1%).

The arrival of witches’ broom and black pod diseases in the 1930s coupled with the Great Depression, destroyed the cacao industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Although prices for Trinidad and Tobago cocoa beans remains high on the world markets, cocoa is no more than a marginal crop. Relations between the Indian immigrants, and both the British, and the black population were generally strained, and occasionally erupted into violence such as the 1884 Hosay massacre.

The American Merrimac Oil Company drilled an early oil well at La Brea at Trinidad and Tobago in 1857, where oil was struck at 280 feet (85 m). Also mentioned is the pioneering work of Capt. Darwent with his Paria Petroleum Company Limited, and Conrad F. Stollmeyer (who was great grandfather of Republic Bank’s then Chairman, former West Indies cricket captain, Jeffrey Stollmeyer), an entrepreneur of that period who felt that a combustible fuel could not be distilled out of the asphalt from the pitch lake. The other point of view from Capt. Darwent was that a combustible fuel, refined from oil drilled from the earth would be the ideal fuel for the future.”

In either 1865, 1866, or 1867, according to different accounts, the American civil engineer, Walter Darwent, discovered and produced oil at Aripero. Efforts in 1867 to begin production by the Trinidad and Tobago Petroleum Company at La Brea and the Pariah Petroleum Company at Aripero were poorly financed and abandoned after Walter Darwent died of yellow fever.

In 1893, Randolph Rust, along with his neighbor, Lee Lum, drilled a successful well near Darwent’s original one. By early 1907, major drilling operations began, roads and other infrastructure were built. Annual production of oil in Trinidad and Tobago reached 47,000 barrels (7,500 m³) by 1910 and kept rapidly increasing year by year. Estimated oil production in Trinidad and Tobago in 2005 was about 150,000 bbl/d (24,000 m³/d).

The British administered Trinidad and Tobago as separate colonies until 1889, when Tobago was attached to Trinidad to form the colony of Trinidad & Tobago. At first Tobago remained a distinct political entity, but it came to be fully amalgamated as an administrative district in 1899. Trinidad issued stamps as early as 1851. On Tobago, British stamps were used between 1858 and 1860 and, subsequently, the stamps of Trinidad. Tobago issued stamps from 1879 and would continue to do so until 1896, when the issues of Tobago were superseded by the issues of Trinidad. The stamps of Trinidad & Tobago came into use after the full integration of the postal administrations of Trinidad and Tobago in 1913. The first issue of Trinidad & Tobago, in 1913, is of the ‘Britannia’ type — the signature type of Trinidad. In 1917, the War Tax stamps — issued throughout the British Empire — appeared in a range of locally issued varieties. Further issues, in the classical period, are in a style common to the British colonies with themes specific for Trinidad & Tobago.

Trinidad was ruled as a crown colony with no elected representation until 1925. Although Tobago had an elected Assembly, this was dissolved prior to the union of the two islands. In 1925, the first elections to the Legislative Council were held. Seven of the thirteen members were elected, the others were nominated by the Governor. The franchise was determined by income, property and residence qualifications, and was limited to men over the age of 21 and women over the age of 30. The 1946 elections were the first with universal adult suffrage.

Labor riots in 1937 led by T.U.B. Butler (an immigrant from the neighboring island of Grenada) shook the country and led to the formation of the modern Trade Union movement. Butler was jailed from 1937 to 1939, but was re-arrested when the United Kingdom entered World War II and jailed for the duration of the war. After his release in 1945, Butler reorganized his political party, the British Empire Citizens’ and Workers’ Home Rule Party. This party won a plurality in the 1950 general elections, the establishment feared Butler as a radical and instead Albert Gomes became the first Chief Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

The 1956 general elections saw the emergence of the People’s National Movement under the leadership of Eric Williams. The PNM, opposed by Dr. Rudranath Capildeo of the Democratic Labor Party and Ashford Sinanan, who later founded the West Indian National Party (WINP), continued to dominate politics in Trinidad and Tobago until 1986. The party won every General Election between 1956 and 1981. Williams became Prime Minister at independence, and remained in that position until his death in 1981.

In 1958, the United Kingdom tried to establish an independent West Indies Federation comprising most of the former British West Indies. However, disagreement over the structure of the federation led to Jamaica’s withdrawal. Eric Williams responded to this with his now famous calculation “One from ten leaves nought.” Trinidad and Tobago chose not to bear the financial burden without Jamaica’s assistance, and the Federation collapsed.

Trinidad and Tobago achieved full independence via the Trinidad and Tobago Independence Act 1962 on August 31, 1962 within the Commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth II as its titular head of state.

The national flag of Trinidad and Tobago was adopted upon independence. Designed by Carlisle Chang, the flag was chosen by the independence committee of 1962. The flag of Trinidad and Tobago is a red field with a white-edged black diagonal band from the upper hoist-side to the lower fly-side. Red, black and white symbolize fire (the sun, representing courage), earth (representing dedication) and water (representing purity and equality). Prior to independence, Trinidad and Tobago used a British blue ensign defaced with a circular badge depicting a ship arriving in front of a mountain.

A coat of arms was also adopted upon independence. The palm tree at the top of the coat of arms was taken from Tobago’s coat of arms before it was joined in political union with Trinidad. The wreath represents the crown of the monarchy of the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago’s colonizers at the time of independence. The shield has the same colors (black, red, and white) as the nation’s flag and carry the same meaning. The gold ships represent the Santa María, La Niña, and La Pinta: the three ships Christopher Columbus used on his journey to the “New World”. The two birds on the shield are hummingbirds. Trinidad is sometimes referred to as the “Land of the Hummingbird” because more than sixteen different species of hummingbird have been recorded on the island. “Land of the Hummingbird” is also believed to have been the Native Amerindian name for Trinidad. The two larger birds are the Scarlet Ibis (left) and the Cocrico (right), the national birds of Trinidad and Tobago. Below the Scarlet Ibis are three hills, representing the Trinity Hills in southern Trinidad, which, it is believed, convinced Columbus to name the island after the Holy Trinity. The island rising out of the waters beneath the Cocrico represents Tobago. Below these birds is the nation’s motto, “Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve.”

In 1968, the National Joint Action Committee was formed by members of the Guild of Undergraduates at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, under the leadership of Geddes Granger. In 1969, it was formally launched to protest the arrest of West Indian students at Sir George Williams University in Montreal. Together with Trade Unions and other groups, this led to the birth of the Black Power movement. In 1970, a series of marches and strikes led to the declaration of a State of Emergency and the arrest of 15 Black Power leaders. In sympathy with the arrested leaders, a portion of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, led by Raffique Shah and Rex Lassalle mutinied and took hostages at the Teteron Barracks (located on the Chaguaramas Peninsula). However, the Coast Guard remained loyal and was able to isolate the mutineers at Teteron (as the only way out was along a narrow coastal road). After five days the mutineers surrendered.

Political difficulties in the post-Black Power era culminated in the “No Vote” campaign of 1971 (which resulted in the PNM winning all the seats in Parliament). In 1973, in the face of a collapsing economy Eric Williams was prepared to resign as Prime Minister. However, the outbreak of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War led to the recovery of oil prices and Williams remained in office. The high oil prices of the 1970s and early 1980s led to an oil boom which resulted in a large increase in salaries, standards of living, and corruption.

On August 1, 1976, the country became a republic, and the last Governor-General, Sir Ellis Clarke, became the first President.

In 1979, construction on the Eric Williams Plaza began. It would eventually finish in 1986. It remained the tallest building in Trinidad and Tobago until the construction of the Nicholas Tower in 2003.

Williams died in office in 1981. The PNM remained in power following the death of Dr. Williams, but its 30-year rule ended in 1986 when the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), a multi-ethnic coalition aimed at uniting Trinidadians of Afro-Trinidadian and Indo-Trinidadian descent, won a landslide victory by capturing 33 of 36 seats. Tobago’s A. N. R. Robinson, the political leader of the NAR, was named Prime Minister. The NAR also won 11 of the 12 seats in the Tobago House of Assembly. The NAR began to break down when the Indian component withdrew in 1988. Basdeo Panday, leader of the old United Labour Front (ULF), formed the new opposition with the United National Congress (UNC). The NAR’s margin was immediately reduced to 27 seats, with six for the UNC and three for the PNM.

In July 1990, the Jamaat al Muslimeen, an extremist Black Muslim group with an unresolved grievance against the government over land claims, tried to overthrow the NAR government. The group held the prime minister and members of parliament hostage for five days while rioting shook Port of Spain. After a long standoff with the police and military, the Jamaat al Muslimeen leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, and his followers surrendered to Trinidadian authorities. Having had the matter referred back to the local courts by the Privy Council with a clear indication of a view that the amnesty was valid, in July 1992, the High Court upheld the validity of a government amnesty given to the Jamaat members during the hostage crisis. Abu Bakr and 113 other Jamaat members were jailed for two years while the courts debated the amnesty’s validity. All 114 members were eventually released. Subsequent to this, the UK Privy Council deemed the amnesty invalid but expressed the view that it would be improper to re-arrest the 114 accused.

In December 1991, the NAR captured only the two districts in Tobago. The PNM, led by Patrick Manning, carried a majority of 21 seats, and the UNC came in second. Manning became the new Prime Minister and Basdeo Panday continued to lead the opposition. In November 1995, Manning called early elections, in which the PNM and UNC both won 17 seats and the NAR won two seats. The UNC allied with the NAR and formed the new government, with Panday becoming prime minister — the first prime minister of Indo-Trinidadian descent.

Elections held in December 2000 returned the UNC to power when they won 19 seats, while the opposition PNM won 16, and the NAR one. The UNC government fell in October 2001 with the defection of three of its parliamentarians amidst allegations of corruption in the then UNC government, and the December 2001 elections resulted in an even 18 to 18 split between the UNC and the PNM. President Robinson appointed Patrick Manning Prime Minister despite the fact that the UNC won the popular vote and that Panday was the sitting Prime Minister. Despite the fact that Manning was unable to attract a majority (and Parliament was thus unable to sit), he delayed calling elections until October 2002. The PNM formed the next government after winning 20 seats, while the UNC won 16. Both parties are committed to free market economic policies and increased foreign investment. Trinidad and Tobago has remained cooperative with the United States in the regional fight against narcotics trafficking and on other issues.

The serious crime situation in the country has led to a severe deterioration in security conditions in the country. In addition, a resurgent Jamaat al Muslimeen continues to be a threat to stability. The FBI recently opened an office in Trinidad and Tobago in connection with its hunt for Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah.

On May 26, 2010, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, leader of the People’s Partnership, was sworn in as the country’s first female Prime Minister. On August 21, 2011, she asked President George Maxwell Richards to declare a limited state of emergency.

Since 2003, the country has entered a second oil boom, a driving force which the government hopes to use to turn the country’s main export back to sugar and agriculture. Great concern was raised in August 2007 when it was predicted that this boom would last only until 2018. Petroleum, petrochemicals and natural gas continue to be the backbone of the economy. Tourism and the public service are the mainstay of the economy of Tobago, though authorities have begun to diversify the island. The bulk of tourist arrivals on the islands are from the United States.

The country is also a recognized transhipment point for illegal narcotics, with the cocaine distribution from the South American continent to the United States Eastern seaboard. The most recent seizure by United States authorities was of a U.S. $100 million shipment on January 17, 2014.

The first stamps to be inscribed TRINIDAD & TOBAGO were six values released in 1913 (Scott #1-2 and 4-7). These were typographed by Thomas de la Rue & Company of London on ordinary paper for the three lowest values (½ penny green, 1 penny scarlet and 2½ pence ultramarine) and chalky paper for the three higher values (4 pence scarlet and black on yellow paper, 6 pence red violet and dull violet, and 1 shilling black on emerald paper). All portrayed “Britannia”, bore a multi-crown CA watermark and were perforated 14. The first pictorial stamps were a set of nine issued between 1934 and 1937 (Scott #34-42) and the colony participated in a number of omnibus issues prior to becoming an independent state in 1962. The majority of subsequent issues have portrayed local subjects and have largely avoided the types of topical releases that other Caribbean islands tend to flood the market with.

Republic of Trinidad & Tobago Flag (1962-date)
Republic of Trinidad & Tobago Flag (August 31, 1962-date)
Federal flag of West Indies Federation (January 3, 1958 to May 31, 1962)
Federal flag of West Indies Federation (January 3, 1958 to May 31, 1962)
Colony of Trinidad & Tobago Flag (1889-1958)
Colony of Trinidad & Tobago Flag (1889-1958)
Republic of Trinidad & Tobago Coat of Arms (1962-date)
Republic of Trinidad & Tobago Coat of Arms (1962-date)

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