Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tobago has a land area of 300 km² (116 mi²), and is approximately 42 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide. It is located at latitude 11°N, longitude 60°W, slightly north of Trinidad. The population is 54,084 (2000). The capital of Tobago is Scarborough, with a population of about 17,000. While Trinidad is multiethnic, the population of Tobago is overwhelmingly Afro-Tobagonian, although with a growing proportion of Indo-Trinidadians and Europeans (predominantly Germans and Scandinavians). Between 1990 and 2000 the population of Tobago grew by 11.28%, making it one of the fasting growing areas of the country.
Tobago was inhabited by Island Caribs at the time of European contact. The island later changed hands between the French, Dutch, British and Courlanders. The island was finally ceded to the British in 1814. Originally a very wealthy sugar colony, Tobago's economy collapsed after the abolition of slavery. In 1888 Tobago was annexed to Trinidad.
The climate is tropical, and the islands lie just south of the Atlantic hurricane belt. Average rainfall varies between 3800 mm on the Main Ridge to less than 1250 mm in the south-west of the island. There are two seasons, a wet season between June and December and a dry season between January and May.
Local Government functions in Tobago are handled by the Tobago House of Assembly. The current Chief Secretary of the THA is Orville London . The People's National Movement controls 11 seats in the Assembly, while the Democratic Action Congress controls the other seat.
Although Tobago lies to the south of the hurricane belt, it was nevertheless struck by Hurricane Flora on September 30 1963. The effects of the hurricane were so severe that it changes the face of Tobago's economy. The hurricane laid waste to the plantations of Banana, Coconut and Cocoa, which largely sustained the economy. It also wreaked considerable damage to the largely pristine tropical rainforest that makes up a large proportion of the interior of the northern half of the island. Subsequently, many of the plantations were abandoned and the economy changed direction away from cash crop agriculture towards tourism.
Economy and Tourism
The principal economic forces in Tobago are tourism and government spending. Conventional beach and water-sports tourism is largely focussed in the south-east around the airport and the coastal strip. However ecotourism is growing in significance and much of this is focussed on the large area of protected forest in the centre and north of the main island and also on Little Tobago , a small island off the north east tip of the main island.
Tourism is concentrated in the southwest of the island, around Crown Point, Store Bay, Pigeon Point and Buccoo Reef. This area has large expanses of sand and is dominated by resort type developments. Tobago also has very many idyllic beaches around its coast line especially those at Castara, Bloody Bay and Englishman's Bay.
Tobago is linked to the world through the airport at Crown Point, and the Scarborough harbour. Domestic flights connect Tobago with Trinidad, and international flights connect with the Caribbean and Europe.
The Tobago forest reserve claims to be the oldest protected forests in the western world. It was designated as a protected Crown reserve on April 17 1776 following representations by Soame Jenyns a Member of Parliament in Britain who had the responsibility for the development of Tobago. It has remained a protected area ever since.
This forested area has great biodiversity including many species of birds, mammals, frog and (non-poisonous) snakes. It is also one of the most approachable area of rain-forest since it is relatively small and there are Government appointed guides who provide an authoritative guiding service through the forest at very reasonable cost. The guides are very knowledgeable about the plants and the animals and can call down rare and exotic birds from the canopy by imitating their calls.
Little Tobago, the small neighbouring island supports some of the best dry forest remaining in Tobago. Little Tobago and St. Giles Island are important seabird nesting colonies, with Red-billed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird and Audubon's Shearwater amongst others.
Tobago is also a popular diving location since it is the most southerly of the Caribbean island with coral communities. Trinidad, which is further south has no significant coral because of low salinity and high silt content which result from its position close in the mouth of Venezuela's River Orinoco. Diving on Tobago tends to be centred at Speyside, almost diametrically across the island from the airport.
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