The country covers an area 5,128 square kilometres (1,980 sq mi) and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous smaller landforms. Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the main islands, comprising about 94% of the total area and 96% of the total population of the country. The nation lies outside the hurricane belt.
The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria 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 between Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers. Trinidad and Tobago was ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. The country obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago's economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals.
Trinidad and Tobago is known for its Carnival and is the birthplace of steelpan, calypso, soca, and limbo.