Trinidad and Tobago is a parliamentary republic. The
president is head of state but has a mainly ceremonial
role while the government has the executive power. The
smaller island of Tobago has been self-governing since
1987. Party politics is largely divided by ethnic
divides, with one party representing Indotrinidadians
and one having its main support among Afrotrinidadians.
The country is a member of the Commonwealth that
consists of Britain and the former British colonies. The
British monarch was head of state until 1976, when a new
constitution transformed Trinidad and Tobago into
republic. The President is appointed for a term of five
years by an electoral college consisting of members from
both chambers of Parliament.
Total population and chart of Trinidad and Tobago for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The Senate, Parliament's first chamber, has 31
members, 9 of whom are elected by the president, 16 are
elected by the prime minister and 6 by the opposition
leader. The House of Representatives, the Second
Chamber, has 41 members who are elected in general
elections. Previously, elections would be held at a
maximum of five years apart - the head of government
could freely choose an opportunity - but after a
constitutional change in 2014, the term of office should
be five years. The voting age is 18 years.
The constitutional reform in 2014 also means that a
prime minister may not sit for more than two terms of
office. In addition, a second round of elections was
introduced when no candidate for a parliamentary seat
receives more than half of the votes in the first round.
The second round is then held between the two candidates
who received the most votes, or between three candidates
if the third received more than 25 percent of the votes
and is no more than 5 percentage points after the
second. In addition, the voters' opportunities to
dismiss a member of parliament prematurely were
The government has the executive power and is led by
a prime minister who appoints other ministers. The
government is responsible to Parliament.
Since 1980, Tobago has its own House of Assembly and in
1987 gained full internal autonomy. The Tobago
Legislative Assembly has 15 members, appointed over four
years. Twelve of them are elected and three are elected
by the largest political party.
Party politics has long been characterized by ethnic
affiliation. The People's National Movement (PNM) has
its main support among blacks, especially in the cities,
while the United National Congress (United National
Congress, UNC) has traditionally had its base among
voters of Indian origin. PNM counts as a center-right
party, while UNC is more left-wing. UNC has emerged from
a trade union movement for Indian workers on the sugar
plantations (see Population and Languages).
Abandoned UNC members formed in 2006 a new party, the
People's Congress (Congress of the People, COP), which
tried to attract all communities. The COP did not enter
parliament in the 2007 elections but since 2010 has been
part of the People's Partnership (PP) dominated by UNC.
Administratively, Trinidad and Tobago are divided
into nine regions, three boroughs, two cities (cities)
and one district (ward - Tobago).
The legal system is based on British law and
practice. The regional organization Caricom inaugurated
in 2005 the Caribbean Court (Caribbean Court of Justice,
CCJ) based in Trinidad and Tobago's capital Port of
Spain. CCJ decides cases between different Caricom
states and is also intended to replace the British Privy
Council as the highest court for the Caricom countries.
Trinidad and Tobago belong to the majority of Caricum
members who have not yet switched to CCJ as the highest
authority; there is some disagreement about how the
change should be implemented.
Despite strong international criticism, the death
penalty was reinstated in 1999, after a period when the
violent crimes increased sharply, and in the same year
ten men were hanged. Since then, no one has been
executed, though death sentences, according to Amnesty
International, are delivered at an alarmingly rapid
Since 1999, impunity can also be imposed for, among
other things, rape. Increasing crime related to drugs in
recent years has prompted increased support for stricter
sentences. The murder rate, as in much of the Caribbean,
is among the highest in the world and kidnappings have
become a major problem.
According to the Constitution, Trinidad and Tobago
have an independent legal system, but it is ineffective
with high burden on the courts and long waiting times.
The prisons are overcrowded and the conditions have been
called "cruel and inhuman" by Amnesty International.
There are many reports of abuses by police and prison
guards. There is a general view that corruption in the
police and government is extensive and that leading
politicians are often corrupt.