The Economy of Trinidad

Agriculture and oil have been important for the economy of Trinidad and Tobago

Photo credit: © Lidian Neeleman |

Trinidad and Tobago's Economy

Throughout history, the islands of Trinidad and Tobago have each been very different. Trinidad has been significantly agricultural, but recent years have brought much economic diversification. On the other hand, Tobago's economy has been almost entirely reliant upon agricultural products and fishing. Recent years, however, have introduced tourism to the economy.

Agriculture, especially sugarcane, coffee, cotton, and cocoa, was important to both islands. As a result, indentured servitude was also important to the economy of the islands once they were finally settled. In the 20th century, oil reserves were found off the coast of the islands, making a big difference in the local economy.


The 1970s were known for high worldwide oil prices. Fortunate for Trinidad and Tobago, oil was discovered off their coasts. These high prices created an economic boom, and the islands were able to rid themselves of financial debt and greatly improve their infrastructure. However, Trinidad and Tobago experienced troubles when oil prices dropped in the late 1970s.

Some speedy financial planning cut back public spending and development projects helped to avert an economic crisis. But these same cutbacks in the 80s and 90s caused a recession. But there is more than oil to the islands' economy.

Tourism and More

Surprisingly, tourism has not been a particularly important source of income for Trinidad and Tobago. Nonetheless, tourism has given the islands a minimal economic boost in recent years. The importance of tourism declined in the 1980s, but the number of vacationers have been rising in recent years.

Agriculture, manufacturing, and banking are also important on the islands. Manufacturing is important on many islands, and agriculture has, of course, declined since colonial times. Banking is minimally important, but has had hard times as well. One other source of income for Trinidad and Tobago has been yacht services, which are popular among visitors.

Due to their history, location, and unique natural traits, the islands of Trinidad and Tobago have struggled over the course of their economic history. However, they have been working toward much more economic stability in recent years.


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