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Tobago is the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is located in the southern Caribbean Sea, northeast of the island of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada. The island lies outside the hurricane belt.
Tobago has a land area of 300 km˛ (116 mi˛), and is approximately 42 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide. It is located at latitude 11° 9' N, longitude 60° 40' W, slightly north of Trinidad. The population is 54,084 (2000). The capital 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 percent, making it one of the fastest growing areas of the country.
Tobago is primarily hilly and of volcanic origin. The southwest of the island is flat and consists largely of coralline limestone. The hilly spine of the island, the Main Ridge. The highest point in Tobago is the 550 metre (1804 ft) Pigeon Peak near Speyside.
Tobago is divided into seven parishes - Saint Andrew, Saint David, Saint George, Saint John, Saint Mary, Saint Patrick and Saint Paul.
At the time of European contact, Tobago was inhabited by Island Caribs. According to the earliest English-language source cited in the Oxford English Dictionary, it bore a name that has become the English word tobacco.
The first European visitors appear to have been English adventurers in 1580 and in 1608; James I claimed Tobago for England. The first European settlers were Dutchmen who formed a short-lived settlement at New Walcheren or modern Plymouth. The island changed hands at least 22 times altogether between the French, Dutch, British and Courlanders (the Duchy of Courland was located in what is now modern western Latvia) and was controlled at times by various pirate groups. It was finally ceded to the British in 1814 at the Treaty of Paris. From 1833 to 1889, it was part of the British Windward Islands colony.
Originally a sugar colony, Tobago's economy collapsed after the abolition of slavery. In 1889, Tobago was made a Ward of Trinidad, and remained one until 1 August 1962, when Trinidad and Tobago became an independent Commonwealth country and together became a republic in 1976.
The island of Tobago is also thought to be the island that the story Robinson Crusoe was written about. However, the book is probably based on the experiences of Alexander Selkirk, who was marooned in the Pacific's Juan Fernandez Islands.
The climate is tropical, and the island lies 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.
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 it is focussed on the large area of protected forest in the centre and north of the main island and 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 has many idyllic beaches around its coastline, especially those at Castara, Bloody Bay, and Englishman's Bay.
Tobago is linked to the world through the Crown Point International Airport and the Scarborough harbour. Domestic flights connect Tobago with Trinidad, and international flights connect with the Caribbean and Europe. There is also a daily fast ferry service between Port of Spain and Scarborough.