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Welcome to Tobago - the island on which Robinson Crusoe was said to have been stranded on 30th September 1659.
At the time of European contact, Tobago was inhabited by Island Caribs. The first European visitors appear to have been British in 1580. According to the earliest English-language source cited in the Oxford English Dictionary, Tobago bore a name that has become the English word tobacco. The first settlers were Courlanders in 1654. It changed hands 33 times between Courland, Spain, England, France and the Dutch Republic until in 1814 it became part of the British Empire. In 1889 Tobago was united with Trinidad into a British crown colony. In 1962 they became an independent Commonwealth nation of Trinidad and Tobago, in 1976 a republic.
Economy and tourism
Tobago's economy is tightly linked with Trinidad, and is based on liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals, and steel. The principal economic forces specific to Tobago are tourism and government spending. Conventional beach and water-sports tourism is largely focussed in the south-west 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.
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 some of the experiences of Alexander Selkirk, who was marooned in the Pacific's Juan Fernandez Islands.
This island was also the filming location for the Walt Disney movie The Swiss Family Robinson.
Tobago is the site of the famous "mystery tombstone".
Coral reefs have been damaged recently by silt and mud runoff during construction of a road along the north east coast. There has also been damage to the reef in Charlotteville village caused by sealing the road at Flagstaff Hill and diverting more silty water down the stream from Flagstaff down to Charlotteville.
Tobago is also a popular diving location, since it is the most southerly of the Caribbean islands which have coral communities. Trinidad, which is further south, has no significant coral because of low salinity and high silt content, the result of its position close to the mouth of Venezuela's Orinoco River. Scuba diving on Tobago tends to be centred at Speyside, almost diametrically across the island from the airport.
The island has some of the best diving sites in the Caribbean. There are three wrecks located around its shores, but the one usually considered the best is the Maverick Ferry, which used to travel between Trinidad and Tobago. The ferry is 350 feet long and has been sunk in 30 metres/100 feet just off Rocky Point, Mt. Irvine. The top of the wreck is at 15 metres/50 feet. The wreck has an abundance of marine life, including a 4-foot jewfish, a member of the grouper family. The wreck was purposely sunk for divers, and so all the doors and windows were removed.
The waters around the island are home to many species of tropical fish, rays, sharks, and turtles.
The Tobago Forest Reserve (or the Main Ridge 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, frogs, (nonpoisonous) snakes, Butterflies and other invertebrates. It is one of the most approachable areas of rainforest, since it is relatively small and there are government-appointed guides who provide an authoritative guiding service through the forest at a reasonable cost. The guides are 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.
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 they changed the face of Tobago's economy. The hurricane laid waste to the plantations of banana, coconut, and cacao, which largely sustained the economy. It 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 toward tourism. In 2004 Hurricane Ivan, although less severe than Flora, did cause significant damage.
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UK Office 0871-4741-577 (Calls are at the UK
Spanish Retreats Ltd, West Way, Wick, Littlehampton, West Sussex, BN17 7NA
Tel/Fax (00) 34 96 679 0844 or 679-779-122 Oasis 90, Urb Marina, San Fulgencio, 03177, Alicante, Spain
Why go on holiday to Tobago?Tourists are attracted to a typically tropical taste of the Caribbean. Beach lovers are spoilt for choice
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