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Trinidad and Tobago were under British control until independence was achieved in 1962. The country then became a republic in 1976. Sir Trevor McDonald, the well- known television news reader in the United Kingdom, was born in Trinidad in 1939. did you know? Nature calls. Of course, there's plenty of first-class outdoor attractions to explore GETTY IMAGES GETTY IMAGES October - December 2008 lime 39

ISLAND PROFILE 40 lime October - December 2008 Richard's Shark'n'Bake; it's an institution in itself. The crowds decline the further along the coast you travel. Las Cuevas and Tyrico Bay have their devotees but it is Blanchisseuse where you're most likely to enjoy the magnificent solitude of a Caribbean beach to yourself. On the east coast, Mayaro and Manzanilla are long, wild and windswept expanses of sand and battering waves, with a rawness which appeals to many. The Manzanilla coastal stretch, characterised by huge swathes of towering coconut forest, is worth the drive for the scenery alone. l Sports The most popular sports are football ( the national team, the Soca Warriors, played in their first World Cup in Germany in 2006) and cricket. Don't miss a day at the cricket. Relax beneath clear Caribbean skies ( at Guaracara Park or the Queens Park Oval), have ice cold beer brought to you in a bucket, watch the nuts sellers arc unerringly accurate bags of cashews into the stands and enjoy their interaction ( picong) with the crowd: " To all my international customers, I am delighted to announce we now accept US dollars, pound sterling and all major credit cards. Please form an orderly line". The players are not spared the chat either, as I discovered when a boundary fielder failed to dive for a ball which passed him. " What de arse, like yuh mama say she not gonna wash yuh trousers!" l Touring and Exploring Trinidad's 50 by 30 miles are as diverse as its culture, and its ecosystems are some of the Caribbean's richest. Because of its location, Trinidad enjoys a unique and considerable blend of South American and Caribbean flora and fauna ( there are over 470 bird species alone) which draw visitors from across the world. Watch the country's national bird, the vibrantly- plumaged Scarlet ibis, fly into roost in its thousands at Caroni Swamp; listen to booming howler monkeys, see anaconda and search for the elusive manatee in Nariva Swamp's vast marshlands; discover the mysterious oilbird at the Asa Wright Nature Centre; take a dip in La Brea's Pitch Lake; and observe giant leatherback turtles nesting at Matura and Grande Riviere. Hiking is a great way of seeing the country and is popular in the Northern Range, particularly in areas such as Brasso Seco and El Tucuche. Be sure to hire a guide though as local knowledge is essential. The Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago includes Columbus' ships on his voyages of discovery to the New World – namely the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Use of the name Courland in Tobago dates back to the mid- 1600s, when Tobago was briefly a colony of the Duchy of Courland, now part of Latvia in Europe. Red faces all round if you're unable to recognise which one is the scarlet ibis. GETTY IMAGES did you know?