The city serves primarily as a retail and administrative centre and it has been the capital of the island since 1757. It is also an important financial services centre for the Caribbean and is home to two of the largest banks in the region.
The city is also home to the largest container port on the island and is one of several shipping hubs of the Caribbean, exporting both agricultural products and manufactured goods. Bauxite from Guyana is trans-shipped via facilities at Chaguaramas, about 8 kilometres (5 mi) west of the city. The pre-lenten Carnival is the city's main annual cultural festival and tourist attraction.
Today, Port of Spain is a leading city in the Caribbean region. Trinidad and Tobago hosted the Fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009 whose guests included US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Port of Spain is also home to the biggest and most successful stock exchange in the Caribbean, the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE). The iconic Nicholas Tower, as well as other skyscrapers, are well known throughout the region. These buildings dominate the city's skyline. Some of the tallest skyscrapers in the Caribbean are located in Port of Spain.