The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 until Spanish governor Don José María Chacón surrendered the island to a British fleet under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby in 1797. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers more times than any other island in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens as separate states and unified in 1889. Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.
As of 2015, Trinidad and Tobago had the third highest GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP) in the Americas after the United States and Canada. It is recognised by the World Bank as a high-income economy. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country's economy is primarily industrial with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals. The country's wealth is attributed to its large reserves and exploitation of oil and natural gas.
Historian E. L. Joseph claimed that Trinidad's Amerindian name was Cairi or "Land of the Humming Bird", derived from the Arawak name for hummingbird, ierèttê or yerettê. However, Boomert claims that neither cairi nor caeri means hummingbird and tukusi or tucuchi does. Others have reported that kairi and iere simply mean island. Christopher Columbus renamed it "La Isla de la Trinidad" ("The Island of the Trinity"), fulfilling a vow made before setting out on his third voyage of exploration. Tobago's cigar-like shape may have given it its Spanish name (cabaco, tavaco, tobacco) and possibly its Amerindian names of Aloubaéra (black conch) and Urupaina (big snail), although the English pronunciation is /təˈbeɪɡoʊ/, rhyming with lumbago, sago, and "may go".
Trinidad and Tobago are islands situated between 10° 2' and 11° 12' N latitude and 60° 30' and 61° 56' W longitude. At the closest point, Trinidad is just 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Venezuelan territory. Covering an area of 5,128 km2 (1,980 sq mi), the country consists of the two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous smaller landforms, including Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande (or Gasparee), Little Tobago, and St. Giles Island.