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Social Life in Trinidad & Tobago

Behavior

The Trinidadians and Tobagonians are conservative in most aspects of their lives and this is best seen in their behaviors, dress, and dining etiquette. They tend to dress and act conservatively, much of which is based on their Christian and Hindu faiths.

The greatest offenses a person can make is to dress too provocatively and to eat beef in the company of a Hindu as cows are sacred in Hinduism (see our Trinidad & Tobago Dining & Food Page for more information). Additionally, avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, religion, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.

Dress

Traditionally, the dress in Trinidad & Tobago varied and even today how the people dress is quite varied. The indigenous people wore whatever was available and required for the weather and season, but tended to wear very little. Later, the immigrant Indians, Africans, and others all brought various dress with them. The Indians did, and many still do, wear traditional Indian clothes, such as the sari for women and the dhoti for men. While many other people traditionally wear the guayabera, which is a simple white shirt found throughout the region and other western-styled clothing.

Today many of the above outfits are still common in Trinidad & Tobago, but so are other versions of western-styled clothing. In fact most people just wear western clothing and, due to the country's many beaches and hot weather, they can be fairly liberal in their dress as shorts and short-sleeved shirts are common. Even in nice restaurants, many of which are on the beach, dress tends to be fairly casual. The main exception to this is the large Hindu population, who tends to cover up substantially and is more conservative in the way they dress.

As a visitor to the islands, the dress is fairly relaxed when in public or on the beach. However, in religious, political, and business settings the dress is more formal as pants and long-sleeved shirts are common, especially at churches, temples, and in formal meetings. Sunbathing naked or women sunbathing topless is often restricted so check with locals before doing so.

This page was last updated: December, 2013