Trinidad & Tobago is a two-island country at the southern edge of the Lesser Antilles located just off the coast of Venezuela. It changed hands between nearly every colonial power in the Caribbean before it became independent from the United Kingdom on August 31, 1962. Because it is a republic in the British Commonwealth, rather than a constitutional monarchy, the elected President holds executive power instead of the Queen. Like most Commonwealth countries, the legislature consists of the Prime Minister leading a bicameral Parliament, split into the Senate and House of Representatives. The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal. Trinidad & Tobago is an active member of CARICOM and serves as the seat for the Caribbean Court of Justice, although, as of 2012, the country only appeals criminal matters to the CCJ and sends civil matters to the Privy Council.
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