What Is the TTD (Trinidad and Tobago Dollar)?

The Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD) is the national currency of Trinidad and Tobago. Like the U.S. dollar (USD), it is subdivided into 100 cents.

Users of the TTD often use the prefix "TT$" to differentiate it from other dollar-denominated currencies, such as those of the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Key Takeaways

  • The Trinidad and Tobago dollar is the national currency of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • The island nation has had many currencies throughout its history, prior to the formal adoption of the TTD in 1964.
  • Trinidad and Tobago is a major oil and natural gas exporter. Collectively, its energy sector is responsible for roughly 45% of national gross domestic product (GDP).

Understanding the TTD

Trinidad was a Spanish colony from as early as the arrival of Columbus, who visited the island personally in 1498. Its companion island, Tobago, came under colonial rule of several European nations, including the Spanish, the British, the French, and the Dutch. Ultimately, both Trinidad and Tobago became British colonies in 1802 and remained so until their independence in 1962. In 1976, they formed the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which persists to this day.

The first formal currency used on the islands were the silver "pieces of eight" coins that were common throughout the Spanish colonies at that time. These were introduced in the 1500s, following the colonization of the islands by Spain.

Throughout the early and mid-1800s, currency on the islands was administered by private banks. At that time, several currencies were used, including those of Britain, Mexico, and Columbia. By the late 1870s, the discovery of vast new supplies of silver led to a severe devaluation of silver-backed currencies like the Spanish pieces of eight. Consequently, British currency became more popular on the islands.

Following World War II, Trinidad and Tobago briefly used a shared currency along with other Caribbean nations. In 1964, however, this arrangement was replaced by the modern TTD, which continues to be used today.

Real World Example of the TTD

Unlike many other Caribbean countries' currency, the Trinidad and Tobago dollar is not pegged, instead floating freely against other currencies. It has six banknotes currently in circulation: the red $1, the green $5, the gray $10, the purple $20, the olive $50, and the blue $100.

The value of the TTD has depreciated slightly relative to the USD over the past decade, from roughly 6.15 TTD per USD in 2009 to over 6.50 TTD per USD in 2019. Its inflation rate has averaged around 6% over the past 10 years, although recent years have shown much lower inflation.

Economic growth has been mostly flat in the past 10 years, with GDP growing at an average rate of 0.01% between 2007 and 2018. Today the economy of Trinidad and Tobago is driven largely by its energy sector. The nation is a major exporter of petroleum products and liquified natural gas (LNG), and its energy sector is responsible for about 45% of national GDP.