Netherlands Antilles

Netherlands Antilles
Netherlands Antillean.
a Netherlands overseas territory in the Caribbean Sea, N and NE of Venezuela; includes the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, and St. Eustatius, and the S part of St. Martin: considered an integral part of the Dutch realm. 247,148; 366 sq. mi. (948 sq. km). Cap.: Willemstad. Formerly, Curaçao, Netherlands West Indies, Dutch West Indies.

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Netherlands Antilles

Introduction Netherlands Antilles -
Background: Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, the island of Curacao was hard hit by the abolition of slavery in 1863. Its prosperity (and that of neighboring Aruba) was restored in the early 20th century with the construction of oil refineries to service the newly discovered Venezuelan oil fields. The island of Saint Martin is shared with France; its northern portion is named Saint-Martin and is part of Guadeloupe, and its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles. Geography Netherlands Antilles
Location: Caribbean, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea - one includes Curacao and Bonaire north of Venezuela; the other is east of the Virgin Islands
Geographic coordinates: 12 15 N, 68 45 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 960 sq km note: includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin) water: 0 sq km land: 960 sq km
Area - comparative: more than five times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 10.2 km border countries: Guadeloupe (Saint Martin) 10.2 km
Coastline: 364 km
Maritime claims: exclusive fishing zone: 12 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds
Terrain: generally hilly, volcanic interiors
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Mount Scenery 862 m
Natural resources: phosphates (Curacao only), salt (Bonaire only)
Land use: arable land: 10% permanent crops: 0% other: 90% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: Curacao and Bonaire are south of Caribbean hurricane belt and are rarely threatened; Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are subject to hurricanes from July to October Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles are divided geographically into the Leeward Islands (northern) group (Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten) and the Windward Islands (southern) group (Bonaire and Curacao) People Netherlands Antilles -
Population: 214,258 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25% (male 27,351; female 26,135) 15-64 years: 67.1% (male 68,431; female 75,312) 65 years and over: 7.9% (male 7,049; female 9,980) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.93% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 16.16 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/ female total population: 0.92 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 11.06 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.15 years female: 77.46 years (2002 est.) male: 72.96 years
Total fertility rate: 2.06 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Dutch Antillean(s) adjective: Dutch Antillean
Ethnic groups: mixed black 85%, Carib Amerindian, white, East Asian
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Seventh-Day Adventist
Languages: Dutch (official), Papiamento (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect) predominates, English widely spoken, Spanish
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 98% male: 98% female: 99% (1981 est.) Government Netherlands Antilles -
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Netherlands Antilles local long form: none former: Curacao and Dependencies local short form: Nederlandse Antillen
Dependency status: part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 1954; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs
Government type: parliamentary
Capital: Willemstad Administrative divisions: none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) note: each island has its own government
Independence: none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
National holiday: Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen- Mother JULIANA in 1909 and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX in 1980), 30 April
Constitution: 29 December 1954, Statute of the Realm of the Netherlands, as amended
Legal system: based on Dutch civil law system, with some English common law influence
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980), represented by Governor General Jaime SALEH (since NA October 1989) head of government: Prime Minister Miguel POURIER (since 8 November 1999); Deputy Prime Minister Susanne CAMELIA-ROMER (since NA) cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the Staten note: government coalition - PDB, DP-St. M, FOL, PLKP, PNP elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch for a six- year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually elected prime minister by the Staten; election last held 18 January 2002 (next to be held by NA 2006) note: Miguel POURIER became prime minister following the resignation of Susanne CAMELIA-ROMER
Legislative branch: unicameral States or Staten (22 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) note: the government of Prime Minister Miguel POURIER is a coalition of several parties; current seats by party - PAR 4, PNP 3, FOL 2, MAN 2, UPB 2, DP-St. M 2, PDB 1, SEA 1, WIPM 1, other 4 elections: last held 18 January 2002 (next to be held NA 2006) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FOL 5, PAR 4, PNP 3, PLKP 2, DP-St.M 2, UPB 2, DP 1, MAN 1, PDB 1, WIPM 1
Judicial branch: Joint High Court of Justice (judges appointed by the monarch) Political parties and leaders: Antillean Restructuring Party or PAR [Miguel POURIER]; C 93 [Stanley BROWN]; Democratic Party of Bonaire or PDB [Jopi ABRAHAM]; Democratic Party of Curacao or DP [Errol HERNANDEZ]; Democratic Party of Sint Eustatius or DP-St. E [Julian WOODLEY]; Democratic Party of Sint Maarten or DP-St. M [Sarah WESCOTT- WILLIAMS]; Foundation Energetic Management Anti-Narcotics or FAME [Eric LODEWIJKS]; Labor Party People's Crusade or PLKP [Errol COVA]; National People's Party or PNP [Susanne F. C. CAMELIA-ROMER]; New Antilles Movement or MAN [Kenneth GIJSBERTHA]; Patriotic Union of Bonaire or UPB [Ramon BOOI]; Patriotic Movement of Sint Maarten or SPA [Vance JAMES, Jr.]; People's Party or PAPU [Richard Hodi]; Pro Curacao Party or PPK [Winston LOURENS]; Saba Democratic Labor Movement [Steve HASSELL]; Saba Unity Party [Carmen SIMMONDS]; St. Eustatius Alliance or SEA [Kenneth VAN PUTTEN]; Serious Alternative People's Party or Sapp [Julian ROLLOCKS]; Social Action Cause or KAS [Benny DEMEI]; Windward Islands People's Movement or WIPM [Will JOHNSTON]; Workers' Liberation Front or FOL [Anthony GODETT, Rignald LAK, Editha WRIGHT] note: political parties are indigenous to each island Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization Caricom (observer), CCC, ECLAC
participation: (associate), Interpol, IOC, UNESCO (associate), UPU, WCL, WMO, WToO (associate) Diplomatic representation in the US: none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands) Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Consul General
US: Deborah A. BOLTON consulate(s) general: J. B. Gorsiraweg #1, Willemstad AN, Curacao mailing address: P. O. Box 158, Willemstad, Curacao telephone: [599] (9) 4613066 FAX: [599] (9) 4616489
Flag description: white, with a horizontal blue stripe in the center superimposed on a vertical red band, also centered; five white, five-pointed stars are arranged in an oval pattern in the center of the blue band; the five stars represent the five main islands of Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten Economy Netherlands Antilles
Economy - overview: Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Although GDP has declined in each of the past five years, the islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, the US and Mexico being the major suppliers. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.4 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -3.5% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $11,400 (2000 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1% industry: 15% services: 84% (1996 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.8% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 89,000 Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 1%, industry 13%, services 86% (1994 est.)
Unemployment rate: 15% (1998 est.)
Budget: revenues: $710.8 million expenditures: $741.6 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)
Industries: tourism (Curacao, Sint Maarten, and Bonaire), petroleum refining (Curacao), petroleum transshipment facilities (Curacao and Bonaire), light manufacturing (Curacao) Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 1.175 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 1.093 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: aloes, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit
Exports: $276 million (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: petroleum products
Exports - partners: US 35.9%, Guatemala 9.4%, Venezuela 8.7%, France 5.4%, Singapore 2.8% (2000)
Imports: $1.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Imports - commodities: crude petroleum, food, manufactures
Imports - partners: US 25.8%, Mexico 20.7%, Gabon 6.6%, Italy 5.8%, Netherlands 5.5% (2000)
Debt - external: $1.35 billion (1996) Economic aid - recipient: IMF provided $61 million in 2000, and the Netherlands continued its support with $40 million
Currency: Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)
Currency code: ANG
Exchange rates: Netherlands Antillean guilders per US dollar - 1.790 (fixed rate since 1989)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Netherlands Antilles - Telephones - main lines in use: 76,000 (1995) Telephones - mobile cellular: 13,977 (1996)
Telephone system: general assessment: generally adequate facilities domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links international: submarine cables - 2; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 9, FM 4, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 217,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 3 (there is also a cable service which supplies programs received from various US satellite networks and two Venezuelan channels) (1997)
Televisions: 69,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .an Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6
Internet users: 2,000 (2000) Transportation Netherlands Antilles -
Railways: 0 km (2002)
Highways: total: 600 km paved: 300 km unpaved: 300 km (1992)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Kralendijk, Philipsburg, Willemstad
Merchant marine: total: 123 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,056,362 GRT/1,341,735 DWT ships by type: bulk 2, cargo 39, chemical tanker 2, combination ore/ oil 4, container 24, liquefied gas 5, multi-functional large-load carrier 15, passenger 1, refrigerated cargo 24, roll on/roll off 7 note: includes foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Belgium 3, Denmark 2, Germany 43, Monaco 8, Netherlands 52, New Zealand 1, Norway 3, Peru 1, Spain 1, Sweden 3, United Kingdom 5 (2002 est.)
Airports: 5 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 5 over 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Military Netherlands Antilles -
Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; Royal Netherlands Navy, Marine Corps, Royal Netherlands Air Force, National Guard, Police Force Military manpower - military age: 20 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 54,752 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 30,642 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 1,610 (2002 est.)
military age annually:
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Transnational Issues Netherlands Antilles - Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: money-laundering center; transshipment point for South American drugs bound for the US and Europe

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formerly Curaçao

Five islands (pop., 2002 est.: 197,000), in the Caribbean Sea.

An autonomous part of The Netherlands since 1954, they have a combined area of 309 sq mi (800 sq km). The Netherlands Antilles consists of two widely separated groups of islands: the northern group (St. Eustatius, the southern section of St. Martin, and Saba) at the northern end of the Leeward Islands; and the southern group, about 500 mi (800 km) to the southwest, off the coast of Venezuela (Curaçao and Bonaire, Aruba until 1986). The capital, on Curaçao, is Willemstad. The islands were sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and were claimed for Spain. In the 17th century the Dutch gained control, and in 1845 the islands became the Netherlands Antilles. In 1954 they became an integral part of The Netherlands, with full autonomy in domestic affairs. Aruba seceded from the group in 1986.

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▪ islands, Caribbean Sea
Dutch  Nederlandse Antillen 
Netherlands Antilles, flag of   five islands in the Caribbean Sea constituting an autonomous part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands (Netherlands, The). The group is composed of two widely separated subgroups approximately 500 miles (800 km) apart. The southern group comprises Curaçao and Bonaire, which lie less than 50 miles (80 km) off the Venezuelan coast. The northern group is made up of Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Sint Maarten (the southern part of the island of Saint Martin; the northern part, Saint-Martin, is an overseas collectivity of France). Although the northern islands are locally referred to as “Windward,” they lie within the Leeward Islands group of the Lesser Antilles chain. Curaçao and Bonaire are part of the Windward Islands group of the Lesser Antilles. The capital and largest city is Willemstad, on Curaçao.

      After 1954 the Netherlands Antilles were an integral part of The Netherlands, with full autonomy in internal affairs. The island of Aruba, which lies to the west of Curaçao and Bonaire, was formerly a part of the Netherlands Antilles, but in 1986 it seceded from the federation to become a separate Dutch territory. In 2005 the remaining five islands agreed, with the consent of the Dutch government, to dissolve the Netherlands Antilles within the following several years. None of the islands chose full independence. Curaçao and Sint Maarten were to become autonomous countries within the kingdom, a status similar to that of Aruba; Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius were to be special municipalities and would have closer relations to the central government, similar to those of the municipalities in The Netherlands proper.


  The southern islands are generally low in elevation, though hills rise to 787 feet (240 metres) at Brandaris on Bonaire and 1,230 feet (375 metres) at Mount Saint Christoffel on Curaçao. The islands consist mainly of igneous rocks and are fringed with coral reefs. The northern islands consist of volcanic rocks rising to 1,119 feet (341 metres) at Sentry Hill in the Dutch part of Saint Martin, 1,198 feet (365 metres) at The Quill, an extinct volcano on Sint Eustatius, with a large forested crater, and 2,910 feet (887 metres) at Mount Scenery, an extinct volcano on Saba that is the islands' highest point.

      Curaçao, the largest island of the Netherlands Antilles, covers 171 square miles (444 square km). It is indented in the south by deep bays, the largest of which, Schottegat, provides a magnificent harbour for Willemstad. Bonaire, with an area of 111 square miles (288 square km), lies about 20 miles (32 km) east of Curaçao. Sint Eustatius covers 8 square miles (21 square km) and Saba 5 square miles (13 square km); the two form the northwestern terminus of the inner volcanic arc of the Lesser Antilles. Saba is dominated by Mount Scenery and is surrounded by sea cliffs. The villages of The Bottom and Windward Side, occupying an old crater, are approached by a steep road from a rocky landing place on the southern coast.

Drainage and soils
      For the most part, the islands of the Netherlands Antilles have barren soil and little or no fresh water. On Curaçao and Bonaire there is much bare, eroded soil, the result of centuries of overgrazing. Drinking water on these islands is obtained mainly by distilling seawater.

      Temperatures in the southern islands vary little from an annual average in the low 80s F (about 27 °C), and the heat is tempered by the easterly trade winds (trade wind). The islands lie west of the usual tropical cyclone (hurricane) zone. Precipitation in the south is low and variable, often less than 22 inches (550 mm) per year. The climate is similar in the northern islands, but there is more precipitation, and hurricanes are more common. The annual precipitation is greatest on Sint Eustatius and Saba, which receive averages of about 42 inches (1,000 mm) and 47 inches (1,200 mm), respectively, mainly between May and November.

Plant and animal life
 The vegetation of the southern Netherlands Antilles has been much overgrazed by livestock. Cacti and other drought-resistant plants abound. The island of Bonaire is known for its flamingos. Curaçao has many reptiles, including geckos, lizards, and sea turtles. In the northern group, Saba is noted particularly for its pristine beauty and tropical rainforest; orchids, tree ferns, and wildflowers are abundant, and the island's sea life includes barracudas, sharks, sea turtles, and coral gardens.

 The islands' populations are mainly composed of ‘‘blacks " (people of African heritage) and mulattos (mixed African and European heritage) except for Saba's, which is about evenly divided between people of African and of European (‘‘white ") descent. Most of the islands have small white minorities. Migration to Curaçao from other Caribbean islands, Venezuela, and Europe increased after the opening of its oil refinery in 1918.

      Dutch is the official language, but Papiamentu—a local Spanish-based creole (creole languages) that includes Portuguese, Dutch, and some African words—is widely used in the southern islands and is taught in elementary schools. English is the principal language of the northern islands and is widely spoken in Curaçao as well; Spanish is also spoken in the south. Nearly three-fourths of the people adhere to Roman Catholicism; about one-sixth are Protestant; and there are small minorities of Spiritists, Buddhists, and Jews. Curaçao has a Sephardic Jewish community that dates from the 1650s; Willemstad has the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere.

      The birth and death rates are relatively low, and the rate of natural increase is lower than on most other islands of the Caribbean. Migration to The Netherlands has tended to increase during economic downturns in the islands, such as during the late 1990s and the early 21st century. Life expectancy is in the mid-70s for males and the late 70s for females.

      About four-fifths of the population is urban. The rural population of the islands is generally dispersed, and villages are scarce except on Saba. Nearly three-fourths of the inhabitants of the islands reside on Curaçao; the next two most-populous parts of the Netherlands Antilles are Sint Maarten and Bonaire. Sint Eustatius and Saba account for a statistically tiny portion of the population. However, they are more densely settled than Bonaire. Sint Maarten has the highest population density.

      Characteristic of Curaçao are its landhuizen, large 18th- and 19th-century rural mansions located on hills. Willemstad has some splendid sections of Dutch-style colonial architecture with tropical adaptations, painted in white and pastel colours.

      Unlike most other Caribbean islands, the Netherlands Antilles have seldom depended on the export of sugar or other plantation crops, which could not grow well in the dry climate of the larger islands. Instead, Curaçao (and during the 18th century Sint Eustatius) developed into a centre of regional trading and finance, activities that, together with oil refining and tourism, have become the basis of the islands' economy. Willemstad in particular has become an important Caribbean banking centre. Tourism and other services have become increasingly important throughout the islands.

      Agriculture, fishing, forestry, and mining play minor roles in the economy of the islands. Curaçao has some calcium phosphate mining; salt is processed on Bonaire. Sugarcane and cotton plantations were once established on Saint Martin and Sint Eustatius. Curaçao was at one time used mainly for livestock raising, but, after the overgrazing of land, new small-scale agricultural ventures were begun, such as the cultivation of aloes for pharmaceutical products and oranges for Curaçao liqueur. Aloes are also grown on Bonaire. Fish are important to the economy of Sint Maarten. Farmers on Saba raise livestock and cultivate vegetables, particularly potatoes, which are exported to neighbouring islands.

      The main industry of Curaçao is oil refining, which started with the exploitation of Venezuelan oil fields in 1914 and the opening in 1918 of an oil refinery on Curaçao. Curaçao also produces liqueurs. Bonaire has a textile factory and Sint Maarten a rum distillery. Other factories produce electronic parts and cigarettes.

      The Netherlands Antilles refine and reexport a major portion of the oil extracted from Venezuelan territory, and petroleum and petroleum products, produced on Curaçao, are the main exports. The entrepôt trade in the free ports of Curaçao is also significant. Curaçao's foreign trade is mainly with Venezuela, the United States, The Netherlands, and several countries of Central America and the Caribbean. Most of the islands' requirements of food and commercial goods are met by imports.

      The islands have extensive road systems. There are international airports at Curaçao, Bonaire, and Sint Maarten; Sint Eustatius and Saba also have airfields. Curaçao is a major point of shipping for the petroleum industry, and Sint Maarten is a leading Caribbean port of call for cruise ships.

Government and society
      The Netherlands Antilles are a self-governing part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. A governor, nominated by the local government and appointed by the crown, is the formal head of government and representative of the monarch. Executive authority is vested in a Council of Ministers, which is headed by a prime minister. The council is responsible to the unicameral legislature (Staten), whose members are elected to four-year terms by universal adult suffrage. Since 1992 education in the Netherlands Antilles has been compulsory from age 6 to age 17, and the literacy rate is nearly on a par with that of the metropolitan Netherlands. Local authority is exercised by an Island Council, an Executive Council, and a lieutenant governor on each island. The main language of instruction is Dutch (Netherlandic) on the southern islands and English on the northern, with some primary education in Papiamentu. The University of the Netherlands Antilles (founded 1979) is on Curaçao, and there are several private colleges on the islands. The general standard of health on the islands is high.

Cultural life
      The pre-Lenten carnival in February and the New Year's festivities are colourful celebrations. The Bonaire International Sailing Regatta is held every October, attracting boating enthusiasts from around the world. Many islanders also participate in martial arts, and football (soccer) and baseball are very popular. Saba, which is steep and tiny, has little flat land for athletic fields, but tennis courts there double as basketball and volleyball courts, and both men's and women's games are enthusiastically played. The islands first competed in the Olympics at the 1952 Summer Games in Helsinki.

      There are a number of national parks, marine parks, and nature reserves on the islands. Notable among them are the Saba National Marine Park, which encircles the island and preserves and manages Saba's coral reef, and Christoffel Park on Curaçao, which covers 7 square miles (18 square km) and showcases the island's wide variety of natural flora and fauna. Several daily newspapers are published, in Dutch, English, and Papiamentu. There are also a number of local radio and television broadcast stations, and satellite television programming is available.

      The islands known as the Netherlands Antilles originally were inhabited by Arawak and Carib Indians; the arrival in the early 16th century of the Spanish caused the decimation of the native population. The Dutch, attracted by salt deposits, occupied the islands in the early 17th century, and, except for brief periods of British occupation, the islands have remained Dutch possessions. Through much of the 17th and 18th centuries, the islands prospered from Dutch trade in slaves, plantation products, and contraband, but the economy declined from 1816 until 1914.

Colonial rule
      The first Europeans to sight Curaçao were Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci (Vespucci, Amerigo) in 1499, and the area was settled in 1527 by the Spanish, who used it mainly for livestock raising. In 1634 Johannes van Walbeeck of the Dutch West India Company occupied and fortified the island, which became the base for a rich entrepôt trade flourishing through the 18th century. During the colonial period, Curaçao was a major Caribbean centre for the transatlantic slave trade.

      There were two short periods during the Napoleonic Wars (French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars) when Curaçao was held by the British, but it was returned to The Netherlands by the Treaty of Paris (Paris, Treaties of) in 1815. The 19th century was a period of economic decline partially alleviated by the cultivation of aloes and oranges. Only after the construction of the Schottegat oil refinery (opened in 1918), however, did economic conditions improve greatly.

      Ojeda and Vespucci also sighted Bonaire during their voyage in 1499. The island was settled by the Spanish in 1501 and claimed by the Dutch in 1634. It became part of the Dutch West India Company in 1636 and remained a government plantation until 1863. From 1807 to 1814 it was under British control.

      The island of Saint Martin was sighted by Christopher Columbus (Columbus, Christopher) on Nov. 11, 1493 (St. Martin's Day), and was taken by French pirates in 1638, though the Spanish settled there in 1640. In 1648 French and Dutch prisoners of war allegedly met after the Spanish departure and amicably divided the island. The Dutch obtained Sint Maarten, the smaller but more valuable southern section, which contained large salt deposits.

       Sint Eustatius, first colonized by the French and English in 1625, was taken by the Dutch in 1632. It became the main centre of slave trade in the eastern Caribbean and by 1780 had a population of 2,500. In 1781 the British sacked Oranjestad, and the island never regained its trade. In the 17th and 18th centuries most of the land was under sugarcane cultivation.

       Saba was settled by the Dutch in 1632 but, because of its inaccessibility and ruggedness, never achieved any economic importance.

Political developments since World War II
      After World War II, negotiations began with the aim of conferring a greater measure of self-government on the islands. On Dec. 15, 1954, the islands were made an autonomous part of The Netherlands. In 1969 Curaçao was torn by labour conflicts that led to riots and arson.

      In the late 20th century, politics in the Netherlands Antilles were dominated by three issues: economic problems, the coming of independence, and the degree of autonomy to be afforded each island within the federation. By the mid-1970s it was clear that most of the Netherlands Antilles feared the economic consequences of independence. The Dutch government pressed for independence but insisted on preserving a federated structure embracing all the islands. In an unofficial referendum in 1977, Aruba voted to secede from the Antilles federation but remained within the kingdom; it formally achieved that status in 1986. By 1978 all the islands had accepted the concept of insular self-determination.

David Russell Harris Harmannus Hoetink
      In 1989 the political leadership of Sint Maarten announced its desire to achieve full independence in the shortest possible term; secessionist feelings were fueled by animosity toward the central administration in Curaçao. An investigation by the government of The Netherlands into the administration of Sint Maarten resulted in 1993 in the arrest of two prominent leaders on charges of corruption and led to closer supervision by the metropolitan government of the island's affairs.

      In 2006 the people of the islands agreed, along with the Dutch government, to dismantle the Netherlands Antilles, although none of the islands chose independence. St. Maarten and Curaçao chose autonomous country status within The Netherlands. Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius were to become special municipalities of The Netherlands.

Harmannus Hoetink Ed.

Additional Reading
Useful general works are Lynne M. Sullivan, Adventure Guide to Aruba, Bonaire & Curaçao, 2nd ed. (2006); Karel Beylevelt, Nature Guide: Netherlands Antilles & Aruba (1995); and Donald Nausbaum and Madeleine Greey, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten: Portrait of an Island (2004). Geographic studies include René Römer, Curaçao (1981; originally published in Dutch, 1977); Julia G. Crane, Saba Silhouettes: Life Stories from a Caribbean Island (1987); and Anke Klomp, Politics on Bonaire (1986; originally published in Dutch, 1983).Informative histories include Cornelis C. Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and on the Wild Coast, 1580–1680 (1971), The Dutch in the Caribbean and in the Guianas, 1680–1791 (1985), and A Short History of the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam (1979). A special history is Isaac S. Emmanuel and Suzanne A. Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, 2 vol. (1970). An overview of historical sources is given in M.A.P. Meilink-Roelofsz (ed.), Dutch Authors on West Indian History: A Historiographical Selection, trans. from Dutch (1982).Harmannus Hoetink

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Netherlands Antilles —    Part of the group of islands in the Caribbean, of which six belong to the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba. During the first half of the 17th century, the islands were conquered from the …   Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands

  • Netherlands Antilles national football team — Netherlands Antilles Association Nederlands Antilliaanse Voetbal Unie Confederation CONCACAF (North America) Head coach Remko Bicentini …   Wikipedia

  • Netherlands Antilles at the 2008 Summer Olympics — Netherlands Antilles at the Olympic Games Flag of the Neth …   Wikipedia

  • Netherlands Antilles general election, 2010 — Netherlands Antilles This article is part of the series: Politics and government of the Netherlands Antilles Consti …   Wikipedia

  • Netherlands Antilles at the Olympics — Netherlands Antilles at the Olympic Games Flag …   Wikipedia

  • Netherlands Antilles–United States relations — Netherlands Antilles – United States relations Netherlands Antille …   Wikipedia

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