Geographically it is considered part of the South American continent as the island lies on the shelf of the mainland of South America.
Curacao is located in the Southwestern Caribbean. The island is just 70 km (44 miles) north of South America. It is in fact a Caribbean island, independent yet still an oversea territory of the Netherlands. It is also part of the “ABC” Caribbean island group which includes Aruba and Bonaire.
The people of Curacao speak a number of languages and most are bilingual. Their local dialect is “Papiamentu” which is spoken by most people. Dutch is the official Language and also Spanish and English is common.
The Currency is the “Netherlands Antillean Guilder”$1 USD is equal to approximately $1.87 (May 2019). The capital is Willemstad (which is divided into two parts – Punda and Otrobanda). Curaçao is outside of the hurricane belt, which means hurricanes are very unlikely. Temperatures are typically in the 80’s. Dry season is from March til October. Population is approx. 150K.
The Arawak Indians were the first to settle Curaçao. The Spanish came on the scene not long after Columbus discovered the New World in the late 1400’s. They served to decimate the population or transport them elsewhere in the Caribbean.
The Dutch West India Company brought with it commerce, trading, and slavery in the 1600’s, Various crops were grown on the 100 or so plantations through the 18th and 19th centuries, including maize, fruits, and peanuts, but salt mining proved especially lucrative.
Forts were also erected to protect the deep harbor and ports, including Fort Amsterdam, Rif Fort, and Fort Nassau in Willemstad. The British, also in the Caribbean during the colonial period, vied for trade routes with France and the Netherlands, and Curaçao came under their control on a couple of occasions.
The Treaty of Paris in 1815 saw the return of Curaçao to the Dutch from the British (though the English language took hold), while post emancipation of the slaves (1863) saw a big decline economically, with many former slaves emigrating to places like Cuba. Things turned around in the 1900’s with Venezuela’s discovery of oil and Curaçao played a part in its refining.
Curaçao is a stable and fairly prosperous place today, with banking and tourism both big industries, although it lags behind neighboring Aruba significantly. An economic slump has seen much emigration of locals to other regions in the Caribbean and the Netherlands itself. Though the islanders rejected full independence from the Netherlands in 2005, the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010 saw Curaçao become a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
What makes CURAÇAO unique:?
Multicultural heritage. Diverse collection of cultures: Spanish, Dutch, French, English. Papiamento, is a language that has roots in many of the island’s founding cultures. Displaced Portuguese Jews and slaves brought from Africa have blended with the indigenous Arawaks to form a Caribbean “stew” that is colorful and fascinating. Shipwreck archeology.