Curaçao

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Not to be confused with Curacoa, Curassow, or Carriacou.
This article is about the island country. For the former colony/territory comprising Curaçao and five other islands, see Curaçao and Dependencies. For the liqueur, see Curaçao (liqueur).
Country of Curaçao
Land Curaçao  (Dutch)
Pais Kòrsou  (Papiamento)
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Himno di Kòrsou
Anthem of Curaçao
Location of  Curaçao  (circled in red)in the Caribbean  (light yellow)
Location of  Curaçao  (circled in red)

in the Caribbean  (light yellow)

Capital
and largest city
Willemstad
12°7′N 68°56′W / 12.117°N 68.933°W / 12.117; -68.933
Official languages
Demonym Curaçaoan
Sovereign state  Kingdom of the Netherlands
Government Unitary parliamentary representative democracy under constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Willem-Alexander
 -  Governor Lucille George-Wout
 -  Prime Minister Ivar Asjes[2]
Legislature Estates of Curaçao
Autonomy within the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 -  Established 10 October 2010 (dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles) 
Area
 -  Total 444 km2
171.4 sq mi
Population
 -  2013 estimate 152,760[3] (193rd)
 -  Density 344/km2 (38th)
881/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008[4] estimate
 -  Total US$2.84 billion (177th)
 -  Per capita US$20,567 (46th)
GDP (nominal) 2008[4] estimate
 -  Total US$5.08 billion (149th)
 -  Per capita US$36,800 (27th)
Currency Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)
Time zone AST (UTC−4)
Drives on the right
Calling code +599 9
ISO 3166 code CW
Internet TLD .cw, .an a
a. ^ To be discontinued.

Curaçao (/ˈkjʊərəs/ KEWR-ə-sow; Dutch: Curaçao;[5][6] Papiamentu: Kòrsou) is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast, that forms part of the Dutch Caribbean. The Country of Curaçao (Dutch: Land Curaçao;[7] Papiamento: Pais Kòrsou),[8] which includes the main island and the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao ("Little Curaçao"), is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It has a population of over 150,000 on an area of 444 km2 (171 sq mi) and its capital is Willemstad.

Prior to 10 October 2010, when the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved, Curaçao was administered as the Island Territory of Curaçao[9] (Dutch: Eilandgebied Curaçao, Papiamentu: Teritorio Insular di Kòrsou), one of five island territories of the former Netherlands Antilles.

Etymology[edit]

Map from 1562 with Curaçao indicated as Qúracao.

One explanation for the origin of the name Curaçao is that it is derived from the Portuguese word for heart (coração), referring to the island as a centre in trade. Spanish traders kept the name as Curazao, which was followed by the Dutch. Another explanation is that Curaçao was the name the Arawak people had used to identify themselves.[10]

On a map created by Hieronymus Cock in 1562 in Antwerp, the island was referred to as Qúracao.[11]

Four British Royal Navy ships have been named after the Island between 1809 and 1942. All have used the unusual spelling HMS Curacoa. The last of these was a C-class light cruiser of 1917.

The name "Curaçao" has become associated with a shade of blue, because of the deep-blue version of the liqueur named Curaçao (also known as Blue Curaçao).

History[edit]

Main article: History of Curaçao
Map of Curaçao in 1836

The original inhabitants of Curaçao were Arawak peoples. Their ancestors had migrated to the island from the mainland of South America, likely hundreds of years before European encounter.

The first Europeans recorded as seeing the island were members of a Spanish expedition under the leadership of Alonso de Ojeda in 1499. The Spaniards enslaved most of the Arawak as their labor force. They sometimes forcibly relocated the survivors to other colonies where workers were needed. In 1634, after the Netherlands achieved independence from Spain, Dutch colonists started to occupy the island. European powers were trying to get bases in the Caribbean.

The Dutch West India Company founded the capital of Willemstad on the banks of an inlet called the 'Schottegat'. Curaçao had been ignored by colonists, because it lacked gold deposits. The natural harbour of Willemstad proved to be an ideal spot for trade. Commerce and shipping — and piracy—became Curaçao's most important economic activities. In addition, in 1662 the Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a centre for the Atlantic slave trade, often bringing slaves here for sale elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Sephardic Jews settled here with the Dutch and in then-Dutch Brazil; they have had a significant influence on the culture and economy of the island.[12] Some merchants were part of the Dutch colonial slave trade.[13]

In the Franco-Dutch War, Count Jean II d'Estrées planned to attack Curaçao. His fleet — 12 men of war, 3 fireships, 2 transports, a hospital ship, and 12 privateers — met with disaster, losing 7 men of war and 2 other ships when they struck reefs off the Las Aves archipelago. They had made a serious navigational error, hitting the reefs on 11 May 1678, a week after setting sail from Saint Kitts. Curaçao marked the events by a Day of Thanksgiving, celebrated for decades into the 18th century, to commemorate the island's fortunate escape from being invaded by the French.

Although a few plantations were established on the island by the Dutch, the first profitable industry established on Curaçao was salt mining. The mineral was a lucrative export at the time and was a major factor for the island being part of international commerce.

Dutch architecture along Willemstad's harbour

Many Dutch colonists grew affluent from the slave trade, and the city built impressive colonial buildings. Curaçao architecture blends Dutch and Spanish colonial styles. The wide range of historic buildings in and around Willemstad has resulted in the capital being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Landhouses (former plantation estates) and West African style kas di pal'i maishi (former slave dwellings) are scattered all over the island. Some have been restored and can be visited.

In 1795, a major slave revolt took place under the lead of Tula Rigaud, Louis Mercier, Bastian Karpata, and Pedro Wakao. Up to 4000 slaves on the northwest section of the island revolted. Over a thousand of the slaves were involved in heavy gunfights. After a month, the slave owners suppressed the revolt.[14]

Curaçao's proximity to South America resulted in interaction with cultures of the coastal areas. For instance, architectural similarities can be seen between the 19th-century parts of Willemstad and the nearby Venezuelan city of Coro in Falcón State. The latter has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the 19th century, Curaçaoans such as Manuel Piar and Luis Brión were prominently engaged in the wars of independence of Venezuela and Colombia. Political refugees from the mainland (such as Simon Bolivar) regrouped in Curaçao. Children from affluent Venezuelan families were educated on the island.

Luis Brión, a Curaçao-born Venezuelan admiral

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the island changed hands among the British, the French, and the Dutch several times. In the early 19th century, Portuguese and Lebanese migrated to Curaçao attracted by the business opportunities. Stable Dutch rule returned in 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, when the island was incorporated into the colony of Curaçao and Dependencies.

The Dutch abolished slavery in 1863, creating a change in the economy with the shift to non-free labor. Some inhabitants of Curaçao emigrated to other islands, such as Cuba, to work in sugar cane plantations.

Other former slaves had no place to go and remained working for the plantation owner in the tenant farmer system.[15] This was an instituted order in which the former slave leased land from his former master. In exchange the tenant promised to give up most of his harvest to the former slave master. This system lasted until the beginning of the 20th century.

Historically, Dutch was not widely spoken on the island outside of colonial administration; its use increased in the late 19th and early 20th century.[16] Students on Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire were taught predominantly in Spanish up until the late 19th century. There were also efforts to introduce bilingual popular education in Dutch and Papiamentu in the late 19th century (van Putte 1999).

When in 1914, oil was discovered in the Maracaibo Basin town of Mene Grande, the fortunes of the island were dramatically altered. Royal Dutch Shell and the Dutch Government had built an extensive oil refinery installation on the former site of the slave-trade market at Asiento. The oil company suddenly had many jobs for the local population and attracted a wave of immigration from surrounding nations. Curaçao was an ideal site for the refinery, as it was away from the social and civil unrest of the South American mainland, but near enough to the Maracaibo Basin oil fields. It had an excellent natural harbor that could accommodate large oil tankers.

East and South Asian immigrants arrived during the economic boom of the early 20th century. Shell brought affluence to the island. Large scale housing was provided and Willemstad developed an extensive infrastructure. However, discrepancies appeared among the social groups of Curaçao. The discontent and the antagonisms between Curaçao social groups culminated in rioting and protest on 30 May 1969. The civil unrest fueled a social movement that resulted in the local Afro-Caribbean population attaining more influence over the political process (Anderson and Dynes 1975).

in the early 20th century, Dutch was made the sole language of instruction in the educational system to facilitate schooling for the children of expatriate employees of Royal Dutch Shell (Romer, 1999). Papiamentu, the local Creole language, was tentatively re-introduced in the school curriculum during the mid-1980s.

The years before and after World War II, Ashkenazi Jews emigrated from Eastern Europe, many of whom were Romanian Jews.

Curaçao gained self-government on 1 January 1954, as an island territory of the Netherlands Antilles. The islanders did not fully participate in the political process until after the social movements of the late 1960s.

The island has developed a tourist industry and offered low corporate taxes to encourage companies to set up holdings in order to avoid higher taxes elsewhere. It has emphasized its diverse heritage to expand its tourism industry. Since the late 20th century, immigrants have come from neighbouring countries, such as Venezuela, but also from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Anglophone Caribbean and Colombia. In the early 21st century, a number of Dutch pensioners (pensionados) have settled on the island for its mild climate.

In the mid-1980s, Royal Dutch Shell sold the refinery for a symbolic amount of 1 Antillean guilder to a local government consortium. The aging refinery has been the subject of lawsuits in recent years, which charge that its emissions, including sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, far exceed safety standards.[17] The government consortium currently leases the refinery to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

On 2 July 1984, the 30th anniversary of the first elected Island Council, the council inaugurated the National Flag and the official anthem. Since then, the movement to separate the island from the Antillean federation has steadily become stronger.[citation needed] In the 2000s, the political relationship with the other islands of the Netherlands Antilles, and with the Netherlands, came under discussion again. In a referendum held on 8 April 2005, the residents voted for separate status outside the Netherlands Antilles, similar to Aruba. They rejected the options for full independence, becoming part of the Netherlands, or retaining the status quo.

Due to an economic slump in the late 1990s and early 2000s, emigration to the Netherlands has been high.[18] Immigration from surrounding Caribbean islands, Latin American countries and the Netherlands has taken place.

In 2006, Emily de Jongh-Elhage, a resident of Curaçao, was elected Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles.[citation needed]

On 1 July 2007, the island of Curaçao was due to become a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. However on 28 November 2006, the island council rejected a clarification memorandum on the process. On 9 July 2007, the new island council of Curaçao ratified the agreement previously rejected in November 2006.[19] On 15 December 2008, Curaçao was scheduled to become a separate country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (like Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles that time). A non-binding referendum on this plan took place in Curaçao on 15 May 2009, in which 52 percent of the voters supported these plans.[20]

The dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles came into effect on 10 October 2010.[21] Curaçao became a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with the Kingdom retaining responsibility for defence and foreign policy. The Kingdom was also to oversee the island's finances under a debt-relief arrangement agreed between the two.[22] Curaçao's first Prime Minister was Gerrit Schotte. He was succeeded in 2012 by Stanley Betrian, ad interim. After elections in 2012 Daniel Hodge became the third Prime Minister on 31 December 2012.[23] He led a demissionary cabinet until 7 June 2013, when a new cabinet under leadership of current Prime Minister Ivar Asjes was sworn in.[2]

Recent[when?] political debate has centered on the issue of Papiamentu becoming the sole language of instruction. Proponents argue that it will help preserve the language and will improve the quality of primary and secondary school education. Proponents of Dutch-language instruction argue that students who study in Dutch will be better prepared for the university education offered to Curaçao residents in the Netherlands.

Forts[edit]

When the Dutch arrived in 1634, they built forts at key points around the island to protect themselves from foreign powers, privateers, and pirates. Six of the best preserved forts can still be seen today:

Four of these forts are placed in a 2 miles (3.2 km) radius, protecting the island primary natural harbor that once was the center of the slave trade. Waterfort, Fort Amsterdam and Riffort are less than 300 yards (270 m) apart, protecting the entrance to the harbor.[citation needed]

In 1957, Hotel Van der Valk Plaza Curaçao was built on top of the Waterfort.[29]

The Piscadera bay fort became an fundamental part of the Hilton Curaçao hotel that opened in 1967. The fort is being used as historic back drop for different types of weddings and events.[citation needed]

The Riffort contains restaurants, and shops. It is located on the opposite side of the Waterfort across the entrance to the harbor. In 2009, the Renaissance Curaçao Resort and Casino opened next to the Riffort.[30][31]

Geography[edit]

Map of Curaçao

Curaçao, as well as the rest of the ABC islands and also Trinidad and Tobago, lies on the continental shelf of South America, and is thus geologically considered to lie entirely in South America.[citation needed]

The coastline has bays and inlets.

Flora[edit]

The flora of Curaçao differs from the typical tropical island vegetation. Xeric scrublands are common, with various forms of cacti, thorny shrubs, evergreens, and the island's national tree, divi-divis. Curaçao's highest point is the Sint Christoffelberg 375 m (1,230 ft).[citation needed]

Fauna[edit]

Climate[edit]

Curaçao has a tropical savannah climate (Köppen climate classification As) with a dry season from January to September and a wet season from October to December.[32] The temperatures are relatively constant with small differences throughout the year. The trade winds bring cooling during the day and the same trade winds bring warming during the night. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of 26.5 °C (80 °F) and the warmest month is September with an average temperature of 28.9 °C (84 °F). The year's average maximum temperature is 31.2 °C (88 °F). The year's average minimum temperature is 25.3 °C (78 °F).

Curaçao lies outside the hurricane belt, but is still occasionally affected by hurricanes, as for example Hazel in 1954, Anna in 1961 Felix in 2007 and Omar in 2008. A landfall of a hurricane in Curaçao has not occurred since the United States National Hurricane Center started tracking hurricanes. Curaçao has, however, been directly affected by pre-hurricane tropical storms several times; the latest which did so were Tomas in 2010, Cesar in 1996, Joan-Miriam in 1988, Cora and Greta in 1978, Edith and Irene in 1971 and Francelia in 1969. The latest, Tomas, brushed Curaçao as a tropical storm, dropping as much as 265 mm (10.4 in) of precipitation on the territory, nearly half of the annual precipitation in one day.[33] This made Tomas one of the wettest events in the island's history,[34] as well as one of the most devastating; its flooding killed two people and caused over NAƒ60 million (US$28 million) in damage.[35][36]

Climate data for Curaçao (Hato Airport)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.8
(91)
33.2
(91.8)
33.0
(91.4)
34.7
(94.5)
35.8
(96.4)
37.5
(99.5)
35.0
(95)
37.7
(99.9)
38.3
(100.9)
36.0
(96.8)
35.6
(96.1)
33.3
(91.9)
38.3
(100.9)
Average high °C (°F) 29.7
(85.5)
30.0
(86)
30.5
(86.9)
31.1
(88)
31.6
(88.9)
32.0
(89.6)
31.9
(89.4)
32.4
(90.3)
32.6
(90.7)
31.9
(89.4)
31.1
(88)
30.1
(86.2)
31.2
(88.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.5
(79.7)
26.6
(79.9)
27.1
(80.8)
27.6
(81.7)
28.2
(82.8)
28.5
(83.3)
28.4
(83.1)
28.7
(83.7)
28.9
(84)
28.5
(83.3)
28.0
(82.4)
27.1
(80.8)
27.8
(82)
Average low °C (°F) 24.3
(75.7)
24.4
(75.9)
24.8
(76.6)
25.5
(77.9)
26.3
(79.3)
26.4
(79.5)
26.1
(79)
26.3
(79.3)
26.5
(79.7)
26.2
(79.2)
25.6
(78.1)
24.8
(76.6)
25.6
(78.1)
Record low °C (°F) 20.3
(68.5)
20.6
(69.1)
21.0
(69.8)
22.0
(71.6)
21.6
(70.9)
22.6
(72.7)
22.4
(72.3)
21.3
(70.3)
21.7
(71.1)
21.9
(71.4)
22.2
(72)
21.1
(70)
20.3
(68.5)
Rainfall mm (inches) 44.7
(1.76)
25.5
(1.004)
14.2
(0.559)
19.6
(0.772)
19.6
(0.772)
19.3
(0.76)
40.2
(1.583)
41.5
(1.634)
48.6
(1.913)
83.7
(3.295)
96.7
(3.807)
99.8
(3.929)
553.4
(21.787)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 8.6 5.3 2.8 2.8 2.0 3.0 6.4 5.1 4.6 7.4 9.9 11.5 70.4
 % humidity 77.4 76.7 76.1 77.2 77.2 77.1 77.8 77.3 77.5 79.0 79.6 78.9 77.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 261.4 247.7 270.8 246.3 258.4 267.0 287.5 295.7 257.9 245.5 236.3 240.8 3,114.9
Source: Meteorological Department Curaçao[37]

Geology[edit]

The northern sea floor drops steeply within 200 feet (61 m) of the shore. This drop-off is known as the "blue edge".

Government[edit]

The government of Curaçao takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic country. The Prime Minister is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament.

The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Convicted felons are held at the Curaçao Centre for Detention and Correction prison.[citation needed]

Curaçao has full autonomy on most matters, with the exceptions summed up in the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands under the title "Kingdom affairs".[citation needed]

Economy[edit]

Main article: Economy of Curaçao

Curaçao has an open economy, with tourism, international trade, shipping services, refining, storage (oil and bunkering) and international financial services being the most important sectors. Curaçao's economy is well developed and supports a high standard of living, ranking 46th in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) per capita and 27th in the world in terms of nominal GDP per capita. Curaçao possesses a high income economy, as defined by the World Bank. Activities related to the port of Willemstad (like the Free Trade Zone) make a significant contribution to the economy. To achieve the government's aim to make its economy more diverse, efforts are being made to attract more foreign investment. This policy, called the 'Open Arms' policy, features a heavy focus on information technology companies.[38][39][40]

Tourism[edit]

View of Piscadera Fort and Bay

While tourism plays a major role in Curaçao's economy, it is less reliant on tourism than other Caribbean countries. Most tourists originate from the Eastern United States, South America and the Netherlands. It currently leads the Caribbean in cruise tourism growth with 610,186 cruise passengers in 2013, a 41.4% increase over the prior year.[41] Hato International Airport received 1,772,501 passengers in 2013 and recently announced capital investments totaling US$48 million aimed at transforming the airport into a regional hub by 2018.

Beginning in early 2014, the Lynx rocketplane is expected to be flying suborbital space tourism flights and scientific research missions from a new spaceport on Curaçao.[42][43]

The island's insular shelf has a sharp drop-off known as the "Blue Edge."[citation needed] Scuba diving tourists often visit for this vista.[citation needed] Coral reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving can be reached without a boat. The southern coast has calm waters as well as many small beaches, such as Jan Thiel and Cas Abou. The coastline of Curaçao features numerous bays and inlets which serve as popular mooring locations for boats.[citation needed]

Some of the coral reefs are affected by tourism. Porto Marie Beach is experimenting with artificial coral reefs in order to improve the reef's condition.[citation needed] Hundreds of artificial coral blocks that have been placed are now home to a large array of tropical fish.

The Curaçao Sea Aquarium and the Dolphin Academy share this islet on the west coast of Curaçao, with Seaquarium Beach nearby.

Labor[edit]

In 2013, the unemployment rate was 13%.[44]

Financial services[edit]

Curaçao's history in financial services dates back to World War I. Prior to this period, the financial arms of local merchant houses functioned as informal lenders to the community. However, at the turn of the century, Curaçao underwent industrialization, and a number of merchant houses established private commercial banks.[45] As the economy grew, these banks began assuming additional functions eventually becoming full-fledged financial institutions.

The Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange is located in the capital of Willemstad, as is the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten; the latter of which dates to 1828. It is the oldest central bank in the Western Hemisphere.[46] The island's legal system supports a variety of corporate structures and is a corporate haven. Though Curaçao is considered a tax haven, it adheres to the EU Code of Conduct against harmful tax practices. It holds a qualified intermediary status from the United States Internal Revenue Service. It is an accepted jurisdiction of the OECD and Caribbean Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering. The country enforces Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism funding compliance.[citation needed]

Trade[edit]

Curaçao trades mainly with the United States, Venezuela, and the European Union. It has an Association Agreement with the European Union which allows companies which do business in and via Curaçao to export products to European markets,[47] free of import duties and quotas. It is also a participant in the US Caribbean Basin Initiative allowing it to have preferential access to the US market.[48]

Prostitution[edit]

Prostitution in Curaçao is legal. A large open-air brothel called "Le Mirage" or "Campo Alegre" has operated near the airport since the 1940s. Curaçao monitors, contains and regulates the industry. The government states that the workers in these establishments are thereby given a safe environment and access to medical practitioners.[49]

The U.S. State Department has cited anecdotal evidence claiming that,"Curaçao...[is a] destination island... for women trafficked for the sex trade from Peru, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, according to local observers. At least 500 foreign women reportedly are in prostitution throughout the five islands of the Antilles, some of whom have been trafficked."[50] The US state department has said that the government of Curaçao frequently underestimates the extent of human trafficking problems.[50]

Demographics[edit]

Languages[edit]

Curaçao is a polyglot society. The official languages are Dutch, Papiamentu, and English.[1] However, Dutch is the sole language for all administration and legal matters.[51] The most widely spoken language is Papiamentu, a Portuguese creole spoken in all levels of society. Papiamentu was introduced as a language of primary school education in 1993, making Curaçao one of a handful of places where a creole language is used as a medium to acquire basic literacy.[52] Spanish and English also have a long historical presence in Curaçao. Spanish became an important language in the 18th century due to the close economic ties with Spanish colonies in what are now Venezuela and Colombia.[16] Use of English dates to the early 19th century, when the British took Curaçao and Bonaire. When Dutch rule resumed in 1815, officials already noted wide use of the language.[16] According to the 2001 Census, Papiamentu is the first language of 81.2% of the population. Dutch is the first language of 8% of the population. Spanish is the first language of 4% of the population, and English is the first language of 2.9%.[53] However, these numbers divide the population in terms of first language and do not account for the high rate of bilingualism in the population of Curaçao. Most of Curaçao's population is able to converse in at least two of the languages of Papiamentu, Dutch, English, and Spanish.

Ethnicities[edit]

A Bulawaya dance.

Because of its history, the island's population comes from a number of ethnic backgrounds. There is an Afro-Caribbean majority of African descent, and also sizeable minorities of Dutch, Latin American, French, South Asian, East Asian, Portuguese and Levantine people. Additionally, there are both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews. The majority of the black population of Curaçao are of mixed-race ancestry (primarily African, Dutch, Sephardic Jewish, and Latin American, along with many other racial mixtures). An overwhelming percentage identifies as "black".[citation needed]

Religion[edit]

According to the 2001 census, the majority of the inhabitants of Curaçao are Roman Catholic (85%). This includes a shift towards the Charismatic Renewal or Charismatic movement since the mid-seventies. Other major denominations are the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Methodist Church. Alongside these Christian denominations, some inhabitants practice Montamentu,[citation needed] and other diaspora African religions. Like elsewhere in Latin America, Pentecostalism is on the rise. There are also practising Muslims and Hindus.

While small, Curaçao's Jewish community has had a significant impact on the island's history.[12] Curaçao has the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Americas, dating to 1651. The Curaçao synagogue is the oldest synagogue of the Americas in continuous use, since its completion in 1732 on the site of a previous synagogue.

Education[edit]

Public education is based on the Dutch educational system and besides the public schools, private and parochial schools are also available. Since the introduction of a new public education law in 1992, compulsory primary education starts at age six and continues six years, secondary lasts for another five.[54]

The main institute of higher learning is the University of Curaçao, enrolling 2,100 students.[54] The comprehensive model of education is under influences from both Dutch and American's education offering. Other higher education offering on the island include offshore medical schools, language schools and academies for fine art, music, police, teacher and nurse-training.[55]

Culture[edit]

Literature[edit]

Despite the island's relatively small population, the diversity of languages and cultural influences on Curaçao have generated a remarkable literary tradition, primarily in Dutch and Papiamentu. The oral traditions of the Arawak indigenous peoples are lost. West African slaves brought the tales of Anansi, thus forming the basis of Papiamentu literature. The first published work in Papiamentu was a poem by Joseph Sickman Corsen entitled Atardi, published in the La Cruz newspaper in 1905. Throughout Curaçaoan literature, narrative techniques and metaphors best characterized as magic realism tend to predominate. Novelists and poets from Curaçao have made an impressive contribution to Caribbean and Dutch literature. Best known are Cola Debrot, Frank Martinus Arion, Pierre Lauffer, Elis Juliana,Guillermo Rosario, Boeli van Leeuwen and Tip Marugg.

Cuisine[edit]

Local food is called Krioyo (pronounced the same as criollo, the Spanish word for "Creole") and boasts a blend of flavours and techniques best compared to Caribbean cuisine and Latin American cuisine. Dishes common in Curaçao are found in Aruba and Bonaire as well. Popular dishes include: stobá (a stew made with various ingredients such as papaya, beef or goat), Guiambo (soup made from okra and seafood), kadushi (cactus soup), sopi mondongo (intestine soup), funchi (cornmeal paste similar to fufu, ugali and polenta) and a lot of fish and other seafood. The ubiquitous side dish is fried plantain. Local bread rolls are made according to a Portuguese recipe. All around the island, there are snèk's which serve local dishes as well as alcoholic drinks in a manner akin to the English public house.

The ubiquitous breakfast dish is pastechi: fried pastry with fillings of cheese, tuna, ham, or ground meat. Around the holiday season special dishes are consumed, such as the hallaca and pekelé, made out of salt cod. At weddings and other special occasions a variety of kos dushi are served: kokada (coconut sweets), ko'i lechi (condensed milk and sugar sweet) and tentalaria (peanut sweets). The Curaçao liqueur was developed here, when a local experimented with the rinds of the local citrus fruit known as laraha. Surinamese, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Dutch culinary influences also abound. The island also has a number of Chinese restaurants that serve mainly Indonesian dishes such as satay, nasi goreng and lumpia (which are all Indonesian names for the dishes). Dutch specialties such as croquettes and oliebollen are widely served in homes and restaurants.

Sports[edit]

In 2004, the Little League Baseball team from Willemstad, Curaçao, won the world title in a game against the United States champion from Thousand Oaks, California. The Willemstad lineup included Jurickson Profar, the standout shortstop prospect who now plays for the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball.

In the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Curaçaoans played for the Netherlands team. Shairon Martis, born in Willemstad, contributed to the Dutch team by throwing a seven-inning no-hitter against Panama (the game was stopped due to the mercy rule).

The 2010 documentary film, Boys of Summer,[56] details Curaçao's Pabao Little League All-Stars winning their country's eighth straight championship at the 2008 Little League World Series, then going on to defeat other teams, including Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and earning a spot in Williamsport.

The prevailing trade winds and warm water make Curaçao a location for windsurfing.[57][58] One factor is that the deep water around Curaçao makes it difficult to lay marks for major windsurfing events, thus hindering the island's success as a windsurfing destination.

There is warm, clear water around the island. Scuba divers and snorkelers may have visibility up to 30 m (98 ft) at the Curaçao Underwater Marine Park, which stretches along 20 km (12.43 mi) of Curaçao's southern coastline.[59]

Curaçao participated in the 2013 CARIFTA Games. Kevin Philbert stood third in the under-20 male Long Jump with a distance of 7.36m. Vanessa Philbert stood second the under-17 female 1500m with a time of 4:47.97.[60][61][62][63]

Infrastructure[edit]

Airport[edit]

Hato International Airport is located on the island. Its main runway parallels, and is adjacent to, the northern coast.

Bridges[edit]

The Queen Emma (semi-open), and the Queen Juliana.

The Queen Emma pontoon bridge, 67 metres (220 ft) long, connects pedestrians between the Punda and Otrobanda districts.[64] This swings open to allow the passage of ships to and from the port.[65] The bridge was originally opened in 1888 and the current bridge was installed in 1939.[66]

The Queen Juliana Bridge connects mobile traffic between the same two districts. At 185 feet (56 m) above the sea, it is one of the highest bridges in the Caribbean.[65]

Utilities[edit]

A private company, Aqualectra delivers potable water and electricity to the island. Rates are controlled by the government. Water is produced by reverse osmosis or desalinization.[67] It services 69,000 households and companies using 130,000 water and electric meters.[67]

Notable residents[edit]

People from Curaçao include:

Arts and culture[edit]

Politics and government[edit]

Religion[edit]

Sports[edit]

Baseball

Players in Major League Baseball:

Football
Other sports

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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  4. ^ a b COUNTRY COMPARISON GDP PURCHASING POWER PARITY, Central Intelligence Agency.
  5. ^ Dutch pronunciation: [kyrɐˈsʌu̯]
  6. ^ Mangold, Max (2005). "Curaçao". In Dr. Franziska Münzberg. Aussprachewörterbuch. Mannheim: Duden Verlag. ISBN 978-3-411-04066-7. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  7. ^ Formal name according to Art. 1 para 1 Constitution of Curaçao (Dutch version)
  8. ^ Formal name according to Art. 1 para 1 Constitution of Curaçao (Papiamentu version)
  9. ^ English name used by the Government of Curaçao and the Government of the Netherlands Antilles (English was an official language of the Netherlands Antilles and the Island Territory of Curaçao)
  10. ^ Joubert and Van Buurt, 1994
  11. ^ Cock's 1562 map at the Library of Congress website
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  13. ^ "Jews and the Slave Trade". The Baltimore Sun. February 13, 1994. 
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  15. ^ Called "Paga Tera"
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External references[edit]

  • Habitantenan di Kòrsou, sinku siglo di pena i gloria: 1499–1999. Römer-Kenepa, NC, Gibbes, FE, Skriwanek, MA., 1999. Curaçao: Fundashon Curaçao 500.
  • Social movements, violence, and change: the May Movement in Curaçao. WA Anderson, RR Dynes, 1975. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
  • Stemmen uit het Verleden. Van Buurt, G., Joubert, S., 1994, Curaçao.
  • Het Patroon van de Oude Curaçaose Samenleving. Hoetink, H., 1987. Amsterdam: Emmering.
  • Dede pikiña ku su bisiña: Papiamentu-Nederlands en de onverwerkt verleden tijd. van Putte, Florimon., 1999. Zutphen: de Walburg Pers

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 12°11′N 69°00′W / 12.183°N 69.000°W / 12.183; -69.000