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This article is about the capital of Curaçao. For other uses, see Willemstad (disambiguation).
"Punda" redirects here. For the 2010 Indian film, see Punda (film).
Willemstad Harbour
Willemstad Harbour
Willemstad on Curaçao
Willemstad on Curaçao
Coordinates: 12°7′N 68°56′W / 12.117°N 68.933°W / 12.117; -68.933Coordinates: 12°7′N 68°56′W / 12.117°N 68.933°W / 12.117; -68.933
State  Kingdom of the Netherlands
Country  Curaçao
Established 1634
Quarters Punda, Otrobanda, Scharloo, Pietermaai Smal
 • Total 150,000
  2013 Estimated
Official name: Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour, Netherlands Antilles
Type: Cultural
Criteria: ii, iv, v
Designated: 1997 (21st session)
Reference No. 819
State Party: Netherlands
Region: Europe and North America

Willemstad (/wɪləmˌstɑːt/; Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɪləmstɑt]) is the capital city of Curaçao, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea that forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Formerly the capital of the Netherlands Antilles prior to its dissolution in 2010, it has an estimated population of 150,000. The historic centre of the city consists of four quarters: the Punda and Otrobanda, which are separated by the Sint Anna Bay, an inlet that leads into the large natural harbour called the Schottegat, as well as the Scharloo and Pietermaai Smal quarters, which are across from each other on the smaller Waaigat harbour. The city centre, with its unique architecture and harbour entry, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Punda was established in 1634, when the Dutch captured the island from Spain. The original name of Punda was de punt in Dutch. Otrobanda, which was founded in 1707, is the newer section of the city and is considered to be the cultural centre of Willemstad. Its name originated from the Papiamentu otro banda, which means "the other side."[citation needed]

The Snoga Synagogue in Willemstad was built by Sephardic Portuguese Jews from Amsterdam and Recife, Brazil. It is modelled after the Esnoga in Amsterdam. Congregation Mikvé Israel (now Mikvé Israel-Emanuel) built this synagogue in 1692; it was reconstructed in 1732 and is the oldest surviving synagogue in the western hemisphere.[citation needed]



Insel Air, the national airline of Curaçao, has its corporate head office in Maduro Plaza.[1]


Fort Amsterdam as seen from sea
Penha Building, built in 1708

Tourism is a major industry and the city has several casinos. The city centre of Willemstad has an array of colonial architecture that is influenced by Dutch styles. Archaeological research has also been developed there.[2]


Owing to its location near the Venezuelan oilfields, its political stability and its natural deep water harbour, Willemstad became the site of an important seaport and refinery. Willemstad's harbour is the largest oil handling port in the Caribbean. The refinery, at one point the largest in the world, was originally built and owned by Royal Dutch Shell in 1915.[3] It was sold to the Curaçao government for the symbolic sum of one guilder in 1985 [4] and is now leased to PDVSA, the state owned Venezuelan oil company.

Financial Services[edit]

Numerous financial institutions are incorporated in Willemstad due to Curaçao's favourable tax policies.


Avalon University School of Medicine is located in Willemstad.

Caribbean Medical University is located in Willemstad - close to downtown.


Major League Baseball players Jair Jurrjens, Wladimir Balentien, Jurickson Profar, Andruw Jones, Kenley Jansen and Jonathan Schoop are from Willemstad.

Pabao Little League has appeared in five Little League World Series, winning in 2004. In 2008, another Pabao Little League team won the Junior League World Series, after winning the Latin America Region, then defeating the Asia-Pacific Region and Mexico Region champions to become the International champion, and finally defeating the U.S. champion (West Region), Hilo American/National LL (Hilo, Hawaii), 5-2.


Queen Emma bridge


Willemstad is served by Hato International Airport, which is the home base of Insel Air, Curaçao's national airline.


Punda and Otrobanda are connected by Queen Emma Bridge, a long pontoon bridge. Although it is still in use, these days most road traffic now uses the Queen Juliana Bridge built in 1967 (rebuilt 1974) which arches high over the bay further inland. Nearby is also the now non-functioning Queen Wilhelmina Bridge drawbridge.



Willemstad has a semi-arid climate.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ "General conditions" (Archive) Insel Air. Retrieved on 21 March 2014. "Our Registered Address is Dokweg 19, Maduro Plaza, Willemstad, Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles."
  2. ^ "Willemstad : a road to a methodical way of conducting archaeological research for Curaçao by Amy Victorina". Manioc.org. 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  3. ^ "Curaçao Investment Corp page describing the refinery". Retrieved April 2008. 
  4. ^ "Refinery deal in Curaçao". New York Times. 1985-09-26. 
  5. ^ "Summary of Climatological Data, Period 1971-2000". Meteorological Department Curaçao. Retrieved February 21, 2013. 

External links[edit]