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Willemstad (vĭlˈəmstät) [key], city (1992 pop. 24,235), capital of Curaçao and former capital of the Netherlands Antilles. The city was the commercial and industrial center of the Netherlands Antilles (dissolved in 2010) as well as a free port and tourist center. It is important as a transshipment point and refining center for petroleum sent across the Gulf of Venezuela from Maracaibo; however, the petroleum demand declined in the mid-1980s. Willemstad has a distinctive Dutch character with streets lined by narrow, gabled houses.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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