Netherlands Antilles: Maps, History, Geography, Government, Culture, Facts, Guide & Travel/Holidays/Cities
Status: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Governor: Frits Goedgedrag (2002)
Prime Minister: Emily de Jongh-Elhage (2006)
Total area: 371 sq mi (961 sq km)
Population (2008 est.): 225,369 (growth rate: 0.7%); birth rate: 14.3/1000; infant mortality rate: 9.3/1000; life expectancy: 76.4; density per sq mi: 234
Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Willemstad, 60,100
Monetary unit: Netherlands Antillean guilder
Languages: Dutch (official), Papiamento predominates, English widely spoken, Spanish
Ethnicity/race: mixed black 85%, Carib Amerindian, white, East Asian
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Seventh-Day Adventist
National Holiday: Queen's Day, April 30
Literacy rate: 97% (2003 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2004 est.): $2.8 billion; per capita $16,000. Real growth rate: 1%. Inflation: 2.1% (2003 est.). Unemployment: 17% (2002 est.). Arable land: 10%. Agriculture: aloes, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit. Labor force: 83,600 (2005); agriculture 1%, industry 20%, services 79% (2005 est.). Industries: tourism (Curacao, Sint Maarten, and Bonaire), petroleum refining (Curacao), petroleum transshipment facilities (Curacao and Bonaire), light manufacturing (Curacao). Natural resources: phosphates (Curaçao only), salt (Bonaire only). Exports: $2.076 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.): petroleum products. Imports: $4.383 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.): crude petroleum, food, manufactures. Major trading partners: U.S., Panama, Guatemala, Haiti, Bahamas, Honduras, Venezuela, Netherlands (2004).
The Netherlands Antilles are composed of two groups of Caribbean islands 500 mi (805 km) apart: the first group, composed of Curacao (173 sq mi; 448 sq km) and Bonaire (95 sq mi; 246 sq km), is located about 40 mi (64 km) off the Venezuelan coast. Originally inhabited by Arawak Indians, these two islands as well as Aruba were claimed by Spain in 1527 and then by the Dutch in 1643. The Dutch Lesser Antilles to the north-Saint Eustatius, the southern part of St. Martin (Dutch: Sint Maarten), and Saba-make up the remainder of the island federation. First inhabited by the Carib Indians, St. Martin was explored by Columbus in 1493. In 1845, the six islands (then including Aruba) officially formed the Netherlands Antilles. In 1994, the islands voted to preserve their federation with the Netherlands.
The Netherlands Antilles was dissolved on October 10, 2010. Sint Maarten and Curacao became constituent countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, like Aruba, which separated from the Netherlands Antilles in 1896. The islands of Bonaire, Saba, and Saint Eustatius became special municipalities of the Netherlands proper.