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Drapeau de Curaçao
Carte de Curaçao

General presentation

Map of CuraçaoCuraçao is an autonomous state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The island is located only a few kilometers north of Venezuela and lies between Aruba to the west and Bonaire to the west. The three Dutch islands are nicknamed ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao).

The northeast coast (windward) is rocky and beaten by the swell and the wind while the southwest coast is protected and hosts cities, beaches and the majority of coral reefs. The vegetation is composed of a semi-arid savannah dotted with cacti and thorny shrubs.

It is not too much subjected to cyclones being very south of the Caribbean arc.

Rather flat, the highest point of the island, the Christoffelberg (named after Christopher Columbus) barely reaches 375 meters and is located in a wildlife reserve.

The origin of the island's name remains unknown. Several hypotheses exist such as the one leading to the word "cure" following the healing of many sailors suffering from scurvy or the word "heart" (in Spanish corazon) misspelled by a Portuguese cartographer Curacau transcribed Curaçao.

The capital is Willemstad. The other major cities are Westpunt and Barber.

On the economic side, the GDP/capita was 17,717.60 USD in 2021. The currency is the Antillean guilder.

Flag of CuraçaoAs part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is the head of state of Curaçao. The Governor is Lucille George-Wout, whose role is to represent the Dutch crown on the island. The Prime Minister in charge of the executive power is Gilmar Pisas.


The island of Curaçao is known to have been one of the main pirate haunts in the Caribbean. It was home to many buccaneers in the heyday of piracy.

The first inhabitants were the Caiquetos, a group of Arawaks who came from Venezuela in the 4th century BC to escape the terrible Caribbean warriors, the Kalinha and Wayana.

The island was landed by Alonso de Ojeda, a lieutenant of Christopher Columbus who took possession of the island on behalf of Spain. He called it "Isla de los gigantes" because of the population which was of great size. As they found no gold, the Spaniards transported the Arawaks to work on the island of Hispaniola and to serve as slaves.

In 1634, the Dutch took over the island and made it one of the focal points of their commercial enterprises. The Dutch West Indies Company was given the task of administering the island of Curaçao. Peter Stuyvesant was appointed Governor in 1642. He promoted agricultural plantations (peanuts, corn, fruit, etc.), while others created salt works.

Subsequently, Curaçao became the Dutch hub for slave activities. It is estimated that between 1640 and 1863, when slavery was abolished in the Dutch colonies, at least half a million black slaves passed through.

The various conflicts in Europe left their mark on the island, which was taken by the English several times, coveted by the French before being definitively handed over to the Dutch in 1816 under the Treaty of Paris. Slavery was abolished in 1863 leaving the island's economy in ruins.

It was in the 1920s that the island rebounded with the arrival of oil from Venezuela. The Dutch-British Shell Oil Company built one of the largest refineries in the world. Many immigrants came to work on the island which needed manpower for its refineries.

After World War II, Curaçao and the other Dutch islands in the area demanded more autonomy from the Netherlands, which gave them considerable administrative autonomy under the name of the Netherlands Antilles and then the Dutch Overseas Federation.

In 1960, there was much racial strife and social unrest. The closure of the Shell refinery in 1982 greatly increased the number of unemployed. Since its partial reopening in 1991 (leased to a Venezuelan company Coastal Oil Company), the government has implemented a policy to develop tourism on the island.

Finally in 2010, the island of Curaçao became an autonomous state under the protectorate of the Netherlands.


Curaçao has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean, in the top 50 GDP/capita rankings of countries in the world. Salt was first the major sector of the economy since the 16th century.

From 1920 onwards, oil refining became the driving force of the economy representing 90% of local exports. Then, tourism gradually became predominant, especially for North American, South American and Caribbean cruisers.

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