Photos of Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean

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Flag of Curaçao


Curaçao, formerly part of the Curaçao and Dependencies colony and later the Netherlands Antilles, is, since 10 October 2010, a constituent country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is about 65 kilometres north of the coast of Venezuela, has an area of 444 km² and a population of around 160,000. Its capital is Willemstad: its centre with unique colourful Dutch architecture and harbour has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

View to Punda, Willemstad
Koningin Emmabrug, Willemstad
Penha building, Willemstad
Fortkerk, Fort Amsterdam, Willemstad
Governor's Palace, Willemstad
Café Copacabana, Willemstad
The Ritz Village Hostel, Willemstad
Scharloo mansion, Willemstad
Scharloo mansion, Willemstad
Berg Altena, Willemstad
Diocese of Willemstad
Statue of Queen Juliana, Willemstad
Hotel 'Scuba Lodge', Willemstad
Vegetable market, Willemstad
Bridge to Curaçao Maritime Museum
View to Koningin Julianabrug
View to Otrabanda, cruise ship
Koningin Emmabrug, Willemstad
Souvenir stall, Otrabanda, Willemstad
Briónplein, Willemstad
Typical house in Otrabanda, Willemstad
Renaissance Shopping Mall, Willemstad
Jacob Gelt Dekker Institute, Willemstad
Gouverneur De Rouville Restaurant
Mural in Otrabanda, Willemstad
Old slave quarter, Willemstad
Otrabanda houses, Willemstad
Rubens Lounge, Otrabanda, Willemstad
Old slave quarter, Willemstad
Mural in Otrabanda, Willemstad
In the Kura Hulanda museum
Punishment collar, Kura Hulanda museum
Breedestraat, Otrabanda
Breedestraat, Otrabanda
Santa Familia Church, Otrabanda
Colourful houses, Otrabanda
Belvederestraat, Otrabanda
View from Fort Waakzaamheid
To Westpunt from Kura Hulanda Lodge
Church of St. Peter, Westpunt
Playa Forti, Westpunt
Landhuis (Manor) Knip
View from Landhuis (Manor) Knip
Freedom proclamation, Manor Knip
Tula, Landhuis (Manor) Knip
Shete Boka National Park
Cacti, Shete Boka National Park
Curaçao International Airport

The name “Curaçao” may be of Amerindian origin - the name they called themselves. This seems supported by the Spanish: they called the Arawak and Caquetío people (who had migrated from the mainland centuries earlier) “Indios Curaçaos”. By 1515 the Spanish had almost all of the 2000 Amerindians transported to the island of Hispaniola as slaves and settled on the island in 1527. They imported European livestock, and the Spanish and the few remaining Caquetío herded cattle. Towards the end of the Spanish occupation, the island was used as a cattle ranch; agriculture was unsuccessful because of the island’s aridity. Many Spanish left, and the small population of Caquetíos actually increased.

The Dutch captured the island from Spain in 1634 and deported the 30 Spanish and many indigenous people to Venezuela. Dutch colonists allowed about 30 Taíno families to live on the island. The Dutch West India Company established Punda, on the south coast, as a walled city and developed it into a significant centre of the Atlantic slave trade. Pietermaai was built as a separate town in 1675, and in 1707 Otrabanda was founded on the other side of Sint Annabaai - the name is Papiamentu for “opposite side”. The natural harbour, an inlet called Schottegat, became an important trading place; on its banks, Willemstad was founded. From 1662 the Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a centre for the Atlantic slave trade: slaves were brought from West Africa and sold to work in the Caribbean and the Spanish-occupied mainland of South and Central America. Slavery was abolished only in 1863; the Kura Hulanda Museum in Otrabanda depicts this period.

In 1954 Curaçao joined, with the other Dutch Caribbean islands, the Netherlands Antilles, but discontent with the relationship to the Netherlands, unemployment and perceived discrimination led to riots in 1969. The Dutch government introduced far-reaching reforms, and Papiamentu, the Spanish and Portuguese-based creole the people spoke, became more prominent. The Shell oil refinery, which had been operating at a loss, closed down in 1985, after 50 years. Many people emigrated to the Netherlands in the late 1990s and early 2000s to escape economic hardship.

On 10 October 2010, Curaçao became an autonomous country, but, being within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the latter remains responsible for defence and foreign policy. The Netherlands has had to interfere to ensure that parliamentary elections were held and oversee financial matters. Tourism plays a significant role in Curacao’s economy, especially in cruise tourism: it was named a Top Cruise Destination in the Southern Caribbean in 2017. Willemstad is a major drawcard with its brightly painted buildings, and there are coral reefs for snorkelling and scuba diving. The port of Willemstad is a Free Trade Zone, and the island now has a high-income economy.