The Full Wiki

Curaçao: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Island Territory of Curaçao
Eilandgebied Curaçao
Teritorio Insular di Kòrsou
(and largest city)
12°7′N 68°56′W / 12.117°N 68.933°W / 12.117; -68.933
Official language(s) Dutch, Papiamento, English
Recognised regional languages Spanish
Government See Politics of the Netherlands Antilles
 -  Prime Minister of N.A. Emily de Jongh-Elhage
 -  Governor of N.A. Frits Goedgedrag
 -  Administrator Lizanne Dindial
Constitutional monarchy part of the Netherlands Antilles 
 -  Total 444 km2 
171.4 sq mi 
 -  2008 census 140,796 
 -  Density 317/km2 (ranked as part of N. A.)
821/sq mi
Currency Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)
Time zone -4
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .an
Calling code 599

Curaçao (pronounced /ˈkjʊərəsaʊ/; Dutch: Curaçao, Papiamento: Kòrsou, Spanish: Curazao) is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Island Territory of Curaçao[1] (Dutch: Eilandgebied Curaçao, Papiamentu: Teritorio Insular di Kòrsou), which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao ("Little Curaçao"), is one of five island territories of the Netherlands Antilles, and as such, is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its capital is Willemstad.

Curaçao is the largest and most populous of the three ABC islands (for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) of the Lesser Antilles, specifically the Leeward Antilles. It has a land area of 444 square kilometers (171 square miles). As of 1 January 2008, it had a population of 140,796.[2]


Origin of the name Curaçao

The origin of the name Curaçao is debated. One explanation is that it is derived from the Portuguese word for heart (coração), referring to the island as a centre in trade, or it could mean healing (curação) for the plants that grow on the island. Spanish traders took the name over as Curaçao, which was followed by the Dutch. Another explanation is that Curaçao was the name the indigenous peoples of Curaçao had used to label themselves (Joubert and Van Buurt, 1994). This theory is supported by early Spanish accounts, which refer to the indigenous peoples as "Indios Curaçaos".

The most popular theory is that the Spanish named the island "Corazón" (Spanish for "heart") for its heart shape, which later became "Curaçao", derived from the Portuguese word for heart, "Coração".

After 1525 the island appeared on Spanish maps as "Curaçote," "Curasaote," and "Curasaore." By the seventeenth century the island was known on maps as "Curaçao" or "Curazao".

On a map created by Hieronymus Cock in 1562 in Antwerp, the island was referred to as Quracao.[3]

The name "Curaçao" has become associated with a shade of blue, because of the deep-blue version of the liqueur named Curaçao (a.k.a. Blue Curaçao).


Map of Curaçao in 1836.
Dutch architecture along Willemstad's harbor.

The original inhabitants of Curaçao were Arawak Amerindians. The first Europeans to see the island were members of a Spanish expedition under the leadership of Alonso de Ojeda in 1499. The Spaniards exported most of the indigenous population to other colonies where workers were needed. The island was occupied by the Dutch in 1634. The Dutch West India Company founded the capital of Willemstad on the banks of an inlet called the 'Schottegat'. Curaçao had been ignored by colonists because it lacked many things that colonists were interested in, such as gold deposits. However, the natural harbour of Willemstad proved quickly to be an ideal spot for trade. Commerce and shipping — and piracy—became Curaçao's most important economic activities. In addition, the Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a center for the Atlantic slave trade in 1662. Dutch merchants brought slaves from Africa under a contract with Spain called Asiento. Under this agreement, large numbers of slaves were sold and shipped to various destinations in South America and the Caribbean.

The slave trade made the island affluent, and led to the construction of impressive colonial buildings. Curaçao features architecture that blends Dutch and Spanish colonial styles. The wide range of historic buildings in and around Willemstad earned the capital a place on UNESCO's world heritage list. Landhouses (former plantation estates) and West African style "kas di pal'i maishi" (former slave dwellings) are scattered all over the island and some of them have been restored and can be visited.

Curaçao's proximity to South America translated into a long-standing influence from the nearby Latin American coast. This is reflected in the architectural similarities between the 19th century parts of Willemstad and the nearby Venezuelan city of Coro in Falcón State, the latter also being a UNESCO world heritage site. In the 19th century, Curaçaoans such as Manuel Piar and Luis Brión were prominently engaged in the wars of independence of Venezuela and Colombia. Political refugees from the mainland (like Bolivar himself) regrouped in Curaçao and children from affluent Venezuelan families were educated in the island.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the island changed hands among the British, the French, and the Dutch several times. Stable Dutch rule returned in 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars. The Dutch abolished slavery in 1863. The end of slavery caused economic hardship, prompting many inhabitants of Curaçao to emigrate to other islands, such as to Cuba to work in sugarcane plantations.

When in 1914 oil was discovered in the Maracaibo Basin town of Mene Grande, the fortunes of the island were dramatically altered. Royal Dutch Shell and the Dutch Government had built an extensive oil refinery installation on the former site of the slave-trade market at Asiento, thereby establishing an abundant source of employment for the local population and fueling a wave of immigration from surrounding nations. Curaçao was an ideal site for the refinery as it was away from the social and civil unrest of the South American mainland, but near enough to the Maracaibo Basin oil fields. It had an excellent natural harbor that could accommodate large oil tankers. The company brought affluence to the island. Large housing was provided and Willemstad developed an extensive infrastructure. However, discrepancies appeared among the social groups of Curaçao. The discontent and the antagonisms between Curaçao social groups culminated in rioting and protest on May 30, 1969. The civil unrest fueled a social movement that resulted in the local Afro-Caribbean population attaining more influence over the political process (Anderson and Dynes 1975). The island developed a tourist industry and offered low corporate taxes to encourage many companies to set up holdings in order to avoid rigorous schemes elsewhere. In the mid 1980s Royal Dutch Shell sold the refinery for a symbolic amount to a local government consortium. The aging refinery has been the subject of lawsuits in recent years, which charge that its emissions, including sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, far exceed safety standards.[4] The government consortium currently leases the refinery to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

In recent years, the island had attempted to capitalize on its peculiar history and heritage to expand its tourism industry. In 1984 the Island Council of Curaçao inaugurated the National Flag and the official anthem of the island. This was done on July 2, which was the date when in 1954 the first elected island council was instituted. Since then, the movement to separate the island from the Antillean federation has steadily become stronger.

Due to an economic slump in recent years, emigration to the Netherlands has been high. Attempts by Dutch politicians to stem this flow of emigration have exacerbated already tense Dutch-Curaçao relations. Immigration from surrounding Caribbean islands, Latin American countries and the Netherlands has taken place.

View of Willemstad.
Panorama of Curaçao, Willemstad and Queen Juliana Bridge at center.



Like Aruba and Bonaire, Curaçao is a transcontinental island that is geographically part of South America but is also considered to be part of West Indies and one of the Leeward Antilles. Curaçao and the other ABC Islands are in terms of climate, geology, flora and fauna more akin to nearby Paraguaná Peninsula, Isla Margarita and the nearby Venezuelan areas of the Coro region and Falcón State. The flora of Curaçao differs from the typical tropical island vegetation. Xeric scrublands are common, with various forms of cacti, thorny shrubs, evergreens, and the island's national tree, divi-divis. Curaçao's highest point is the 375 metre (1,230 ft) Christoffelberg ("Mount Christoffel") in the northwestern part of the island. This lies in the reserved wildlife park, Curaçao Christoffelpark, and can be explored by car, bike, horse or on foot. Several trails have been laid out. Curaçao has many places where one can hike. There are Saliñas, salt marshes where flamingos fly out to rest and feed. 24km (15 miles) off the coast of Curaçao, to the southeast, lies the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao ("Little Curaçao").

Sea Aquarium beach

Curaçao is known for its coral reefs, used for scuba diving[5]. The beaches on the south side contain many popular diving spots. An unusual feature of Curaçao diving is that the sea floor drops steeply within a few hundred feet of the shore, and the reef can easily be reached without a boat. This drop-off is known as the "blue edge." Strong currents and lack of beaches make the rocky northern coast dangerous for swimming and diving, but experienced divers sometimes dive there from boats when conditions permit. The southern coast is very different and offers remarkably calm waters. The coastline of Curaçao features many bays and inlets, many of them suitable for mooring.

Some of the coral reefs are affected by tourism. Porto Marie beach is experimenting with artificial coral reefs in order to improve the reef's condition. Hundreds of artificial coral blocks that have been placed are now home to a large array of tropical fish.


Curaçao has a semi-arid savanna-like climate with a dry season from January to September and a wet season from October to December. The temperatures are relatively constant with small differences throughout the year. The trade winds bring cooling during the day and the same trade winds bring warming during the night. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of 26.5 °C (79.7 °F) and the warmest month is September with an average temperature of 28.9 °C (84.0 °F). The year's average maximum temperature is 31.2 °C (88.2 °F). The year's average minimum temperature is 25.3 °C (78.1 °F). Curaçao lies outside the hurricane belt, but can still occasionally be smitten by hurricanes, as for example Omar did in 2008. A landfall of a hurricane in Curaçao has not occurred since the National Hurricane Center started tracking hurricanes. Curaçao is however several times directly affected by a pre-hurricane tropical storm, the latest which did so were Cesar-Douglas at 1996 and Joan-Miriam at 1988.

Climate data for Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.8
Average high °C (°F) 29.7
Average low °C (°F) 24.3
Record low °C (°F) 20.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 44.7
Source: [6] September 2008

Politics of Curaçao

The Queen Emma and Queen Juliana bridges.
The building 'Groot Davelaar', one of approximately 100 plantation houses on the island'

Curaçao gained self-government on January 1, 1954 as an island territory of the Netherlands Antilles. Despite this, the islanders did not fully participate in the political process until after the social movements of the late '60s. In the 2000s the political status of the island has been under discussion again, as for the other islands of the Netherlands Antilles, regarding the relationship with the Netherlands and between the islands of the Antilles.

In a referendum held on April 8, 2005, together with Sint Maarten, the residents voted for a separate status outside the Netherlands Antilles, like Aruba, rejecting the options for full independence, becoming part of the Netherlands, or retaining the status quo. In 2006, Emily de Jongh-Elhage, a resident of Curaçao, was elected as the new prime minister of the Netherlands Antilles, and not Curaçao.

On July 1, 2007, the island of Curaçao was due to become an autonomous associated state, under the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On November 28, 2006, the island council rejected a clarificatory memorandum on the process. On July 9, 2007 the new island council of Curaçao approved the agreement previously rejected in November 2006.[7] On December 15, 2008 Curaçao was scheduled to become a separate country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (like Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles are now). This dissolution is still planned, but has been postponed to an indefinite future date.[8] A nonbinding referendum on this plan took place in Curaçao on May 15, 2009, in which 52 percent of the voters supported these plans.[9]

Dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles is now scheduled for October 10, 2010.[10]


Public education is based on the Dutch educational system. Until recently, all instruction was provided in Dutch. Now, bilingual primary education in Papiamentu and Dutch is also available. Private and parochial schools also exist on the island. The International School Of Curaçao and C.A.P.S. (Curaçao American Preparatory School) provides education for English-speaking immigrants.

Higher education in Curaçao, as in the rest of the Netherlands Antilles, is good relative to regional standards. The main institute of higher learning is the University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA).


Although a few plantations were established on the island by the Dutch, the first profitable industry established on Curaçao was salt mining. The mineral was a lucrative export at the time and became one of the major factors responsible for drawing the island into international commerce. Curaçao also became a center for slave trade during the 17th and 18th centuries.

In the 19th century, phosphate mining also became significant. All the while, Curaçao's fine deep water ports and ideal location in the Caribbean were crucial in making it a significant center of commerce.

Curaçao has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean, with a GDP per capita of US$ 20,500 (2009 est.) and a well developed infrastructure. The main industries of the island include oil refining, tourism and financial services. Shipping, international trade and other activities related to the port of Willemstad (like the Free Zone) make a contribution to the economy. To achieve the government's aims to make its economy more diverse, significant efforts are being made to attract more foreign investments. This policy is called the 'Open Arms' policy with one of its main features to focus heavily on information technology companies.[11][12][13] For its size, the island has a considerably diverse economy which does not rely mostly on tourism alone as is the case on many other Caribbean islands.

Curaçao has business ties with the United States, Venezuela and the European Union. It has an Association Agreement with the European Union which allows companies which do business in and via Curaçao to export many products to European markets,[14] free of import duties and quotas. It is also a participant in the US Caribbean Basin Initiative allowing it to have preferential access to the US market.[15]

Prostitution is tolerated. A large open-air brothel called "Le Mirage" or "Campo Alegre" operates near the airport since the 1940s. As prostitution exists in most parts of the world, Curaçao has implemented a different approach on handling prostitution. By monitoring, containing and regulating it, the workers in these establishments are given a safe environment and access to medical practitioners. Despite this, it should be noted that the U.S. State Department stated,"Curaçao, Aruba, and Saint Maarten are destination islands for women trafficked for the sex trade from Peru, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, according to local observers."[16] Officials in the government frequently underestimate the extent of human trafficking problems.[16]



A Bulawaya dance

Because of its history, the island's population comes from many ethnic backgrounds. There is a majority of mixed Afro-Caribbean and European descent, and also sizeable minorities of Dutch, Latin American, French, South Asian, East Asian, Portuguese and Levantine people. The Sephardic Jews who arrived from the Netherlands and then-Dutch Brazil since the 17th century have had a significant influence on the culture and economy of the island. The years before and after World War II also saw an influx of Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, many of whom were Romanian Jews.

In the early 19th century, many Portuguese and Lebanese migrated to Curaçao attracted by the financial possibilities of the island. East and South Asian migrants arrived during the economic boom of the early 20th century. There are also many recent immigrants from neighbouring countries, most notably the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Anglophone Caribbean and Colombia. In recent years the influx of Dutch pensioners has increased significantly, dubbed locally as pensionados.


According to the 2001 census, the majority of the inhabitants of Curaçao are Roman Catholic (85%). This includes a shift towards the Charismatic Renewal or Charismatic movement since the mid-seventies. Other major denominations are the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Methodist Church. Alongside these Christian denominations, some inhabitants practice Montamentu, and other diasporic African religions. Like elsewhere in Latin America, Pentecostalism is on the rise. There are practicing Muslims as well as Hindus.

Though small in size, Curaçao's Jewish community has a significant impact on history. Curaçao is home to the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Americas, dating to 1651. The Curaçao synagogue is the oldest synagogue of the Americas in continuous use, since its completion in 1732 on the site of a previous synagogue. The Jewish Community of Curaçao also played a key role in supporting early Jewish congregations in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, including in New York City and the Touro Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island.


Curaçao is a polyglot society. The languages widely spoken are Papiamentu, Dutch, Spanish, and English. Most people on the island (85 percent) speak Papiamentu. Many people can speak all four of these languages. Spanish and English both have a long historical presence on the island alongside Dutch and Papiamentu. Spanish remained an important language throughout the 18th and 19th centuries as well due to the close economic ties with nearby Venezuela and Colombia. The use of English dates back to the early 19th century, when Curaçao became a British colony. In fact, after the restoration of Dutch rule in 1815, colonial officers already noted wide use of English among the island (van Putte 1999). Recent immigration from the Anglophone Caribbean and the Netherlands Antillean islands of (St. Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten)—where the primary language is English—as well as the ascendancy of English as a world language, has intensified the use of English on Curaçao. For much of colonial history, Dutch was never as widely spoken as English or Spanish and remained exclusively a language for administration and legal matters; popular use of Dutch increased towards the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century (van Putte 1999).

Historically, education on Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire had been predominantly in Spanish up until the late 19th century. There were also efforts to introduce bilingual popular education in Dutch and Papiamentu in the late 19th century (van Putte 1999). Dutch was made the sole language of instruction in the educational system in the early 20th century to facilitate education for the offspring of expatriate employees of Royal Dutch Shell (Romer, 1999). Papiamentu was tentatively re-introduced in the school curriculum during the mid-1980s. Recent political debate has centered on the issue of Papiamentu becoming the sole language of instruction. Proponents of making Papiamentu the sole language of instruction argue that it will help to preserve the language and will improve the quality of primary and secondary school education. Proponents of Dutch-language instruction argue that students who study in Dutch will be better prepared for the free university education offered to Curaçao residents in the Netherlands.

Effective July 1, 2007, the Netherlands Antilles declared Dutch, Papiamentu, and English as official languages, in recognition of the Dutch-speaking, Papiamentu-speaking and English-speaking communities of all the islands.

Classical and traditional music of Curaçao

There is a very rich tradition of Antillean waltzes, mazurkas, danzas, tumbas and pasillos that are popular in Curaçao. Besides this type of music, Curacaon composers have also composed music for ballets, for religious services (synagogue, Holy masses) and orchestral works. This latter music is often referred to as the Classical Music from Curaçao and Aruba. Some well known Curaçaon composers are Jan Gerard Palm (1831-1906), Chris Ulder (1843-1895),Joseph Sickman Corsen (1853-1911), Paul de Lima (1861-1926), Jacobo Conrad (1879-1918), Rudolph Palm (1880-1950), Charles Maduro (1883-1947), John Palm (1885-1925), Toni Palm (1885-1963), Jacobo Palm (1887-1982) Albert Palm (1903-1958), Edgar Palm (1905-1998), Wim Statius Muller (1930), Robert Rojer (1939) and Randal Corsen (b 1972).

The tumba is the most internationally renowned kind of Curaçaon music. Tumba is the name of an African-derived rhythm, as are seú and tambú. The Curaçao born composer Jan Gerard Palm (1831-1906) was the first composer to write music for the lyrics of tumba's. Tumba was known as early as the 19th century, and it is now a popular part of the Carnival Road March.[17]

Traditional work songs were very diverse on Curaçao, where they were sung in seshi (semi-Papiamento) or Guene. Lyrics were apentatonic.

Traditionally, Afro-Curaçaoan rhythms were often played in the muzik di zumbi style, which included instruments such as the benta (bow harp), gogorobi (rattlers) and flute, which created an ethereal sound.

Tambú (sometimes called the Curaçao blues) was first sung by slaves (mostly women) expressing pain and sadness, usually accompanied by the tambú drum and the agan (a piece of iron or ploughshare) or chapi (a hoe), along with clapping (usually only by the women in the audience).

Previously, drums were outlawed for slaves, and the bastèl, a large calabash in a water barrel, was used instead. It is accompanied by an erotic dance that involves no physical touching. The dance was so racy that the government and the Roman Catholic Church sought to end the practice.[18]

The seú was performed during the harvest festival during traditional times, but is now continued during annual parades in the city of Willemstad. Formerly the seú was a march through the fields, during which the workers brought the crops to the warehouses, the men playing drums, kachu and chapi, while the women carried produce on their heads. It was accompanied by a dance called wapa, which gracefully re-enacted the movements associated with planting and harvesting, often including work songs in Guene, the old slave language. As traditional agriculture began dying out with modern industrialization, the seú too began to fade away. The Curaçao Department of Culture now organizes an annual parade in Willemstad on Easter Monday, which sees as many as 2500 people or more participate.


Despite the island's relatively small population, the diversity of languages and cultural influences on Curaçao have generated a remarkable literary tradition, primarily in Dutch and Papiamento. The oral traditions of the Arawak indigenous peoples are lost. West African slaves brought the tales of Anansi, thus forming the basis of Papiamento literature. The first published work in Papiamento was a poem by Joseph Sickman Corsen entitled Atardi, published in the La Cruz newspaper in 1905. Throughout Curaçaoan literature, narrative techniques and metaphors best characterized as magic realism tend to predominate. Novelists and poets from Curaçao have made an impressive contribution to Caribbean and Dutch literature. Best known are Cola Debrot, Frank Martinus Arion, Pierre Lauffer, Elis Juliana,Guillermo Rosario, Boeli van Leeuwen and Tip Marugg.


Local food is called Krioyo (pronounced the same as criollo, the Spanish word for "Creole") and boasts a blend of flavours and techniques best compared to Caribbean cuisine and Latin American cuisine. Dishes common in Curaçao are found in Aruba and Bonaire as well. Popular dishes include: stobá (a stew made with various ingredients such as papaya, beef or goat), Guiambo (soup made from okra and seafood), kadushi (cactus soup), sopi mondongo (intestine soup), funchi (cornmeal paste similar to fufu, ugali and polenta) and a lot of fish and other seafood. The ubiquitous side dish is fried plantain. Local bread rolls are made according to a Portuguese recipe. All around the island, there are snèk which serve local dishes as well as alcoholic drinks in a manner akin to the English public house. The ubiquitous breakfast dish is pastechi: fried pastry with fillings of cheese, tuna, ham, or ground meat. Around the holiday season special dishes are consumed, such as the hallaca and pekelé, made out of salt cod. At weddings and other special occasions a variety of kos dushi are served: kokada (coconut sweets), ko'i lechi (condensed milk and sugar sweet) and tentalaria (peanut sweets). The Curaçao liqueur was developed here, when a local experimented with the rinds of the local citrus fruit known as laraha. Surinamese, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Dutch culinary influences also abound. The island also has many Chinese restaurants that serve mainly Indonesian dishes such as satay, nasi goreng and lumpia (which are all Indonesian names for the dishes). Dutch specialties such as croquettes and oliebollen are widely served in homes and restaurants.


For the past eight years the baseball team from Willemstad, Curaçao has made it all the way to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The team features players from ages 11 and 12 who get a chance to represent the Caribbean region. In 2004 the team from Willemstad, Curaçao won the title game against the United States champion from Thousand Oaks, California. The following year the team from Curaçao made it right back to the championship game but were defeated by Ewa Beach, Hawaii after Michael Memea hit a walk-off home run to win the title game for Hawaii. In 2007 the team lost to Japan in the International Championship game.

In the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Curaçan natives played for the Netherlands team. Shairon Martis, born in Willemstad, provided the highlight of the tournament for the Dutch team by throwing a seven-inning no-hitter against Panama (the game was stopped due to the mercy rule). In addition, Major League player and All Star Andruw Jones is a native of Curaçao.

The prevailing trade winds and warm water make Curaçao a very good location for windsurfing, although the nearby islands of Aruba and Bonaire are far better known in the sport.[19][20] One factor is that the deep water around Curaçao makes it difficult to lay marks for major windsurfing events, thus hindering the island's success as a windsurfing destination. Similarly, the warm clear water around the island makes Curaçao a mecca for diving.[21]

Notable people from Curaçao

Famous people from Curaçao include:

See also


  • Habitantenan di Kòrsou, sinku siglo di pena i gloria: 1499–1999. Römer-Kenepa, NC, Gibbes, FE, Skriwanek, MA. , 1999. Curaçao: Fundashon Curaçao 500.
  • Social movements, violence, and change: the May Movement in Curaçao. WA Anderson, RR Dynes, 1975. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
  • Stemmen uit het Verleden. Van Buurt, G., Joubert, S., 1994, Curaçao.
  • Het Patroon van de Oude Curaçaose Samenleving. Hoetink, H., 1987. Amsterdam: Emmering.
  • Dede pikiña ku su bisiña: Papiamentu-Nederlands en de onverwerkt verleden tijd. van Putte, Florimon., 1999. Zutphen: de Walburg Pers
  • Halman, Johannes and Robert Rojer (2008). Jan Gerard Palm Music Scores: Waltzes, Mazurkas, Danzas, Tumbas, Polkas, Marches, Fantasies, Serenades, a Galop and Music Composed for Services in the Synagogue and the Lodge. Amsterdam: Broekmans en Van Poppel. *[3]
  • Halman, Johannes I.M. and Rojer, Robert A. (2008). Jan Gerard Palm: Life and Work of a Musical Patriarch in Curaçao (In Dutch language). Leiden: KITLV. *[4]
  • Palm, Edgar (1978). Muziek en musici van de Nederlandse Antillen. Curaçao: E. Palm. 
  • Boskaljon, Rudolph (1958). Honderd jaar muziekleven op Curaçao. Anjerpublicaties 3. Assen: Uitg. in samenwerking met het Prins Bernhard fonds Nederlandse Antillen door Van Gorcum. 


  1. ^ English name used by government of Curaçao and Government of Netherlands Antilles (English is official language of Netherlands Antilles and Island Territory of Curaçao)
  2. ^ "Statistical Info: Population". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  3. ^ Cock's 1562 map at the Library of Congress website
  4. ^ "Curaçao refinery sputters on, despite emissions". Reuters. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  5. ^ Curacao scuba diving,
  6. ^ "Climatological Summary for Curaçao". Meteorological service of Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. 
  7. ^ The Daily Herald St. Maarten (2007-07-09). "Curaçao IC ratifies November 2 accord". Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  8. ^ "St. Maarten-St. Martin - Consensus, but no date set for new status". 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  9. ^ "Curaçao referendum approves increasing autonomy". Newser. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ IMedia
  12. ^ (2001-03-01). "Ecommerce at Curaçao Corporate". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  13. ^ "Economic Data Overview". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  14. ^ EU Trade Program
  15. ^ "USTR - Caribbean Basin Initiative". 2000-10-01. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  16. ^ a b Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2008, U.S. State Dept. p. 192
  17. ^ Ledesma and Scaramuzzo, pg. 301
  18. ^ "Curaçao Culture". Curaç Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  19. ^ "Curaçao's Caribbean sister islands, Aruba and Bonaire, are well known in the windsurfing world. Curaçao , which receives the same Caribbean trade winds as its siblings, has remained undiscovered by travelling windsurfers." [1]
  20. ^ Motion Magazine, June 2005
  21. ^ New York Times, Frommers Guide to Curaçao watersports. "Scuba divers and snorkelers can expect spectacular scenery in waters with visibility often exceeding 30m (98 ft) at the Curaçao Underwater Marine Park, which stretches along 20km (12 miles) of Curaçao's southern coastline". [2].
  22. ^ "Results of the 2009 Arnold Amateur IFBB International Bodybuilding, Fitness, and Figure Championships". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Curacao article)

From Wikitravel

Curaçao [1] is an island in the Netherlands Antilles, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea - one includes Curaçao and Bonaire, north of Venezuela; the other is east of the Virgin Islands. Curaçao is among the group known as the ABC Islands alongside Aruba and Bonaire. This trio is located near Venezuela, and are considered to be outside the Caribbean's so-called "hurricane zone." This means that vacations to the island are rarely disrupted by such tropical storms.

Punda, Willemstad taken from Otrobanda
Punda, Willemstad taken from Otrobanda


One of the most notable things about the island is its culture. This Dutch island features the pastel colors and building styles you'd find in the Netherlands. However, the people of the island have developed a culture, and even a language, of their own. Papiamentu (often spelled Papiamento) is the island's native Creole.


The native language of Curaçao is Papiamentu, which is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, and other languages. Most people from the island speak this language in addition to Dutch, English, and Spanish. Most everyone speaks English.

Get in

Those who want to travel by air can enter at Curaçao's airport, Hato International Airport (CUR). It is located in Plaza Margareth Abraham, not far from the capital of Willemstad, and accepts flights from many regional carriers, but has recently expanded to accept international flights from North and South America. To contact the airport by phone, call 599-9-888-0101.

Cruise ships arrive at Curaçao Mega Pier or the Curaçao Cruise Terminal. From these ports it's just a short journey to many of the island's popular tourist destinations. Travelers can also enjoy nearby shopping at duty-free stores. Larger ships will arrive at the Mega Pier, and smaller ships will dock at the Cruise Terminal.

Sailors can enter at ports in Willemstad and Spanish Water. While there is a Members-only Yacht Club at the latter, both have marinas at which seafaring travelers can dock their ships.

  • Rent A Car, Cars can be had for about $40 US per day, from a variety of merchants across Willemstad. Driving in Willemstad is pretty similar to most Caribbean locations, with aggressive drivers and loosely enforced traffic laws. If you are involved in an accident, local laws prohibit moving your car. You'll need to dial 199 for road service.
  • Taxis, Taxis are available all over the island and cost between $8 and $20 US (15-35 NAf) for a three mile fare. Prices are typically negotiable
  • Bus, There are two types of buses on the island, BUS and Konvoi. The easiest way to ride is to go to one of the two bus stations in Willemstad. These include Otrobanda Station, located across the street from the Rif Fort (see Willemstad) and Punda Station, at the post office, across from the Circle Market. For the most part, the Punda bus station serves stops along the Eastern side of the ring, and to the East including Salina, Zelandia, Mambo, while the Otrobanda station serves destinations West of the Bay, to include the Airport, Piscadera and even Westpunt. The destinations do not typically overlap, so a 10-15 minute walk between stations may be necessary for cross island trips.
    • Konvoi are large metro-style buses which run infrequently between major points in the city. Prices and routes are set at about 2 NAf.
    • BUS, on the other hand, are 9-12 passenger vans which look a lot like a taxi. You can spot a BUS by a cardboard cutout in the front windshield listing a number of its stops, instead of the yellow Taxi sign in the windshield or on the roof.
    • Unlike taxis, the BUS prices are not negotiable (1-3 NAf), but the route is. A common practice with bus drivers is to negotiate how close the driver can take you to your destination. Be sure to ask the bus driver if the bus stops near your desination before entering. You can pay the driver while the BUS is en route, or before exiting the bus. You can board a bus anywhere on the island by waiting at one of the ubiquitous yellow 'Bushalte' signs and waiving at a coming BUS or Konvoi. Taxi drivers will also try to lure you in. So make sure to look at the sign in the window or a license plate (that says BUS) to avoid paying high taxi fares. The bus schedule varies, from about 6am-8pm for most stops, and until 11pm or even midnight (and sometimes later) to Salina and Mambo. If you are ever lost during daylight hours, just find a yellow bushalte sign, and the bus should take you to either Punda or Otrobanda.
  • Museum Kura Hulanda, Willemstad. Phone: +5999 434 7765 [2]. Open Daily from 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. This anthropological museum chronicles the African slave trade as well as the cultures of Curacao. Entry: $9
  • Postal Museum, Willemstad.
  • Maritime Museum, Willemstad.
  • Queen Emma Bridge (a.k.a "The Swinging Old Lady"), Willemstad. A floating pontoon bridge that links the "Punda" (Point Side) and the "Otrobanda" (Other Side) of the Willemstad across the Sint Annabaai Channel. You get to see the bridge open and close to away marine traffic into St. Anna Bay. (In the event the bridge is open for a prolonged time, there is a ferry service across the channel as well.)
  • Queen Juliana Bridge, Willemstad. At 185 feet, this is highest bridge in the Caribbean (and one of the tallest bridges in the world.) The bridge overlooks St. Anna Bay as well as Willemstad. Note: The observation platform has been closed to pedestrian traffic.
  • Christoffel National Park, West Point , Phone: +(5999)/864-0363, [3]. A national park that is run by the by the Carmabi Foundation. Christoffel National Park is home to Boca Grandi, Indian caves where you can see paintings left by the Arawak Indians and Mount Christoffel. (At 1292 feet high, Mount Christoffel is the highest point in Curacao.)
  • Shete Boka National Park, West Point, Phone +(5999)/864-0444, [4]. A national park also run by the by the Carmabi Foundation, Shete Boka is home to the "7 boca's" including Boca Tabla and Boca Pistol (also known as "The Shooting Pistol") In season, some of the boca's serve as sea turtle breeding grounds.
  • Curacao Sea Aquarium, Bapor Kibra Z/N, Phone: +(5999)/461-6666, [5]. Home of the Dolphin Academy. This is one of the most popular attractions in Curacao. If you wish to do a Dolphin activity book as early as possible! $entry price (depends on activity you choose BUT paying for an activity (such as something at the Dolphin Academy) gets you entry to all of the Aquarium.
  • Hato Caves, F.D. Rooseveltweg Z/N, Phone: +(5999)/868-0379. Open 7 days a week, with tours 2 times a day. Coral and limestone caves that was carved out below the sea and born when the sea level dropped. There are beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations as well as water pools and a waterfall. The cave is also home to a colony long nose fruit bats. (Because of the colony, photography is limited and not allowed in certain chambers.)
  • Curacao Ostrich & Game Farm, Santa Catharina. Phone: +(5999)/747-2777. [6]. The Curacao Ostrich Farm is one of the biggest Ostrich farms outside Africa. The tour takes you around the ostrich pens and incubator. Meat from this farm is shipped to Aruba (Ostrich is a red meat, which is high in protein and low in fat.)
  • Fort Amsterdam, Punda Side, Willemstad. The seat of the Netherlands Antilles, Fort Amsterdam sits at the mouth of the harbor at the end of the Sint Annabaai Channel on the point. The complex has restaurants, shops as well as the Governors Palace.
  • Fort Nassau, Willemstad. Fort Nassau was built on the hill to defend both St. Anna Bay as well as part of the city of Willemstad. The fort is open for tours and there is also a restaurant that overlooks the bay.
  • The Floating Market, Punda Side, Willemstad. The "floating market" is actually a mini boat fleet that comes in from Venezuela and sells ultra fresh fish and fruit at the best prices. You'll find it roughly one block north of the Queen Juliana Bridge on the east side of the harbor mouth.
  • Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, 599-9-4611067, [7]. The oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere, with a sand floor and museum containing ancient artifacts.  edit


Curaçao's beaches are concentrated on the southern coast, especially the western side. Find these from Kaap St. Marie up to Westpunt.

  • Playa Kalki, also know as Alice in Wonderland, is located at the far west end of the island past the town of Westpunt. Kura Hulanda Lodge[8] has a restaurant at the beach and Ocean Encounters West[9] which is a full service dive shop. For a small fee, you have use of a dive locker for storage of personal items while diving/snorkeling and use of fresh water showers and equipment cleaning area.
  • Westpunt Beach
  • Playa Grote Kenapa, also known as Big Knip is a large sand beach west of the town of Lagun.
  • Playa Kleine Kenapa, also known as Little Knip is another beach past the town of Lagun. It is a nice secluded beach with plenty of shade trees if you desire to stay out of the direct sun. The bar/restaurant on this site operates on a sporadic schedule, so visit prepared.
  • Playa Jeremi is a small secluded beach slightly north of Lagun. There are no facilities here.
  • Playa Lagun, is a secluded bay towards the western end of the island in the town of Lagun. It is a small sandy beach on a rectangular shaped bay with tall cliffs on each side. The waters adjacent to the cliffs is excellent place for snorkeling. Both sides of the bay along the cliffs are teaming with a wide variety of marine life and corals. The left side of the bay has a greater variety of underwater structure for a better experience. The beach has the Discover Diving Curaçao[10] dive shop which also has a small restaurant.
  • Playa Porto Mari[11] is a large beach with a full service restaurant, and a complete dive dive shop including fresh water showers and restrooms operated by Porto Mari Sports [12]
  • Cas Abao is a beach on a plantation. It is a long stretched sandy beach with lots of facilities including huts, beach chairs, restaurant, fresh water showers and bathrooms.
  • Hook's Hut[13] is located on the Piscadera Bay. The location is a short drive a few miles west of downtown Willemstad near The Marriott and Hilton hotels. It has many beach amenities including showers/bathrooms, Hook's dive center and an excellent full service restaurant.
  • Kontiki Beach is is about a ten minute drive east from downtown Willemstad near Breezes hotel. Kontiki is a full service beach offering watersports, shops, beachbar and a restaurant.It is also serviced by Ocean Encounters[14] dive center.
  • Mambo Beach[15] Is next door to Kontiki beach and is the place where locals and tourists alike visit for the nightlife partying here.
  • Seaquarium Beach
  • Jan Thiel Beach
  • Caracasbaai
  • Barbara Beach


The Dutch Antilles Guilder(also called Florin) is the official currency, but The Euro(€) and U.S. Dollar($) are readily accepted. Automatic teller machines are widely available throughout th island, and many machines will dispense Guilders and the U.S. Dollar. Currency can generally be exchanged at local hotels, casinos and places of business. The exchange rate is generally pegged to the U.S.D. and stable. It is unlikely for tourists to be taken advantage when changing currency, but it is best to be aware of the current rates prior to arrival.

There are a plethora of random shops and markets around Willemstad offering clothing, souvenirs, crafts, and other goods. These include a duty free "enclave" in the downtown area. Offerings emphasize European goods, to include excellent jewelry, timepieces/watches and linens, plus the usual collection of souvenir shops. A water front market lies nearby that's packed with fresh foods and seen or shopped in the mornings.

On Sundays, however; most businesses except restaurants in the city are closed.

Waterfront Dining Willemstad
Waterfront Dining Willemstad

Local cuisine in Curaçao is a mixture of European, West-Indian and East Asian (particularly Indonesian) flavours. Dutch influences are found in the use of cheeses, bread and seafood, which are also important in Curaçaoan food. Indonesian cuisine, a migrant from Suriname, another of the Netherlands' former colonies, can be found on the island, and explains the widespread availability of Sate and Peanut sauce along with the islands more Caribbean fare. Also, Chinese "snacks" can be found all over the island serving cheap Chinese food. They cater mostly to locals, but most serve good food.



Curacao is littered with 'Snacks,' small bar restaurants which serve Chinese Food. These are typically inexpensive, double as convenience stores and bars, and are typically open later than most other restaurants which cater to local (rather than European) patrons.


  • Plasa Bieu, located in Punda, about 300 meters ENE of the floating bridge in Punda, is the favorite lunch spot of most, if not all, of the island's local-born population working in Punda. Open M-F, 10am-3pm, the Plasa Bieu has about five restaurants within it, serving Chinese, Jamaican and Krioyo (local) food. Try the Cabritu Stoba (stewed goat) at Grasia di Dios, for an excellent example of the island's local cuisine, at one of the only restaurants in Punda which offer it. 8-14 NAf
  • Downtown Cafe at the Hotel Estoril Breedestraat 179 (O), located 200 west of the Arti Supermarket, on the Otrobanda Side's main shopping strip (the Breedestrat/Roodeweg) Open seven days per week 7A-8P, 'el Estoril,' as the locals calls it, packs its seven or so tables full from about 10am-4pm, with Venezuelan, Colombian and Dominican expats. The Estoril serves a mix of local and latin dishes, all served in a more typically latin style. Order at the bar and sit down when a seat becomes available. You'll be expected to share a table if your party cannot fill it. 8-20 NAf.


  • Gouverneur de Rouville is a popular restaurant in Willemstad that serves a variety of continental European dishes in a wonderful atmosphere. Located Just north of the floating bridge on the Otrobanda Side, 25-45NAf.
  • Wilhelmina Plein Cafe located 200 meters East of the Floating Bridge in Punda, this cafe is a favorite among the island's many Dutch interns and businessmen. Wilhelmina Plein Cafe offers exclusively outside seating along a major pedestrian thoroughfare, with good food and one of the island's better beer selections. 18-28 NAF
  • Vincent's Cafe Copa Cabana is a relatively hidden cafe just East of the Iguana Lounge's Main bar along the water on the Punda side of the bay. Skip the overpriced and mediocre waterfront restaurants on the Punda side and go to Vincent's for great sandwiches as well as a number of good daily special entree's. Vincent's is an outdoor Cafe under the shade of a number of trees and the two buildings between which it is sandwiched, which also create a very pleasant breeze. 8-20NAf. M-S Lunch - 6:30PM.
  • Old Dutch Cafe Located on the Pietermaaiweg 500m East of the Bay on the Punda Side, the Old Dutch Cafe serves inexpensive Dutch cuisine with a Kitchen that stays open late into the night. 15-28 NAf. Closed Sundays.
  • Kontiki Beach Club is a seaside restaurant offering good food in an idyllic location right on the beach. It is a little outside of the city, but it is well worth the short drive.
  • La Granja is a Peruvian influenced local restaurant serving great latin cuisine, including excellent Whole Chicken, Lomo Saltado, and other great dishes. Sta Rosaweg 15-25 NAf. Open 7 days.
  • Il Forno is a popular italian/pizza restaurant with two locations, (Caracasbaai location and Doormanweg location) serving European (though not Italian) style pizzas with fresh and delicious ingredients. 15-30 NAf.
  • Kasbanini located in the Rif Fort, 100m South of the floating bridge on the Otrobanda Side, is probably the best of the Rif Fort's five or so mid level restaurants. Offering typical seafood and chops with a bit of local flair. 30-40 NAf. 7 Days, Lunch and Dinner.
  • La Pergola located in the Old Fort on the Southwest Side of Punda, is likely the island's best italian restaurant. Offering good pasta dishes as well as a few innovative 'secondi', La Pergola's quaint waterfront view completes an excellent dining experience. 25-40 NAf.
  • Ay Caramba is an American restaurant offering excellent American pub-grub with Tex Mex offerings as Well Located just below the Governeur Restaurant.
  • Golden Star is located on the Dr. W.P. Maalweg, on the way to Salinja. It serves local creole food and drinks, and is a good value for the amount of food you get. Prices vary from 15-25 NAf for a main course with sides.


Bistro Le Clochard

  • Bistro le Clochard, located in the Rif Fort, offering outstanding French Cuisine with a beautiful waterfront view, Bistro le Clochard is an excellent restaurant with superlative service. Open 7 days. 50-80 NAf
  • Scultpure Garden Restaurant located in the Kura Hulanda Hotel one block West of the Governeur Restaurant, Sculpture Garden offers excellent international cuisine with some very innovative specials
  • Amstel Bright Beer. Amstel Bright is a beer locally brewed by Antillaanse Brouwerij [16] which is a subsidy of Heineken International. It is a pale style lager an usually served with a wedge of lime.  edit
  • Curacao, [17]. is famous for the blue alcoholic beverage of the same name, now also available in yellow/gold. It is made from bitter oranges grown on the island.  edit
  • Tap Water. which comes from a large seawater desalination distillation[18] plant, is excellent tasting and perfectly safe for consumption.  edit
  • Breezes Curaçao, Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd 78, Willemstad,Curaçao, +599 97367888, [19]. Breezes Curaçao is an all inclusive beachfront resort. It includes three restaurants; Jimmy's Buffet(Continental and Island Dishes), Pastafari (Italian-style), and Munasan (Japanese Cuisine), plus a beach grill, and a children's snack bar  edit
  • Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino [20] has excellent restaurants such as the Portofino Restaurant and the Seabreeze Bar and Grill, which specialize in local dishes and fresh seafood.
  • Flamingo Villa, St. Willibrordus, Curacao, [21]. Stay in a luxury villa that sleeps 12 people with a private pool and overlooks the magnificent Caribbean Sea. Email:  edit
  • Hilton Curaçao, John F Kennedy Boulevard PO Box 2133, Willemstad,Curaçao, +599 9 462-5000 (fax: +599 9 462-5846), [22]. Email:  edit

Stay safe

Safety is not a big issue on Curacao. The locals are friendly, welcoming, and willing to give assistance. After all, a major part of their island's income comes from tourists. Just take normal precautions and use common sense.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also curaçao, curação, and curacao


Wikipedia has an article on:



  • IPA: /ˈkjuːrəsaʊ/ (British), (US)
  • IPA: /ˌkuːrəˈsaʊ/ (US)

Proper noun




  1. An island in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea off the west coast of Venezuela, belonging to the Netherlands Antilles.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address