Nederlandse Antillen
Netherlands Antilles

Constituent country of the ‌Kingdom of the Netherlands
Flag of the Netherlands 1954–2010 Flag of Curaçao
Flag of Sint Maarten
Flag of the Netherlands
Flag of the Netherlands Antilles Coat of Arms of the Netherlands Antilles
Libertate unanimus
Location of the Netherlands Antilles
Aruba (1986) Flag of Aruba
Government Autonomous constituent country and parliamentary democracy
Legislature Estates of the Netherlands Antilles
December 15, 1954Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
October 10, 2010Disestablished
Area800 km²
- 2001175,653
CurrencyNetherlands Antilles guilder
Flag of the Netherlands Kingdom of the Netherlands Curaçao Flag of Curaçao
Sint Maarten Flag of Sint Maarten
Caribbean Netherlands Flag of the Netherlands

The Netherlands Antilles (1954-2010) was a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba left and became a separate constituent country in 1986. In 2010 the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved where Curaçao and Sint Maarten became their own constituent countries. Bonaire (|), Sint Eustasius (|) and Saba (|) have become municipalities of the Netherlands, and are now referred to as the Caribbean Netherlands.

Islands Edit

Aruba Edit

Main article: Aruba

Aruba's first inhabitants were the Caquetios Indians from the Arawak tribe. Fragments of the earliest known Indian settlements date back to about 1000 A.D. Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda is regarded as the first European to arrive in about 1499. The Spanish garrison on Aruba dwindled following the Dutch capture of nearby Bonaire and Curacao in 1634. The Dutch occupied Aruba shortly thereafter, and retained control for nearly two centuries. In 1805, during the Napoleonic wars, the English briefly took control over the island, but it was returned to Dutch control in 1816. A 19th-century gold rush was followed by prosperity brought on by the opening in 1924 of an oil refinery. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry. In 1986 Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's prerogative in 1990. Aruba has a mixture of people from South America and Europe, the Far East, and other islands of the Caribbean.[1]

Curaçao Edit

Main article: Curaçao

The Arawaks are recognized as the first human civilization to inhabit the Netherlands Antilles. A Spanish expedition led by Alonso de Ojeda claimed the island of Curaçao for Spain in 1499 and it remained under Spanish rule until the Dutch took control in 1634. Curaçao was a strategically important point for Dutch military advances against the Spanish and as the center of the Caribbean slave trade. Curaçao became the seat of the Netherlands Antilles Government in 1954.[2]

Sint Maarten Edit

Main article: Sint Maarten

The Dutch were the first to colonize Sint Maarten in 1631, but within 2 years the Spanish invaded and evacuated the settlers. The Dutch failed in an attempt to regain the island in 1644, but 4 years later the Spanish abandoned the island of their own accord. In 1648 the island was divided between the Dutch and the French; however, complete control of the island was seized numerous times in a series of conflicts. The British became involved as well, taking power for 6-year and 10-year stints. Finally, in 1817, the current partition line between Dutch and French was established. The island flourished under a slave-based plantation economy and the exportation of salt until abolition of slavery in 1863.[3]

Caribbean Netherlands Edit

Main article: Caribbean Netherlands

With origins similar to Curaçao, Bonaire was captured by the Dutch in 1634, and was a granary for the Dutch East Indian Company until 1791, when the government reclaimed control.[4]

Sint Eustatius

The first settlement in Sint Eustatius was established in 1636 and changed hands between the Dutch, French, and Spanish 22 times in its history. In the 18th century the island became a duty-free port for overburdened colonizers shipping back to the homeland, which propelled it into a major port with rapid population growth that lost momentum after the American-British peace treaty in 1783.[5]


Columbus was the first to sight Saba, but it was the Dutch who colonized the island in 1640 with a party from Sint Eustatius. Because of its difficult terrain, the island's growth progressed slowly, and it remains the least populated island in the Dutch Kingdom.[6]

History Edit

In 1845 the Dutch Windward islands united with Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba in a political unit. The islands' economy remained weak until the 20th century, when oil was discovered in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo and a refinery was established on Curaçao. In addition, during the same period, an offshore financial sector was created to serve Dutch business interests. Since 1954, the federation of the Netherlands Antilles (Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten), which is a constituent part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, has been semi-autonomous in most internal affairs. The Kingdom retains authority over foreign affairs, defense, final judicial review, and "Kingdom matters" including human rights and good governance. Aruba was part of this federation until January 1, 1986, when it gained a separate status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

About 85% of Curacao's population is of African derivation. The remaining 15% is made up of various races and nationalities, including Dutch, Portuguese, North Americans, natives from other Caribbean islands, Latin Americans, Sephardic Jews, Lebanese, and Asians. Roman Catholicism predominates, but several other religions are represented, which include Anglican, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Mormon, Baptist, Islam, and Hindu. The Jewish community is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, dating back to 1634. While faltering economic conditions caused the Netherlands Antilles to experience high rates of migration by citizens to the Netherlands from 1998-2002, this trend has largely been reversed in recent years.[7]

Government Edit

Current political relations between the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba stem from 1954 and are based on the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a voluntary arrangement between the Netherlands, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. At the time, the Charter represented an end to colonial relations and the acceptance of a new legal system in which each nation would look after their own interests independently, look after their common interests on the basis of equality and provide each other with mutual assistance. In 1975, Suriname left the Kingdom's political alliance. Since 1986, Aruba has had separate status within the Kingdom and is no longer part of the Netherlands Antilles. The Netherlands Antilles enjoys semi-autonomy on most internal matters and defers to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in matters of defense, foreign policy, final judicial review, human rights, and good governance.

The Antilles is governed by a popularly elected unicameral "Staten" (parliament) of 22 members. It chooses a prime minister (called minister president) and a Council of Ministers, consisting of six to eight other ministers. A governor, who serves a 6-year term, represents the monarch of the Netherlands. Local government is assigned authority independently on each island. Under the direction of a Kingdom-appointed island governor, these local governments have an Executive Council made up of commissioners who head the separate governmental departments.[8]

Politics Edit

In the parliamentary elections of January 22, 2010, the governing Party for the Restructured Antilles (PAR) increased from five to six seats in parliament and retained its leading position. A PAR-led coalition government was formed with support from the People's National Party (PNP), St. Maarten's National Alliance (NA), Bonaire's Patriotic Union of Bonaire (UPB), Saba’s Windward Islands People’s Movement (WIPM), and Sint Eustatius’s Democratic Party (DP). The opposition List for Change (Lista di Kambio - LdK) preserved its five parliamentary seats. The pro-independence opposition Sovereign Party (PS) entered parliament with two new seats. Coalition partner Workers' Liberation Front Party (FOL) lost the two parliamentary seats it had won in 2006, and support for the National Party (PNP) was cut in half from two seats to one.

Curacao continues to be a politically split island with a small edge favoring the Antilles dissolution process and current relations with Kingdom of the Netherlands partners. The government is preparing the Antilles for dissolution and pledged to keep the formation process of the new Kingdom political entities on course. St. Maarten and Curacao have opted for an autonomous status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands similar to Aruba's status. Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Bonaire have opted for closer ties (municipality-like) to the Netherlands. These entities are currently scheduled to emerge in October 2010, which will require new island elections in summer 2010. The target date for implementing these changes is October 10, 2010, but it is unclear if the target will be met.

Drug smuggling continues to be an issue for the Netherlands Antilles, but has been significantly reduced through intensive cooperation among Dutch and Antillean law enforcement authorities.[9]

Economy Edit

Tourism and the financial services sector have been the mainstays of the Netherlands Antilles' economy since the 1970s. The Central Bank reported that the economy of the Netherlands Antilles fared relatively well during the first half of 2009 amidst the global recession. Debt relief played an important role in this outcome, contributing to surpluses in the fiscal accounts and the current account of the balance of payments. The economy of the Netherlands Antilles continued to grow but at a slower pace. Real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2009 was estimated at 0.7% compared to 2.1% in 2008’s second quarter. The construction, wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels, and financial services sectors were primarily accountable for the contraction in the private sector. The slowdown in economic growth was attributable entirely to a contraction in private spending that resulted from a decline in investment. Private consumption growth slowed significantly but remained positive. The contraction in private spending was offset by an increase in government spending and in net foreign demand. The increase in net foreign demand resulted from a stronger decline in imports than in exports, related partly to the decline in oil prices. Lower oil prices also accounted for the further decline in the inflation rate. The annual quarterly inflation rate moderated to 1.7% and the 12-month average inflation rate to 4.8%. The unemployment rate in Curacao fell to 9.7% in 2009.

A decline in stay-over tourism contributed to fewer activities in the restaurants and hotels and wholesale and retail trade sectors. St. Maarten and Bonaire accounted for the decline, while Curacao still noted a small growth. This diverging development can be explained by the more diversified market structure of Curacao’s tourism industry; St. Maarten and Bonaire rely relatively heavily on the U.S. market. By contrast, cruise tourism continued to grow, supported by Curacao and Bonaire, while St. Maarten saw a decline in the number of cruise visitors. Overall, the islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region.[10]

Foreign relations Edit

The Netherlands Antilles conducts foreign affairs primarily through the Dutch Government. The Netherlands Antilles continues to strengthen its relations with other Caribbean governments. It has been granted observer status at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and in December 1998 signed an agreement with the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) that made the Netherlands Antilles an associate member.[11]

Officials Edit

Monarch Edit

  • Beatrix

Governor General Edit

  • Frits M. d. l. S. Goedgedrag

Prime Minister Edit

  • Emily S. de Jongh-Elhage, Prime Minister
    • Ersilia T.M. de Lannooy, Deputy Prime Minister

Ministers Edit

  • Roland E. Duncan, Constitutional and Interior Affairs
  • Omayra V.E. Leeflang, Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports
  • Ersilia T.M. de Lannooy, Finance
  • Emily S. de Jongh-Elhage, General Affairs and Foreign Relations
  • Elvis Tjin Asjoe, Economic Affairs and Labor
  • Omayra V.E. Leeflang, Public Health and Social Development
  • Magali M. Jacoba, Justice
  • Patrick G. Illidge, Transportation and Telecommunication


  1. The United States Department of State - Aruba - Background Note
  2. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  3. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  4. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  5. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  6. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  7. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  8. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  9. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  10. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)
  11. The United States Department of State - Netherlands Antilles - Background Note (March 3, 2010)

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