The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in the closet.
— Philip Henry Stanhope, 1805 - 1875

Netherlands Antilles


Netherlands Antilles

Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, the island of Curacao was hard hit by the abolition of slavery in 1863. Its prosperity (and that of neighboring Aruba) was restored in the early 20th century with the construction of oil refineries to service newly discovered Venezuelan oil fields. The island of Saint Martin is shared with France; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles; its northern portion, called Saint Martin, is an overseas collectivity of France.


The Netherlands Antilles was a former state that consisted of the following islands:

Lesser Antilles Aruba Bonaire Curacao Leeward Islands Saba Sint Eustatius Sint Maarten

Read more about Netherlands Antilles in our Netherlands Antilles travel guide »

Netherlands Antilles


Caribbean, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea - composed of five islands, Curacao and Bonaire located off the coast of Venezuela, and Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius lie east of the US Virgin Islands

Area comparative

more than five times the size of Washington, DC

Border countries

Saint Martin 15 km


364 km


tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds


generally hilly, volcanic interiors

Lowest point

Caribbean Sea 0 m

Highest point

Mount Scenery 862 m

Natural resources

phosphates (Curacao only), salt (Bonaire only)


228,693 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

mixed black 85%, other 15% (includes Carib Amerindian, white, East Asian)


Roman Catholic 72%, Pentecostal 4.9%, Protestant 3.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.1%, Methodist 2.9%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.7%, other Christian 4.2%, Jewish 1.3%, other or unspecified 1.2%, none 5.2% (2001 census)


Papiamento 65.4% (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect), English 15.9% (widely spoken), Dutch 7.3% (official), Spanish 6.1%, Creole 1.6%, other 1.9%, unspecified 1.8% (2001 census)

Government type



none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National holiday

Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX), 30 April (1909 and 1980)

Chief of state

Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980); represented by Governor General Frits GOEDGEDRAG (since 1 July 2002)

Head of government

Prime Minister Emily de JONGH-ELHAGE (since 26 March 2006)

Internet country code



5 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Bopec Terminal, Willemstad

Other countries in the region