Facts About Curacao (Location, Language, and Ownership)

Curacao, an underrated island in the Caribbean often overshadowed by its exciting neighbors, packs a punch when it comes to history, cultural quirks, and natural beauty. A long history of occupations and control from colonial powers has left a very interesting beautiful little piece of a Caribbean jewel.
Facts About Curacao
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From its many languages, multicultural and multiethnic people with a warm general attitude, the island is infused with just enough quirk that makes it interesting. With all these amazing characteristics, married with its unique beauty, the island has an enduring reputation.

What Does Curacao Mean in English?

A persistent account that originated from the 16th and 17th centuries pertaining to European explorers suffering from an illness due to a particular lack of vitamin C which then prompted them to be deboarded on an island.

When the ships returned for them, most of them were healed and recovered, most probably from fruits rich in vitamin C, native to the island. From then on, the Portuguese, and Spanish referred to the island as the “Island of Healing”, or Ilha da Curação, and Isla de la Curación respectively. It can also be that the island was once considered the center or the “heart” of trade – thus, “Coração” meaning “heart” in Portuguese.

How Do You Pronounce Curacao?

The word Curaçao originated from the Portuguese language meaning, “healing”, also spelled as Curação. It is pronounced as = KEWR-əss-oh/-⁠ow or KOO-RA-SAW.

How Did Curacao Get Its Name?

Several accounts pertain to the etymology of the island’s name and they all root from the island’s indigenous history, combined with the colonial implication of the former powers that once ruled over the island. Early Spanish accounts say that conquistadors refer to the island’s indigenous inhabitants as “Indios Curacaos”.

Since 1525, the island was called Curaçote, Curasaote, Curasaore, and even Curacaute on the maps. Eventually, by the 17th century, it was changed in most maps as Curaçao or Curazao. A persistent account that originated from the 16th and 17th centuries pertaining to European explorers suffering from an illness due to a particular lack of vitamin C which then prompted them to be deboarded on an island.

When the ships returned for them, most of them were healed and recovered, most probably from fruits rich in vitamin C, native to the island. From then on, the Portuguese, and Spanish referred to the island as the “Island of Healing”, or Ilha da Curação, and Isla de la Curación respectively. It can also be that the island was once considered the center or the “heart” of trade – thus, “Coração” meaning “heart” in Portuguese.

Where Is Curacao in the World?

Curacao sits on the northern side of the South American continent, just a few miles off the Venezuelan coast. The island lies in the southern Caribbean along with the rest of the ABC Islands, speckled across the Lesser Antilles. Curacao’s location north of the equator, and outside the Caribbean hurricane belt, give the island a distinct climate, that can be characterized by searing temperatures with constant gusts of wind that blows from the east.

Where Is Curacao in the Caribbean?

The island is located at the Southern Caribbean Sea, together with the other two ABC Islands, Aruba, and Bonaire. Curacao is approximately 64 km or 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela, in the South American continent that faces the Caribbean sea.

The island’s southern location in the Caribbean sea has situated the island at the outer edges of the Caribbean Hurrican belt, which stretches across the northern Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the state of Florida in the US.

Is Curacao in North or South America?

With its Southern Caribbean address and proximity to Venezuela in South America, you can consider Curacao to be South American, geographically. It can also be considered to be a part of the southwestern arc of the Lesser Antilles, but the ABC Islands, including Curacao are all physiographically a part of the South American Continental Shelf.

Its affiliation with the Lesser Antilles makes it an official part of the Caribbean, and the greater Kingdom of the Netherlands, making its association outside of the South American nations.

Is Curacao Near the Equator?

Curacao is approximately 1,348 km or 838 miles north of the equator. This proximity to the equator has made the island subject to searing temperatures in the summer, while also experiencing trade winds that blow through the island from the east.

Tourists may find this phenomenon to be annoying, as trade winds tend to be strong on certain months, however, locals would consider this a blessing. The summer season brings in the highest temperatures and searing heat, trade winds help regulate that heat and make holidays enjoyable for many.

Is Curacao Considered Latin America?

Its proximity to South America might make you think that it’s part of Latin America, but it’s not. Curacao is considered Dutch, and somehow defacto European, due to its affiliation with the EU as on OTC (Overseas Territories and Countries)  but it’s also Caribbean by culture, geography, and affiliation.

Even though a significant part of the population might say that it still speaks Spanish, it also speaks Papiamento, and Dutch – the official language. Making it far from a linguistically Latin American country.

How Big Is Curacao in Miles?

Curacao has a total landmass of 171 square miles, with a length of 38 miles, and a width of 9 miles, with a 2-mile narrow portion. Curacao is the second largest of the ABC Islands, with Aruba being the smallest.

Curacao’s size might be one of the factors that made the “center” or the “heart” of trade among the Spanish-controlled Caribbean, at a certain point in history. The farms and plantations built by the slaves in Aruba and Bonaire have made the ABC Islands indispensable to the Spanish and Dutch.

How Was Curacao Formed?

The island of Curacao you know today started to form and rise during the Cretaceous period. Just like the rest of the islands in the Lesser Antilles, specifically, the Lesser Antilles Arc, aren’t formed by a volcanic eruption, they are landmasses pushed out of the sea due to moving tectonic plates.

Some millions of years ago, three tectonic plates moved and pushed a tiny piece of land out of the ocean to what is now modern-day Curacao. This is why you’ll notice that Curacao isn’t as lush, and green as other Caribbean islands outside of the Lesser Antilles. The soil isn’t fertile, unlike volcanic islands.

Is Curacao a Volcanic Island?

Formed by moving tectonic plates that pushed the island out of the ocean millions of years ago, Curacao isn’t a volcanic island. This is evident in its particular lack of lush, green, and fertile lands. Curacao typically has more of a desert-type terrain -which makes the island particularly different in the Caribbean.

Is Curacao a Desert Island?

Islands in the Lesser Antilles Arc, particularly the ABC Islands are known to have distinct terrain, the island’s significant lack of lush and green vegetation is due to its infertile land. You can trace back the island’s desert-type terrain from its formation millions of years ago.

The movement of three tectonic plates causes landmasses in the present-day Lesser Antilles Arc to rise giving birth to a group of islands that we all know today. However, as they aren’t volcanic islands – made up of hardened lava from a volcanic eruption, the land isn’t as fertile as the rest of the Caribbean islands are.

What Is the History of Curacao?

If you’ve read about, or deliberately educated yourself on the histories of its sister islands, Aruba and Bonaire, you can probably guess how Curacao’s history is written. A lot of it comes down to occupation, colonization, and a series of conquests and retaking.

First, the island was initially discovered by the Spanish, by the explorer Alonso de Ojeda in 1499. The Spaniards then took control of the island and enslaved most of the Arawak people, the island’s indigenous people, along with the Caquetio Amerindians. The slaves were deported and sent to the colony of Hispaniola (the present-day Dominican Republic and Haiti).

This persisted throughout the 16th century, which served the conquests of the Spanish in South America. Until, the arrival of the Dutch in 1634, where they have won their independence from Spain, and established the Dutch West India Company, where it invaded Curacao and defeated the occupying Spanish.

It was the Dutch that made the island become a center for trade – including the slave trade. The West India Company also founded the capital of Willemstad on the banks of an inlet, which makes it an ideal place for trade. Commerce and shipping became Curacao’s most important economic activity.

However, just like most accounts of history around the world, the wheels of time and progress can only be run by even more inversions. This time by the two most powerful colonial powers, the British. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the British attacked the island multiple times where they caused more damage in 1800, 1804, and from 1807 to 1815.

After the Napoleonic Wars, the Dutch returned to Curacao and the ABC Islands in 1815. The island was then officially considered as a Dutch colony, along with many present-day Dutch Caribbean islands.

As the Dutch continued to reign on the southern Caribbean, with more immigrants coming in from Portugal and Lebanon due to its thriving business sector. The Dutch eventually abolished slavery in 1863, shifting the island’s economy to wage labor.

In 1954, Curacao was joined with the other Dutch colonies in the Caribbean, into the Netherlands Antilles, and was ruled by the Dutch until, the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010. Which then allowed for the former member island-nations whether to retain as a territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, or a separate country within the Kingdom. Or, total autonomy and independence altogether.

Curacao voted to become a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This means that the Dutch helm still oversees the island’s finance, defense, and foreign policy. Curacao’s constituent country status also granted Curacaoans certain privileges within the EU, being under the Dutch on foreign policy.

Today, with a long history of invasions, occupancies, and retakings, Curacao is left with an interesting blend of influences from its colonial past, most notably its Dutch roots. While a problematic past might linger in the cultural undertones of Curacao, you can tell that the island prides itself on its rich blended history. Not to mention, the island’s many interesting twists.

What Is the Culture of Curacao?

Due to its diverse population, several colonial influences, Curacao is now left with many backgrounds, that are home to a majority of Latin Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, along with the Dutch, French, and Asian. Bringing in a wealth of mixed cultures that is evident in its cuisine, language, social attitudes, and architecture.

From the historical colonial giants that powered throughout the island’s history, you can easily feel the influences on the island’s cultural undertones. The Dutch and the Spanish probably left the largest imprints on the island’s culture and society – especially with Dutch as the official language, and Spanish, a linguistic majority.

What Is the Main Religion in Curacao?

The majority of the island’s population adhere to the Roman Catholic faith, with minorities of the Protestant faith of both the evangelical and other low-church denominations. Other Christian denominations present on the island are the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the methodist church.

What Do You Call a Person From Curacao?

In standard English, you can call Curacao-natives, Curacaoan, or Curacaoans for the plural form. Determining the racial makeup of Curacaons is hard to determine. However, it’s one thing to connote that Curacaons are racially and ethno-linguistically diverse, thanks to its, then again, mixed history.

You can see Afro-Caribbeans, White, usually Dutch, French, Portuguese, and a few British. Due to its proximity to South America, particularly Venezuela, the island also has a significant Latin American that came to the island due to immigration during the 20th and 21st centuries.

What European Country Governs Curacao?

Although Curacao has certain autonomies being a constituent country, its finances, and external affairs are governed by the Dutch helm. Along with Aruba, and Sint Maarten, Curacao is a separate country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

This is rather a complex arrangement, as internal affairs of the island are ruled by a Governor representing the Kings of the Netherlands, and the Prime Minister as the headship of the government.

What Kind of Government Does Curacao Have?

Curacao has parliamentary democracy in place with an independent legal system, primarily based on the Dutch civil law with the underlying premises of freedom of association, right to form political parties, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. All under the headship of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister acts as head of the government, with the island nation has full responsibility to carry out its own internal affairs. However, defense and foreign affairs are helmed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. While the sovereign state is ruled by the King of Netherlands under the form of Constitutional Monarchy.

Why Is Curacao Dutch?

Due to the Dutch’s long-standing settlement and control among the ABC Islands, the Dutch culture has long been integrated into Curacao. Long after the dissolution of the Netherland Antilles, Curacao is still a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

What Other Countries Have Influenced Curacao’s Culture?

Other than the Dutch, which is for the record, its longest-standing influencer, and currently acting as its sovereign state, few other countries have influenced and helped shape Curacao’s culture. Neighboring Latin American and Caribbean countries, especially Venezuela has influenced much of Curacao’s culture, from food to language.

Currently, just like most of the western world, Curacao is also influenced by the US, one of its biggest trading partners and largest tourist demographic. From the increasing usage of the English language to US entertainment, the US has also influenced Curacao to what it is now, and what is probably going to be in the future.

Is Curacao an Independent Nation?

Curacao is a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. While it has its autonomies, the island is not an independent nation. Its own government rules its domestic affairs, while the external affairs and finances are governed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Curacaoan government is under the headship of the Prime Minister, representing the King. The island enjoys full freedom and responsibility which can often feel like it’s an independent nation, as the Dutch usually interferes on matters such as foreign affairs, and international relations.

Is Curacao a UN Member?

Curacao’s foreign affairs and international relations are governed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands officially making the island a member of the global association. However, the island acts as one with the sovereign state along with other consistent countries and official territories within the Kingdom.

Is Curacao Part of the European Union?

While the island is a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it doesn’t automatically grant it an EU Membership, but the citizens do have privileges, such as traveling in any EU-member states. Curacao is considered an EU OCT or Overseas Countries and Territories, along with other Dutch Caribbean countries such as Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten.

Is Curacao a Schengen Country?

Even though the island nation is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curacao, along with Aruba, Bonaire, and the Dutch Caribbean, isn’t a Schengen country and is therefore not exempted from the visa requirement when traveling around the Schengen area.

Is Curacao in Europe?

Curacao sits in the southern Caribbean, north of South America, just off the coast of Venezuela. Curacao is far from the European mainland, despite being a country within the European Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Is Curacao Mexican?

Despite the island having significant Latin American demographic and cultural influences, Curacao isn’t Mexican, and its largest Latino American demographic is mostly made up of Venezuelans and Colombians.

Is Curacao a US Territory?

Sitting far south of the US mainland, Curacao isn’t a US Territory, and despite the US’ control of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, Curacao hasn’t been occupied and controlled by the US at any point in history. Apart from the large crowds of US American tourists yearly that flock around the ABC Islands.

If you lookup Curacao’s tourist demographics, US Americans would make up the largest percentage annually, apart from tourists coming from Europe, the UK, Canada, and Australia. The US is also one of Curacao’s biggest trading partners and influencers when it comes to entertainment.

What Is the Capital of Curacao?

The capital of Curacao is Willemstad, located southeast of the island, and the only cosmopolitan area in Curacao, complete with local attractions, cultural centers, and vibrant city living. The city has a land area of 117 sq. kilometers and surrounds a natural inlet called the Schottegat which makes it ideal for trade back in its conception.

Why Was Willemstad Built?

Its natural inlet called the Schottegat, also currently called the Schottegat Harbour, makes the area suitable for the trade of all kinds back in the colonial days, including the slave trade. The inland protects the internal parts of the city as well. The city served as the capital of the Netherlands Antilles until its dissolution in 2010.

Willemstad’s potential made it modern-day Curacao’s center of trade, petroleum, storage and refining, tourism, and banking. Now, from its Dutch colonial influences, the city is speckled with Dutch-style gabled houses that decorate the cityscape, raking in a plethora of tourist attention.

What Language Does Curacao Speak?

Curacao’s official language is Dutch, used in politics, education, and business. However, the most widely used, usually in social contexts and daily life is Papiamentu or Papiamento. A Portuguese-based creole language with borrowings and influences from Dutch, Spanish, and several African dialects, usually from the Afro-Caribs.

English is also widely used in the tourism and trade industry due to the global influence of the US particularly on this side of the Atlantic. Due to the heavy migration of Hispanics from Latin America, Spanish is also spoken by a significant part of the population.

What Is the Official Language of Curacao?

Dutch is the island’s official language, widely used in politics, business, and education. But the most commonly used is Papiamentu, a Portuguese-based creole, English, by the tourism and trade sector, and Spanish.

What Does Dushi Mean in Curacao?

Dushi can mean a lot of things as it is a widely used Papiamentu local expression in Curacao. The expression mostly means “sweet, nice, lovely, or good”, or basically anything that denotes a positive characteristic.

How Do You Say Thank You in Curacao?

To say thank you in Papiamentu, you can say “danki”, this is an obvious cognate of the Dutch for thank you “dank” or “dank u/je”. But, you can simply say “thank you”, as Curacaoans can generally understand and speak English.

Do They Speak English in Curacao?

English is also widely used in the tourism and trade industry due to the global influence of the US particularly on this side of the Atlantic. This is one of the draws of visiting Curacao.

You can easily communicate with the locals, especially those who work in tourism, making it easier to explore and enjoy the island. However, throwing in a little Papiamentu or Dutch goes a long way as well.

Is Curacao a Spanish Speaking Country?

The island has a significant Latin American population but it’s not a Spanish-speaking country. The country mainly speaks Papiamentu and Dutch, officially.

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