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Welcome » Learn about Curaçao

Learn about Curaçao

We are more than just a couple of coordinates on a map.
We are an 18th century Dutch colonial village on an exotic island.
We are an array of uninhabited beaches with beautiful coral reefs and unique sea life.
We are diving and golf.
We are casinos and fine dining.
We are the city of Willemstad that has been recognized by UNESCO as one of six Caribbean World Heritage city sites.
We area little piece of Northern Europe in the Southern Caribbean.
We are Curaçao. Welcome!

Curaçao is located in the Southwestern Caribbean.
The island is just 70 km (44 miles) north of South America.

Curaçao location

What about the name?
There are different theories for the origins of the word Curaçao (pronounced kyur uh sow). The most likely explanation stems from the Spanish calling the island "Corazon" (Heart) at some point. The famous Portuguese mapmakers adopted this word into their own language as "Curaçau" or "Curaçao."
Today, locally, our island is known as "Dushi Korsou" (Sweet Curaçao).
Our History
The island of Curaçao was discovered by the Spanish in 1499 by Alonso de Ojeda, one of Christopher Columbus’ lieutenants.

The island remained Spanish until the Dutch conquest of 1634. In the 17th century, the Dutch became leaders in the international slave trade. Africans were enslaved from their homeland and were transported to Brazil and Curaçao where they were sold to wealthy plantation owners from across the Americas. At that time, Curaçao was one of the largest slave depots in the Caribbean. Today, however, the slave site is home to the Kura Hulanda museum, a remarkable exhibition on the horrors of the
transatlantic African slave trade.

From the end of the 17th century to the beginning of the 19th century, there was a good deal of trading places between the British and the Dutch, with the French also trying to take over the island. The French came close to succeeding, but left after extorting a healthy ransom. In 1815, the Dutch regained control of Curaçao, which had been in British hands since 1807. It wasn’t until the 1920’s and 30’s, when the largest influx of worldwide immigrants came and turned the island into the multicultural melting pot that it is. The “colonial” status of Curaçao and the other islands of the Dutch Antilles changed in 1954 when the islands became completely self-governing within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Today, Curaçao is a commonwealth of the Netherlands Antilles.
Over the years, the interaction between the Indian, European, African, Asian and Arabic cultures have influenced and brought about the development of Curaçao’s unique society.

Curaçao’s culture embraces many languages. Although Dutch is the official language, and English and Spanish are also widely spoken, many residents speak Papiamentu—a Creole mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English and Arawak Indian.

Historians believe that Papiamentu, derived from the Spanish “papear” (to speak or converse), originated in the 17th century as means of communication between slaves, who hailed from various African regions, and their Portugese masters. Unlike other Creole languages, Papiamentu is spoken through all levels of society. The language has become a major element of the island’s identity.

The first document written in Papiamentu was a 1775 correspondence between two members of a Jewish merchant family. In 1802 Britain’s governor abroad, Hughes, mentioned the language abroad for the first time in one of his reports, leading to Papiamentu’s official recognition.

Facts & Figures

Latitude: 12' north.
Longtitude: 68' west.
Size: 61 km (+/- 38 miles) long; 5-14km (+/- 3-5 miles) wide.
Capital: Willemstad (which is divided in two parts: Punda and Otrobanda)
Population: 138,000.
Language: 90% of the local population speaks Papiamentu, our native (Creole) language. The official language is Dutch. English and Spanish are widely spoken.
Temperature: +/- 30C (80F).
Religion: 80% of the population is Catholic; also Jews, Protestants and Muslims practice their religion freely.
Money: The Local currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (also called "Florin") abbreviated "Nafl." Or "Ang." It is pegged to the US Dollar at a stable rate of US$ 1 = Nafl. 1.77 for cash, 1.78 for travelers checks.
Credit Cards: All mayor credit cards are generally accepted.
Curaçao Utilities:

Electricity is 110-130 volts / 50 cycles.
Similar, but not identical to the U.S. standard.