An introduction to Curaçao

An introduction to Curaçao

Although it’s only a small place this article cannot possibly cover all there is to know about the island of Curaçao.

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Beautiful island of Curacao

However, what it will do is introduce you to some of the general facts about the island and what you can expect to find there. Of course being a Caribbean Island it’s inevitable to think of it as a place of golden beaches, azure seas, lazy days and partying nights. One conjures up images of a diver’s paradise , a prefect holiday retreat or a honeymooner’s dream. Well, before starting to consider all those sorts of things – just where is Curaçao?

The Netherlands Antilles

The island of Curaçao is one of the six islands that make up the Netherlands Antilles, also known as the Dutch Antilles. The six islands are split into two groups of three, with the two groups being separated by over 500 miles of sea. The island of Curaçao is in the southern most group of islands, within 50 miles of the coast of Venezuela, South America. Associated with a Dutch sailing connotation these three islands are also known as the Dutch Leeward Islands, whilst their names; Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao – lead them to also be known as the ABC islands. To further answer the question of exactly where is Curaçao, you could only reply that it is about 30 miles east of Aruba and 30 miles west of Bonaire.

The island of Curaçao

Other general information about Curaçao includes the fact that it is the biggest of the Netherland Antilles islands measuring 38 miles by 9 miles. Whilst it has some stunning coves and sea-cliffs its beaches tend to be narrow with silvery sand. However the sea around the island of Curaçao is that beautiful azure blue that you’d expect to see. If you want information about Curaçao weather – what else can you say but that it’s Caribbean? That means it is typically a tropical climate with the variations that being an ‘oceanic’ or rather sea island brings to it. Experiencing no extremes of temperature the winters are warm and sunny, whereas the summers are hot and sunny. Most rainfall is between May and October, with the winter months being driest. Even then the annual rainfall on the island of Curaçao is only 23 inches a year. The main wind system is the North East Trade winds which can very occasionally cause hurricanes to pass over the island. Mainly as a result of the low rainfall the Curaçao weather has resulted in a savannah like semi-arid region in the interior of the island, where Candle cactuses and cunucu give the appearance of an American cowboy landscape.

A quick history of Curaçao

In 1499 the Spanish were the first Europeans to land on the island of Curaçao and in honor of the tall seafaring natives called it the Island of Giants. After exploiting the native population the Spaniards had no further use for the island and in 1634 the Dutch West Indies Company spotted the potential of the Sint Annabaai Channel as a natural harbor. To this day Curaçao is the seventh largest natural harbor in the world, not to mention the largest in the region. After the Dutch established the harbor and the island as a major trading destination it prospered for many years trading especially in salts, sugar, gold and slaves. As the sugar and gold trades diminished and slavery was abolished in 1863 the island of Curaçao slipped in to decline. The discovery of oil in the Caribbean Sea in the early 20th century resulted in a major oil refinery being built on the island, and the subsequent influx of workers created what is now a mixed society of some 150,000 people. The oil boom years were over by the late 20th century, by which time Curaçao tourism was becoming an important industry on the island. With its own island council Curaçao is currently seeking to become an autonomous associated state under the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Tourism in Curaçao

Curaçao and its neighboring Netherland Antilles islands have much to offer tourists. The island of Curaçao offers tourists an interesting mix of urban and rural/natural attractions, from the Old Dutch Colonial plantation houses to quiet little coves to relax in; and some of the best diving in the Caribbean. As you’d expect for a Caribbean tourist destination there’s plenty about Curaçao for you to explore and enjoy both by day and night.