The "Land of Curacao“Is one of four autonomous member states of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With the Antilles guilder (ANG), Curaçao has a special currency and its own national anthem. The Antilles island is 444 square kilometers and belongs next Aruba and Bonaire To the ABC islands.
Curaçao - View from the Mirador Kaya Guinea
The west of the island consists mainly of poorly developed landscape. The region is mainly dominated by cactus steppes with three to five meter high succulents. The east around Willemstad is densely populated. Most of the 160.000 inhabitants of Curaçao, who come from 65 nations, live there. Many locals speak several languages. Official languages are Dutch, English and the Creole language Papiamentu.
Willemstad - Sint Annabaai with the Queen Emmabrug
Curaçao - formerly the center of the Caribbean slave trade
The ABC islands were discovered in 1499 by the seafarer who was in the service of the Spanish crown Alonzo de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci. Contrary to what was expected, they found nothing useful on the three islands. They referred to the islands succinctly as "Islas inútiles", "useless islands".
Curaçao and the two neighboring islands were obviously not completely useless in the period that followed. In 1634 made the Dutch West India Company Curaçao became the center of the Caribbean slave trade. The business model lasted more than 200 years. It was not until the abolition of slavery on July 1, 1863 that the slave trade ended. As a result, the operation of plantations became less important for economic reasons.
After the end of the plantation economy, the island's inhabitants became impoverished. Other branches of the economy had to be found and developed. Petroleum was a key to success. Venezuelan crude oil has been processed on Curaçao since the early 1920s. Daily production is 340.000 barrels (54 million liters).
Willemstad - Oil refineries on Schottegat
The capital Willemstad owns with the Schottegat a large and protected natural harbor. The Dutch administration allowed the company Royal Dutch Shell to build an oil refinery on the north bank of the scenic Schottegat. The refineries do not fit into the landscape; together with the port, they ensure employment and prosperity on Curaçao.
Tourism is Curacao's second most important industry. Regardless of the environmental pollution caused by the oil refinery, a total of 2017 tourists visited the island in 399.000. You spent more than half a billion euros. Day guests arriving by cruise ship are not included in these figures.
Willemstad - Punda- Breedestraat district
In addition to the processing of crude oil and tourism, Curaçao has made a name for itself as a tax haven and offshore banking paradise.
Curaçao is sunny and dry. The average temperature over the year is 28 ° Celsius. Constant trade winds guarantee low humidity. Rain falls mainly in the months of November and December. And, importantly, Curaçao is outside the Caribbean hurricane belt.
The island capital Willemstad
The island capital Willemstad is the tourist and economic center of Curaçao. Willemstad is also the administrative, spiritual and cultural center of the island. At first glance, the lively, attractive and clean city looks like a Caribbean "Holland in miniature". Buildings in the Curacao baroque style, bascule bridges and markets are reminiscent of the motherland. The difference to Holland is made by the Caribbean sun, the pleasant temperatures and the colorfully painted buildings.
Willemstad - Handelskade on the Sint Annabaai
Willemstad's UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part of Willemstad has been under the protection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1997. The city is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Caribbean. The historic city center was chosen as it reflects the development of a multicultural community over the course of three centuries.
Willemstad - the Governor's Palace with the Waterfort and the Fort Church
With the Schottegat, Willemstad has one of the largest natural harbors in the western hemisphere. The two-kilometer branch canal Sint Annabaai connects the Schottegat with the sea. A rotating pontoon bridge and a high bridge cross the wide canal between Willemstad's districts of Punda and Otrobanda.
Willemstad - Koningin Emmabrug half open
Willemstad - a highly valued cruise destination
During the season, three or four cruise ships call at the two cruise terminals in Willemstad every day. In 2018, 297 ships and 761.000 passengers were counted. According to Raul Manatos, COO of Curacao Ports, over a million people will be visiting the city and island by cruise ship within five years.
Curaçao offers ship guests a variety of experiences. It is advisable to only explore the capital Willemstad on a first visit to Curaçao. Willemstad has two cruise terminals. Both are within walking distance of the city center. Under Curacao sightseeing let's name some of the highlights.
Update July 2022