Netherlands Antilles, Dutch Nederlandse Antillen, Papiamentu Antianan Hulandes, group of five islands in the Caribbean Sea that formerly constituted an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The group is composed of two widely separated subgroups approximately 500 miles (800 km) apart. The southern group comprises Curaçao and Bonaire, which lie less than 50 miles (80 km) off the Venezuelan coast. The northern group is made up of Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Sint Maarten (the southern part of the island of Saint Martin; the northern part, Saint-Martin, is an overseas collectivity of France). Although the northern islands are locally referred to as “Windward,” they lie within the Leeward Islands group of the Lesser Antilles chain. The capital and largest city was Willemstad, on Curaçao.
After 1954 the Netherlands Antilles were an integral part of the Netherlands, with full autonomy in internal affairs. The island of Aruba, which lies to the west of Curaçao and Bonaire, had initially been part of the Netherlands Antilles, but in 1986 it seceded from the federation to become a separate Dutch territory. In 2006 the Dutch government and the remaining five islands agreed to dissolve the Netherlands Antilles within the following several years. The event took place on October 10, 2010. None of the islands chose full independence. Curaçao and Sint Maarten became autonomous countries within the kingdom, a status similar to that of Aruba. Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius became special municipalities with closer relations to the central government, similar to those of the municipalities in the Netherlands proper. This article discusses the Netherlands Antilles as a historical entity as it existed at the time of its dissolution.
The southern islands are generally low in elevation, though hills rise to 787 feet (240 metres) at Brandaris on Bonaire and 1,230 feet (375 metres) at Mount Saint Christoffel on Curaçao. The islands consist mainly of igneous rocks and are fringed with coral reefs. The northern islands consist of volcanic rocks rising to 1,119 feet (341 metres) at Sentry Hill in the Dutch part of Saint Martin, 1,198 feet (365 metres) at The Quill, an extinct volcano on Sint Eustatius, with a large forested crater, and 2,910 feet (887 metres) at Mount Scenery, an extinct volcano on Saba that is the islands’ highest point.
Curaçao, the largest island of the Netherlands Antilles, covers 171 square miles (444 square km). It is indented in the south by deep bays, the largest of which, Schottegat, provides a magnificent harbour for Willemstad. Bonaire, with an area of 111 square miles (288 square km), lies about 20 miles (32 km) east of Curaçao. Sint Eustatius covers 8 square miles (21 square km) and Saba 5 square miles (13 square km); the two form the northwestern terminus of the inner volcanic arc of the Lesser Antilles. Saba is dominated by Mount Scenery and is surrounded by sea cliffs. The villages of The Bottom and Windward Side, occupying an old crater, are approached by a steep road from a rocky landing place on the southern coast.
Unlike most other Caribbean islands, the Netherlands Antilles seldom depended on the export of sugar or other plantation crops, which could not grow well in the dry climate of the larger islands. Instead, Curaçao (and during the 18th century Sint Eustatius) developed into a centre of regional trading and finance, activities that, together with oil refining and tourism, became the basis of the islands’ economy. Willemstad in particular became an important Caribbean banking centre. Tourism and other services becameincreasingly important throughout the islands.
Agriculture, fishing, forestry, and mining play minor roles in the economy of the islands. Curaçao has some calcium phosphate mining; salt is processed on Bonaire. Sugarcane and cotton plantations were once established on Saint Martin and Sint Eustatius. Curaçao was at one time used mainly for livestock raising, but, after the overgrazing of land, new small-scale agricultural ventures were begun, such as the cultivation of aloes for pharmaceutical products and oranges for Curaçao liqueur. Aloes are also grown on Bonaire. Fish are important to the economy of Sint Maarten. Farmers on Saba raise livestock and cultivate vegetables, particularly potatoes, which are exported to neighbouring islands.
The main industry of Curaçao is oil refining, which started with the exploitation of Venezuelan oil fields in 1914 and the opening in 1918 of an oil refinery on Curaçao. Curaçao also produces liqueurs. Bonaire has a textile factory and Sint Maarten a rum distillery. Other factories produce electronic parts and cigarettes.
Curaçao refines and reexports a major portion of the oil extracted from Venezuelan territory, and petroleum and petroleum products are the island’s main exports. The entrepôt trade in the free ports of Curaçao is also significant. Curaçao’s foreign trade is mainly with Venezuela, the United States, the Netherlands, and several countries of Central America and the Caribbean. Most of the islands’ requirements of food and commercial goods are met by imports.
The islands have extensive road systems. There are international airports at Curaçao, Bonaire, and Sint Maarten; Sint Eustatius and Saba also have airfields. Curaçao is a major point of shipping for the petroleum industry, and Sint Maarten is a leading Caribbean port of call for cruise ships.
Finally, I will leave a link which includes all companies and enterprises in Netherlands Antilles, for those who want to research and discover more about this islands. Thanks for reading.
All businesses address in Netherlands Antilles: findsun.net/AN