Curaçao (pronounced [koor-uh-sou] in English) is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea off the Venezuelan coast. The island area of Curaçao which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of "Klein Curaçao" (Little Curaçao), was one of five island areas of the former Netherlands Antilles. Since October 2010 the Netherlands Antiles have been disolved and Curacao is now independent, but still a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its capital is Willemstad.
Curaçao is the largest and most populous of the three so called ABC islands (for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) of the Lesser Antilles, specifically the Leeward Antilles.
Effective July 1, 2007, the Netherlands Antilles declared Dutch, Papiamentu, and English as official languages, in recognition of the Dutch-speaking, Papiamentu-speaking and English-speaking communities of all the islands.
The local currency in Curaçao is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (also called the florin), which is abbreviated as Nafl. Or Ang. U.S. dollars circulate freely, so it is possible to get by using only American dollars or credit cards. Please note that vendors can rarely supply change in U.S. currency. The U.S. dollar is at a stable rate of Naf 1.75 for US$1.00.
HOW TO GET TO CURACAO
Curaçao has a modern international airport, and the island is served by a number of airlines. Connections can be made to any part of the world. The Curaçao International Airport boasts the longest runway in the Caribbean at 3,410 meters in length and 60 meters in width. The runway is capable of handling almost any type of aircraft including jumbo jets.
Curaçao has daily non-stop air services from the U.S., and daily flights to Venezuela and from the Netherlands. Curaçao also offers flights to Surinam, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and St. Domingo, Bonaire, Aruba and St. Maarten.
Curaçao gained self-government on January 1, 1954 as an island territory of the Netherlands Antilles. Despite this, the islanders did not fully participate in the political process until after the social movements of the late ’60s. In the 2000s the political status of the island has been under discussion again, as for the other islands of the Netherlands Antilles, regarding the relationship with the Netherlands and between the islands of the Antilles.
In a referendum held on April 8, 2005, together with Sint Maarten, the residents voted for a separate status outside the Netherlands Antilles, like Aruba, rejecting the options for full independence, becoming part of the Netherlands, or retaining the status quo. In 2006, Emily de Jongh-Elhage, a resident of Curaçao, was elected as the new prime minister of the Netherlands Antilles, and not Curaçao.
For the past eight years the baseball team from Willemstad, Curaçao has made it all the way to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The team features players from ages 11 and 12 who get a chance to represent the Caribbean region. In 2004 the team from Willemstad, Curaçao won the title game against the United States champion from Thousand Oaks, California. The following year the team from Curaçao made it right back to the championship game but were defeated by Ewa Beach, Hawaii. In 2007 the team lost to Japan in the International Championship game.
In the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Curaçan natives played for the Netherlands team. Shairon Martis, born in Willemstad, provided the highlight of the tournament for the Dutch team by throwing a seven-inning no-hitter against Panama (the game was stopped due to the mercy rule). In addition, Major League player and All Star Andruw Jones is a native of Curaçao.
In 2011 the Dutch baseball team became World Champion. The team was partially comprized of players from Curacao.
THINGS TO DO
Atlantis Adventures Curacao offer the Seaworld Explorer and the Trolley Train tour in Curaçao as well as several bus tours for groups. The prevailing trade winds and warm water make Curaçao a very good location for windsurfing, although the nearby islands of Aruba and Bonaire are far better known in the sport. Similarly, the warm clear water around the island makes Curaçao a mecca for diving.
Curaçao has a semi-arid savanna-like climate with a dry season from February to September and a wet season from October to January. The temperatures are relatively constant with small differences throughout the year. The trade winds brings cooling during the daylight and the same trade winds brings warming during the night. Curaçao lies outside the hurricane belt.