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Originally settled by Arawak Indians, Curacao was seized by the Dutch in 1634 along with the neighboring island of Bonaire. Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, Curacao was hard hit by the abolition of slavery in 1863. Its prosperity (and that of neighboring Aruba) was restored in the early 20th century with the construction of the Isla Refineria to service the newly discovered Venezuelan oil fields. In 1954, Curacao and several other Dutch Caribbean possesions were reorganized as the Netherlands Antilles, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In referenda in 2005 and 2009, the citizens of Curacao voted to become a self-governing country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The change in status became effective in October of 2010 with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles.

Caribbean, an island in the Caribbean Sea - located 56.35 km off the coast of Venezuela

Geographic coordinates:
12 10 N, 69 00 W

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

total: 444 sq km
country comparison to the world: 199
land: 444 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:
more than two times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:

364 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm

Current Weather
tropical marine climate, ameliorated by northeast trade winds, results in mild temperatures; semi-arid with average rainfall of 600 mm/year

generally low, hilly terrain

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mt. Christoffel, 372m

Natural resources:
calcium phosphates, aloes, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 90%

Irrigated land:

Total renewable water resources:

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

Natural hazards:
Curacao is south of the Caribbean hurricane belt and is rarely threatened

Environment - current issues:

Geography - note:
Curacao is a part of the Windward Islands (southern) group

142,180 (est. January 2010)
country comparison to the world: 188

Age structure:
0-14 years: 21.1% (males 15,337/females 14,589)
15-64 years: 66.7% (males 42,896/females 51,998)
65 years and over: 12.2% (males 6,972/females 10,388) (2010)

Death rate:
8 deaths/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 108

Net migration rate:
1.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 51

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.15 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.82 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.85 male(s)/female (2010)

Life expectancy at birth:
total: NA
males: 72.4 years
females: 80.1 years (2009)

Total fertility rate:
2.1 children born/woman (2009)
country comparison to the world: 123

Roman Catholic 80.1%, Protestant 5.5%, none 4.6%, Pentecostal 3.5%, Seventh Day Adventist 2.2%, Jehova Witnesses 1.7%, Jewish 0.8%, other 1.3%, not reported 0.3% (2001 census)

Papiamento 81.2% (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect), Dutch 8% (official), Spanish 4%, English 2.9%, other 3.9% (2001 census)

Country name:
conventional long form: Curacao
conventional short form: Curacao
local long form: Pais Korsou
local short form: none
former: Netherlands Antilles; Curacao and Dependencies

Dependency status:
constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 2010; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs

Government type:

name: Willemstad
geographic coordinates: 12 06 N, 68 55 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:
none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National holiday:
Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX), 30 April (1909 and 1980)

Staatsregeling, 10 October 2010; revised Kingdom Charter pending

Legal system:
based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980); represented by Governer General Frits GOEDGEDRAG (since 10 October 2010)
head of government: Prime Minister Gerrit SCHOTTE (since 10 October 2010)
cabinet: Executive Council
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually elected prime minister by the parliament

Legislative branch:
unicameral parliament or Staten (21 seats; members elected by popular vote for four year terms)
elections: last held 27 August 2010 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - PAR 30%, MFK 21%, PS 19%, MAN 9%, FOL 7%, PNP 6%; seats by party - PAR 8, MFK 5, PS 4, MAN 2, FOL 1, PNP 1

Judicial branch:
Common Court of Justice, Joint High Court of Justice (judges appointed by the monarch)

Political parties and leaders:
Frente Obrero Liberashon (Workers' Liberation Front) or FOL [Anthony GODETT]; Movimentu Antiyas Nobo (New Antilles Movement) or MAN [Charles COOPER]; Movementu Futuro Korsou or MFK [Gerrit SCHOTTE]; Partido Antia Restruktura or PAR [Emily DE JONGH-ELHAGE]; People's National Party or PNP [Ersilia DE LANNOOY]; Pueblo Soberano or PS [Herman WIELS]

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Consul General Valerie BELON
consulate(s) general: J. B. Gorsiraweg #1, Willemstad, Curacao
mailing address: P. O. Box 158, Willemstad, Curacao
telephone: [599] (9) 4613066
FAX: [599] (9) 4616489

Flag description:
on a blue field a horizontal yellow band somewhat below the center divides the flag into proportions of 5:1:2; two five-pointed white stars - the smaller above and to the left of the larger - appear in the canton; the blue of the upper and lower sections symbolizes the sky and sea respectively; yellow represents the sun; the stars symbolize Curacao and its uninhabited smaller sister island of Klein Curacao; the five star points signify the five continents from which Curacao's people derive

Economy - overview:
Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Although GDP grew slightly during the past decade, the island enjoys a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. Curacao has an excellent natural harbor that can accommodate large oil tankers. The Venezuelan state oil company leases the single refinery on the island from the government; most of the oil for the refinery is imported from Venezuela; most of the refined products are exported to the US. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with the US, Brazil, Italy, and Mexico being the major suppliers. The government is attempting to diversify its industry and trade and has signed an Association Agreement with the EU to expand business there. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Budgetary problems complicate reform of the health and pension systems for an aging population.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.838 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174
$2.606 billion (2007 est.)
$2.452 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$5.08 billion (2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
3.5% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 56
2.2% (2007)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$14,970 (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 15%
services: 84% (2000 est.)

Labor force:
63,000 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 1.2%
industry: 16.9%
services: 81.8%

Unemployment rate:
10.3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.7% (2009 est,)
country comparison to the world: 63
6.8% (2008 est.)

Agriculture - products:
aloe, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit

tourism, petroleum refining, petroleum transshipment facilities, light manufacturing

Industrial production growth rate:

Electricity - production:
848.5 kWh (2005)
country comparison to the world: 215

$876 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
note: excludes oil

Exports - commodities:
petroleum products

Exports - partners:
US 13.1%, Guatemala 10.8%, Singapore 10.7%, Dominican Republic 9.6%, Haiti 7.6%, The Bahamas 6.1%, Honduras 4.5%, Mexico 4.2% (2009 est.)

$1.34 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164

Imports - commodities:
crude petroleum, food, manufactures

Imports - partners:
Venezuela 57.3%, US 19.2%, Brazil 8.1% (2009 est.)

Exchange rates:
Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar - 1.79 (2009), 1.79 (2008), 1.79 (2007), 1.79 (2006), 1.79 (2005)

country comparison to the world: 232

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2010)

total: 550 km
country comparison to the world: 192

Ports and terminals:
Fuik Bay, Willemstad

Military branches:
the Royal Netherlands Navy maintains a permanent and active presence in the region from its main operating base on Curacao; other local security forces include a coast guard, para-military National Guard (Vrijwilligers Korps Curacao), and Police Force (2010)

Military service age and obligation:
no conscription (2010)

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


Information from the CIA's "The World Fact Book" 2010




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