Netherlands Antilles

Introduction Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, the island of 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 oil refineries to service the newly discovered Venezuelan oil fields. The island of Saint Martin is shared with France; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles; its northern portion, called Saint Martin, is an overseas collectivity of France.
History

Both the leeward (Alonso de Ojeda, 1499) and windward (Christopher Columbus, 1493) island groups were discovered and initially settled by Spain. In the 17th century, the islands were conquered by the Dutch West India Company and were used as military outposts and trade bases, most prominent the slave trade. Slavery was abolished in1863.

In 1954, the status of the islands was up-graded from a colonial territory to a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country within the kingdom. The island of Aruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles until 1986, when it was granted status aparte, becoming yet another part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country within the kingdom.

Between June 2000 and April 2005, each island of the Netherlands Antilles had a referendum on its future status. The four options that could be voted on were:
closer ties with the Netherlands
remaining within the Netherlands Antilles
autonomy as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (status aparte)
independence

Of the five islands, Sint Maarten and Curaçao voted for status aparte, Saba and Bonaire voted for closer ties to the Netherlands, and Sint Eustatius voted to stay within the Netherlands Antilles.

Geography Location: Caribbean, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea - composed of five islands, Curacao and Bonaire located off the coast of Venezuela, and Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius lie east of the US Virgin Islands
Geographic coordinates: 12 15 N, 68 45 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 960 sq km
land: 960 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin)
Area - comparative: more than five times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 15 km
border countries: Saint Martin 15 km
Coastline: 364 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds
Terrain: generally hilly, volcanic interiors
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Scenery 862 m
Natural resources: phosphates (Curacao only), salt (Bonaire only)
Land use: arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 90% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are subject to hurricanes from July to October; Curacao and Bonaire are south of Caribbean hurricane belt and are rarely threatened
Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles are divided geographically into the Leeward Islands (northern) group (Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten) and the Windward Islands (southern) group (Bonaire and Curacao); the island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten
Politics

The head of state is the ruling monarch of the Netherlands, who is represented in the Netherlands Antilles by a governor. A council of ministers, chaired by a prime minister, forms the local government. Together with the governor, who holds responsibility for external affairs and defense, it forms the executive branch of the government.

The legislative branch is two-layered. Delegates of the islands are represented in the government of the Netherlands Antilles, but each island has its own government that takes care of the daily affairs on the island.

The Netherlands Antilles are not part of the European Union. Since 2006 the Islands have given rise to diplomatic disputes between Venezuela and the Netherlands. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez claims that the Netherlands may allow the United States to install military bases that would be necessary for a planned U.S. invasion of Venezuela. On May 23, 2006 an international military manoeuver known as Joint Caribbean Lion 2006, including forces of the U.S. Navy, began.

People Population: 225,369 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 26,749/female 25,467)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 73,319/female 78,842)
65 years and over: 9.3% (male 8,541/female 12,451) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 33.4 years
male: 31.6 years
female: 35.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.754% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.37 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.43 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.64 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.45 years
male: 74.15 years
female: 78.87 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Dutch Antillean(s)
adjective: Dutch Antillean
Ethnic groups: mixed black 85%, other 15% (includes Carib Amerindian, white, East Asian)
Religions: Roman Catholic 72%, Pentecostal 4.9%, Protestant 3.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.1%, Methodist 2.9%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.7%, other Christian 4.2%, Jewish 1.3%, other or unspecified 1.2%, none 5.2% (2001 census)
Languages: Papiamento 65.4% (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect), English 15.9% (widely spoken), Dutch 7.3% (official), Spanish 6.1%, Creole 1.6%, other 1.9%, unspecified 1.8% (2001 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.7%
male: 96.7%
female: 96.8% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Netherlands Antilles
local long form: none
local short form: Nederlandse Antillen
former: Curacao and Dependencies
Dependency status: an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 1954; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs
Government type: parliamentary
Capital: name: Willemstad (on Curacao)
geographic coordinates: 12 06 N, 68 56 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
note: each island has its own government
Independence: 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)
Constitution: 29 December 1954, Statute of the Realm of the Netherlands, as amended
Legal system: based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980); represented by Governor General Frits GOEDGEDRAG (since 1 July 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Emily de JONGH-ELHAGE (since 26 March 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the Staten (legislature)
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch for a six-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually elected prime minister by the Staten; election last held 27 January 2006 (next to be held by 2010)
note: government coalition - PAR, PNP, DP-St. M, UPB, WIPM Saba, DP-St. E
Legislative branch: unicameral States or Staten (22 seats, Curacao 14, Bonaire 3, St. Maarten 3, St. Eustatius 1, Saba 1; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 27 January 2006 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PAR 5, MAN 3, FOL 2, Forsa Korsou 2, National Alliance 2, PNP 2, UPB 2, DP-St. E 1, DP-St. M 1, PDB 1, WIPM 1
note: the government is a coalition of several parties
Judicial branch: Joint High Court of Justice (judges appointed by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders: Bonaire: Democratic Party of Bonaire or PDB [Jopi ABRAHAM]; Patriotic Union of Bonaire or UPB [Ramonsito BOOI]
Curacao: Ban Vota [Norbert GEORGE]; C-93 [Stanley BROWN]; Democratic Party of Curacao or DP [Errol HERNANDEZ]; E Mayoria [Aurelio PEDRO]; Forsa Korsou [Nelson NAVARRO]; Liste Ni'un Paso Atras [Nelson PIERRE]; Movemiento Patriotiko Korsou [Reginald LAK]; New Antilles Movement or MAN [Charles COOPER]; Partido Akshon Pa Prosperidat I Seguridat [Sonja BERKEMEYER]; Partido Laboral Krusada Popular or PLKP [Errol COVA]; Party for the Restructured Antilles or PAR [Emily de JONGH-ELHAGE]; People's National Party or PNP [Ersilia DE LANNOOY]; Pidjin [Jasmin PINEDO]; Pueblo Soberano [Herman WIELS]; Workers' Liberation Front or FOL [Anthony GODETT]
Saba: Saba Labor Party [Akilah LEVENSTONE]; Windward Islands People's Movement or WIPM [Ray HASSELL]
Sint Eustatius: Democratic Party of Sint Eustatius or DP-St. E [Julian WOODLEY]; Progressive Labor Party [Clyde VAN PUTTEN]; St. Eustatius Alliance [Ingrid HOUTMAN-WHITFIELD]
Sint Maarten: Democratic Party of Sint Maarten or DP-St. M [Sarah WESCOTT-WILLIAMS]; Freedom Slate of National Democratic Party [Theophilus PRIEST]; National Alliance or NA [William MARLIN]; People's Progressive Alliance or PPA [Gracita ARRINDELL]; St. Maarten People's Party [Johan LEONARD]; United People's Labor Party [Bienvenido RICHARDSON]
note: political parties are indigenous to each island
Political pressure groups and leaders: Unions (AVBO) and Employers Association (VBC)
International organization participation: Caricom (observer), ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, UNESCO (associate), UNWTO (associate), UPU, WCL, WCO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands); note - Mr. Jeffrey CORRION, Minister Plenipotentiary for Aruba at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Consul General Robert E. SORENSON
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: white, with a horizontal blue stripe in the center superimposed on a vertical red band, also centered; five white, five-pointed stars are arranged in an oval pattern in the center of the blue band; the five stars represent the five main islands of Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten
Culture

The origins of the population and location of the islands give the Netherlands Antilles a mixed culture.

Tourism and overwhelming media presence from the United States has increased the regional United States influence. On all the islands, the holiday of Carnival is, like in many Caribbean and Latin American countries, an important one. Festivities include "jump-up" parades with beautifully colored costumes, floats, and live bands as well as beauty contests and other competitions. Carnival on the islands also includes a middle-of-the-night j'ouvert (juvé) parade that ends at sunrise with the burning of a straw King Momo, cleansing the island of sins and bad luck. On Statia he is called Prince Stupid.

Economy 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 has declined or grown slightly in each of the past eight years, the islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. Most of the oil Netherlands Antilles imports for its refineries come from Venezuela. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, the US and Mexico being the major suppliers. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Budgetary problems hamper reform of the health and pension systems of an aging population. The Netherlands provides financial aid to support the economy.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.8 billion (2004 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $NA
GDP - real growth rate: 1% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $16,000 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1%
industry: 15%
services: 84% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 83,600 (2005)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 1%
industry: 20%
services: 79% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate: 17% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.1% (2003 est.)
Budget: revenues: $757.9 million
expenditures: $949.5 million (2004)
Agriculture - products: aloes, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit
Industries: tourism (Curacao, Sint Maarten, and Bonaire), petroleum refining (Curacao), petroleum transshipment facilities (Curacao and Bonaire), light manufacturing (Curacao)
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 1.175 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 891 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 68,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 217,800 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 282,500 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports: $3.71 billion f.o.b. (2006)
Exports - commodities: petroleum products
Exports - partners: US 27.2%, Panama 11.4%, Mexico 9%, Germany 6.2%, Haiti 5.3%, Singapore 4.8%, Bahamas, The 4.2% (2006)
Imports: $15.74 billion f.o.b. (2006)
Imports - commodities: crude petroleum, food, manufactures
Imports - partners: Venezuela 71.1%, US 10.4%, Italy 3.7% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $21.32 million (2004)
Debt - external: $2.68 billion (2004)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $NA
Market value of publicly traded shares: $488.6 billion (2003)
Currency (code): Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)
Currency code: ANG
Exchange rates: Netherlands Antillean guilders per US dollar - NA (2007), 1.79 (2006), 1.79 (2005), 1.79 (2004), 1.79 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 81,000 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 200,000 (2004)
Telephone system: general assessment: generally adequate facilities
domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links
international: country code - 599; the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) and the Americas-2 submarine cable systems provide connectivity to Central America, parts of South America and the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 19, shortwave 0 (2003)
Radios: 217,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 3 (there is also a cable service that supplies programs received from various US satellite networks and 4 Venezuelan channels) (2003)
Televisions: 69,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .an
Internet hosts: 31,812 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6
Internet users: 2,000 (2000)
Transportation Airports: 5 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Roadways: total: 845
Merchant marine: total: 138 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,096,005 GRT/1,437,692 DWT
by type: barge carrier 2, bulk carrier 4, cargo 70, carrier 12, chemical tanker 3, container 10, liquefied gas 1, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 25, roll on/roll off 4, specialized tanker 3
foreign-owned: 125 (Belgium 1, Cuba 1, Denmark 1, Germany 48, Netherlands 53, Norway 5, Sweden 3, Turkey 12, US 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Bopec Terminal, Willemstad
Military Military branches: no regular military forces; National Guard (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 16 years of age for National Guard recruitment; no conscription (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 55,365
females age 16-49: 57,060 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 46,102
females age 16-49: 47,219 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 16-49: 1,855
females age 16-49: 1,760 (2008 est.)
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for South American drugs bound for the US and Europe; money-laundering center