Curacao is a relatively large and fairly densely populated island found in the Caribbean Sea. Curacao is one of the so called “ABC Islands,” which are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Curacao covers a total area of approximately one hundred and seventy one square miles, and encompasses a population of just over one hundred and forty one thousand permanent residents. Curacao is a part of the former Netherlands Antilles in the Lesser Antilles archipelago, and continues to be a constituent country of the Netherlands. Curacao, like many other islands in the Caribbean Sea, was originally inhabited by Arawak Indian tribes, who were eventually supplanted by Carib Indians and finally European settlers. The island of Curacao was first discovered by Europeans when a Spanish voyage under Alonso de Ojeda came across the territory in 1499. After being controlled by the Spanish Empire for more than a century, the Dutch West India Company took control of Curacao, and subsequently changed hands to the British and French before finally returning to the Dutch once again. The Kingdom of the Netherlands has maintained control of Curacao ever since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, gradually granting the island increasing measures of self-governance and autonomy.
Curacao is slightly more mountainous than other island territories in the Caribbean Sea, with its highest point, Christoffelberg, measuring in at one thousand, two hundred and thirty feet. Curacao has a diverse selection of diverse flora and fauna which are endemic to the ABC islands, and other nearby territories such as the Paraguana and Guajira Peninsulas. Curacao’s coral reefs and beaches are extremely popular among both residents and tourists for their recreational potential and scenic beauty. Curacao is home to both artificial and natural coral reefs, which are great destinations for snorkeling or scuba diving. Of course, the highlight of Curacao’s tourist industry is the territory’s shoreline. Curacao boasts dozens of famous and lesser known beaches, including Porto Marie Beach, Baya Beach, Playa Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara Beach, and Playa Jeremi. Tourists are able to enjoy Curacao’s legendary beaches thanks to the great weather of the archipelago, which generally remains in the eighties throughout the year. Curacao is found outside of the hurricane belt, and sees a light amount of yearly rainfall.
Curacao has a comprehensive public education system in addition to several private schools and the University of Curacao. Curacao’s economy was historically based on salt and phosphate mining as well as the slave trade and plantation agriculture, although the island territory has since transitioned into international commerce, finance, oil refining, and tourism. Curacao boasts a diverse and rich historical legacy and cultural heritage, combining influences from Asia, Europe and Africa. The island has its own unique literary contributions and culinary tradition, including local dishes such as stoba, sopi mondongo, funchi, and guiambo. Curacao has an active sports scene as well, emphasizing the sports of baseball and windsurfing, as well as diving in the island’s offshore waters. Perhaps the best known athletic export of Curacao is Andruw Jones, an all star Major League Baseball Player who has played for some of the sport’s best teams during his career.