Central America and Caribbean :: Curacao (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

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 economically 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 possessions 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 2010 with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles.


Caribbean, an island in the Caribbean Sea - 55 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: 200
Land: 444 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

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

Land boundaries:
0 km

364 km

Maritime claims:
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm

tropical marine climate, ameliorated by northeast trade winds, results in mild temperatures; semiarid 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% (2011)

Irrigated land:

Total renewable water resources:

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

People and Society

Noun: Curacaoan
Adjective: Curacaoan; Dutch

Ethnic groups:
Afro-Caribbean majority; Dutch, French, Latin American, East Asian, South Asian, Jewish minorities

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

Roman Catholic 80.1%, Protestant 11.2% (Pentecostal 3.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 2.2%, other Protestant 5.5%), none 4.6%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.7%, Jewish 0.8%, other 1.3%, not reported 0.3% (2001 census)

146,836 (July 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 188

Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.6% (male 15,342/female 14,645)
15-24 years: 15.4% (male 11,599/female 10,790)
25-54 years: 38.5% (male 26,869/female 29,348)
55-64 years: 12.6% (male 8,059/female 10,259)
65 years and over: 13% (male 7,833/female 11,090) (2013 est.)

Dependency ratios:
Total dependency ratio: 50.1 %
Youth dependency ratio: 29 %
Elderly dependency ratio: 21 %
Potential support ratio: 4.8 (2013)

Median age:
Total: 36.2 years
Male: 32.7 years
Female: 39.9 years (2013 est.)

Population growth rate:

Birth rate:

Death rate:
8 deaths/1,000 population (2009)
Country comparison to the world: 98

Net migration rate:
1.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008)
Country comparison to the world: 52

Sex ratio:
At birth: 1.15 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.79 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2013 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
Total: NA
Males: 72.4 years
Females: 80.1 years (2009)

Total fertility rate:
2.09 children born/woman (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 115

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:


Country name:
Dutch long form: Land Curacao
Dutch short form: Curacao
Papiamentu long form: Pais Korsou
Papiamentu short form: Korsou
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 adopted by island council 5 September 2010; entered into force 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: King WILLEM-ALEXANDER of the Netherlands (since 30 April 2013); represented by Acting Governor Adele van der PLUIJM-VREDE (since 24 October 2012)
Head of government: Prime Minister Ivar ASJES (since 7 June 2013)
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor
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; next election is scheduled for 2016

Legislative branch:
unicameral Estates of Curacao (21 seats; members elected by popular vote for four year terms)
Elections: last held 19 October 2012 (next to be held in 2016)
Election results: percent of vote by party - PS 22.6%, MFK 21.2%, PAR 19.7%, PAIS 17.7%, MAN 9.5%, PNP 5.9%, other 3.4%; seats by party - PS 5, MFK 5, PAR 4, PAIS 4, MAN 2, PNP 1

Judicial branch:
Highest court(s):

Political parties and leaders:
Frente Obrero Liberashon (Workers' Liberation Front) or FOL [Anthony GODETT]
Movementu Futuro Korsou or MFK [Gerrit SCHOTTE]
Movishon Antia Nobo or MAN [Eunice EISDEN]
Partido Antia Restruktura or PAR [Emily DE JONGH-ELHAGE]
Partido pa Adelanto I Inovashon Soshal or PAIS [Alex ROSARIA]
Partido Nashonal di Pueblo or PNP [Humphrey DAVELAAR]
Pueblo Soberano or PS [Helmin 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

National anthem:
Name: Himmo di Korsou (Anthem of Curacao)
Lyrics/music: Guillermo ROSARIO, Mae HENRIQUEZ, Enrique MULLER, Betty DORAN/Frater Candidus NOWENS, Errol "El Toro" COLINA
note: adapted 1978; the lyrics, originally written in 1899, were rewritten in 1978 to make them less colonial in nature


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. Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA 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 education systems. Pension system reforms are pending. A new basic health package was implemented in 2013.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.838 billion (2008 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 183
$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:
0% (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 183
3.5% (2008)
2.2% (2007)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$15,000 (2004 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 91

GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
Agriculture: 0.7%
Industry: 15.5%
Services: 83.8% (2012 est.)

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

tourism, petroleum refining, petroleum transshipment facilities, light manufacturing

Industrial production growth rate:

Labor force:
62,040 (2011)
Country comparison to the world: 186

Labor force - by occupation:
Agriculture: 1.2%
Industry: 16.9%
Services: 81.8% (2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
9.8% (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 105
10.3% (2008 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
10.8% of GDP (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 207

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-0.9% of GDP (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 59

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.3% (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 54
1.3% (2010 est.)

$1.5 billion (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 148
$1.4 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities:
petroleum products

$2.5 billion (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 156
$2.648 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:
crude petroleum, food, manufactures

Exchange rates:
Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -
1.79 (2011)
1.79 (2011 est.)
1.79 (2010 est.)
1.79 (2009)
1.79 (2008)
note: the Netherland Antillean guilder was replaced by the newly created Caribbean guilder in 2013


Electricity - production:
1.167 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 143

Electricity - consumption:
968 million kWh (2008 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 150

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 172

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 166

Crude oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 114

Refined petroleum products - production:
531 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 115

Refined petroleum products - consumption:
72,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 90

Refined petroleum products - exports:
211,100 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 30

Refined petroleum products - imports:
291,700 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 23

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 109

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 125

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 73

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 170

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 118


Telephone system:
International: country code - 599

Broadcast media:
government-run Telecuracao operates a TV station and a radio station; several privately-owned radio stations

Internet country code:

Internet hosts:

Internet users:


Total: 550 km
Country comparison to the world: 192

Ports and terminals:
Major seaport(s): Willemstad
Oil/gas terminal(s): Bullen Baai (Curacao Terminal)
Bulk cargo port(s): Fuik Bay (phosphate rock)


Military branches:
no regular military forces; the Dutch Government controls foreign and defense policy (2012)

Military service age and obligation:
no conscription (2010)

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

Flag of Curacao

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