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Curacao  map

  Facts about Curacao  
Curacao Island Territory of Netherlands
Coordinates12° 11′ 0″ N, 69° 0′ 0″ W
Location Caribbean Sea
Capital Willemstad
Area444 km2 171.4 sq mi
Population142180 ( 2010 )
Official languageDutch, Papiamentu, English[1]
CurrencyNetherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary representative democracy under constitutional monarchy
Time zoneAST (UTC−4)
Dialing code:+599 9
Internet, .an a

Curacao is a small island located in the Caribbean Sea near the coast of Venezuela. It, along with another small island called the Klein Curacao forms the country of Curacao with its capital at Willemstad. It is a constituent country of the Kingdom of Netherlands.
It covers an area of 444 sq kms and had an approximate population of 142,180 in 2010.

The earliest people to settle in Curacao were the Arawak Indians who probably migrated from South America. In 1499, the first Spanish expedition reached the island, and enslaved most of the inhabitants there. In 1634, after Netherlands won its independence from Spain, the island was occupied by the Dutch colonists.

Willemstad was a natural harbor which was ideally suited for trade. Gradually, salt mining became an important activity on the island. The ownership of the island shifted between the Dutch, the French, and the British several times. In 1863, the Dutch abolished slavery leading to a major economic shift. Finally, in 2010, Curacao became a country in the Kingdom of Netherlands.

The small island of Curacao has an indented coastline bordered by shallow waters where coral reefs have flourished. These gulfs and bays have mostly been formed by glacial activities in the past. The western part of the island is hilly, and the highest point is Christoffelberg which rises to a height of 1,230 feet.

Drie Gebroeders (three brothers) is an interesting geological feature lying in the west. It is a remnant of a coral reef formed three million years ago. The eastern side is flatter and lower. The tableland of Tafelberg lies on the east coast. The southern coasts are lined with calm clear water, ideal for snorkeling. You can enjoy the coral reefs even without a boat. The northern shores, on the other hand, are pounded by rough waves. There is no freshwater lake or river in Curacao.

How to reach (transport)
You can travel to Curacao in the following ways:

  • The easiest way to enter is by the Hato International Airport which is located near the capital of Willemstad. Flights are available to various Caribbean islands, and to Miami.
  • Cruise ships regularly call at the cruise terminals in Curacao. There are also several marinas in the island to cater to the sailors.

The island enjoys tropical savannah climate. The temperature remains warm, and Trade winds exercise a cooling influence. Occasional showers are experienced during the wet season that lasts from October to February, though the days remain sunny. The peak tourist season is December to February. The period after the carnival up to the Mardi Gras is most packed with tourists. The hotel rates are sharply reduced from May to November though the climate remains mild and warm.

Points of interest (places to visit)
The most important sights of Curacao are as follows:

  • The Kura Hulanda Museum is an anthropological museum detailing the slave trade and the culture of Curacao.
  • The Christoffel National park contains the highest point of Christoffel on the islands. An enthusiastic hiker, can try the short but strenuous trek to the top which offers a breathtaking view. The park also contains cave paintings by the Arawak Indians.
  • The Queen Emma Bridge is a floating pontoon bridge, and is a nice place to watch the maritime traffic as well as the bridge swinging open and close. The Queen Juliana Bridge is the highest bridge in the Caribbean.
  • The Curacao Maritime Museum offers interesting exhibits to document the maritime and colonial history of the island.
  • The Curacao Sea Aquarium is the home of the Dolphin Academy, where one can enjoy various activities with the dolphins. In addition, there are 600 marine species on display.
  • The Hato Caves are carved from beautiful limestone, and coral caves that were exposed as the sea level dropped. They are also the home of long nosed fruit bats.
  • Diving and snorkeling are the most popular activities in Curacao. The small island of Klein Curacao is best known for these.

Curacao offers a wide choice of accommodation from large hotels to charming guest houses beds, and breakfasts. Scuba Lodge, Hilton, Veneto Casino, Clarion and Kontiki are four-star hotels while Howard Johnson Americana, Trupial Inn; San Marco, etc., are three-star hotels. Besides, one can also stay at several resorts available on the island.

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