I wonder how many of you know that The Netherlands as a kingdom has ground in the Caribbean? The sovereign Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (The kingdom of The Netherlands) consists of 4 countries. One of which is The Netherlands in West – Europe, better known as Holland (although this is not correct). The other three, Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten are located in The Caribbean. Look at the structure of the kingdom as shown below.
Kingdom of the Netherlands location tree is courtesy of Thayts – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Once The kingdom of the Netherlands consisted of its colonies and Holland in West – Europe. The colonies were spread around the world: Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia, independent in August 1945 – according to Dutch history in 1949 -), New – Guinea ( became part of Indonesia in 1963), Suriname (independent in 25 november 1975), some parts of West – Africa (former Dutch gold coast, now Ghana) and Netherlands Antilles. Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Saba, Sint Eustatius en Bonaire formed one country within the kingdom of the Netherlands. It was called the Netherlands Antilles then.
In 1986 Aruba went further as a fully sovereign, constituent country within the kingdom of The Netherlands. Curaçao and Sint Maarten followed suit at 10 October 2010. Leaving Saba, Sint Eustatius en Bonaire which chose to stay in the kingdom of The Netherlands special oversea municipalities. With this step the Netherlands Antilles were officially abolished. The current situation is as follow: The Netherlands as kingdom has three constituent countries and three municipalities in the Caribbean. These oversea municipalities are according to law in the same level as the ones in the country of The Netherlands where I live in Europe. They are acknowledged by the Europe Union as oversea Dutch special municipalities. The constituent countries have their own government.
I won’t go any further about the history of the kingdom of The Netherlands as the purpose of this post is to inform that there is Dutch territory in the Caribbean.
Image is courtesy of government.nl
- Curaçao: capital Willemstad. Official languages: Dutch, Papiamento and English. Most residents speak Spanish too. Monetary unit: Antillian guilder.
- Sint Maarten or Sint Martin in English: capital Phillipsburg. This island is divided into two countries. The northern part, Saint Martin belongs to France, the so calledrégiond’outre-mer (French oversea region). The southern part is Sint Martin. Official language: Dutch. English, Spanish and local Creole languages. Monetary unit: Antillian guilder.
- Aruba: capital Oranjestad. Official languages: Dutch and Papiamento. The Papiamento in Aruba is slightly different from that in Curaçao and Bonaire. English and Spanish are also spoken here. Monetary unit: Aruban florin.
- Bonaire: capital Kralendijk. Official language: Dutch. The residents communicate also in Papiamento, English and Spanish. Monetary unit: US Dollar.
- Sint Eustatius: capital Oranjestad. It is named after Saint Eustace (Sint Eustatius in Dutch) The locals call this island as Statia. Spoken languages are: English, Dutch and Spanish. Monetary unit: US Dollar.
- Saba: capital The Bottom. It is said that Christopher Colombus might have discovered this island. He named this island San Cristóbal, shortened as S †bal and probably read as Saba. English is the most important language here. However most of the residents speak Dutch. Monetary unit: US Dollar.
All six of them own have their own flag and Papiamento (Papiaments or Papiamentu) language is the native language of the region. Papiamento is a mix of : African languages, Portuguese, American Indian languages, English, Dutch and Spanish and sometimes French. I am drafting a post about languages in former colonies. Stay tuned!
To those of you who are interested more, read the complete information about Dutch Caribbean from the Dutch government.