The Dutch Caribbean

The Dutch Caribbean is the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, i.e. the countries Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and the islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (together also referred to as the BES-islands, three individual public entities within the country the Netherlands).


DUTCH CARIBBEAN

The term Dutch Caribbean refers to the islands of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that are located in the Caribbean sea.

Three of the six main islands presently under Dutch sovereignty are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten (which actually comprises only the southern half of the island of Saint Martin). The three remaining islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are special municipalities of the Netherlands, which is the fourth constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (and mainly located in Europe). These are collectively known as the Caribbean Netherlands. There are also several smaller islands, like Klein Curaçao and Klein Bonaire, that belong to one of the island countries or special municipalities.

All the islands have formerly been part of the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba gained autonomy decades earlier than the other islands, seceding as a separate country in 1986. Curaçao and Sint Maarten followed upon the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010, while Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba were integrated into the Netherlands proper instead. Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands_Antilles

Constitutional changes



Until 10 October 2010 the Netherlands Antilles formed together with Aruba and the Netherlands, the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands Antilles, comprising the islands of Curacao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius, was an autonomous country in the Kingdom. After a complex process of dismantling, the Netherlands Antilles ceased to exist as from 10 October 2010. 

Between June 2000 and April 2005, each of the five islands of the former Netherlands Antilles held a referendum on its future status. Curacao and St. Maarten both voted for a "status aparte". As a result thereof, Curacao and St. Maarten are separate countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, like Aruba has been since 1986. The islands of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius, commonly referred to as the BES-islands, form a public entity (municipality) within the country the Netherlands.

Consequently since 10 October 2010, the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprises of four constituent countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten, each having an autonomous status subject to and in accordance with the “Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands" (Statuut voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden).


ARUBA

Geography, Climate & Demographics

Aruba is located in the south of the Caribbean Sea. Along with Bonaire and Curacao, these three islands are often referred to as the ABC-islands.

The Aruba time zone is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).


In the Köppen climate classification, Aruba features a tropical savanna climate. Temperature varies little from 28 °C (82.4 °F), mostly around 33°C, moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean, which comes from north-east. Yearly precipitation barely exceeds 400 mm (15.7 in).

The capital and largest city of Aruba is Oranjestad. the population of Aruba stand at approx. 100.000 inhanbitants. Aruba's population is estimated to be 80% mestizo and 20% other ethnicities. Recently there has been substantial immigration to the island from neighboring American and Caribbean nations, possibly attracted by the higher paid jobs. In 2007, new immigration laws were introduced to help control the growth of the population by restricting foreign workers to a maximum of three years residency on the island. Demographically, Aruba has felt the impact of its proximity to Venezuela, far more so than neighboring Curaçao and Bonaire. Much of Aruba's families are present by way of Venezuela and there is a seasonal increase of Venezuelans living in second homes.

Languages
The official languages are Dutch and – since 2003 – Papiamento. Papiamento is the predominant language on Aruba. A creole language spoken on Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, it incorporates words from other languages including Portuguese, West African languages, Dutch, and Spanish. Like many islands in the region, Spanish is also often spoken. English has historical connections (with the British Empire) and is known by many; English usage has also grown due to tourism. Other common languages spoken based on the size of their community are Portuguese, Chinese, German and French. The last is offered in high school and college, since a high percentage of Aruban students continue their studies in Europe.

Currency


The monetary unit of Aruba is the Aruban Florin (AWG). The official rate at which banks accept US dollar banknotes is Awg. 1,77 and checks at Awg. 1,78. The rate of exchange granted by shops and hotels ranges from Awg. 1,75 to Awg. 1,80 per US dollar.
US Dollars are widely accepted in Aruba, and banks may exchange other foreign currency.

Law
The Aruban legal system a civil law system and is based on the Dutch model. Instead of juries or grand juries, in Aruba, legal jurisdiction lies with the Court of First Instance on Aruba (Gerecht in Eerste Aanleg), the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Gemeenschappelijk Hof van Justitie van Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten en van Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba) and the Supreme Court of Justice of the Netherlands (Hoge Raad der Nederlanden). 
 

BES ISLANDS

     


The Caribbean Netherlands collectively refers to the three special municipalities (officially public bodies) of the Netherlands that are located overseas, in the Caribbean: BonaireSt. Eustatius and Saba or the BES islands. 

Geography, Climate & Demographics
Bonaire is part of the ABC islands within the Leeward Antilles island chain off the Venezuelan coast. The Leeward Antilles have a mixed volcanic and coral origin.

Saba and St. Eustatius are part of the SSS islands within the "Windward Islands" (Bovenwindse Eilanden). They are located east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Although in the English language they are considered part of the Leeward Islands,[clarification needed] French, Spanish, Dutch and the English spoken locally consider them part of the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands are all of volcanic origin and hilly, leaving little ground suitable for agriculture. The highest point is Mount Scenery, 877 metres (2,877 ft), on Saba (also the highest point in all the Kingdom of the Netherlands).

The BES time zone is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).


The BES islands enjoy a tropical climate with warm weather all year round. The Leeward Islands are warmer and drier than the Windward islands. In summer, the Windward Islands can be subject to hurricanes. 


The capital and largest city of Bonaire is Kalendijk. Bonaire’s population stands at approx. 15.000 inhabitants. Most of the inhabitants are concentrated around Kralendijk. The population has a variety of ethnical background.  On Bonaire fifty three per cent of the population currently residing on Bonaire was born locally, which means that nearly fifty percent of persons is born abroad.
The capital and largest city of Saba is The Bottom. has a population of approx. 1800 inhabitants who come from all over the world. The island's small size has led to a fairly small number of island families, who can trace their last names back to around a half-dozen families.
The capital and largest city of St. Eustatius is Oranjestad. St. Eustatius has a population of approx. 3500 inhabitants. The population of St. Eustatius is predominantly of African descent.

Languages

 
Dutch is the official language of Bonaire, as it is part of the Netherlands. Nevertheless, Papiamentu is widely spoken and is recognized by the government of the Netherlands. 
The official language of Saba and St. Eustatius is also Dutch. Despite the island's Dutch affiliation, English is the principal language spoken on Saba and has been used in its school system since the 19th century. English can therefore be used in communications of and to the government. In St. Eustatius English is also recognized as an administrative language. A local English-based creole is also spoken informally.

Currency
Until 1 January 2011, the three islands used the Netherlands Antillean guilder and after that all three switched to the US dollar.

Law

The Bes islands have a civil law system based on the legislation of The Netherlands. For many Dutch laws there is a special BES version. Legal jurisdiction lies with the Court of First Instance on Bonaire (Gerecht in Eerste Aanleg), the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Gemeenschappelijk Hof van Justitie van Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten en van Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba) and the Supreme Court of Justice of the Netherlands (Hoge Raad der Nederlanden). 
 

CURACAO

Geography, Climate & Demographics
Like Aruba and Bonaire, Curaçao is a transcontinental island that is geographically part of South America but is also considered to be part of West Indies and one of the Leeward Antilles. Curaçao and her uninhabited island Klein Curaçao ("Little Curaçao") are located in the southern Caribbean Sea, nearby the Venezuelan coast. Curaçao is the largest and most populous of the three ABC islands (for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) of the Lesser Antilles, specifically the Leeward Antilles. It has a land area of 444 square kilometres (171 square miles).The flora of Curaçao differs from the typical tropical island vegetation. Xeric scrublands are common, with various forms of cacti, thorny shrubs, evergreens, and the island's national tree, divi-divis. Curaçao's highest point is the Sint Christoffelberg 375 m (1,230 ft).

The Curacao time zone is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Curaçao has a semiarid climate with a dry season from January to September and a wet season from October to December. The temperatures are relatively constant with small differences throughout the year. The trade winds bring cooling during the day and the same trade winds bring warming during the night.

The capital and largest city of Curacao is Willemstad. The population of Curacao stands at approx. 145.000 inhabitants. Because of its history, the island's population comes from many ethnic backgrounds. There is an Afro-Caribbean majority of African descent, and also sizeable minorities of Dutch, Latin American, French, South Asian, East Asian, Portuguese and Levantine people. The Sephardic Jews who arrived from the Netherlands and then-Dutch Brazil since the 17th century have had a significant influence on the culture and economy of the island.

Languages


The languages widely spoken are Papiamentu, Dutch, English, and Spanish. The official languages of Curacao are Dutch, English and Papiamentu. Dutch is still the language for administration and legal matters.

Currency


The monetary unit of Curacao is the Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG) and often referred to in Papiamentu as "florin" (Nafl). The exchange rate has been pegged to the US Dollar since 1971. 1 U.S. dollar = approx. 1.72 Netherlands Antilles guilders.

Law


Curaçao's legal system is based on the Dutch Civil law system, with some English common law influence. Legal jurisdiction lies with the Court of First Instance on Curacao (Gerecht in Eerste Aanleg), the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Gemeenschappelijk Hof van Justitie van Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten en van Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba) and the Supreme Court of Justice of the Netherlands (Hoge Raad der Nederlanden). 

 

ST. MAARTEN

Geography, Climate & Demographics
St. Maartenis located about 250km north from Continental-Guadeloupe and belongs to the so-called Northern Archipelago. Itencompasses the southern half of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, while the northern half of the island constitutes the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin. The island measures 37 square miles, of which 16 square miles is Dutch territory and 21 square miles belongs to French Saint Martin. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the isle's East, to the West is the Caribbean Sea. The island is located at 18N, 63W or 144 miles/300km Southeast of Puerto Rico, in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies, i.e. in the middle of the Northern Caribbean islands. St. Maarten/ St. Martin is the smallest inhabited sea island in the world.

To the south, St Maarten is predominantly low-lying and dotted with salt pans and lagoons. Towards the center and north of the island there are hills and valleys and the terrain is more rugged. The highest point on the island is Pic Paradis with an altitude of 1,400 feet. The vegetation ranges from cacti and palm trees to hibiscus and other flowering shrubs and trees native to the Caribbean and other tropical regions of the world, and there are still some stands of forest in the hills.

The St. Maarten time zone is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

The average yearly air temperature is 27 °C (min 17 °C, max 35 °C) and sea surface temperature 26.4 °C. The total average yearly rainfall is 995 mm.

The capital of St. Maarten is Philipsburg. The largest city is Lower Prince's Quarter. The population of the entire island is approx. 74.000 inhabitants, with 38.000 living on the Dutch side and 36.000 on the French side. Despite its small sizee over 117 nationalities reside in Saint-Martin and Sint-Maarten, the antillians, french,dutch, americans, indians, spanish, british, and more...

Languages

The official languages are Dutch and English. A local English-based creole dialect is also spoken. At the French side the official language is French.

Currency

The currency of St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG) and often referred to in Papiamentu as "florin" (Nafl). The exchange rate has been pegged to the US Dollar since 1971. 1 U.S. dollar = approx. 1.72 Netherlands Antilles guilders. At the French side the currency is the Euro.

Law


The total island of St. Maarten contains two jurisdictions (legal systems), i.e. a jurisdiction on the Dutch part of the island, as well as a French jurisdiction.

The Dutch part of St.Maarten has a civil law system and is based on the Dutch model. Instead of juries or grand juries, in Aruba, legal jurisdiction lies with the Court of First Instance on Aruba (Gerecht in Eerste Aanleg), the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba(Gemeenschappelijk Hof van Justitie van Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten en van Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba) and the Supreme Court of Justice of the Netherlands (Hoge Raad der Nederlanden).
As of 10-10-2010 and under the ‘National Ordinance on Transitional Provisions on legislation and administration’ (AB 2010/30 St. Maarten) national ordinances, national decrees, directing general measures and ministerial order with general effect of the Netherlands Antilles, acquire the status of national ordinances, national decrees, directing general measures and ministerial orders with general effect of St. Maarten. Island ordinances and island orders, directing general measures from the island territory of St. Maarten acquire the status of national ordinances respectively island orders, directing general measures, of St. Maarten.



 

Source: Wikipedia

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