Facts about Netherlands Antilles

World Facts Index

Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, the island of Curacao was hard hit 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 oil refineries to service the newly discovered Venezuelan oil fields. The island of Saint Martin is shared with France; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles; its northern portion, called Saint Martin, is an overseas collectivity of France.

Geography of the Netherlands Antilles

Location:
Caribbean, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea - one includes Curacao and Bonaire north of Venezuela; the other is east of the Virgin Islands
Coordinates:
12 15 N, 68 45 W
Area:
total: 960 sq km
note: includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin)
water: 0 sq km
land: 960 sq km
Area comparative:
more than five times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
total: 10.2 km
border countries: Guadeloupe (Saint Martin) 10.2 km
Coastline:
364 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 12 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate:
tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds
Terrain:
generally hilly, volcanic interiors
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Scenery 862 m
Natural resources:
phosphates (Curacao only), salt (Bonaire only)
Natural hazards:
Curacao and Bonaire are south of Caribbean hurricane belt and are rarely threatened; Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are subject to hurricanes from July to October
Geography - note:
the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles are divided geographically into the Leeward Islands (northern) group (Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten) and the Windward Islands (southern) group (Bonaire and Curacao)

Population of the Netherlands Antilles

Population:
225,369 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.9% (male 27,197/female 25,886)
15-64 years: 67.3% (male 71,622/female 77,710)
65 years and over: 8.7% (male 7,925/female 11,396)
Median age:
32.8 years
Growth rate:
0.79%
Infant mortality:
9.76 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.03 years
male: 73.76 years
female: 78.41 years
Fertility rate:
1.99 children born/woman
Nationality:
noun: Dutch Antillean(s)
adjective: Dutch Antillean
Ethnic groups:
mixed black 85%, Carib Amerindian, white, East Asian
Religions:
Roman Catholic 72%, Pentecostal 4.9%, Protestant 3.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.1%, Methodist 2.9%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.7%, other Christian 4.2%, Jewish 1.3%, other or unspecified 1.2%, none 5.2%
Languages:
Papiamento 65.4% (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect), English 15.9% (widely spoken), Dutch 7.3% (official), Spanish 6.1%, Creole 1.6%, other 1.9%, unspecified 1.8%
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.7%
male: 96.7%
female: 96.8% 

Government

Country name:
conventional short form: Netherlands Antilles
former: Curacao and Dependencies
local short form: Nederlandse Antillen
Dependency status:
part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 1954; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs
Government type:
parliamentary
Capital:
Willemstad
National holiday:
Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA in 1909 and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX in 1980), 30 April
Constitution:
29 December 1954, Statute of the Realm of the Netherlands, as amended
Legal system:
based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980); represented by Governor General Frits GOEDGEDRAG (since 1 July 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Emily de JONGH-ELHAGE (since 26 March 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the Staten (legislature)
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch for a six-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually elected prime minister by the Staten.
Legislative branch:
unicameral States or Staten (22 seats - Curacao 14, Bonaire 3, St. Maarten 3, St. Eustatius 1, Saba 1; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Joint High Court of Justice (judges appointed by the monarch)

Economy

Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Although GDP has declined or grown slightly in each of the past eight years, the islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. Most of the oil Netherlands Antilles imports for its refineries come from Venezuela. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, the US, Italy, and Mexico being the major suppliers. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Budgetary problems hamper reform of the health and pension systems of an aging population. The Netherlands provides financial aid to support the economy.

GDP:
$2.8 billion (2004 est.)
GDP growth rate:
1%
GDP per capita:
$16,000
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 15%
services: 84% 
Inflation rate:
2.1%
Labor force:
83,600 (2005)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 20%
services: 79% (2005 est.)
Unemployment:
17%
Budget:
revenues: $757.9 million
expenditures: $949.5 million 
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% 
Industries:
tourism (Curacao, Sint Maarten, and Bonaire), petroleum refining (Curacao), petroleum transshipment facilities (Curacao and Bonaire), light manufacturing (Curacao)
Agriculture:
aloes, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit
Exports:
petroleum products
Export partners:
US 32%, Panama 10.1%, Guatemala 7.9%, Haiti 6.4%, Bahamas, The 5.1% (2005)
Imports:
crude petroleum, food, manufactures
Import partners:
Venezuela 50%, US 22.2%, Italy 5.2%, Netherlands 5% (2005)
Currency:
Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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