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, 30 nm off the coast of Venezuela

Geographic coordinates

12 10 N, 69 00 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 444 sq km
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 60 cm/year


generally low, hilly terrain


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mt. Christoffel 372 m

Natural resources

calcium phosphates, aloes, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit

Land use

agricultural land: 10%
arable land 10%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0%
forest: 0%
other: 90% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land


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


149,035 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Curacaoan
adjective: Curacaoan; Dutch

Ethnic groups

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


Papiamento (official) (a creole language that is a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English, and, to a lesser extent, French, as well as elements of African languages and the language of the Arawak) 81.2%, Dutch (official) 8%, Spanish 4%, English (official) 2.9%, other 3.9% (2001 census)


Roman Catholic 72.8%, Pentecostal 6.6%, Protestant 3.2%, Adventist 3%, Jehovah's Witness 2%, Evangelical 1.9%, other 3.8%, none 6%, unspecified 0.6% (2011 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.17% (male 15,327/female 14,733)
15-24 years: 14.46% (male 11,239/female 10,314)
25-54 years: 37.24% (male 27,132/female 28,370)
55-64 years: 13.49% (male 8,706/female 11,396)
65 years and over: 14.64% (male 8,993/female 12,825) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 51.1%
youth dependency ratio: 28.7%
elderly dependency ratio: 22.4%
potential support ratio: 4.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 36 years
male: 33.3 years
female: 39.8 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.42% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

13.8 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

8.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-1.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

largest concentration on the island is Willemstad; smaller settlements near the coast can be found throughout the island, particularly in the northwest


urban population: 89.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.04% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

WILLEMSTAD (capital) 145,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.76 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.7 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.3 years
male: 76 years
female: 80.7 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.06 children born/woman (2016 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Major infectious diseases

note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Education expenditures

4.9% of GDP (2013)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 18 years
male: 18 years
female: 19 years (2013)


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
etymology: the most plausible name derivation is that the island was designated Isla de la Curacion (Spanish meaning "Island of the Cure" or "Island of Healing") or Ilha da Curacao (Portuguese meaning the same) to reflect the locale's function as a recovery stop for sick crewmen

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)
note: Curacao is one of four constituent parts (countries) of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the other three parts are the Netherlands, Aruba, and Sint Maarten


none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National holiday

King's Day, 27 April 1967


previous 1947, 1955; latest adopted 5 September 2010, entered into force 10 October 2010 (regulates governance of Curacao but is subordinate to the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands); note - in October 2010, with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao became a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Legal system

based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence


see the Netherlands


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King WILLEM-ALEXANDER of the Netherlands (since 30 April 2013); represented by Governor Lucille A. GEORGE-WOUT (since 4 November 2013)
head of government: Prime Minister Bernard WHITEMAN (1 September 2015); Prime Minister Ivar ASJES resigned 31 August 2015
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

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Estates of Curacao or Staten van Curacao (21 seats; members directly elected by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held 5 October 2016 (next to be held in October 2020)
election results: percent of vote by party - MAN 16.2%, MFK 16%, PAR 15.1%, KdnT 10.4%, PNP 8.8%, PS 6.7%, Un Korsou Hustu 6.1%, Movementu Progresivo 5.2%; seats by party - MAN 4, MFK 4, PAR 4, KdnT 3, PNP 2, PS 2, Un Korsou Hustu 1, Movementu Progresivo 1

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Common Court of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (consists of judges from the subordinate courts)
judge selection and term of office: NA
subordinate courts: first instance courts, appeals court; specialized courts

Political parties and leaders

Korsou di Nos Tur or KdnT [Amparo dos SANTOS]
Movementu Futuro Korsou or MFK [Gerrit SCHOTTE]
Movementu Progresivo [Marylin MOSES]
Movishon Antia Nobo or MAN [Hensley KOEIMAN]
Partido Antia Restruktura or PAR [Zita JESUS-LEITO]
Partido pa Adelanto I Inovashon Soshal or PAIS [Alex ROSARIA]
Partido Nashonal di Pueblo or PNP [Humphrey DAVELAAR]
Pueblo Soberano or PS [Ivar ASJES]
Un Korsou Hustu [Omayra LEEFLANG]

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Consul General James R. Moore (since June 2013); note - also accredited to Aruba and Sint Martin
consulate(s) general: J. B. Gorsiraweg
mailing address: P. O. Box 158, Willemstad, Curacao
telephone: [599] (9) 4613066
FAX: [599] (9) 4616489

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

National symbol(s)

laraha (citrus tree); national colors: blue, yellow, white

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


GDP (official exchange rate)

$5.6 billion (2012 est.)

Economy - overview

Most of Curacao’s GDP results from services. Tourism, petroleum refining and bunkering, offshore finance, and transportation and communications are the mainstays of this small island economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Curacao has limited

Curacao has an excellent natural harbor that can accommodate large oil tankers, and the port of Willemstad hosts a free trade zone and a dry dock. Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA, under a contract in effect until 2019, leases the single refinery on the

The government is attempting to diversify its industry and trade and has signed an Association Agreement with the EU to expand business there. In 2013, the government implemented changes to the sales tax and reformed the public pension and health care sys

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$3.128 billion (2012 est.)
$3.02 billion (2011 est.)
$2.96 billion (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars

GDP - real growth rate

3.6% (2012 est.)
2% (2011 est.)
0.1% (2010 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$15,000 (2004 est.)

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, light manufacturing, financial and business services

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force

73,010 (2013)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.2%
industry: 16.9%
services: 81.8% (2008 est.)

Unemployment rate

13% (2013 est.)
9.8% (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

16.6% of GDP (2012 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.4% of GDP (2012 est.)

Public debt

33.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
40.6% of GDP (2011 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.6% (2013 est.)
2.8% (2012 est.)


$1.607 billion (2011 est.)
$1.44 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities

petroleum products


$1.285 billion (2011 est.)
$1.275 billion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities

crude petroleum, food, manufactures

Exchange rates

Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -
1.79 (2015 est.)
1.79 (2014 est.)
1.79 (2013)
1.79 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 14,903
electrification - total population: 91%
electrification - urban areas: 91%
electrification - rural areas: 80% (2012)

Electricity - production

1.785 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption

968 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2009 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2011 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

531.1 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

72,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

211,100 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

291,700 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2011 es)


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 users

total: 138,750
percent of population: 93.9% (July 2014 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11 (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

PJ (2016)


total: 550 km

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Willemstad
oil 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

Transnational Issues