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INTRODUCTION


 
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 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 of 2010 with the dissolution of the Netherlands... See More



GEOGRAPHY


Location:

 Caribbean, an island in the Caribbean Sea - 55 km off the coast of Venezuela

Geographic Coordinates:

 12 10 N, 69 00 W

Area:

 Total: 444 sq km
Land: 444 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 More than two times the size of Washington, DC

Land Boundaries:

 0 km

Coastline:

 364 km (Rank: 124)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm

Climate:

 Tropical marine climate, ameliorated by northeast trade winds, results in mild temperatures; semi-arid with average rainfall of 600 mm/year

Terrain:

 Generally low, hilly terrain

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mt. Christoffel, 372m

Natural Resources:

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

Land Use:

 Arable land: 10%
Permanent crops: 0%
Other: 90%

Natural Hazards:

 Curacao is south of the Caribbean hurricane belt and is rarely threatened

Geography - Note:

 Curacao is a part of the Windward Islands (southern) group

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PEOPLE AND SOCIETY


Languages:

 Papiamentu (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect) 81.2%, Dutch (official) 8%, Spanish 4%, English 2.9%, other 3.9% (2001 census)

Religions:

 Roman Catholic 80.1%, Protestant 11.2% (Pentecostal 3.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 2.2%, other Protestant 5.5%), none 4.6%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.7%, Jewish 0.8%, other 1.3%, not reported 0.3% (2001 census)

Population:

 142,180 (est. January 2010)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 21.1% (males 15,337/females 14,589)
15-64 years: 66.7% (males 42,896/females 51,998)
65 years and over: 12.2% (males 6,972/females 10,388) (2010)

Death Rate:

 8 deaths/1,000 population (2009)

Net Migration Rate:

 1.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.15 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.82 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.85 male(s)/female (2010)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total: NA
Males: 72.4 years
Females: 80.1 years (2009)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.1 children born/woman (2009)

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GOVERNMENT


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

Government Type:

 Parliamentary

Capital:

 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)

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

Independence:

 None (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National Holiday:

 Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX), 30 April (1909 and 1980)

Constitution:

 Staatsregeling, 10 October 2010; revised Kingdom Charter pending

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 10 October 2010)

Head of government: Prime Minister Gerrit SCHOTTE (since 10 October 2010)

Cabinet: Executive Council

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:

 Unicameral parliament or Staten (21 seats; members elected by popular vote for four year terms)

Elections: last held 27 August 2010 (next to be held in 2014)

Election results: percent of vote by party - PAR 30%, MFK 21%, PS 19%, MAN 9%, FOL 7%, PNP 6%; seats by party - PAR 8, MFK 5, PS 4, MAN 2, FOL 1, PNP 1

Judicial Branch:

 Common Court of Justice, Joint High Court of Justice (judges appointed by the monarch)

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Frente Obrero Liberashon (Workers' Liberation Front) or FOL [Anthony GODETT]; Movimentu Antiyas Nobo (New Antilles Movement) or MAN [Charles COOPER]; Movementu Futuro Korsou or MFK [Gerrit SCHOTTE]; Partido Antia Restruktura or PAR [Emily DE JONGH-ELHAGE]; People's National Party or PNP [Ersilia DE LANNOOY]; Pueblo Soberano or PS [Herman WIELS]

International Organization Participation:

 Caricom (observer), FATF, ITU, UNESCO (associate), UNWTO (associate), UPU

Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 None (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Consul General Valerie BELON
Consulate(s) general: J. B. Gorsiraweg #1, Willemstad, Curacao
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 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

Affiliation:

 (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

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ECONOMY


Economy - Overview:

 Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Although GDP grew slightly during the past decade, the island enjoys a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. Curacao has an excellent natural harbor that can accommodate large oil tankers. The Venezuelan state oil company leases the single refinery on the island from the government; most of the oil for the refinery is imported from Venezuela; most of the refined products are exported to the US. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with the US, Brazil, Italy, and Mexico being the major suppliers. The government is attempting to diversify its industry and trade and has signed an Association Agreement with the EU to expand business there. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Budgetary problems complicate reform of the health and pension systems for an aging population.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $2.838 billion (2008 est.)
$2.606 billion (2007 est.)
$2.452 billion (2006 est.)

Note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $5.08 billion (2008 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 3.5% (2008)
2.2% (2007)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $15,000 (2004 est.)

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 0.7%
Industry: 15.5%
Services: 83.8% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 63,000 (2008 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 1.2%
Industry: 16.9%
Services: 81.8% (2008 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 10.3% (2008 est.)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 41.8% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget:

 Revenues: $542.3 million
Expenditures: $587 million (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 10.7% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -0.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 3% (2010 est.)
1.8% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 NA%

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 14.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
7.507% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $1.618 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.541 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $4.953 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$4.31 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $3.799 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$3.415 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Agriculture - Products:

 Aloe, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit

Industries:

 Tourism, petroleum refining, petroleum transshipment facilities, light manufacturing

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 NA%

Electricity - Production:

 1.167 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Consumption:

 968 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 531 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 72,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 211,100 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 291,700 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 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 - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$600 million (2010 est.)
-$324 million (2009 est.)

Exports:

 $1.4 billion (2010 est.)

Note: excludes oil

Exports - Commodities:

 Petroleum products

Imports:

 $2.8 billion (2010 est.)
$2.648 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Crude petroleum, food, manufactures

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Neth Antilles Guilder to Any Currency

Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -
1.79 (2010)
1.79 (2009)
1.79 (2008)
1.79 (2007)
1.79 (2006)

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COMMUNICATIONS


Telephone System:

 General assessment: NA

Domestic: NA

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:

 .cw; note - IANA has designated .cw for Curacao, but has not yet assigned it to a sponsoring organization

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TRANSPORTATION


Airports:

 1

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 1
Over 3,047 m: 1 (2010)

Roadways:

 Total: 550 km

Ports and Terminals:

 Bullen Baai, Fuik Bay, Willemstad

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MILITARY


Military Branches:

 The Royal Netherlands Navy maintains a permanent and active presence in the region from its main operating base on Curacao; other local security forces include a coast guard, paramilitary National Guard (Vrijwilligers Korps Curacao), and Police Force (2010)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 No conscription (2010)

Military - Note:

 Defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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TRANSNATIONAL ISSUES


Trafficking in Persons:

 Current situation: Curacao is a source, transit, and destination area for women, children, and men who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; foreign trafficking victims originate in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Asia

Tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Curacao does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; despite these efforts, the government has not increased its efforts over the previous year; it has not enacted comprehensive legislation that would prohibit all forms of human trafficking; it has not enhanced victim protections; and it has not identified victims of forced or child prostitution (2011)

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Last Updated: December 2011

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