Skip Nav

Curacao National Flag

Curacao Amerindians Settlement

About 4,500 years ago the first visitors set foot on Curacao. They were Indians who arrived by canoe from Venezuela and belonged to the Archaic age. The oldest archeological remains were found at Rooi Rincon, close to Hato Airport where there is an abundant source of fresh water.

When Spanish sea-farer, Alonso de Ojeda, (re)discovered Curacao in 1499, he called the island the Isla de los Gigantes (Island of the Giants). Whether this was because the Spaniards were of small stature in comparison to the Indian natives, or whether it was an exaggeration of the truth to impress friends when these adventurers returned to Europe, history does not say.

Under Spanish domination, most of the Indians were either used as slaves, or sent to other islands in the Caribbean to work on the plantations. By 1795 there were only five full-blooded Amerindians left on Curacao.

In 1634, Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire were taken over by the Dutch. The need for salt (herring industry) led the Dutch to these islands in the Caribbean and Curacao became an important trading center; the slave trade was particularly lucrative.

The West Indian Company brought Africans to Curacao to be sold on to other traders and colonies in the area. Despite British appropriation twice in the early 1800's, the Dutch have always had an important presence on the island. Although slave-trading eventually came to an end around 1800, slavery was not actually abolished on Curacao until 1863.

A period of economic depression now followed. Phosphate mining at Santa Barbara and Klein Curacao brought some relief but, when Shell established an oil refinery in 1918, the economy blossomed again. During the Second World War, Americans were stationed on Curacao in order to protect the oil in

dustry, so important for the allies. However, apart from some ineffectual shelling from German submarines, little damage was done. To this day, a very special relationship exists between the people of Curacao and the United States of America.

In 1954, the constitutional status of the Netherlands Antilles changed in relation to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With the institution of a new Statute, the islands of the Netherlands Antilles now became autonomous and in most respects self-governing. On 1 January 1986, the island of Aruba left the Netherlands Antilles, forming a special relationship (Status Aparte) directly with the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Antilles presently consists of five islands: Curacao, Bonaire, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. However, in April 2005 a referendum was held to determine Curacao's constitutional future. The majority of the voters opted for a similar status as Aruba, i.e. a separate country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Source of this information can be found @ the Curacao Amerindian History