Jurisdiction Project

Netherlands Antilles

The Netherlands Antilles located in the Caribbean is a sub-national part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands consisting of five islands, each with their own local governments. The islands are Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius (Statia) and Dutch Sint Maarten (which shares the island of Saint Martin with Saint-Martin, a part of the French overseas territory of Guadaloupe).

Two Leeward Islands of Bonaire and Curacao are of mixed volcanic and coral origin. The three Windward Islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin) are all of volcanic origin and hilly, with little agricultural land. Total land area: 960 sq km; Total area of water: 0 sq km Coastline: 364 km. Curacao - 444 sq km; Bonaire - 288 sq km; Saba - 13 sq km; Sint Eustatius (Statia) - 21 sq km; Sint Maarten (Dutch side) - 34 sq km. Shares land border (10.2 km) with French Saint-Martin - 54 sq km. Highest Elevation: Mount Scenery (Saba) 862 m.

The Netherlands Antilles is divided geographically into the northern group of Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten (situated in the Windward Islands east of the Virgin Islands) and the southern group of Bonaire and Curacao (situated in the Leeward Islands off the coast of Venezuela).

Latitude and Longitude:
12 15 N, 68 45 W

Time Zone:
GMT -4

Total Land Area:


Tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds. 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

Natural Resources:
phosphates (Curacao only), salt (Bonaire only).

Pleistocene coral reef terraces located on Curaçao:
A sequence of at least three Late and Middle Pleistocene coral reef terraces is conserved on Curaçao. The less uplifted Lower terrace consists of two different coral reef formations: the Hato unit and the underlying Cortalein unit. KSR ages indicate a Last Interglacial age of the Hato unit of about 122 ky BP, and a correlation with the Last Interglacial sea level maximum. The ESR age of the underlying Cortalein unit is about 216 ky BP. Palaeo sea level calculations imply a correlation with the youngest of three Penultimate coral reef terraces located on the island of Barbados, which was uplifted more strongly than the island of Curaçao.

A marine sanctuary surrounds Saba, the smallest of the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles. The primary focus of the park is preservation of its fish, mammals, reptiles and plant life. The park exists under auspices of the Netherlands Antilles National Park Foundation.


Total GDP:
2003 2,450,000,000.00 USD

Per Capita GDP:
2003 11,400.00 USD

% of GDP per Sector:
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
2000 86% 13% 1%

% of Population Employed by Sector
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
2000 86% 13% 1%

External Aid/Remittances:
IMF provided $61 million in 2000, and the Netherlands continued its support with $40 million (2000)

0.5% (2003 est.)

Labour Force:
2000 89,000

Year: Unemployment Rate (% of pop.)
2002 15%

Tourism (Curacao, Sint Maarten, and Bonaire), petroleum refining (Curacao), petroleum transshipment facilities (Curacao and Bonaire), light manufacturing (Curacao). 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 seven years, the islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, the US 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.

Niche Industry:
Bonaire: Scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, cycling, mountain biking.

Curacao: Diving and Snorkeling.

St. Maarten: The St. Maarten Zoo.

Saba: Saba lace, or "Spanish work",is a cottage industry on the island.Scuba diving, rock climbing.

St. Eustatius (Statia): Ecotourism - Dive sites range from coral reefs, drop-offs and canyons to historical and recent wrecks. There are also botanical gardens, hiking trails, and an extinct volcano to enjoy. Three National Park areas (St. Eustatius Marine Park, Quill Boven National Park, Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Gardens)protect the high biodiversity and unique tropical ecosystems present on both land and sea and the total protected area covers 33km2 - almost twice the size of the island of St Eustatius. The national parks system was initiated by the Island Government in 1996 to protect diverse habitats on and around the island. The Government delegated management authority for the parks to a local NGO – St Eustatius National Parks Foundation. Numerous endangered or critically endangered species are protected through active research and monitoring programmes, including three species of sea turtles, the Antillean Iguana, Red Bellied Racer Snake, orchids, cacti and the endemic vine ‘Statia Morning Glory’.



Imports and Exports:

export values f.o.b.

Tot. Value of Imports 1,579,000,000.00 USD (2002)
From Eu:
Import Partners (EU:) Imports - partners: Netherlands 7.8% (2003)
Partners Outside EU:
Import Partners: Imports - partners: Venezuela 64.8%, US 13.6%, (2003) Total value of imports: $2.233 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Tot. Value of Exports 1579000000 USD (2002)
To Eu:
Export Partners:
Partners Outside EU:: Exports - partners: US 21.3%, Venezuela 16%, Bahamas, The 7.6%, Singapore 5.2%, Honduras 4.9%, Guatemala 4.4% (2003) Exports: $1.579 billion f.o.b. (2002) Exports - commodities: petroleum products
Export Partners:
Main Imports: Commodities: crude petroleum, food, manufactures
Main Exports:



Number of Airports: 5
5 civilian airports: Bonaire: Flamingo (code: BON)paved 7800 ft. Curacao: Wilenstaad/Hato International (code: CUR) paved 11,100 ft. Saba: Yrausquin (SAB)paved. St. Eustatius: St. Eustatius/F.D. Roosevelt (EUX) paved 4,200 ft. St. Maartin: Princess Juliana Intl. (SMX)paved 7,000 ft.

Number of Main Ports: 3
Ports and harbors: Kralendijk, Philipsburg, Willemstad


2 Yrausquin; St. Eustatius/F.D. Roosevelt

Highways: total: 600 km paved: 300 km unpaved: 300 km


Other Forms of Transportation:

Economic Zones:
Imports Curacao Free Zone SITC Section (2005): 777,577,000 NAf. Exports Curacao Free Zone SITC Section (2005): 984,549,000 NAf. Imports Curacao SITC Section (2005): 1,504,000 NAf. Exports Curacao SITC Section (2005): 145,000 NAf. Imports Bonaire SITC Section (2005): 126,000 NAf. Exports Bonaire SITC Section (2005): 23,000 NAf. Oil and oil products not included.

Energy Policy:

Year Total Energy Production (Mwh) Thermic (Mwh) Geothermic (Mwh) Other (Mwh) Total Energy Consumption (Mwh) Domestic (Mwh) Commercial (Mwh) Public Service (Mwh) Industry (Mwh) Public Lighting (Mwh)
2001 1,061,000,000 0 0 0 986,800,000 0 0 0 0 0


Official Currency:
Neth. Antilles Gulden (ANG)

Banking and Insurance:
Number of Banks and Credit Unions:
Number of Agricultural Credit Unions:
Number of Insurance Companies:

 Well-developed Netherlands Antilles banking system. European and North American bank branches. Most banks have international ties.

Financial Services:
Locally established insurance companies as subsidiaries or representatives of international insurance companies.

The September 2007article in the National Journal by Peter H. Stone reports on the overseas lobbying business of Patton Boggs and the Livingston Group. Livingston Group is representing the Netherlands Antilles for a fee of $40,000 a month. The top mission of the firm is to help negotiate a tax treaty with the U.S. that would enhance the financial credibility of Curacao.

Outward and open. Government and private web sites on economy and tourism extensive. English and/or Dutch.

Telephone system: general assessment: generally adequate facilities domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links
international: country code - 599; submarine cables - 2; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 19, shortwave 0 (2004)
Radios: 217,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 3 (there is also a cable service, which supplies programs received from various US satellite networks and two Venezuelan channels) (2004)
Televisions: 69,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .an
Internet hosts: 119 (2001)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6
Internet users: 2,000 (2000)

Public Ownership:
Companies partially or completely owned under a foundation of the local government Executive Council: WEB NV (water & electricity); TELBO NV (telecommunications); SELIBON NV (waste management); TCB NV (tourism promotion); and others.

Land Use:
Arable land: 10%; permanent crops: 0; other: 90% (2001).

Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Agriculture represents 1% of the GDP.

Marine Activity:

Territorial sea, exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm

Marine Life:
Coastline: 364 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm

Critical Issues:



Political System:
It is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 1954; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs.

The legal system based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence.

Political Parties:
Antillean Restructuring Party or PAR [Etienne YS]; C 93 [Stanley BROWN]; Democratic Party of Bonaire or PDB [Jopi ABRAHAM]; Democratic Party of Curacao or DP [Errol HERNANDEZ]; Democratic Party of Sint Eustatius or DP-St. E [Julian WOODLEY]; Democratic Party of Sint Maarten or DP-St. M [Sarah WESCOTT-WILLIAMS]; Foundation Energetic Management Anti-Narcotics or FAME [Eric LODEWIJKS]; Labor Party People's Crusade or PLKP [Errol COVA]; National Alliance [William MARLIN]; National People's Party or PNP [Susanne F. C. CAMELIA-ROMER]; New Antilles Movement or MAN [Kenneth GIJSBERTHA]; Patriotic Union of Bonaire or UPB [Ramonsito BOOI]; Patriotic Movement of Sint Maarten or SPA [Vance JAMES, Jr.]; People's Party or PAPU [Richard HODI]; Pro Curacao Party or PPK [Winston LOURENS]; Saba Democratic Labor Movement [Steve HASSELL]; Saba Unity Party [Carmen SIMMONDS]; St. Eustatius Alliance or SEA [Kenneth VAN PUTTEN]; Serious Alternative People's Party or Sapp [Julian ROLLOCKS]; Social Action Cause or KAS [Benny DEMEI]; Windward Islands People's Movement or WIPM [Will JOHNSTON]; Workers' Liberation Front or FOL [Anthony GODETT, Rignald LAK, Editha WRIGHT]
note: political parties are indigenous to each island.

Important Legislation:

Principal Taxes:

Associated Power:
Kingdom of the Netherlands

Dutch Antillean

Caricom (observer), Interpol, IOC, UNESCO (associate), UPU, WCL, WCO, WMO, WTO (associate)


Population: 191,780 (2007 est.) Males: 89,244; Females: 102,537.

Total fertility rate: 2.02 children born/woman (2004 est.)

Median age: total: 32.1 years
male: 30.6 years
female: 33.6 years (2004 est.)

Population density per sq km: 240.

Island Area (km sq.) Population % of Total Population
Netherlands Antilles 960 191,780 240%

Year Resident Population

Age of Population: 0-14 15-24 25-49 50-64 65 and up
2007 43401 24,880 72,595 32,505 18,299
2007 43501 24,880 72,595 32,505 18,299


Migration Netherlands Antilles
Immigration Emmigration
1998 6687 9947
1999 5560 11027
2000 6317 15574
2001 6754 11367
2002 10672 7868
2003 12235 9178
2004 8823 4997

Crude Birth Rate:

Life Expedctancy:
total population: 75.6 years
male: 73.37 years
female: 77.95 years (2004 est.)

Crude Death Rate:

mixed black 85%, Carib Amerindian, white, East Asian

Class Division:

Dutch (official), Papiamento (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect) predominates, English widely spoken, Spanish

Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Seventh-Day Adventist

 definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.7%
male: 96.7%
female: 96.8% (2003 est.)

Education System:

Total Pre-schools:()
Total Primary Schools  
First Level:
Second Level:
Third Level:
Total Secondary Schools:
Total Professional Schools


Number of Schools per Island:
Netherlands Antilles


Students Enrolled:


SABA University School of Medicine.

Medical Services:
As per Dec. 31, 2006: Pharmacies: 46
Physicians with own pharmacy: 3
Health institution with own pharmacy: 4



The Netherlands Antilles is to be disbanded on December 15, 2008. There has been an historical lack of support for the island grouping with Aruba being the first to secede in 1986, thereafter forming its own state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

A commission on the government of the Netherlands Antilles was convened in 2004 which reported on a future status of the Netherlands Antilles. The commission advised a revision of the Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in order to proceed with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles.

Two new associated states within the Kingdom of the Netherlands would be created, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius would become a direct part of the Netherlands as special municipalities (bijzondere gemeente), a form of "public body" (openbaar lichaam) as outlined in article 134 of the Dutch Constitution. These new municipalities will resemble ordinary Dutch municipalities in most ways by having a mayor, aldermen and a municipal council; and will have to introduce most Dutch law. Residents of these three islands will be eligible to vote in Dutch national and European elections.

Some benefits of the Netherland system will not be transferrable to these islands. Social security, for example, will not be on the same level as it is in the Netherlands, and the islands are not obliged to introduce the Euro; perhaps retaining the Antillean guilder pending further negotiations. Also, it is unknown whether prostitution and same-sex marriage, which are legal on the mainland of the Netherlands, will become legal on these islands.

The five island territories may also continue to access the Common Court of Justice of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles (with the Joint Court probably receiving a new name). Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius will have to involve the Dutch Minister of Foreign Relations before they can make agreements with countries in the region.

Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius were originally to be called the "Kingdom Islands" (Koninkrijkseilanden). The Kingdom government would consist of the government of the Netherlands and one mandated minister per Caribbean state. The special municipalities would be represented in the Kingdom Government by the Netherlands, as they can vote for the Dutch parliament. Presently, the Dutch province of North Holland has offered the three new municipalities the opportunity to become part of its province.

The Netherlands has proposed that the new EU constitution will allow the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba to opt for the status of Outermost Region (OMR) also called Ultra Peripheral Region (UPR), if they wish.

As part of the agreement, the Dutch government have agreed to pay off the Netherlands Antilles $US 2 billion debt.

Recent Significant Events:

Music, Dance, Handicraft and Patrimony:


Busari O, Vervoort M, Hermans S, Blom J. Medical education in the new millennium – a Caribbean perspective. Medical Education [serial online]. July 2001;35(7):703-706. Background on medical education in Netherlands Antilles.

BBC Caribbean.com. Antilles break-up closer. Nov. 3, 2006. http://www.bbc.co.uk/caribbean/news/story/2006/11/061103_stmaarten.shtml.

Stone P. Foreign Affairs. National Journal [serial online]. September 22, 2007;39(36):60-60.

Oostindie G. Dependence and autonomy in sub-national island jurisdictions: The case of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Round Table [serial online]. September 2006;95(386):609-626.

CIA World Fact Book, 2004/Netherlands Antilles: http://www.answers.com/topic/cia-world-fact-book-2004-netherlands-antilles.2008 Central Bureau of Statistics Netherlands Antilles:http://www.cbs.an//population/population_b3.asp. Airports in Netherlands Antilles: http://www.aircraft-charter-world.com/airports/centralamerica/nethantilles.htm

Saba, Crater Treasure of the Indies. National Geographic [serial online]. November 1940;78(5):597. Historical background.

McDonnell S. THE PERFECT MIX. Island of Curaçao in Netherlands Antilles, one of the six United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage sites in the Caribbean. June 2006;19(6):26-27.

Freeman M. It's not always about the fish. Christian Science Monitor [serial online]. January 10, 2000;92(33):12. Background: coral reefs.

Ceaser M. Sun, Sand, and an M.D. Chronicle of Higher Education [serial online]. October 28, 2005;52(10):A55-A60. Medical schools in Netherlands Antilles.

Stewart K, Stewart J. CREATING AN UNDERSEA PARK. Oceans [serial online]. July 1988;21(4):50-57.

Welkinson B. Dutch, Curacao, St. Maarten agree to autonomy for Caribbean islands. New York Amsterdam News [serial online]. November 09, 2006;97(46):14-14.

Schellmann G, Radtke U, Scheffcrs A, Whelan F, Kelletat D. ESR Dating of Coral Reef Terraces on Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles) with Estimates of Younger Plestocene Sea Level Elevations. Journal of Coastal Research [serial online]. Fall 2004;20(4):947-957.


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