A Dutch dependency known as ‘The Netherlands Antilles’ has ceased to exist following constitutional changes.
The islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba become autonomous ‘special municipalities’ of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Aruba, Curacao and St Maarten become autonomous countries within the kingdom.
The islands came under Dutch rule back in the 17th Century when they were colonized by Spanish Explorers and sold to the Dutch West India company, and Holland will remain responsible for the defense and foreign policy for the 309 square mile region.
Since then, the islands have incurred large debts to the ruling nation, which the smaller islands believe Curacao to be responsible for. Curacao will continue to repay its debts to the Dutch under a debt-relief arrangement. Referendums regarding the move have been held over a number of years, and while it will give each island (except St. Eustatius) autonomy in many issues they will remain dependents of the Netherlands.
Due to a lack of natural resources these islands depend heavily on imports, but significant income is generated from tourism, oil refining and as a transport hub for petroleum based products, and ‘offshore finance’.
- St. Maarten, Curacao celebrate increased autonomy (foxnews.com)
- Dutch Antilles dissolves as two new countries created (reuters.com)
- Dutch Antilles no longer exists (bbc.co.uk)
- St. Maarten, Curacao celebrate increased autonomy (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- St. Maarten, Curacao celebrate increased autonomy (dailycaller.com)
- St. Maarten, Curacao celebrate increased autonomy (sfgate.com)