The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists not only of the neighboring country of the Netherlands, which we like to call Holland. The so-called ABC islands Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, as well as Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba are also part of the Dutch kingdom.
All six islands are located in the Caribbean. The ABC islands only 25 to 60 km off the coast of Venezuela in South America, the remaining islands belong to the "islands above the wind" and are located east of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Until 2010, five of the six islands – Aruba left in 1985 – belonged to the overseas territory of the Netherlands Antilles and were therefore part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Even today the islands are often still called the Netherlands Antilles (I will use this name here for simplicity’s sake), but officially this association was dissolved in 2010 and the political situation was reorganized.
History of the Netherlands Antilles
End of the 15. The islands were "discovered" by the Spaniards at the end of the nineteenth century and taken. In the years 1620 to 1636 the West Indian Company, a Dutch trading company, gradually took over the islands and used them mainly as a trading base.
Not only salt, sugar, beaver skins, tobacco, gold and copper were traded, but also slaves, especially from 1674 to 1740. These were shipped from the colonies on the West African coast to the territories in the Caribbean, where they were sold to the plantation owners. The island of Curacao acted for several years as a kind of slave depot for the whole area.
The slave trade has left its mark on the Netherlands Antilles, about 85% of today’s population has African roots.
The Netherlands Antilles today
Today Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom with their own constitution, currency and government. Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius are Special communities and are officially known as Carbisch Nederland Designates.
In the EU, the Netherlands Antilles have a special status as Overseas Countries and Territories, d.h. they are associated with the EU, but in principle do not belong to it.
I’m not quite clear on the subtleties of the various political categories, but I certainly know that these islands are excellent and beautiful vacation destinations.
Photo: Katharina Kruppa, Reiseworld
Vacations in the Netherlands Antilles
For years, the Dutch have been very fond of traveling to the ABC islands and the islands across the winds to spend their vacations there. The temperatures there are always around 27 degrees and the Caribbean sea is not only beautiful, but also pleasantly warm. With hurricanes one does not have to count actually and rain gives it also rather rarely. And security concerns, as currently in other vacation countries, you do not need to have there absolutely.
Curacao, in particular, is very popular as a package holiday destination, but Aruba is now also making inroads among package tourists. KLM offers many direct flights to the Netherlands Antilles from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, so the travel time is also limited. Incidentally, feeder flights from most German airports are available at no extra charge.
The infrastructure on the islands is everywhere prepared for tourists. A variety of accommodation, car rental and providers of excursions and water sports can be found everywhere.