H ere the whole underwater world is under nature protection. Curacao is with well 444 square kilometers approximately as small as Usedom and the C of the so-called Caribbean ABC islands, to which still Aruba and Bonaire belong. Geographically, it belongs to the "Windward Islands," the southern Lesser Antilles, and thus to South America.
It is located just over 60 kilometers north of Venezuela and northeast of Colombia. Nevertheless, it belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands with King Willem-Alexander as head of state. In 1634, an expedition by Johan van Walbeeck conquered Curacao for the Dutch West India Company.
It quickly became the center for the Caribbean slave trade and remained so until the 18th century. Century. Only about six percent of the 150.000 inhabitants are of Dutch-European descent. Most are Afro-Caribbeans, the descendants of slaves.
Since 2010, Curacao has been an autonomous province of the Netherlands. The official language remains Dutch, but Papiamentu, a mixed Creole language, is used much more frequently in everyday life.
The currency is still the Antillean guilder, but it will soon be replaced – no date has been set yet – by the Caribbean guilder, whose value is firmly pegged to the U.S. dollar. Admittedly, you can also pay with the euro without any problems.
The favorite word
"Nice" or also "dear", "sweet", optionally "my darling" means the word that visitors probably hear most often on Curacao: "Dushi!" is an expression from the creole language Papiamentu, which is made up of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and various African languages.
Another popular word is "Danki!". Translated it means nothing else than "thank you". The islanders are not known for nothing as a polite, good-humored people.
50 nationalities .
. living on Curacao. Correspondingly diverse is also the Cuisine. Typical snacks are arepa di pampuna (pumpkin pancakes), johnnycakes (savory stuffed with Dutch cheese), karko (mussel meat) and pinda herebe (boiled peanuts).
Restaurants offer everything from French cuisine to Caribbean crioyo. Cheap, very good food is enjoyed like the locals in the "Marsche Bieuw", the "Old Market" in Willemstad: You choose from many kitchen stalls and then eat together at long tables.
The blue liqueur
The Spanish once tried to grow sweet oranges on the island. But climate and soil were not right, the oranges became bitter. Around this "Lahara" to make it edible, they distilled liqueur from it. Today it is colored blue, red, green or orange.
It has little in common with Blue Curacao, which is available worldwide: Since the name of an island cannot be protected as a trademark, it can be used for anything. Lahara grow but only around and on Curacao, where "Genuine Curacao Liqueur", the original, is still distilled today.
Dutch Colonial architecture adorns not only the pretty capital Willemstad, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Scattered around the island are also 55 Curacao-Landhuizen from the 18th century. and 19. Century, of which you can visit around 20.
These villas, where the plantation owner lived with his house slaves, were often built from stones, corals and Dutch bricks on a hill. All around were the huts of the slaves who had to work in the salt mines or on the plantations.
Many landhuizen have been lavishly restored and transformed into museums or galleries for the vibrant local art scene. Worth seeing is for example the Landhuis Jan Kok.
Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles live in the diving waters around Curacao. At least three of them even breed on the island, in the Shete Boka National Park. A natural jewel is also the huge Christoffel National Park next door with the rare Curacao deer that lives only on the island, yellow orioles, green parakeets and the smallest hummingbird in the world – the tiny mosquito hummingbird.
Cacti, shrubs, agaves, herbs – more than 300 plants has Dinah Veeris in her garden: Katuna di Seda against rheumatic pains, Wayaka for blood purification and positive energy, Mata Piska against lice, Agaves as a potency remedy, Temetika as a love spell, Anais for the fulfillment of wishes.
In 1991, the now almost 80-year-old created the "Den Paradera," "The place where you feel at home". The name refers to the former gardens of the Paraguiri Indians, to which the Spaniards brought slaves for healing. Today Dinah Veeris is a local celebrity with her own homepage.
"If you can quench your thirst with a gourd bowl full of water, don’t crave French glasses," goes a proverb on Curacao. The Bottle gourd grows on the island.
Strange, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional studies series here.