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Dutch Caribbean

Parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in the Caribbean
For the integral territories of the constituent country of the Netherlands, see Caribbean Netherlands.
Dutch Caribbean
Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Dutch Caribbean location map.svg
Location of the Dutch Caribbean islands
  Sint Maarten
  Caribbean Netherlands (from west to east):
  • Bonaire
  • Saba
  • Sint Eustatius
Area999 km (386 sq mi)
(as of January 2019)
GDP (Nominal)US$ 8.911 billion
GDP per Capita (Nominal)US$ 29,240
Density343/km (890/sq mi)
LanguagesDutch, English, Papiamento
Government3 constituent countries
3 special municipalities

The Dutch Caribbean (historically known as the Dutch West Indies) are the territories, colonies, and countries, former and current, of the Dutch Empire and the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean Sea. They are in the north and south-west of the long Lesser Antilles archipelago.

Currently they comprise the constituent countries of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten; and the special municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The contemporary term is sometimes also used for the Caribbean Netherlands, an entity consisting of the three special municipalities forming part of the constituent country of the Netherlands since 2010. The Dutch Caribbean has a population of 337,617 as of January 2019.


Further information: Dutch colonization of the Americas and Dutch West India Company

The islands in the Dutch Caribbean were, from 1815, part of the colonies Curaçao and Dependencies (1815–1828) or Sint Eustatius and Dependencies (1815–1828), which were merged with colony of Suriname (not considered part of the Dutch Caribbean, although it was on the Caribbean coast of Northeastern South America) and governed from Paramaribo until 1845, when all islands became part of the colony again called Curaçao and Dependencies.

In 1954, the islands became the country (Dutch: Land) Netherlands Antilles (1954−2010). The autonomy of the Netherlands Antilles' island territories was stipulated in the Islands Regulation of the Netherlands Antilles. Initially the Netherlands Antilles consisted of four island territories: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and the Windward Islands. The latter split into the Island Territories Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten in 1983.

The island of Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 to become a separate constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, leaving five island territories within the Netherlands Antilles. This situation remained until the complete dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles as a unified political entity in 2010. In that year Curaçao and Sint Maarten became autonomous constituent countries within the Kingdom (like Aruba); while Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba became special municipalities of the Netherlands proper. The Netherlands proper is located in the European Union.


Currently, there are two main divisions in the Dutch Caribbean:

Constituent countries

Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao and the largest city in the Dutch Caribbean
Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard cutter

There are three Caribbean islands that are countries (Dutch: landen) within the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. The Netherlands is the fourth and largest constituent country in the Kingdom.

Sint Maarten comprises approximately one half of the island of Saint Martin. The northern half of the island – the Collectivity of Saint Martin – is an overseas territory of France.

Special municipalities

Main article: Caribbean Netherlands

The three Caribbean islands that are special municipalities of the Netherlands alone are Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba. Collectively, these special municipalities of the Netherlands are also known as the "BES islands" or the Caribbean Netherlands.


(January 2019)
ArubaArubaOranjestad, Aruba180 km (69 sq mi)112,309624/km (1,620/sq mi)
BonaireBonaireKralendijk294 km (114 sq mi)20,10469/km (180/sq mi)
CuraçaoCuraçaoWillemstad444 km (171 sq mi)158,665358/km (930/sq mi)
SabaSabaThe Bottom13 km (5.0 sq mi)1,915148/km (380/sq mi)
Sint EustatiusSint EustatiusOranjestad, Sint Eustatius21 km (8.1 sq mi)3,138150/km (390/sq mi)
Sint MaartenSint MaartenPhilipsburg34 km (13 sq mi)41,4861,221/km (3,160/sq mi)
Total986 km (381 sq mi)337,617343/km (890/sq mi)

Grouping of islands

The islands have also been informally grouped in the following ways:

Other topics

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Dutch Caribbean, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (view authors).

Date of last edit: 2021-01-28T16:40:03.000Z