The History of Curaçao’s Nationhood

Curaçao pic


After receiving her Bachelor of Arts from Florida A&M University in 1996, Imogene Cathey went on to earn her juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Currently employed as general counsel for Seton Hill University, Imogene Cathey has visited many countries in the Caribbean, including Curaçao.

Now part of the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao’s history can be traced back to the arrival of the Amerindian Arawaks from South America about 6,000 years ago. Alonso de Ojeda was the first European to visit the island when he led a Spanish expedition in 1499. While the Spanish officially adopted it in 1527, its lack of gold or any other valuable resources made it an underappreciated part of the Spanish empire.

In 1634, the Dutch relieved the Spanish of the burden of administering the island, and the Dutch West India Company created the new capital city called Willemstad, whose natural harbor made it a terrific place for shipping and eventually a naval base. After the island’s potential was revealed, the Spanish decided they wanted it after all and tried unsuccessfully to seize it.

The island remains a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


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