Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Curaçao [pronounced koo-rah-sow] (population 150,000) is an island in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea, one of the Windward Islands of the Netherlands Antilles, a self-governing part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Curaçao's capital is Willemstad.
The languages widely spoken on Curaçao are Papiamento, Castilian (Spanish), English and Dutch. Of these languages, Papiamento is the native language of most inhabitants, with Dutch being the official state language taught in schools. Papiamento is a creole language that has developed through centuries of contact between the diverse peoples living on Curaçao. The Papiamento for Curaçao is Korsou.
Discovered by the Spaniards, the island was occupied by the Dutch in 1634. The original inhabitants were Arawak Indians, which were decimated after the Spanish occupation. After the island became a territory of the Netherlands, slaves were brought from Africa. The Dutch abolished slavery in 1863. Because of its history, the island now has a diverse ethnic background. Willemstad features colonial architecture and has the western hemisphere's oldest synagogues in continuous use, founded in 1651. This earned Willemstad a place on UNESCO's world heritage list.
In the 2000s the political status of the island has been under discussion, as for the other islands of the Netherlands Antilles, regarding the relationship with the Netherlands and between the islands of the Antilles. In a referendum held on April 8 2005, together with Sint Eustatius, the residents voted for a separate status outside the Netherlands Antilles, like Aruba, rejecting the options for full independence, becoming part of the Netherlands, or retaining the status quo.
The name "Curaçao" has become associated with a particular shade of blue, and is sometimes used as an adjective, because of the deep-blue liqueur named "Blue Curaçao". Curaçao liqueur is a drink flavored with the dried peels of bitter oranges grown on the island. Although blue is the most famous version, Curaçao liqueur is also produced clear, or with orange or green coloring.
The flag of Curacao contains a blue background with a yellow stripe near the bottom and two white, five-pointed stars near the top. The blue symbolizes the blue sea and sky (the top and bottom blue sections, respectively) punctuated by the yellow sun. The two stars represent Curacao and Klein Curacao (an uninhabited smaller island nearby), with the five points on each star symbolizing the five continents from which Curacao's people come.
With Curacao's status within the Netherlands Antilles uncertain for the time being, this flag may be subject to change.
Mapquest zoom level 7 only has the Willemstad region; this region is also available in zoom level 8, 9, and 10.
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