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Antilles (Netherlands) Information - Page 1
Geography
The Netherlands Antilles was composed of five islands: Curacao and Bonaire, off the coast of Venezuela, and Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, east of the US Virgin Islands.

The federation of the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010; the islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are special municipalities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The larger islands of Sint Maarten and Curacao joined the Netherlands (and Aruba) as constituent countries forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The islands are hilly with volcanic interiors. The climate is tropical.

Environment
The Dutch Antilles are situated in two groups of islands: Curacao and Bonaire are off the Venezuelan coast. Together with Aruba, a separate autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, these islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) are often known as the ABC islands, or Leeward Islands.

Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten are part of the Windward Islands chain which also includes the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Guadeloupe and a number of other Caribbean countries. All the environmental work on the Dutch Antilles is carried out under an umbrella foundation known as the DCNA (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance). DCNA represents a formal co-operation between the nature conservation management organizations of the Dutch Caribbean. The goal of the foundation is to safeguard the biodiversity and natural heritage of the islands of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba by supporting and assisting nature conservation efforts throughout the Dutch Caribbean.

Each of the islands of the Dutch Caribbean has one or more legally established protected area (park) of significance. All are managed by non-governmental, not for profit foundations, which are struggling to protect and make wise use of the marine and terrestrial natural heritage of the islands. The first marine park in the Dutch Antilles was established in Bonaire in the early 1980s. Other marine parks are Curacao Underwater Park, Saba Marine Park, STENAPA St. Eustatius and St. Maarten Nature Foundation. The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance brings them to the table allowing them to work together and giving them a voice with which to bring conservation issues affecting the Antilles to the attention of the Netherlands and the rest of the world. It also allows them to raise funds in new and innovative ways.

A first joint educational project executed by DCNA was a turtle outreach project which is being run simultaneously on Saba, St. Martin, Statia and Bonaire by local NME staff. This project is based on the enormously successful RARE Pride Program, which has been run throughout the Caribbean and Pacific islands using a flagship species to engender national pride in nature and the environment. Here it has been adapted using turtles as the flagship species. (2008)

Architecture
The Historic Area of Willemstad was designated a World Heritage site in 1997. A trading settlement was established around the harbour at Willemstad on the island of Curacao in the early seventeenth century. The architecture of the historic inner city and harbour is Dutch, with Spanish and Portuguese influences.

Population
The population of the Netherlands Antilles was estimated at 225,369 in November 2008 (Curacao and Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten).

Languages
A large number of the people speak Papiamento, a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect. Dutch is the official language and English is widely spoken. Some people speak Spanish.

Religion
The majority of the people of the Dutch Antilles are Christians; many are Roman Catholic.

Food
Dutch Antillean food is influenced by Dutch and Creole cuisine.

The use of cheese reflects the importance of dairy products in the diet of the Netherlands. Fish is plentiful and fish recipes are often spicy. Goat stew is a traditional Caribbean dish.

The island of Curacao is famous for Curacao liqueur.

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