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Antilles (Netherlands) Information - Page 2
History
The Spanish were the first Europeans to settle in the "Dutch Antilles".

In the seventeenth century the Dutch colonized the islands. Together with Aruba, this territory was called the Dutch West Indies. Apart from periods of British occupation, during the Napoleonic Wars, the islands remained Dutch.

The Netherlands Antilles became autonomous in 1954. Aruba left the federation at the beginning of 1986 and became a separate autonomous member of the Kingdom.

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

Economy
Most of the agricultural produce is imported. Only a very small percentage of the work force is employed in agriculture.

The discovery of oil in nearby Venezuela created a demand for refineries. Petroleum refining in Curacao is one of the mainstays of the economy.

The majority of the working population is employed in the services sector. This includes offshore finance and tourism. The tourist industry is centred in Bonaire, Curacao and Sint Maarten. (2008)

Arts
Carnival time, in the early part of the year, is an opportunity to celebrate traditional song and dance.

Other cultural events include orchestral concerts, ballet performances, operas and plays.

Sport
Football and baseball are played. Water sports include swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, windsurfing and sailing.

Holidays
All religious holidays are celebrated. Other holidays include New Years Day - 1 January, Labour Day - May 1, Curacao Flag Day - 2 July, and Antilles Day 21 October.

News
News from the Dutch Antilles is available from Newslink.

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