5 islands

The islands of the Netherlands Antilles are spread out through the Caribbean. Bonaire and Curaçao, otherwise called the Leeward Islands, are located just north of the Venezuelan coast in the south of the Caribbean Sea. The other islands, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, otherwise called the Windward Islands lay about 550 miles more to the north. They are located in the north eastern part of the Caribbean ring, close to the British island of Anguila and the French St. Barts.

Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, the island of Curacao was hard hit by the abolition of slavery in 1863. Its prosperity was restored in the early 20th century with the construction of oil refineries to service the newly discovered Venezuelan oil fields. The island of Saint Martin is shared with France; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles; its northern part is called Saint-Martin and is part of France.
The official languages spoken within the boundaries of the Netherlands Antilles are Dutch (official), Papiamento (a mix of Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English), Spanish and English is also widely spoken.

The Antillean flag
The current flag of Netherlands Antilles was officially adopted in 1994.
The blue and red are colors used on the Netherlands flag, and the five stars on the horizontal blue band represent the five main islands of the Netherlands Antilles, including Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten.


The Netherlands Antilles are now in the middle of restructuring the country. This means that from 2007 each island will have an individual relation with the Netherlands.