Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles)

As any other island, Curaçao has it's own history. Curaçao was originally populated by Indians. This tribe was called the Arowak Indians. These Indians lived very peaceful on this island and they were originally from Venezuela. The Arowak Indians were a branch of the Caiquetos called Curaçaos and it is from them that Curaçao takes its name.The Caiquetos are a group of Indians that came from a more blood thirsty tribe called, the Caribs. In 1499, this big ship arrived at the coast of Curaçao with lieutenant Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci in charge. Alonso de Ojeda was lieutenant of Columbus at this time. He discovered also 2 more islands this same year. These islands are Aruba and Bonaire. When Alonso discovered these islands, he claimed the islands for the Spanish, but because there was no gold there they were declared "useless islands." After Ojeda marked his claim, a Spanish settlement followed in 1527.The Aworak community on was largely transported to work on Hispaniola, and nowadays no full blooded Indians are found on Curaçao.
Legend has it that Amerigo Vespucci -- from whom we get the word 'America' -- dropped off some sailors afflicted with scurvy on his way to South America. Expecting them to die in the arid climate, he was surprised when he returned less than a year later to find them alive and fully recovered. Hence, he called the island "Curaçao " after what is supposed to be the Portuguese word for "cure." But the story, while interesting, seems to be purely apocryphal.

Around 1633, the Spanish quietly left the island and leaving it in the hands of Holland, which claimed it as a possession of the Dutch West Indies Company. Curaçao is centrally located and it's natural harbors made it a perfect place for business. These 2 pictures shows the natural harbor of Curaçao. Curaçao had a strategic location in the Caribbean inspired predatory interest among the French and British, who continually tried to send the Dutch packing, with little success. In 1642 a young Dutchman named Peter Stuyvesant became governor of the island, a mere three years before he took over governorship of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, today known as New York. During Dutch rule, the island was divided into plantations. Not all were devoted to agriculture; some of the estates were utilized for salt mining.



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