Cruising in the Netherlands Antilles


Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, the island of Curacao was hard hit by the abolition of slavery in 1863. Its prosperity (and that of neighboring Aruba) 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 portion is called Saint-Martin and is part of Guadeloupe (France).


Location: Caribbean, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea - composed of five islands, Curacao and Bonaire located off the coast of Venezuela, and St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius lie east of the US Virgin Islands
Geographic coordinates: 12 15 N, 68 45 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 960 sq km
Land: 960 sq km; note: includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin)
Border countries: Guadeloupe (Saint-Martin) 10.2 km


364 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm


Tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds


Generally hilly, volcanic interiors

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mount Scenery 862 m


Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Although GDP has declined or grown slightly in each of the past eight years, the islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region.

Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, the US and Mexico being the major suppliers. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Budgetary problems hamper reform of the health and pension systems of an aging population.


Airports: 5 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 5

Merchant marine

Total: 161 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,338,891 GRT/1,704,829 DWT
By type: barge carrier 3, bulk carrier 4, cargo 84, chemical tanker 2, container 15, liquefied gas 6, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 4, Refrigerated cargo 33, roll on/roll off 4, specialized tanker 4
Foreign-owned: 150 (Belgium 4, Cuba 1, Denmark 1, Estonia 1, Germany 52, Netherlands 69, Norway 2, Sweden 9, Turkey 8, UK 2, US 1)
Registered in other countries: 1 (Netherlands 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Bopec Terminal, Fuik Bay, Kralendijk, Willemstad  

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Anguilla - Antigua and Barbuda - Aruba - Bahamas - Barbados - British Virgin Islands - Cayman Islands - Cuba - Dominica - Dominican Republic - Grenada - Guadeloupe - Haiti - Jamaica - St. Kitts and Nevis - St. Lucia - Martinique - Montserrat - Netherlands Antilles - Puerto Rico - Trinidad and Tobago - Turks and Caicos - St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Virgin Islands (USA)

Further Reading

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