Curaçao - CW - CUW - Central America and the Caribbean

Last updated: February 20, 2024
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Curacao Factbook Data

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament of Curacao (21 seats; members directly elected by party-list proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 19 March 2021 (next to be held in 2025)

election results:
percent of vote by party - MFK 27.8%, PAR 13.9%, PNP 12.5%, MAN 6.4%, KEM 5.4%, TPK 5.2%; seats by party - MFK 9, PAR 4, PNP 4, MAN 2, KEM 1, TPK 1; composition as of January 2024 - men 15, women 6, percent of women 28.6%

Exchange rates

Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
1.79 (2021 est.)
1.79 (2020 est.)
1.79 (2019 est.)
1.79 (2018 est.)
1.79 (2017 est.)

Background

The original Arawak Indian settlers who arrived on the island from South America in about A.D. 1000, were largely enslaved by the Spanish early in the 16th century and forcibly relocated to other colonies where labor was needed. Curacao was seized by the Dutch from the Spanish in 1634. Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, Curacao was hard hit economically by the Dutch abolition of slavery in 1863. Its prosperity (and that of neighboring Aruba) was restored in the early 20th century with the construction of the Isla Refineria to service the newly discovered Venezuelan oilfields. In 1954, Curacao and several other Dutch Caribbean colonies were reorganized as the Netherlands Antilles, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In referenda in 2005 and 2009, the citizens of Curacao voted to become a self-governing country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The change in status became effective in October 2010 with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles.

Location

Caribbean, an island in the Caribbean Sea, 55 km off the coast of Venezuela

Flag description

on a blue field a horizontal yellow band somewhat below the center divides the flag into proportions of 5:1:2; two five-pointed white stars - the smaller above and to the left of the larger - appear in the canton; the blue of the upper and lower sections symbolizes the sky and sea respectively; yellow represents the sun; the stars symbolize Curacao and its uninhabited smaller sister island of Klein Curacao; the five star points signify the five continents from which Curacao's people derive

Dependency status

constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 2010; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs


Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Consul General Margy BOND (since 20 January 2022); note - also accredited to Aruba and Sint Maarten

embassy: P.O. Box 158, J.B. Gorsiraweg 1

mailing address: 3160 Curacao Place, Washington DC  20521-3160

telephone: [599] (9) 461-3066

FAX: [599] (9) 461-6489

email address and website:
ACSCuracao@state.gov

https://cw.usconsulate.gov/

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.3% (male 15,107/female 14,390)

15-64 years: 62.7% (male 47,299/female 48,538)

65 years and over: 18% (2023 est.) (male 11,096/female 16,419)
2023 population pyramid
This is the population pyramid for Curacao. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends.

For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Geographic coordinates

12 10 N, 69 00 W


Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female

total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Natural hazards

Curacao is south of the Caribbean hurricane belt and is rarely threatened


Area - comparative

more than twice the size of Washington, DC


Environment - current issues

problems in waste management that threaten environmental sustainability on the island include pollution of marine areas from domestic sewage, inadequate sewage treatment facilities, industrial effluents and agricultural runoff, the mismanagement of toxic substances, and ineffective regulations; the refinery in Sint Anna Bay, at the eastern edge of Willemstad’s large natural harbor, processes heavy crude oil from Venezuela; it has caused significant environmental damage to the surrounding area because of neglect and a lack of strict environmental controls; the release of noxious fumes and potentially hazardous particles causes schools downwind to regularly close


Administrative divisions

none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)



note: Curacao is one of four constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the other three are the Netherlands, Aruba, and Sint Maarten

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Curaçao Militia (CURMIL) (2023)

Capital

name: Willemstad

geographic coordinates: 12 06 N, 68 55 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after Prince WILLIAM II of Orange (1626-1650), who served as stadtholder (Dutch head of state) from 1647 to 1650, shortly after the the Dutch captured Curacao from the Spanish in 1634

Climate

tropical marine climate, ameliorated by northeast trade winds, results in mild temperatures; semiarid with average rainfall of 60 cm/year


Coastline

364 km

Constitution

history: previous 1947, 1955; latest adopted 5 September 2010, entered into force 10 October 2010 (regulates governance of Curacao but is subordinate to the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands); note - in October 2010, with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao became a semi-autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Ethnic groups

Curacaoan 75.4%, Dutch 6%, Dominican 3.6%, Colombian 3%, Bonairean, Sint Eustatian, Saban 1.5%, Haitian 1.2%, Surinamese 1.2%, Venezuelan 1.1%, Aruban 1.1%, other 5%, unspecified 0.9% (2011 est.)

Executive branch

chief of state: King WILLEM-ALEXANDER of the Netherlands (since 30 April 2013); represented by Governor Lucille A. GEORGE-WOUT (since 4 November 2013)

head of government: Prime Minister Gilmar PISAS (since 14 June 2021)

cabinet: Cabinet sworn-in by the governor

elections/appointments: the monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party usually elected prime minister by the Parliament of Curacao; last election held on 19 March 2021 (next to be held in 2025)

Independence

none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)


Judicial branch

highest court(s): Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba or "Joint Court of Justice" (sits as a 3-judge panel); final appeals heard by the Supreme Court, in The Hague, Netherlands

judge selection and term of office: Joint Court judges appointed by the monarch for life

subordinate courts: first instance courts, appeals court; specialized courts

Land boundaries

0

Land use

agricultural land: 10% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10% (2018)

other: 90% (2018 est.)

Languages

Papiamento (official) (a creole language that is a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English, and, to a lesser extent, French, as well as elements of African languages and the language of the Arawak) 80%, Dutch (official) 8.8%, Spanish 5.6%, English (official) 3.1%, other 2.3%, unspecified 0.3% (2011 est.)

note: data represent most spoken language in household

Legal system

based on Dutch civil law


Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

International organization participation

Caricom (observer), FATF, ILO, ITU, UNESCO (associate), UPU


National holiday

King's Day (birthday of King WILLEM-ALEXANDER), 27 April (1967); note - King's or Queen's Day are observed on the ruling monarch's birthday; celebrated on 26 April if 27 April is a Sunday


Nationality

noun: Curacaoan

adjective: Curacaoan; Dutch

Natural resources

calcium phosphates, protected harbors, hot springs


Geography - note

Curacao is a part of the Windward Islands (southern) group in the Lesser Antilles


Political parties and leaders

Korsou di Nos Tur or KdnT [Amparo dos SANTOS]
Korsou Esun Miho or KEM [Michelangelo MARTINES]
Movementu Futuro Korsou or MFK [Gilmar PISAS]
Movementu Progresivo or MP [Marylin MOSES]
Movishon Antia Nobo or MAN [Hensley KOEIMAN]
Partido Antia Restruktura or PAR [Eugene RHUGGENAATH]
Partido Inovashon Nashonal or PIN [Suzanne CAMELIA-ROMER]
Partido Nashonal di Pueblo or PNP [Ruthmilda LARMONIE-CECILIA]
Pueblo Soberano or PS [Ben WHITEMAN] 
Trabou pa Kòrsou or TPK [Rennox CALMES] 
Un Korsou Hustu [Omayra LEEFLANG]

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Willemstad

oil terminal(s): Bullen Baai (Curacao Terminal)

cruise port(s): Willemstad

bulk cargo port(s): Fuik Bay (phosphate rock)

Religions

Roman Catholic 72.8%, Pentecostal 6.6%, Protestant 3.2%, Adventist 3%, Jehovah's Witness 2%, Evangelical 1.9%, other 3.8%, none 6%, unspecified 0.6% (2011 est.)

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal


Telecommunication systems

general assessment: fully automatic modern telecommunications system; telecom sector across the Caribbean region continues to be one of the growth areas; given the lack of economic diversity in the region, with a high dependence on tourism and activities such as fisheries and offshore financial services the telecom sector contributes greatly to the GDP (2020)

domestic: roughly 28 per 100 users for fixed-line and 88 per 100 users for cellular-mobile (2021)

international: country code - +599, PCCS submarine cable system to US, Caribbean and Central and South America (2019)

Terrain

generally low, hilly terrain


Government type

parliamentary democracy


Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the Dutch Government controls foreign and defense policy; the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard (DCCG) provides maritime security (2024)

Country name

conventional long form: Country of Curacao

conventional short form: Curacao

local long form: Land Curacao (Dutch)/ Pais Korsou (Papiamento)

local short form: Curacao (Dutch)/ Korsou (Papiamento)

former: Netherlands Antilles; Curacao and Dependencies

etymology: the most plausible name derivation is that the island was designated Isla de la Curacion (Spanish meaning "Island of the Cure" or "Island of Healing") or Ilha da Curacao (Portuguese meaning the same) to reflect the locale's function as a recovery stop for sick crewmen

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean


Irrigated land

NA

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Internet country code

.cw


Total renewable water resources

NA

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 17 years

male: 18 years

female: 18 years (2013)

Urbanization

urban population: 89% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.57% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Broadcast media

government-run TeleCuracao operates a TV station and a radio station; 2 other privately owned TV stations and several privately owned radio stations (2019)

National anthem

name: "Himmo di Korsou" (Anthem of Curacao)

lyrics/music: Guillermo ROSARIO, Mae HENRIQUEZ, Enrique MULLER, Betty DORAN/Frater Candidus NOWENS, Errol "El Toro" COLINA

note: adapted 1978; the lyrics, originally written in 1899, were rewritten in 1978 to make them less colonial in nature

Major urban areas - population

144,000 WILLEMSTAD (capital) (2018)

National symbol(s)

laraha (citrus tree); national colors: blue, yellow, white

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47

youth dependency ratio: 25.6

elderly dependency ratio: 21.4

potential support ratio: 4.7 (2021 est.)

Citizenship

see the Netherlands

Population distribution

largest concentration on the island is Willemstad; smaller settlements near the coast can be found throughout the island, particularly in the northwest

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

PJ

Imports - partners

United States 35%, Netherlands 24%, China 5% (2019)

Economic overview

high-income island economy; developed infrastructure; tourism and financial services-based economy; investing in information technology incentives; oil refineries service Venezuela and China; unique COVID-19 stimulus support applied to government debts rather than household support

GDP (official exchange rate)

$5.6 billion (2012 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 66.9% (2016 est.)

government consumption: 33.6% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 19.4% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 17.5% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -37.5% (2016 est.)

Agricultural products

aloe, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit

Industries

tourism, petroleum refining, petroleum transshipment, light manufacturing, financial and business services

Exports - commodities

refined petroleum, crude petroleum, petroleum coke, frozen fish, fishing ships (2021)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, crude petroleum, packaged medicines, perfumes (2019)

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 14,200 (Venezuela) (2021)

Elevation

highest point: Mt. Christoffel 372 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

Physicians density

NA

Contraceptive prevalence rate

NA

Current health expenditure

NA

Drinking water source

improved: total: 100% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 100% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017)

Exports - partners

Switzerland 27%, United States 17%, Spain 14%, Ecuador 7%, India 7%, Antigua and Barbuda 5% (2019)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 24,704 tons (2013 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 494 tons (2013 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 2% (2013 est.)

Air pollutants

carbon dioxide emissions: 5.39 megatons (2016 est.)

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 3 — Curacao does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, therefore, Curacao remained on Tier 3; the government took some steps to address trafficking, including providing shelter and services to two victims, prosecuting two alleged traffickers, and adopting and funding a National Action Plan (NAP) to improve law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking; however, the new NAP did not include provisions to protect victims or prevent crime; the courts did not convict any traffickers, and the government continued to condition foreign victim assistance on cooperation in cases against traffickers; lack of funding remained a primary obstacle to anti-trafficking efforts; officials demonstrated limited familiarity with human trafficking and conflated it with migrant smuggling, hindering effective prosecution, prevention, and protection efforts; government coordination with civil society organizations and internally, across agencies, was inadequate (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Curacao; undocumented migrants, especially the substantial population of Venezuelans, are vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking; traffickers exploit women and girls, particularly from Curacao, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, among other countries, in sex trafficking; migrants from other Caribbean countries, South America, China, and India are subject to forced labor in domestic servitude, as well as in construction, landscaping, mini markets, retail, and restaurants (2023)

Illicit drugs

northbound transshipment points for cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela; cocaine is transported to the United States, other Caribbean islands, Africa, and Europe


National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 1 (cultural); note - excerpted from the Netherlands entry

selected World Heritage Site locales: Historic Willemstad

Gross reproduction rate

0.96 (2023 est.)

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

49.7% (2023 est.)

Remittances

5.24% of GDP (2020 est.)
5.88% of GDP (2019 est.)
5.14% of GDP (2018 est.)

Labor force

73,010 (2013)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 42.2% (2020 est.)

male: 38.1%

female: 47.1%

Net migration rate

-1.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Median age

total: 37.5 years (2023 est.)

male: 35.3 years

female: 40 years

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$0 (31 December 2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

45,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Public debt

33.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
40.6% of GDP (2011 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.97 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Unemployment rate

13% (2013 est.)
9.8% (2011 est.)

Population

152,849 (2023 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.4% (of GDP) (2012 est.)

Internet users

total: 111,956 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 68.1% (2021 est.)

Area

total: 444 sq km

land: 444 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Taxes and other revenues

16.6% (of GDP) (2012 est.)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$3.167 billion (2021 est.) note: data are in 2017 dollars
$3.038 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in 2017 dollars
$3.725 billion (2019 est.)

Roadways

total: 550 km

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 8.5 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 170,000 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 88 (2021 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.62% (2019 est.)
2.58% (2018 est.)
1.59% (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

167,500 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Current account balance

-$596.437 million (2021 est.)
-$688.805 million (2020 est.)
-$540.731 million (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$20,800 (2021 est.) note: data are in 2017 dollars
$19,600 (2020 est.) note: data are in 2017 dollars
$23,700 (2019 est.)

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 55,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (2020 est.)

Death rate

8.8 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Birth rate

13.1 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Merchant marine

total: 57 (2023)

by type: general cargo 5, oil tanker 1, other 51

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

NA

Imports

$1.915 billion (2021 est.) note: data are in current year dollars
$1.709 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars
$2.331 billion (2019 est.)

Exports

$1.28 billion (2021 est.)
$1.014 billion (2020 est.)
$1.775 billion (2019 est.)

note: Data are in current year dollars and do not include illicit exports or re-exports.

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 53,095 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 28 (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

189,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.7 years (2023 est.)

male: 77.3 years

female: 82.1 years

Real GDP growth rate

4.23% (2021 est.)
-18.44% (2020 est.)
-3.37% (2019 est.)

Industrial production growth rate

NA

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.7% (2012 est.)

industry: 15.5% (2012 est.)

services: 83.8% (2012 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

Education expenditures

7.4% of GDP (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

0.3% (2023 est.)

Airports

1 (2024)