Factbook: Netherlands Antilles

 Netherlands Antilles

(part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)


Location: Caribbean, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea – one includes Curacao and Bonaire north of Venezuela and the other is east of the Virgin Islands

Geographic coordinates: 12 15 N, 68 45 W

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total: 960 sq km
land: 960 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin)

Area – comparative: more than five times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:
total: 10.2 km
border countries: Guadeloupe (Saint Martin) 10.2 km

Coastline: 364 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
territorial sea : 12 nm

Climate: tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds

Terrain: generally hilly, volcanic interiors

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Scenery 862 m

Natural resources: phosphates (Curacao only), salt (Bonaire only)

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 0%
other : 90% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: Curacao and Bonaire are south of Caribbean hurricane belt, so are rarely threatened; Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are subject to hurricanes from July to October

Environment – current issues: NA

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Whaling (extended from Netherlands)
signed, but not ratified: NA


Population: 211,093 (July 1997 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (male 26,496; female 25,267)
15-64 years : 68% (male 70,087; female 73,300)
65 years and over: 8% (male 6,694; female 9,249) (July 1997 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.99% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 15.61 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 5.33 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 8.8 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.18 years
male: 74.89 years
female: 79.59 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.86 children born/woman (1997 est.)

noun: Netherlands Antillean(s)
adjective: Netherlands Antillean

Ethnic groups: mixed black 85%, Carib Amerindian, white, East Asian

Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Seventh-Day Adventist

Languages: Dutch (official), Papiamento, a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect predominates, English widely spoken, Spanish

definition : age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 98%
female: 99% (1981 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Netherlands Antilles
local long form: none
local short form : Nederlandse Antillen

Data code: NT

Dependency status: part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 1954

Government type: NA

National capital: Willemstad

Administrative divisions: none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
note: each island has its own government

Independence: none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National holiday: Queen’s Day, 30 April (1938)

Constitution: 29 December 1954, Statute of the Realm of the Netherlands, as amended

Legal system: based on Dutch civil law system, with some English common law influence

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen BEATRIX Wilhelmina Armgard of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980), represented by Governor General Jaime SALEH (since NA October 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Miguel POURIER (since 25 February 1994)
cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the Staten
elections: the queen is a constitutional monarch; governor general appointed by the queen for a six-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually elected prime minister by the Staten; election last held 31 March 1994 (next to be held NA 1998)
election results: Miguel POURIER elected prime minister; percent of legislative vote – NA

Legislative branch: unicameral States or Staten (23 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 25 February 1994 (next to be held NA March 1998)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PAR 8, PNP 3, SPA 2, PDB 2, UPB 1, MAN 2, DP 1, WIPM 1, DP-St.E 1, DP-St.M 1, Nos Patria 1
note: the government of Prime Minister Miguel POURIER is a coalition of several parties

Judicial branch: Joint High Court of Justice

Political parties and leaders: political parties are indigenous to each island
Bonaire: Patriotic Union of Bonaire (UPB), Rudy ELLIS; Democratic Party of Bonaire (PDB), Broertje JANJA
Curacao : Antillean Restructuring Party (PAR), Miguel POURIER; National People’s Party (PNP), Maria LIBERIA-PETERS; New Antilles Movement (MAN), Domenico Felip Don MARTINA; Workers’ Liberation Front (FOL), Wilson (Papa) GODETT; Socialist Independent (SI), George HUECK and Nelson MONTE; Democratic Party of Curacao (DP), Augustin DIAZ; Nos Patria, Chin BEHILIA
Saba : Windward Islands People’s Movement (WIPM Saba), Ray HASSELL; Saba Democratic Labor Movement, Steve HASSELL; Saba Unity Party, Carmen SIMMONDS
Sint Eustatius: Democratic Party of Sint Eustatius (DP-St.E), Julian WOODLEY; Windward Islands People’s Movement (WIPM); St. Eustatius Alliance (SEA), Ingrid WHITFIELD
Sint Maarten: Democratic Party of Sint Maarten (DP-St.M), Sarah WESTCOTT-WILLIAMS; Patriotic Movement of Sint Maarten (SPA), Vance JAMES; Serious Alternative People’s Party (SAPP) Julian ROLLOCKS

International organization participation: Caricom (observer), ECLAC (associate), Interpol, IOC, UNESCO (associate), UPU, WMO, WToO (associate)

Diplomatic representation in the US: none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Consul General James L. WILLIAMS
consulate(s) general: J.B. Gorsiraweg #1, Curacao
mailing address: P. O. Box 158, Willemstad, Curacao
telephone : [599] (9) 461-3066
FAX: [599] (9) 461-6489

Flag description: white with a horizontal blue stripe in the center superimposed on a vertical red band also centered; five white five-pointed stars are arranged in an oval pattern in the center of the blue band; the five stars represent the five main islands of Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten


Economy – overview: Tourism, petroleum transshipment, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. The islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure as compared with other countries in the region. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with Venezuela and the US being the major suppliers. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture.

GDP: purchasing power parity – $2.04 billion (1996 est.)

GDP – real growth rate: 0% (1996 est.)

GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $9,800 (1996 est.)

GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 15%
services: 84% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate – consumer price index: 3% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 89,000
by occupation: government 65%, industry and commerce 28% (1983)

Unemployment rate: 13.4% (1993 est.)

revenues: $209 million
expenditures : $232 million, including capital expenditures of $8 million (1992 est.)

Industries: tourism (Curacao, Sint Maarten, and Bonaire), petroleum refining (Curacao), petroleum transshipment facilities (Curacao and Bonaire), light manufacturing (Curacao)

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity – capacity: 307,000 kW (1995)

Electricity – production: 970 million kWh (1994)

Electricity – consumption per capita: 4,580 kWh (1994 est.)

Agriculture – products: aloes, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, tropical fruit

total value: $1.3 billion (f.o.b., 1993)
commodities: petroleum products 98%
partners: US 39%, Brazil 9%, Colombia 6%

total value: $1.8 billion (f.o.b., 1993)
commodities : crude petroleum 64%, food, manufactures
partners: Venezuela 26%, US 18%, Colombia 6%, Netherlands 6%, Japan 5%

Debt – external: $1.95 billion (December 1995)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA; the Netherlands Antilles received a $97 million Dutch aid package in 1996, making it the Netherlands’ second largest aid recipient behind India

Currency: 1 Netherlands Antillean guilder, gulden, or florin (NAf.) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Netherlands Antillean guilders, gulden, or florins (NAf.) per US$1 – 1.790 (fixed rate since 1989)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: NA

Telephone system: generally adequate facilities
domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links
international: 2 submarine cables; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 9, FM 4, shortwave 0

Radios: 205,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1

Televisions: 64,000 (1992 est.)


Railways: 0 km

total: 600 km
paved : 300 km
unpaved: 300 km (1992 est.)

Ports and harbors: Kralendijk, Philipsburg, Willemstad

Merchant marine:
total: 106 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 971,002 GRT/1,318,064 DWT
ships by type: bulk 3, cargo 33, container 4, liquefied gas tanker 4, multifunction large-load carrier 20, oil tanker 7, passenger 1, refrigerated cargo 26, roll-on/roll-off cargo 8 (1996 est.)

Airports: 4 (1996 est.)

Airports – with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m : 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1996 est.)


Military branches: Royal Netherlands Navy, Marine Corps, Royal Netherlands Air Force, National Guard, Police Force

Military manpower – military age: 20 years of age

Military manpower – availability:
males age 15-49: 57,691 (1997 est.)

Military manpower – fit for military service:
males: 32,406 (1997 est.)

Military manpower – reaching military age annually:
males: 1,640 (1997 est.)

Military – note: defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Transnational Issues

Disputes – international: none

Illicit drugs: money-laundering center; transshipment point for South American drugs bound for the US and Europe