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Netherlands Antilles
Preface Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

An assignment to Curacao offers a chance to enjoy island living as a refreshing contrast to hectic urban life. Many find it a challenge to their self-reliance. Curacao is literally an island in the sun but it is not the typical Caribbean island, endowed with lush vegetation. Its climate is arid rather than tropical; the hillsides are covered with cacti and thorn trees, making the landscape resemble that of the American Southwest.

The Consulate General in Curacao handles relations with two self-governing components of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. One of the most economically developed islands in the Caribbean, Curacao has a hot, dry climate. Outdoor sports such as sailing, diving, tennis, and golf are readily available, but cultural opportunities are limited. English is widely spoken, at least to some degree, and communications with the United States are good.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Curacao is the largest of the "ABC" islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) which lie just off the coast of Venezuela. Curacao is 38 miles long, 7 miles wide at its widest point, and 2-1/2 miles wide at its narrowest point. Sint Christoffelberg, at 1,260 feet on the western end of the island and Tafelberg, at about 600 feet near the eastern end are the most prominent geographical features. Tafelberg has provided limestone for the construction industry for several years and now resembles a stepped mesa. Numerous small and large bays indent the island's southern coast. The largest of these, which comprises the inner harbor known as the Schottegat, is surrounded by the city of Willemstad.

Curacao and the other ABC islands are hot year round. Temperatures seldom exceed 90°F during the day or fall below 80°F at night. Relative humidity averages 70% annually and seldom varies far from that average. The effect of the heat and the humidity, however, is lessened by the almost constant northeast trade winds. The ocean temperature averages 80°F and only varies a few degrees between summer and winter. Rainfall averages only 22 inches annually, most of which falls during the months of November and December, and the islands are below the hurricane belt so that particular danger is absent. Drought-resistant plants, such as cactus, thorn trees and succulents predominate. August, September and October are the warmest months; December, January and February are the coolest.

Mildew can occur when dehumidifying air-conditioning is not used, especially during the "rainy" season (October to January). Outdoors, items rust and fade quickly in the salt air and harsh sun. Lizards, roaches, flies, ants, rodents and mosquitoes are common.

In addition to the ABC Islands, the consular district includes the Windward Islands of Saba, St. Eustatius (or Statia) and Sint Maarten. They are located southeast of Puerto Rico and about five hundred miles northeast from Curacao. Also of volcanic origin, they differ from the ABC Islands primarily in that they have more annual rainfall and lusher vegetation. The most populous and economically developed of the Windward group, Sint Maarten, shares its island with the French Department of Saint Martin.

Population Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The population of the Netherlands Antilles is approximately 185,000. Curacao has about 150,000; Sint Maarten, 23,000; Bonaire, 10,000; St. Eustatius, 1,500; Saba, 1,000. Aruba's population is around 90,000. About 85% of Curacao's population is of African derivation. The remaining 15% is made up of various races and nationalities, including Dutch, Portuguese, North Americans, natives from other Caribbean islands, Latin Americans, Sephardic Jews, Lebanese and Asians.

Four languages are in common use. Papiamentu is the native vernacular in Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. Dutch is the official language, though both English and Spanish are widely used on the ABC Islands. English is the predominant language in the Windward Islands.

Roman Catholicism predominates but several other churches are represented, these include Anglican, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Mormon and Baptist. The Jewish community is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, dating from 1634.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Willemstad, Curaçao, is the capital of the Netherlands Antilles, which is a separate entity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Antilles are governed by a popularly elected unicameral "Staten" (parliament) of 22 members. It chooses the Prime Minister (called Minister President) and a Council of Ministers, consisting of six to eight other ministers. The Governor, who serves a 6-year term, represents the Queen of the Netherlands. Defense and foreign affairs are the responsibility of the Netherlands but, otherwise, the islands are largely self-governing.

Local government is in the hands of each island. Under the direction of a Kingdom-appointed Island Governor, these local governments have a "Bestuurscollege" (administrative body) made up of Commissioners who head the separate government departments.

Aruba separated from the Netherlands Antilles on January 1, 1986, and now enjoys equal status (status aparte) with the Antilles within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its government structure is similar to that of the Netherlands Antilles.

Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and Sint Maarten have quasi-governmental chambers of commerce, which are, among other things, the official registries of business firms on those islands. They also have trade and industry functions, which are comparable to an American Chamber of Commerce.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The educational system is based on the Dutch model, with upper grades split into academic and vocational tracks. The University of the Netherlands Antilles, with law, business and technical faculties, is located on Curacao. Many students also pursue higher education in the Netherlands or the United States.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Oil refining, tourism, and offshore financial activities are the mainstays of the Curacao economy. The Netherlands and the European Economic Community provide financial and development aid annually. Local agriculture and manufacturing is very limited. Most consumer goods are imported, often from the U.S. but also from the Netherlands and other European countries.


Automobiles Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

An automobile is essential and can either be imported or purchased locally.

Many types of American and foreign cars are available for purchase at reasonable prices. The supply of particular models, however, tends to be sporadic. If shipping a car, notify the post well in advance of the make, model, motor and serial number (VIN), number of cylinders and color of the vehicle you are shipping so that customs clearance can be facilitated. Have the car title available upon arrival at post. If you are purchasing a new car for shipment, the following should be considered: the color should be light to reflect the sun; air-conditioning is strongly advised; and, a compact car with power steering would be better for traffic and downtown parking. Although most automobiles can be serviced here, American and Japanese cars are most common. Cars of European origin manufactured for use in the U.S. may be difficult to service here. Shipping cars from the U.S. will take a minimum of three weeks.

One car may be brought in duty free (two for the Consul General). You may drive locally on a valid foreign or international driver's license that was issued by a signatory of the Geneva Convention. If you wish, a local driver's license may be obtained by paying a fee, presenting a medical statement from a local physician and passing the required test.

Curaçao has well over 50,000 vehicles. Driving is on the right. Gasoline prices are currently approximately US$3.80 per gallon, but a coupon system and tax rebate for consular personnel brings the effective price down to approximately $1.40 per gallon. Routine service station maintenance is adequate and reasonable but spare parts and body repair work are expensive. The high humidity, salt air and intense sunlight cause automobile tires and bodies to deteriorate rapidly. Undercoating is recommended and may be done locally at reasonable prices. Overall, roads are fair to good but some parts of Curaçao can only be reached by rough dirt tracks.

Curaçao has no restrictions on automobiles other than normal traffic regulations and compulsory automobile insurance. Third-party liability insurance as well as property damage, collision, and fire and theft insurance can be obtained locally from several Dutch firms. If you present a statement from a previous insurance company stating that you have made no claims in the last five years, a discount of up to 50% is offered; or for each consecutive accident-free year a 10% discount will apply. Full coverage collision insurance is recommended for more expensive vehicles.

Several car rental agencies operate on the island at tourist prices.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Three types of public transportation are available: buses, privately owned vans operating as buses and taxicabs. Buses are crowded and run irregularly. The private vehicles operating as buses pick up passengers at specific locations for a flat fee. Taxi fares are fixed (no meters) but are geared to tourists and are relatively expensive.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

American and United (through an ALM code-share) Airlines offer daily service between Curaçao and the U.S. Aruba and Sint Maarten also have daily U.S. connections via U.S. carriers. The Netherlands, Venezuela, Colombia, Trinidad and the Dominican Republic have direct connections with Curaçao. Regional airlines provide service between the islands within the consular district. Several local travel agencies are equipped to arrange personal travel anywhere in the world.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Local telephone service is usually reliable although not always of the best quality and outages are not unexpected. The monthly charge is $10 plus 10 cents for each four minutes of use for local calls. Long distance calls may be dialed direct to anywhere in the world at any hour but are very expensive.

Internet Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Several local companies provide internet access on Curacao; however, service is very expensive compared to the U.S. Access currently ranges from $60 per month for unlimited access to three times that. The less expensive service provider has oversubscribed and it is very hard to connect during peak hours. In addition to the Internet access fees, you still have to pay the local per-minute phone charges that can effectively double your costs if you are a heavy user.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The Consulate General receives incoming mail and parcels via air pouch from the State Department and by international mail. It has no APO/FPO facilities.

All mail sent by international mail should be addressed as follows:

Name American Consulate General P.O. Box 158 Willemstad, Curaçao Netherlands Antilles

International letters take approximately one week and packages longer. All incoming parcel post packages are duty free, though a service fee is charged.

U.S. letter mail, periodicals and packages sent by pouch should be addressed:

Name American Consulate General-Curaçaao Department of State Washington, D.C. 20521-3160

U.S. letters take approximately three weeks via pouch and even longer during the Christmas holidays. Periodicals and other fourth-class mail can take even longer. Packages may be sent via pouch but a size restriction applies. Packages may not exceed 24 inches in length or 62 inches in length and girth combined.

UPS-International, Federal Express and DHL also serve Curaçao.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Curacao has one TV station (TeleCuraçao), which broadcasts in color. Most shows are in Papiamentu. Venezuelan TV can also be received on Curaçao. Cable TV is available, and presently CNN, ESPN, BBC World, HBO Ole, Cinemax, A&E, TBS, ABC, CBS, NBC and others are featured. Major American and European sporting events are generally carried via cable. Television sets are available locally at prices higher than in the U.S. Local television broadcasts on a NTSC format and an U.S. television set works with no conversion necessary.

Local radio stations provide a wide range of music choices. Most radio stations broadcast news in Papiamentu and Dutch; however, periodic English news broadcasts are transmitted by some of the stations.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

U.S. newspapers from New York and Miami are available the day after publication. Daily newspapers are printed in Curaçao in Dutch and in Papiamentu. Magazines in English, Dutch and Spanish are available at newsstands but are more expensive than in the U.S. It is less expensive to subscribe to magazines than to pay local newsstand prices, even for airmail editions. Magazines can be pouched but take from three weeks to one month to arrive. Many popular books are available in English at local bookstores but, once again, are more expensive than in the U.S.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Departure physicals and immunizations can be done locally. The Consulate General uses a local/private medical group, which operates a clinic with a lab for routine purposes. Serious medical and surgical problems are often referred to American hospitals for treatment. There are two private hospitals and one public hospital available on-island which provide adequate services for most any medical problem. The doctors are trained in Europe and in the U.S. and overall their quality is good to excellent. Many dentists practice in Curaçao; some have been trained in the U.S. and many in Europe. Specialists, both medical and dental, are either available locally or visit the island periodically from the U.S. or Europe.

Community Health Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Community health standards are good. Tap water is distilled from seawater and is of good quality, although turbidity (suspended particles) is frequently high. Fresh foods are safe to eat.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Normal health precautions are in order, but some potential dangers warrant special mention. Precautions should be taken against the strong sun and heat, which can cause dehydration. Swimmers should be cautious of sea urchins and other stinging creatures on the sea floor. Some common trees at Curaçao beaches have a poisonous sap (irritating) which rain can wash onto the unwary. Dengue fever has been reported in Curaçao.

Most medicines are available, but local pharmacy prices tend to be higher than in the U.S. Some over-the-counter medicines available in the U.S. are not available in Curaçao or are available by prescription only. You may wish to bring a supply for special needs.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

An agreement concluded in 1987 with the Netherlands allows dependents of Consulate General personnel to work. However, high local unemployment and lack of fluency in Dutch and Papiamentu limits employment opportunities for dependents. There are currently no dependent hire positions available at the Consulate General. Some spouses have worked at the International School in the past as teachers, substitutes or tutors.

American Embassy - Curacao

Post City Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

During the colonial period Curaçao was a center of slave trade in the Caribbean. After emancipation of the slaves in 1863, Curacao lost much of its economic importance until 1916 when Royal Dutch Shell built an oil refinery on the shores of Schottegat Harbor. Shell pulled out in 1985, and the Venezuelan petroleum company took over operation of the refinery. Curaçao also has the largest repair dry-dock in the Caribbean, a container port, an important offshore financial sector and several resort hotels.

The total number of American citizens residing on the island fluctuates but is in the neighborhood of 1,000. Foreign career consular personnel are few; most consular representation is on an honorary basis. The overall "foreign colony", including Dutch nationals, makes up about 10% of the total population. Curaçao has as many as 40 nationalities represented, including a large percentage of Indians, Chinese and Indonesians.

Although Curaçao has been associated with the Netherlands for about 300 years, personnel assigned to Curaçao find that a knowledge of Spanish is as helpful as Dutch. English is spoken and understood to one degree or another by a large percentage of the local population; Papiamentu is the language of daily life.

The town of Willemstad contains most of Curaçao's 150,000 population. Dutch architecture predominates in the older sections of the city. Homes in the suburbs are more modern and spacious.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The Consulate General in Willemstad, Curaçao, is the only U.S. Foreign Service post in the Netherlands Antilles. U.S. official representation in Curacao dates back to the 1790s. An honorary American Consul constructed the first floating bridge between Punda and Otrabanda in 1889. American troops defended Curacao during World War II. On August 15, 1944, the post was designated a Consulate General. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) opened an office in Curacao in 1982. The Immigration and Naturalization Service opened a pre-inspection facility in Aruba in 1987.

The Consulate General and the Consul General's residence, known as "Roosevelt House", are located on the same compound, in separate buildings. The compound property and Roosevelt House were given to the U.S. in 1950 in appreciation for assistance during World War II. The office building and a gatehouse/garage were built by the U.S. Government in the same architectural style as the residence.

The telephone number of the Consulate General is 461-3066 and the fax number is 461-6489. The international direct dial code for Curaçao is 599-9. Office hours are from 8AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday, with an hour for lunch. Antillean and American holidays are observed. Local time is Atlantic Standard Time, which is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time and the same as Eastern Daylight Time.

Personnel assigned to Curaçao are normally met on arrival. The Consulate General can be reached by taxi from the airport for about $13. No public transportation passes near the Consulate General. The Airport is about five miles from the compound.

The Consulate General is directed by the Consul General. The staff includes the Consul General, a local-hire PSC American Consular Assistant and five FSN employees. The DEA office consists of two agents and an American secretary.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

New arrivals will normally move directly into permanent quarters. If not, they may use any of several resort hotels. Hotel and restaurant rates vary depending upon the season. An official welcome kit is not available for those moving directly into government quarters but, in the past, other American staff members have provided the necessary basics to be used until arrival of HHE.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The Consul General's residence, Roosevelt House, has split-unit room air conditioning in its four bedrooms, living room, dining room and library. Other rooms include the vestibule, main hall, gallery, three bathrooms (two with showers only; one with bathtub and shower), powder room, laundry room, kitchen, pantry, and two servants rooms with adjoining shower and bathroom. There is also a small three bedroom, one bath, guesthouse on the compound. The grounds are terraced and landscaped and include a swimming pool.

The residence has a freezer, three refrigerators, clothes washer and dryer, two kitchen ranges and a full complement of small kitchen and household appliances. Incoming CG's should bring paintings and bric-a-brac to personalize the home and small personal electric appliances, such as hair dryers, clock/radios (50hz), shavers, etc. Ordinary bedroom and dining room linens are supplied in sufficient quantities for most requirements. There is a complete 18-piece set of sterling tableware, multiple place settings, a tea and coffee service, serving trays and more. Personal tableware, silverware, glasses, mugs, etc. should be brought for every-day use. Towels and personal or extra pillow should also be brought.

All other American staff members occupy government-leased and government- furnished residential quarters. Give the Consulate General as much advance notice as possible of your arrival date and number of accompanying dependents.

Furnishings Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

All government-leased quarters have a washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator and vacuum cleaner. The basic furnishings include furniture in the living room, dining room, and bedrooms. All bedrooms and living areas are air-conditioned. Draperies and/or blinds are also included.

Bring linens, pillows, paintings, bric-a-brac, dishes, kitchen utensils and small electrical appliances. Check with post for specific recommendations depending on the house into which you will move.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The city water supply consists exclusively of distilled, potable seawater. Electric current in Curaçao is 110v-130v, 50-cycle, single-phase AC. Two-phase AC for 220v, 50 cycle, is used for heavy demand electrical equipment such as stoves, water heaters, and air conditioners. Local regulations require that air conditioners, regardless of their current requirement, must be connected to a 220v circuit. American refrigerators and freezers rated for 115v, 50/60-cycle, current operate satisfactorily with 150-watt isolation (voltage-regulating) transformers, which are sold locally. Electrical appliances brought from the U.S. can usually be plugged right in (toaster, blender, can opener, etc). However, if they operate on 50-cycle current for an excessive time they can overheat and burn out. A TV or VCR that works in the US will work here with no conversion required.

Any American appliance, which relies on 60‑cycle current for its timing (such as clocks, record players and tape recorders) must be converted for 50‑cycle current in order to operate properly. If possible, have this done in the U.S. before shipment (transformers can only convert voltage, not cycles). Transformers and all types of electrical equipment and appliances are available locally but at high prices. Local service and repairs on electrical equipment are fair but parts are not always available. Most major brands can be serviced locally. The local power supply sometimes experiences surges, spikes and/or brownouts. UPS's and/or surge protectors are recommended for computers, TV's, VCR's, stereos and other sensitive electronic equipment. They can be purchased locally but are less expensive in the States.

Food Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Almost all food is imported. A good variety of canned and frozen foods, including baby foods, of U.S. and Dutch origin are available in modern supermarkets. Fresh produce is flown in regularly, mostly from the U.S. and Venezuela, but are not necessarily in stock at all times. Boats from Venezuela sell produce and fish at a central area in Willemstad called the "floating market."

Curaçao imports all its meat, mostly from Argentina, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Denmark and the U.S. Quality is satisfactory although sometimes tougher than we are accustomed to in the U.S. and special cuts, particularly beef and veal, are often unavailable. Most frozen poultry is of U.S. origin. Eggs of good size and quality come from local sources. Butter and cheese are imported from the U.S. and the Netherlands. Frozen fish and seafood products come from as far away as Norway and Iceland. Fresh fish from South American and Caribbean sources is available and safe.

Since transportation costs are included, food prices are comparatively high. No commissaries or group-purchasing arrangements are available to Consulate General personnel.


Men Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

At work, clothing suitable for summer in Washington is appropriate. Casual dress is typical at other times. Both European and American men's clothing is available but relatively expensive. A dark suit is necessary and suitable for most representational purposes. The CG will occasionally have need of a tuxedo and none is available for rental on-island.

Women Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Curaçao really has only one season-summer. Bring summer wear. Light cotton is preferable to polyester blends. Women wear short dresses at most evening social affairs not identified as "casual" or "sport." All kinds of women's clothes are available in Curaçao at prices higher than those in the U.S. A fair selection of women's shoes is usually, but not always, available; some American women have found excellent buys in European brand shoes.

Children Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Infant and children's clothes are available at prices much higher than those in the U.S. but the selection is limited in size and style and the quality is sometimes inferior. Children's shoes are available in American sizes. Baby items (such as diapers) are much more expensive than in the U.S.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Nearly all well known brands of American and European toiletries, cosmetics, personal hygiene supplies, home medicines and drugs are available on Curaçao. Prices range from less than those in the U.S. to up to 50% higher on some items. A good range of liquor and tobacco items is available through duty-free suppliers.

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Most basic services found in a small community can be found on Curaçao but the quality varies widely. Tailors and dressmakers charge reasonable prices and their work can range from fair to excellent. A wide assortment of cottons and dress fabrics are available but sewing notions offer a limited selection.

Dry-cleaning facilities are available and the services provided are acceptable.

Beauty shops compare with those in the U.S. and those in major tourist hotels have good operators and service. Costs are comparable with those in the U.S. Barbershops also have reasonable prices.

Radio and TV repair is adequate and reasonable but parts are not always available locally. Simple plumbing and electrical maintenance repair is available at reasonable prices. Automobile repair is satisfactory but, once again, parts are not always available locally.

Curaçao has a public library with a modest collection of books and publications in English. Several hotels and restaurants maintain a "swap" shelf of English language paperbacks.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Domestics from English-speaking Caribbean islands are available but require permission from the Curaçao government to live and work here. Local law entitles maids to a three-week paid vacation annually, with supplementary pay for meals if not taken in the employer's home. Employers are obliged to provide health insurance for maids; the premium is about $360 a year. Wages for part-time help are about $2 per hour, plus transportation, or about $150 a month for house servants. The rate for gardeners is from $2 to $3 per hour.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Curaçao prides itself on having the oldest continuously operating synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Services are in English and Hebrew. Several Roman Catholic Churches offer services in Dutch and Papiamentu and at least one offers Mass in English. A Dutch Reformed Church holds services in Dutch; a Methodist Church and an Anglican Church hold services in English; and a Seventh-day Adventist Chapel and a few evangelical churches hold services in Papiamentu and English. The Protestant Church of Curaçao, with several locations in the city, holds services in Dutch and English.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM The International School was started in Curaçao in September 1968. The school is open to children of Curaçao residents. Grade levels include K-12. All subjects are taught in English, the curriculum is American and the school is accredited in the U.S. There are extensive extra-curricular activities available for all ages, even some for adults. School enrollment for the last few years has averaged over 200 students. Parents are responsible for transportation. Tuition varies depending on grade and ranges from approximately $4,500 to $8,000 per year. The U.S. Government covers tuition costs for dependents of assigned personnel.

The local government supports a complete system of elementary and high schools equivalent to 12 grades or more in the U.S. Local schools are parochial (Catholic or Protestant) or public, with classes conducted in Dutch and Papiamentu. All schools have the same basic curriculum. Academic standards are good. The school year runs from August 15 to July 15, with 60 holidays during the year, including a one-month summer vacation. American children attending a local school above first grade will have difficulty adjusting to schooling in a foreign language. Intensive language training of several months is often necessary. Children are usually put back one or two grades and then promoted grade-by-grade to their regular level as they learn Dutch. Reasonable tuition fees are charged.

A third alternative for dependent education is home schooling. Families considering this alternative should discuss it with the Office of Overseas Education prior to arrival at post.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Papiamentu lessons are available locally but are expensive. FSI language training tapes and workbooks in Dutch and Spanish can be requested through the Consulate General. Individual language training in Dutch, Spanish and Papiamentu is available through tutors at reasonable rates. Textbooks are available at the local bookstores.

The Curacao Music School offers classes and individualized instruction in piano, rhythm instruments, orchestral instruments, guitar, accordion and choral group singing. Individual tutoring in both music and art is also available through independent tutors.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Water sports of all kinds are popular. Curaçao has numerous small beaches, some public and others that can be used for a small fee. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, water skiing, sailing and windsurfing are possible year round. Curaçao has an extensive number of dive sites, as well as an underwater park, for scuba divers; equipment rental and instruction are available from several Dive Shops. Other sports are available through clubs.

Membership in local clubs, or private membership at local resorts, provides for the use of swimming pools, bar and restaurants, as well as tennis, basketball, Ping-Pong, soccer, yachting, sailing, water sports and horseback riding.

The Curaçao Golf and Squash Club has the island's only golf course. It has nine holes with oiled sand greens. The club sponsors weekend tournaments and has a small clubhouse where refreshments are served. A squash court is located near clubhouse.

The Curaçao Yacht Club and other private marinas offer facilities for sail and powerboats.

For those interested in flying, a small flying club offers small plane rentals and flight instruction but the rates are high.

Baseball and soccer games are played enthusiastically with local and inter-island competition. A large sports stadium with facilities for various spectator sports is located at Brievengat.

Both U.S. and European sports clothing and equipment can be purchased locally but usually at prices higher than those in the U.S.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The Curaçao Museum has a permanent exhibition of antiques, paintings and artifacts. Periodic art exhibits are held there and at the Centro Pro Arte and Centro Cultural de Curacao. A museum of Jewish history is associated with the synagogue. A commercial Seaquarium displays local marine life and there is a small botanical garden and zoo located in one of Willemstad's suburbs.

A national park surrounds Mt. Christoffel, which provides a panoramic view of the west end of the island to climbers. On a high ridge near the airport are the Hato Caverns, the grottos of Curaçao. Near the west end of the island is Boca Tabla, an unusual sea cave.

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

In addition to a local cinema that shows current U.S. and European movies, several video rental stores offer recent video releases. The Centro Pro Arte has facilities for ballet, symphony orchestras, operas and plays but offerings are limited and infrequent. Most of the theatrical events are in Dutch or Papiamentu. Several tourist hotels in Curacao offer entertainment with orchestras, dancing and floorshows. Many have casinos and one has a discotheque. Several private discotheques are open as well.

The period between Christmas and Carnival is full of special events. A fireworks display and late night partying celebrate the New Year. Carnival time in February brings out street processions with flamboyant costumes, floats, and street dancing.

Several bridge clubs are available for the enthusiast.

Social Activities Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Private entertaining and official contacts provide the main source of contact with the American community. An American Women's Club holds regular meetings and sponsors social activities several times a year. A local chapter of the U.S. Navy League sponsors receptions for U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships during port calls.

Daily opportunities exist to meet host country nationals through work and socially. Local branches of Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs provide social contact with the Antillean and international communities.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

American official functions consist mostly of receptions and dinners at Roosevelt House, sponsored by the principal officer in his/her home.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Black-tie affairs are few. American personnel might be invited to attend one or two such gatherings each year. At them men wear summer-white, black or white dinner jackets and women wear cocktail length or long dresses or dressy slacks.

For receptions not specifically designated black tie, a dark suit is appropriate. For most social events in homes, men wear sport shirts; slacks are optional for women.

Courtesy calls upon officials of the central and island governments are advisable for the principal officer. Other officers will also want to call on important functional contacts.

Invitations and calling cards can be obtained locally. If possible, however, have your official business cards printed in the U.S. The following information will assist you in having your business cards prepared.


P.O. Box 158 or J. B. Gorsiraweg 1 Willemstad, Curacao, N.A. Telephone: Consulate General: 461-3066 Fax: 461-6489 DEA: 461-6985 Consul General, home: 461-2076

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Travel to Curacao is by air. American Airlines is currently the only American Flag Carrier flying to Curacao, however, United Airlines has a code-share arrangement with ALM and these flights may also be used for official travel.

You do not need to buy Netherlands Antilles florins before arrival in Curacao; U.S. dollars are widely used and accepted. Have a supply of small bills with you for tips and taxi fares. An American staff member will normally meet you upon arrival. Currently, the exchange rate is fixed at US$1.00 = NAf l.78.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

All assigned American Consulate General personnel are granted free entry for personal and household effects and one automobile. Currently, only the Consul General is authorized free entry for two automobiles.

Entry Requirements Visas are not required for the Netherlands Antilles. The Department of State's endorsement in passports of personnel assigned to the Consulate General is sufficient for entry but orders showing permanent assignment to Curacao may be requested by airline personnel. Other U.S. citizens coming here for residence must have prior permission from the local government. A valid passport, or a birth certificate showing birth in the U.S. along with a photo ID, is sufficient for entry for a temporary visit, provided an intent to leave is shown by presenting a round-trip ticket or other reservation.

Pets Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Pets are admitted duty free for consular personnel and are not placed in quarantine. Dogs and cats must have rabies inoculations and certificates of good health issued within ten days of their arrival. Pet foods, medications and veterinary services are available locally. Fleas, ticks, heartworms and other infestations are a constant problem on the island.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Newly assigned DEA Agents should contact the Curacao Country Office as soon as possible with reference to firearms.

The Netherlands Antilles Government maintains strict control over the number of firearms and amount of ammunition on the islands and requires that a permit be issued prior to importation. Assigned personnel wishing to bring either weapons or ammunition to the islands must first submit a petition to the Island Governor, giving a full, documented description of the items and requesting that an import permit be issued. As a further means of control, local authorities limit the number of authorized dealers in firearms. Sales to individuals can be made only to those licensed to own weapons, and the dealers must register all sales with the government.

To bring firearms and ammunition into the country, you must seek permission of the Principal Officer in advance. In shipping firearms and ammunition from the U.S., you must forward copies of your exchange of correspondence with the Principal Officer, along with a complete Form DSP-5 (export application), to Office of Munitions Control (PM/MC), Department of State, Washington D.C.–20520. The application should include all firearms and ammunition to be shipped to post. The export license issued by PM/MC must be given at time of shipment to the U.S. Despatch Agent who will present it along with other shipping documents to U.S. Customs.

No Department of State license will be issued if you ship only shotguns (with barrels 18 inches and over in length) and shotgun ammunition not in excess of the quantities listed. You must, however, comply with the Principal Officer's determination and with export regulations of the Office of Export Control, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The medium of exchange in the Netherlands Antilles is the Netherlands Antilles florin, also called the "guilder." The exchange rate is currently fixed at US$1 = NAF 1.78. Local banks cash U.S. Treasury checks and exchange U.S. currency; however, a service fee is frequently charged.

Local banking facilities are comparable to those in the U.S. and arrangements can be made to cash U.S. checks. U.S. ATM/Debit Cards can be used in some local automatic tellers and will allow you to withdraw either US$ or NAF. Many local stores accept VISA and/or MasterCard.

No limit is placed on the amount of money (dollars or other currency) brought into the Netherlands Antilles. Nor are limits placed on amounts taken out. Reporting procedures are in effect for large or unusual monetary transactions.

Local bank accounts may be useful but are not necessary. Employees normally maintain a checking account with an U.S. bank. Neither the post nor local banks are authorized to cash U.S. savings bonds. Travelers' checks can be purchased locally.

The metric system is the official standard for weights and measures.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Restrictions You are allowed to import one automobile duty free. Personnel with duty-free privileges who purchase a new automobile locally on which the import duty has been paid may obtain a refund of the duty from the government. Sales to persons without duty-free privileges of automobiles or other personal property admitted duty free are permitted only after the duty has been paid.

Taxes and Duties American Consulate General employees are exempt from paying local income tax and occupancy tax. With the exception of major items, such as automobiles, customs duties are reflected in the prices of articles purchased locally and may not be recovered. A tax on locally purchased airline tickets can be recovered through the Consulate General. The 46% tax and duties on gasoline are refunded to assigned American personnel through a coupon and rebate system.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The titles and information sources listed below are provided as a general indication of the material available on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Additional material may be available through the Overseas Briefing Center, the Washington DC Family Liaison Office or through the Netherlands Embassy in Washington DC.

Royal Netherlands Embassy 4200 Linnean Ave, NW Washington DC 20008 Tel: (202) 244-5300 Fax: (202) 362-3430

Tourist and travel information is available from the Curacao Tourist Offices at the following addresses:

The Curaçao Tourist Board 330 Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33132 Tel: (305) 374-5811 Fax: (305) 374-6741 Toll Free: (800) 445-8266

The Curaçao Tourist Board 475 Park Avenue Suite 2000 New York, NY 10016 Tel: (212) 683-7660 Fax: (212) 683-9337 Toll Free: (800) 270-3350 E-mail:

Several Internet sites can provide additional current information. Use the search words "Curaçao", "Netherlands Antilles", and "Willemstad".

The following bibliography contains a sample of available English language material.

Coomans, Henry E. Building Up The Future From The Past. DeWalburg Press: Netherlands, 1990.

De Groot, G. The Netherlands Antilles. Bosch & Keuning: Netherlands, 1978.

De Roo, Jos. Curacao, Scenes and Behind the Scenes. Van Dorp-Eddine: Curacao, 1979.

Dyde, Brian. Islands to the Windward. Macmillan: London, 1987.

Emmanuel, Isaac S. and Suzanne A. History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, Vol. I and II.

Glasscock, Jean. The Making of an Island: Sint Maarten, St Martin, 1985.

Goilo, E. R. Papiamentu Textbook. De Wit: Aruba, 1972.

Hannau, Hans. Aruba Pictorial. De Wit: Aruba, 1981.

_________ The Netherlands Antilles. De Wit, Aruba, 1975.

_________ Curacao in Full Color. De Wit, Aruba.

Hannau, Hans and Bernard Mock. Beneath the Seas of the West Indies. Hastings House: New York, 1979.

Hartog, Dr. Johan. Aruba: Short History. Van Dorp: Aruba, 1980.

_________ Curacao, A Short History. De Wit: Aruba,1979.

_________ History of St. Eustatius. De Wit: Aruba,1976.

_________ St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius. De Wit: Aruba, 1978.

_________ A Short History of Bonaire. De Wit: Aruba,1978.

_________ U.S. Consul in 19th Century Curacao. Van Dorp & Co., N.V.: Aruba and Curacao, 1971.

Heinen, G. The Image of Curacao. Witgeverij ICS: Netherlands, 1997.

Howes, Barbara, ed. From the Green Antilles: Writings of the Caribbean. Granada: London, 1971.

Johnson, Will. Saban Lore: Tales from My Grandmother's Pipe. Saba, 1983.

Karner, Frances, P. The Sephardics of Curacao. Van Gorcum: Netherlands, 1969.

Maslin, Simeon J. Synagogue Guidebook. Mikve Israel-Emanuel: Curacao, 1975.

Reimar, Dietmar Caribbean Underwater World, Curacao & Klein Curacao. Nautiphot: Germany, 1991.

Romer, Dr. Rene. Curacao. UNICA, 1981.

Sekou, Lasana M. National Symbols of St. Martin. House of Nehesi: St Martin, 1996.

Smit, Sypkens. Beyond The Tourist Trap, A Study of St Martin Culture. Koninklijke Bibliotheek: Netherlands, 1995.

Tuchman, Barbara W. The First Salute. Alfred A. Knopf: New York 1988

Van Dalen, Henk H. The Netherlands Antilles. Bosch & Keuning: Netherlands 1994

van den Bor, W. Island Adrift: The Social Organization of a Small Caribbean Community: The Case of St. Eustatius. Smits Publishers: Netherlands, 1981.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

New Year's Day January 1 Carnival Monday Varies (usually near end of February) Good Friday Varies Easter Monday Varies Queen's Birthday April 30 Labor Day May 1 Ascension Day Varies Curacao Flag Day July 2 Antilles Day October 21 Christmas Day December 25 Boxing Day December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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