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Bonaire Saint Eustatius and Saba

Bonaire Saint Eustatius and Saba

Summary

The Netherlands Antilles, founded in the 1600’s, were a collection of Dutch territories made up of six islands: Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, (northern) Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Sint Maarten (southern). Aruba seceded from the Antilles in 1986 and became a separate, independent Dutch territory. In 2010, the Netherlands and the islands dissolved the Antilles, although none of the five islands chose total independence. Curacao and Sint Maarten became autonomous countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba retained closer ties to the government as central municipalities. Three-fourths of all inhabitants live on Curacao, but Sint Maarten has the highest population density. The ethnicity of the citizens is mainly black, with a small white minority. The biggest city among the islands is Willemstad, Curacao.1 The main languages vary between islands—citizens on Bonaire speak a local dialect called Papiamento, people on Saba and Sint Eustatius speak English, and Dutch is primarily spoke on Curacao and Sint Maarten.2 1 https://www.britannica.com/place/Netherlands-Antilles
2 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/nl.html

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

The islands are known for their coral reefs, igneous rocks, and tropical climate. The southern islands are hilly with a lower elevation. The arid climate is good for cacti and other desert plants; other vegetation has been destroyed by overgrazing. 1 The Dutch government is involved in efforts to preserve the diverse marine life and coral reefs around the island.2

Family

In 2016, roughly 60 percent of the citizens of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba were unmarried. The amount of divorces is approximately 50 percent of the amount of marriages in one year.1 Nearly half of Dutch Caribbean households consist of only one person. Single-parent households are 12 percent of households, and married couples make up 26 percent. Dutch Caribbean households are different from Dutch households in the Netherlands in that 13% of families live with extended family members, as compared to only 1.4 percent in the Netherlands.2

Human Rights

In 2016, representatives attended a convention to discuss the improvement of women’s rights in the Dutch Caribbean.1 Like many other Caribbean countries, the Netherlands Antilles were a common transit stop for drug trade until the Dutch government cracked down on drug trade in the early 2000’s.2 As central municipalities, Sint Eustatius, Bonaire, and Saba have a single police force, fire department and ambulance service with a central dispatch center.3

Education

Since 1992, education in the Netherlands Antilles has been compulsory from age 6 to age 17, and the literacy rate is nearly on a par with that of the metropolitan Netherlands.1,2 Since the dissolution of the Antilles in 2010, schools in the Dutch Caribbean have officially been a part of the Netherlands education system and receive all of their funding from the Netherlands.3

Poverty

In the 1990’s, the Caribbean islands of the Netherlands struggled with a declining economy, high crime, and many of its citizens living below the poverty line. The dissolution of the Antilles in 2010 allowed each island to decide about the state of their government. Those who chose to stay close to the Dutch government (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba) receive benefits for low-income citizens. The Netherlands also assumed 70 percent of the Antillean debt in 2010.1 The unemployment rate in 2014 varied between 4 percent to 9 percent amongst Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.2

Religion

Three-fourths of Dutch islanders identify as Roman Catholic, one-sixth are Protestant, and the remaining percentages follow other religions, such as Buddhism and Judaism.1

Clean Water

There is no fresh water source on the islands. They often make drinking water by distilling seawater.1

Economy

For years after World War II, the Netherlands Antilles feared the economic consequences of independence from the Netherlands. Tourism and hospitality services are the main parts of the economy.1 Both Bonaire and Sint Eustatius were major sugarcane plantations in 17th and 18th centuries.1 Saba’s rugged land and inaccessibility prevented it from ever being of economic importance.1

Government

Although the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010, all six islands retain ties to the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.1 Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba remain close to the government as central municipalities.1 This means they are a part of the Netherlands itself. Citizens of these islands enjoy the same rights as Dutch citizens and assistance from the Dutch government in public health and improvement programs. Dutch legislation will be introduced on these islands slowly over a number of years.2

Health

Mosquito-borne illnesses, including Zika, are a risk in the Dutch Caribbean islands.1 All citizens who legally work or reside in the Caribbean Netherlands receive government health insurance, regardless of income.2

Children

The central Dutch government is involved in the most serious cases of child services and family guardianship in the Caribbean islands.1 In 2015, child benefits were extended to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba from the central Dutch government. These monthly payments will benefit low-income families with children in an attempt to reduce poverty in the Caribbean Netherlands.2

Animals

The islands are commonly home to geckos, lizards, sea turtles, and an abundance of marine life.1,2 In 2015, the Dutch government announced that the waters surrounding Bonaire and Saba would become shark sanctuaries in an attempt to preserve the sharks’ presence in the marine ecosystem.3

Bonaire Saint Eustatius and Saba

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