General issues: Dutch territory 1948-1954, Self governing country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands 1954-2010
Country name on general issues: Ned. Antillen, Nederlandse Antillen
Currency: 1 Gulden = 100 Cent 1948-2010
Population: 100 000 in 1948, 231 000 in 2010
Political history Netherlands Antilles
The Netherlands Antilles is located in the Caribbean and consists of two groups of islands: Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are part of the Leeward AntillesThe western part of the Lesser Antilles located off the Venezuelan coast., while Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten are part of the Leeward IslandsThe northern part of the Lesser Antilles.. For the exact location, please refer to the map of the Caribbean.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao were, prior to colonization, inhabited by the Amerindian Caquetio people originating from Venezuela. The first Europeans to explore the islands were the Spanish in 1499. Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten were inhabited by the Amerindian Carib, a people found on many of the Lesser Antilles. The first European to sight the islands was Christopher Columbus in 1493. All of the islands were claimed by the Spanish, but only the Leeward Antilles were settled. The Dutch established their first permanent settlements in the 1630’s and 1640’s. Initially, the islands were administered by the Dutch West India Company, a chartered company, but the islands were transferred to the Dutch Crown in 1791. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the islands were disputed – and, at times, occupied – by the British and the French, until Dutch sovereignty was fully acknowledged in 1815.
In 1848, the islands became united as the Dutch colony of Curacao & Dependencies. The islands would be administered as such until made the Dutch Territory of Curacao in 1936. The Territory of Curacao became the Netherlands Antilles in 1948. In 1954, the Netherlands Antilles became one of the constituent parts of the kingdom of the Netherlands, together with Surinam and the Netherlands, and, as such, gained self government. Aruba broke away from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 to become a self governing, constituent country within the kingdom of the Netherlands itself. In 2010, the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved. Currently, Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten are self governing, constituent countries of the kingdom of the Netherlands, while Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are part of the Netherlands as municipalities with a special status.
Economically, in the 17th century, Curacao and Sint Eustatius developed into important centers of trade. Their importance, as such, waned, as the British came to dominate trade in the Caribbean. From the 18th until the mid 20th century, the islands were little developed economically. Things changed as, in the 20th century, oil refineries were set up on Aruba and Curacao as a spin off of the discovery of large oil deposits in Venezuela. Furthermore, tourism rapidly developed to become the mainstay of the islands economies. Currently, the islands rank among the wealthier islands in the Caribbean. The population consists of 81% blacks and people of mixed black and white descent. Whites of European – mainly Dutch – descent account for 5% of the population. The remaining 14% of the population consists of people of a wide range of nationalities and ethnic origins.
Postal history Netherlands Antilles
The first stamps used in the Netherlands Antilles were the issues for Curacao & Dependencies from 1873. The Netherlands Antilles have issued stamps from 1948. While the designs for Curacao & Dependencies and the first issues for the Netherlands Antilles had been similar or identical to the design of the stamps of the Netherlands, from 1954, the issues are of designs unique for the Netherlands Antilles. The exception are commemoratives issued, at times, in all three constituent parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – mostly issued to commemorate political events affecting all three countries or events related to the Royal Family.
The Netherlands Antilles issued stamps until 2010. Currently Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten issue stamps separately. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius issue stamps jointly as ‘Caribisch Nederland’ which translates to ‘Caribbean Netherlands’.
For a summary of the political and postal developments in the form of a diagram, please refer to the country diagram of the Dutch West Indies.