Curaçao: Country and Foreign Investment
Population, Language and Culture
The population was estimated at 145,834 in 2012. The official (and used) language is Dutch, but 90% of the local population speak Papiamento, a Creole dialect which is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English. Spanish and English are also widely spoken, particularly in Willemstad. Ethnically, the population is 85% mixed black, the balance being Carib Amerindian, white and East Asian. 80% of the population is Catholic, with substantial Protestant, Jewish and Muslim communities. There is religious and ethnic harmony.
The islands were discovered by the Spanish in 1499; the peaceful native inhabitants, a tribe of Arawak Indians, were mostly transported to Hispaniola. In 1634 Curaçao fell to the Dutch and became an important base for expeditions against the Spanish. During the 18th century Curaçao became a trading port for pirates, American rebels, Dutch merchants, Spaniards and Creoles from the mainland. The English took Curaçao briefly in 1800 but Dutch rule was restored in 1816 and the port was declared free.