Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire
Dependent Territories of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire
Aruba, Curacau, en Bonaire
Location of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire
  • Kingdom of the Netherlands (1634-1861)
  • New Netherland (1861-present)
Largest CityWillemstadt
Area925 sq. km.
  • Dutch
  • Amerikaans
  • Papiamento
CurrencyAmerikaner Guilder (AGD)

The Dependent Territories of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire (Amerikaans: Dependentieën van Aruba, Curacau, en Bonaire; Dutch: Afhankelijkheden van Aruba, Curacau, en Bonaire), also known as the ACB islands, is composed of the three westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. It was a former colony of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, until it was purchased by the New Netherland in 1861.


Early History

The ACB Islands were first explored by one of Christopher Columbus' captains, Alonso de Ojeda, who landed on Curaçao in 1499. The Spanish were the first to establish a government on the islands in 1527, but the islands were taken by the Dutch during the Eighty Years War. Since then, the islands had been administered by the Dutch West India Company. During the French Revolution, although the Dutch Republic was subjugated by France in 1795, the Dutch West India Company still held firm control over the islands. Great Britain had tried to take the islands in the midst of the Dutch Republic's absence, but the company was able to repel these attacks.

In 1815, after the formation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Dissolution of the Dutch West India Company, the ACB islands fell under the new kingdom's direct rule.

During the 2nd Dutch-Spanish War in 1850, Spain launched multiple raids and briefly occupied the islands. Despite Spanish victory in the war, the islands were returned to the kingdom in the resulting treaty. The colony was in poor condition after the war, and as Dutch influence waned over the Caribbean, the Dutch had little interest in maintaining these islands.

Purchase by New Netherland (1861)

In 1859, multiple large-scale revolts erupted in the Dutch colony of Tussenland, known as the Tussenland Upheavals. Landlocked from all sides of the Atlantic after their defeat in the 2nd Dutch-Spanish War, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was at a disadvantage. In the 1860s, the Kingdom of the Netherlands started negotiating with New Netherland to help them quell the rebellions. In exchange for their assistance, the kingdom promised the turnover of the three islands to New Netherland for a cheaper price. In late 1861, the islands were formally ceded to New Netherland.

New Netherland Rule (1861-present)

The new territory of New Netherland was in a state of disrepair. New Netherland statesman Gÿs Haverhoeck was appointed as the first Director-General of the ACB Islands. Haverhoeck sought to rehabilitate the islands and its plantations (mostly in Bonaire) and gold mines (in Aruba) by 1870. His government also introduced Aloe on the island of Curaçao, with Aloe became one of the primary industries of the island by the 1890s. The ACB islands were directly controlled by the New Netherland government through the Director-General, unlike in the New Netherland mainland where individual patroonships were allowed a degree of autonomy. The industry of the territory was run by indentured laborers. A minor insurrection of slave laborers shook the island in 1899 but was quickly subdued with the help of the New Netherland army.

Today, the ACB islands maintain their status as Dependent Territories of New Netherland. The islands have become a popular destination among tourists mainly from New Netherland and Tussenland.


In Curaçao and Bonaire, multiracial people make up a large proportion of the population, while Amerikaners (mainly New Netherlanders) make up for the majority of Aruba's population. Over 20th, substantial immigration had occurred between the ACB islands and the rest of North America, while limited immigration due to policies by the goverment have led to a limited Latin American permanent population, as well as between New Netherland. Amerikaans and Papiamento are both widely spoken in the territory, with both sharing co-official status.