General issues: Dutch colony of Curacao & Dependencies 1873-1936, Dutch Territory of Curacao 1936-1948
Country name on general issues: Curacao
Currency: 1 Gulden = 100 Cents 1873-1948
Population: 42 000 in 1900, 100 000 in 1948
Political history Curacao & Dependencies
Curacao & Dependencies 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 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. During WWII, British and United States forces were stationed on the islands with full consent of the Dutch government. The Territory of Curacao became the Netherlands Antilles in 1948. 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 Curacao & Dependencies
The first stamps were issued for Curacao & Dependencies in 1873. Initially, these were used on Curacao only, as on the other islands post offices were not set up until the 1880’s. The stamps issued for Curacao & Dependencies are, mostly, of similar or identical design as the stamps of the Netherlands. An exception is a number of sets issued during WWII, designed and printed by Bradbury & Wilkinson Co in Great Britain and the American Banknote Co in the United States. It is interesting to note how closely the stamps printed by Bradbury & Wilkinson resemble the contemporary issues for the British colonies. The stamps of Curacao & Dependencies were superseded by the issues of the Netherlands Antilles in 1948.Scott lists both the issues for Curacao & Dependencies and the Netherlands Antilles under the Netherlands Antilles. Currently Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten issue stamps separately. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius issue stamps jointly as ‘Caribisch Nederland'‘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.