The three Dutch Islands Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire are often referred to as the ABC Islands
. They are located just north of
The islands were colonized in the early 16th century by the Spaniards looking in vain for gold. The islands were
declared useless and the original inhabitants, the Caiquetio
Indians were deported as slaves to Hispaniola
In 1634 the
Dutch, in need for salt for their herring fishery, kicked out the Spaniards.
Later Curacao became an important recovery
and transit station for slaves
who had just arrived from Africa.
During WWII the oil refineries on Curacao and Aruba were
crucial for the fuel hungry allied armies.
Most of the population in Curacao and Bonaire is of African descent and speak Papiamento
a creole language which has an official status in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Because the islands are located in the
Carribean but well outside the hurricane belt they are popular tourist destinations.