CUR TravelGuide 02.04.20 - Flipbook - Page 21
The earliest inhabitants of Curaçao were Arawaks who came from
the South American mainland. European explorers first landed in
Curaçao in 1499. Alonso de Ojeda, a lieutenant to Christopher
Columbus, was so impressed by the physical stature of the
islanders that he called it ‘isla de los gigantes’ (island of the giants).
Less than 20 years later, the name ‘Curaçao’ first appeared on a
Portuguese map. The most likely explanation is that Curaçao was
the name by which the inhabitants identified themselves.
Curaçao became Dutch territory in 1634. For much of the 17th
and 18th century Curaçao was the hub of the brutal transatlantic
slave trade. Slavery was abolished in 1863. Decolonization came in
1954, when the Netherlands Antilles gained equal status within the
Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 2010, the Netherlands Antilles
was dissolved and Curaçao became autonomous within the
Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Today the island is endearingly dubbed ‘Dushi Kòrsou’
(Sweet Curaçao) by the locals.
21 • history