Curacao is one of the islands of the Netherlands Antilles - the others are Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. Bonaire and Curacao form the Leeward Islands group of the Netherlands Antilles - located approximately 30 miles off the north west coast of Venezuela. Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten are in the Dutch Windward Islands group located about 100 miles east of Puerto Rico and about 500 miles north east of the Leeward Group.
The Netherlands Antilles is a parliamentary democracy, with a legal system based on Dutch law. The highest authority in Kingdom affairs, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands is represented in the Netherlands Antilles by a Crown appointed Governor and on each island by a Lieutenant Governor. The population of the Netherland Antilles is 183,700 with the capital Willemstad in Curacao. The official language is Dutch. The currency is Netherlands Antillean Guilders and the exchange rate is USD$1.00 = ANG$1.79.
Tourism, petroleum transshipment and oil refinement – on Curacao, as well as offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy. The islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure as compared with other countries in the region. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with Venezuela, the United States and Mexico being the major suppliers, as well as the Dutch government which supports the islands with substantial development aid.
One of the islands in the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao, is located approximately 30 miles off the northwestern coast of Venezuela. The island's area is 444 sq. km. and the official language is Dutch. The population of 147,000 also speaks other languages – the local Creole, Papiamento, as well as English and Spanish.
A significant industry in Curaçao is petroleum refining and the island boasts a fine reputation as a major tourist destination, although its visitor arrivals have been declining. However the island is also a well-known international business centre. Located at the crossroads of major shipping routes, Curaçao offers opportunities for foreign investment through the Curaçao Free Zone, which facilitates industrial activity free from all duties and customs fees.
Curaçao has an affluent economy, a low inflation rate, and a stable currency – the guilder (NAfl) which has an exchange rate of 1,79 Nafl to US $1. The island enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean.