The World Factbook (1982)/Netherlands Antilles

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The World Factbook (1982)
by the Central Intelligence Agency
Netherlands Antilles


(See reference map III)


1,020 km2; 5% arable, 95% waste, urban, or other


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 3 nm, fishing 200 nm

Coastline: 364 km


Population: 247,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 1.0%

Nationality: noun—Netherlands Antillean(s); adjective—Netherlands Antillean

Ethnic divisions: racial mixture with African, Caribbean Indian, European, Latin, and oriental influences; Negroid characteristics are dominant on Curaçao, Indian on Aruba

Religion: predominantly Roman Catholic; sizable Protestant, smaller Jewish minorities

Language: Dutch official; Papiamento, a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect predominates; English widely spoken

Literacy: 95%

Labor force: 83,000 (1977); 2% agriculture, 20% industry, 10% construction, 65% government and services, 3% other; unemployment 20% (1977)

Organized labor: 60%-70% of labor force


Official name: Netherlands Antilles

Type: territory within Kingdom of the Netherlands, enjoying complete domestic autonomy

Capital: Willemstad, Curaçao

Political subdivisions: four island territories—Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and the Windward Islands — St. Eustatius, southern part of St. Martin (northern part is French), Saba

Legal system: based on Dutch civil law system, with some English common law influence; constitution adopted 1954

Branches: federal executive power rests nominally with Governor (appointed by the Crown), actual power exercised by eight-member Council of Ministers or cabinet presided over by Minister-President; legislative power rests with 22-member Legislative Council; independent court system under control of Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Justice (administrative functions under Minister of Justice); each island territory has island council headed by Lieutenant Governor

Government leaders: Prime Minister Domenico Felip MARTINA (leader of Movement for a New Antilles) won election on 6 July 1979; Governor Bernardito M. LEITO; in September 1981 Aruba s People's Electoral Party (MEP), led by Gilberto "Betico" Croes, pulled out of the governing coalition demanding independence; talks are being held with the Netherlands on the future status of the Antilles

Suffrage: universal age 18 and over

Elections: Federal elections mandatorily held every four years, last regular held 17 June 1977 (early elections were held 6 July 1979); island council elections every 4 years, last held 25 April 1979

Political parties and leaders: political parties are indigenous to each island:

Curaçao: Movement for a New Antilles (MAN), Domenico Felip Martina; Democratic Party (DP), S. G. M. Rozendal; National People's Party-United (NVP-U) Edsel Jenerun; Frente Obrero de Liberation 30 di Mayo (FOL), Wilson "Papa" Godett; Social Democratic Party (PSD), R. J. Isa

Aruba: People's Electoral Movement (MEP), G. F. "Betico" Croes; Aruban Patriotic Party (PPA), L. O. Chance; Aruban People's Party (AVP), D. G. Croes Bonaire: Labor Party (POB); Democratic Party Bonaire (UPB); New Democratic Action (ADEN)

Windward Islands: Windward Islands Democratic Party (DPWI); United Federation of Antillean Workers (UFA); Windward Islands Political Movement (W1PM); and others

Voting strength: (1977 federal election) 6 seats DP, 5 seats MEP, 3 seats FOL, 3 seats NVP, 3 seats PPA, 1 seat DPWI, 1 seat UPB

Communists: no Communist party



GNP: $652 million (1976), $2,680 per capita; real growth rate, -l%(est)

Agriculture: little production

Major industries: petroleum refining on Curaçao and Aruba; petroleum transshipment facilities on Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire; tourism on Curaçao, Aruba, and St. Martin; light manufacturing on Curaçao and Aruba

Electric power: 310,000 kW capacity (1981); 1.8 billion kWh produced (1981), 7,346 kWh per capita

Exports: $2.6 billion (f.o.b., 1977); 96% petroleum products, phosphate

Imports: $3.1 billion (c.i.f., 1977); 64% crude petroleum, food, manufactures

Major trade partners: exports—46% US, 2% Canada, 1% Netherlands; imports—35% Venezuela, 11% US, 4% Netherlands (1977)

Aid: bilateral ODA and OOF commitments (1970-79), economic—Western (non-US) countries $353 million

Budget: (1977) public sector current revenues, $278 million; public sector expenditures, $306 million

Monetary conversion rate: 1.8 Netherlands Antillean florins (NAF)=US$1, official

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: none

Highways: 950 km total; 300 km paved, 650 km gravel and earth

Ports: 4 major (Willemstad, Oranjestad, Caracasbaai, Bullennbaai); 6 minor

Civil air: 10 major transport aircraft, including 3 leased in

Airfields: 7 total, all usable; 7 with permanent-surface runways; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 2 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: generally adequate telecom facilities; extensive interisland radio-relay links; 53,000 telephones (21.1 per 100 popl.); 11 AM, 2 FM and 5 TV stations; 2 submarine cables; 1 Atlantic Ocean satellite station


Military manpower: males 15-49, 60,000; 35,000 fit for military service; about 2,600 reach military age (20) annually

Defense is responsibility of the Netherlands