The Netherlands Antilles consisted of 6 groups of islands in the Caribbean and the “A-B-C” ones were discovered at the end of the 15 century by Alonso de Ojeda.

The following six islands once were part of the country of Dutch Antilles :

  • Aruba ;
  • Bonaire ;
  • Curacao ;
  • Sint Maarten ;
  • Sint Eustatius ;
  • Saba ;

Alonso de Ojeda was a Spanish conquistador who encountered the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao on his first mission as leader of an exploration directed at the New World.

Maps of the Netherlands Antilles, 1910’s. * Source ;

The life of explorer Alonso de Ojeda

He already accompanied Christoffer Columbus on his second voyage during 1493 until 1496 where he discovered gold on the island of Hispaniola. The Gulf of Maracaibo would also be among one of the discoveries that Alonso de Ojeda made on his own explorational voyage, and he became the governor of the newly found settlement of Maracaibo.

He would launch a second expedition in the year of 1502 which wouldn’t be as successful as his trip with Columbus and his own first exploration.

Eventually he would be tried upon return in Spain in charges of misconduct.

All though he would be acquitted from all charges it wouldn’t help him for he would end up in financial ruin.

He would return to the New World trying to establish new Spanish colonies but this turned out in failure for him. Alonso de Ojeda would spend the last of his days poor with no friends, dying alone.

Alonso de Ojeda. * Source ;

Netherlands Antilles during the centuries

Over the course of 4 centuries the ownership of the Antilles Islands would change numerous times between vying colonial powers also affecting the development of demographics and local language.

The six Antilles Islands were granted the status of a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the 15th of December 1956 until the 10th of October 2010. All though all six islands belong to the “Lesser Antilles Chain”, a divide is made between the Northern group to which Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius belong.

Location of the Netherlands Antilles. * Source ;

Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are part of the Western group of islands, where the capital of Willemstad is located on the island of Curacao which is the largest of the six.

On the 1st of January 1986 the island of Aruba was granted a new status as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and officially left the entity that was the Netherlands Antilles.

In 2010 the Netherlands Antilles as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands ceased to exist where Curacao and Sint Maarten also begot a status as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius from 2010 became special counties within the formal structure that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Handelskade in Willemstad. * Source ;