Our beautiful people
Curaçao is a true global melting pot, mixing together more than fifty nationalities and 142,000 people on an island with a total surface area of just 171.4 square miles (444 km2). Each has contributed greatly to our rich heritage, remarkable diversity and thriving culture.
Rich traditions through history of the slave trade
African-Caribbean Ancestry Curaçao’s African-Caribbean descendants make up the majority of the island’s population, with a culture that beats like a proud and festive heart. Rising up through the history of the slave trade, the Curaçaoan people have established rich traditions embraced by both natives and visitors. You can hear it the moment you arrive in the colorful language of Papiamentu, the keystone of Curaçao communication. There is also Tambú, the “Curaçao Blues,” which the African descendants used to express their outrage and sorrow at slavery through song, music, and dance.
There are other cultural influences to discover as well, such as food, religion, and spirituality. These African-Caribbean traditions, introduced in the late 1600s, continue to shape Curaçao to this day.
- The Dutch influence. The Dutch influence on Curaçao is as omnipresent as the centuries-old colonial buildings. Since the time they first established themselves as the island's ruling class, the Dutch have had a major impact on why the island is so interesting to the outside world. In fact, several thousand Dutch peoDutch Influenceple have made Curaçao their permanent home.
The legal, educational and political system is Dutch-inspired, and Dutch remains the language of instruction in schools and is widely spoken in government and business. Hundreds of Curaçaoan students set off to study in Holland each year and return with the professional degree they’ll need to move our nation forward.
The Dutch also have an enormous impact on tourism. Visitors from Europe make up close to 40% of Curaçao’s tourist traffic, with the island being especially popular with visitors from Holland.
- Jewish Legacy
From the time they first arrived seeking a haven from persecution, the Curaçao Jewish community has had an extraordinary impact on the island's economy, politics, and culture. It is the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Western hemisphere.
The first permanent Jewish settlers; 70 Sephardim of Portuguese descent arrived in 1659. Relations with the local Dutch Protestant elite were good, and no laws limited Jews in their work or residences, which cleared the way for the community to become highly successful in trade and shipping. In the 20th century, other Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants worked their way up the economic ladder after having started out as peddlers and small-scale merchants.
This rich legacy is celebrated in Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel (Snoa), the oldest synagogue in continuous use in all of the Americas.