Tuesday, 30 August 2011

dissolving countries

Some guy in the athletics World Championships used to run for the Netherlands Antilles, but the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved last year.* Curacao and Sint Maarten decided on status aparte, which means they become constituent states of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (like Aruba, of course). They are going to spend Caribbean guilders as soon as they can get organised. It seems like a lot of trouble to go to just for Caribbean guilders.

Bonaire, Sabar and Sint Eustatius became special municipalities of the Netherlands (they use the US dollar and don't have to print it themselves). They are just like normal Dutch municipalities, as if that's a good thing. They vote for the Dutch government and their own mayor and aldermen. They get social security but not as much as if they were still in Holland.

The Governor of Sint Maarten is Eugene Holiday. Do not confuse Sint Maarten with St Martin (an overseas collectivity of France) because they are completely different places (on the same island).

Sint Eustatius used to be known as The Golden Rock because it ignored British/Dutch/Spanish trade embargoes. It played a large part in supplying the Americans during the War of Independence, and Lord Stormont said in 1778 that if it had sunk beneath the sea in 1775, the Americans would have been defeated. 4,000 people died there during the great hurricane of 1780. Only 3,100 people live there now.

Trans World Radio operates from Bonaire.

Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, is one of the world's larger oil handling ports - it's close to Venezuela - and it's really pretty (see above). Willemstad contains the oldest synagogue in the Western hemisphere (1732).

The capital of Saba is The Bottom, and there is one road, called The Road. There is an excellent view from Mount Scenery, which is a potentially active volcano.

* Netherlands Antilles' National Motto: 'Unified by Freedom'. National Anthem: 'Anthem with no name' by Zahira Hiliman, no longer the national anthem but Wikipedia says it still exists as a song. Of course, you can't really trust Wikipedia.

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