Netherlands History Infoplease
he Netherlands Antilles are composed of two groups of Caribbean islands 500 mi (805 km) apart: the first group, composed of Cura¡ao (173 sq mi; 448 sq km) and Bonaire (95 sq mi; 246 sq km), is located about 40 mi (64 km) off the Venezuelan coast. Originally inhabited by Arawak Indians, these two islands as well as Aruba were claimed by Spain in 1527 and then by the Dutch in 1643. The Dutch Lesser Antilles to the northÛSaint Eustatius, the southern part of St. Martin (Dutch: Sint Maarten), and SabaÛmake up the remainder of the island federation. First inhabited by the Carib Indians, St. Martin was explored by Columbus in 1493. In 1845, the six islands (then including Aruba) officially formed the Netherlands Antilles. In 1994, the islands voted to preserve their federation with the Netherlands.

See also Encyclopedia: Netherlands Antilles.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Netherlands Antilles
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