Curaçao – the tiny island nation in the Caribbean

With its colorful colonial architecture and historic museums, Curaçao is like a tiny Europe amidst Caribbean tropical waters.

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80 km north of Venezuela, Curaçao is an autonomous island of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean, with an area of over 400 km2 and more than 160,000 inhabitants.

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The island's northernmost point to its southernmost point is 64 km long, so it only takes about an hour and 45 minutes to drive. Along the length of Curaçao, there are 35 beaches, and the most famous ones are Playa Knip, Playa Lagun, Porto Mari, Papagayo.

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The people of Curaçao can speak many languages from Dutch, English, and Spanish to the Papiamentu language of the Caribbean natives. Most people can speak from 3 to 5 languages. Visitors often hear the word "dushi", a catchy word that people love, which means "sweet".

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For 500 years of history, Curaçao has been invaded by many forces or embraced immigrants from many different cultures. Indigenous Arawak people interacted with Spanish and Dutch explorers, French and British colonists, Portuguese Jews and even slaves captured from Africa. All made one multi-ethnic island.

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Founded in 1634, Willemstad is the historic capital of Curaçao, attracting the majority of residents. The entire city center is a UNESCO-recognized heritage with colorfully painted buildings in the Dutch colonial architectural style.

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The ancient buildings at Willemstad do not have rainbow colors from the early days. In 1918, Governor Albert Kickert suffered from a constant headache that he blamed the bright white-painted buildings. The politician then asked the entire city house to be repainted in different colors and affirmed that his headache ceased since then. In fact, Kickert owned a paint company and earned a lot of money thanks to the new edict. This is why Curaçao banned politicians from owning private businesses.

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If tourists want to experience how little people feel before nature, they can drive to the northernmost point of the island to visit Shete Boka National Park. This name means "7 mouths", which corresponds to the number of cave mouths created by roaring waves over time as they rush to the rocks.

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One of the people's specialties is Keshi Yena. This is the stewed chicken in the Gouda cheese shell of the old slave on the island, who only have leftovers for cooking. Another specialty is salamander meat (photo) cooked with aboriginal spices. Visitors can also stop along the road to enjoy a glass of batidos borrowed part of the Cuban recipe.

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Curaçao is home to the oldest Sephardic synagogue in the Western hemisphere. Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue has a sand-covered floor. This is a way for the first Jews to make secret ceremonies. Sand helps them to walk in and out of the synagogue without being heard by anyone.

By: Jonath Martin

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