CuraÃ§ao is the largest of the leeward islands of the Netherlands Antilles and offers a fascinating mix of Dutch heritage, Caribbean ambiance and tropical temperament. Find out about our beautiful island of CuraÃ§ao!
Population: CuraÃ§ao has some 130,000 inhabitants; 40 to 50 different nationalities live on the island.
Weather: average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius the year round, dropping just a few notches at night. Rainfall is sparse and occurs mostly in the months of October to February – but beware of the heavy showers, because when it rains, it pours.
Time: CuraÃ§ao is on Atlantic Standard Time; one hour later than US Eastern Standard Time (the same time as Eastern Daylight Savings Time) and 5 hours earlier than the Central European time. In European summertime, the time difference shifts to 6 hours.
Language: The natives of CuraÃ§ao speak Papiamentu, a language exclusive to the leeward islands of The Netherlands Antilles. Papiamentu sounds a lot like Portuguese; its origin lies in the Arawak Indian languages mixed with African, Dutch, English and Spanish vocabularies. However, Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands Antilles. English and Spanish are widely spoken, especially in shops and restaurants.
Currency : The Antillean guilder (commonly called the florin) is the local currency of CuraÃ§ao and is indicated as Naf. or fl. The guilder has an official exchange rate of 1 USD = fl. 1,78. Many stores carry price tags in US$, in addition to guilders, at a rate of fl. 1,75 and all major credit cards are accepted. Additionally, there are ATMâ€™s all over the island for withdrawals with cards carrying the Cirrus logo and most stores now also offer online payment with Maestro debit cards.
Healthcare on the island is based on European standards, rating above average in the region, with the local St. Elisabeth Hospital one of the most modern and well equipped in the Caribbean. Furthermore, Curacao has an Advent hospital, a private medical center called Taams kliniek and several efficient medical laboratories.
There are no tropical diseases evident on the island so no vaccinations are needed to visit. Standard US and European over-the-counter medicines are available at the local pharmacies, called “botica”. Our tap water, rated as one of the best and purest worldwide, is brewed from seawater and absolutely safe to drink.
It can get very hot on the island, and we’re not just talking about the sizzling nightlife (check out our Entertainment section). Especially between 10 am and 3 pm, it is imperative to take sensible precautions against the tropical sun with a high factor sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Remember that reflection can cause sunburn even in the shade of a tree or the refreshing waves of the sea. Should your skin suffer overexposure, an OTC cream or gel with aloe vera can generally offer some relief, but consult a physician if dizziness or nausea occur. Drink plenty of (non-alcoholic) fluids to avoid dehydration. Mosquitoes can be a problem in the rainy season and at night. Repellent can be purchased at pharmacies and supermarkets.
Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims all have their own houses of worship and practice their religions freely. Over 80 percent of the population is Christian, organized in different religious groups ranging from Methodists, Pentecostal communities to Baptists. CuraÃ§ao is the proud seat of the Western hemisphere’s oldest synagogue still in use, the beautiful 350 year old Mikve Israel located in the Hanchi Snoa (downtown Punda).