|Netherlands Antilles Economy|
The Netherlands Antilles is a name that is given to an autonomous country within the realms of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, in the Caribbean area of the world. The country consisted of two groups of islands; Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire in the Leeward Antilles, and Sant Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius in the Leeward Islands area. As of October 2010, the Netherlands Antilles no longer exists formally and instead there are two modern constituent countries. Despite this change, the countries are still referred to in a broad sense as the Netherlands Antilles as they are still linked to the parent country of The Netherlands.
Altogether the islands cover an area of around 309 square miles and have a combined population of approximately 176,000. Having the advantage of being more than one country, the Netherlands Antiles economy has a variety of industries that help to keep it buoyant.
Early History of Netherlands Antilles Economy
The history of the Netherlands Antilles economy really begins with the Spanish settling on the islands in the 15th century. Several of the islands experienced a tussle between the Spanish and the Dutch during the 17th century, resulting in Bonaire becoming a granary based economy for the Dutch, Sant Maarten and Curacao becoming prominent in salt mining and the rest becoming major players in sugar cane and tobacco production. The following years saw the Netherlands Antilles economy prosper up until the decline in demand for sugar cane, which resulted in several of the islands facing tough economic times.
Economic Growth in Modern Day Netherlands Antilles
In the present day, because there are so many islands encompassed in the Netherlands Antilles group, the countries enjoy several key industries between them which help to boost the economy. Most prominent of the industries are the tourism sector, the offshore finance sector and the petroleum sector. The tourism sector has been a mainstay of the Netherlands Antilles economy since the early 1970s, although it has seen little growth going into the 21st century, certainly in terms of overnight stays.
The island of Curacao is currently the strongest in terms of tourism as it has a more diverse market structure than the likes of Sant Maarten and Bonaire. Cruise visitors now make up the majority of visitors to the Netherlands Antilles, yet the retail, wholesale and restaurant trade have seen a slight decline as a result of this.
The industry of oil refining is also a major contributor to the economy of the group. The Venezuelan State Oil Company has made a large investment on Curacao with one of its bigger refineries being based there. Most of the oil refined on Curacao is imported from Venezuela itself and then exported again.
The agricultural sector is one that is struggling to integrate well into the Netherlands Antilles economy. Indeed, the islands for the most part have inadequate water supplies for agricultural purposes on a large scale, as well as soil that is considered to be quite poor.
It is safe to say that being linked to a country such as The Netherlands allows the Netherlands Antilles group to rely on economic and financial aid when it needs it. The economy of the Netherlands Antilles is also subject to the success of other countries to sustain its key economic contributors such as oil refinery, which is a global commodity.