Summary: A quick look at Curacao’s past.
Ever wondered how Curacao came to be? Did you know how it got to be called as such?
Curacao history can be traced as far back as 6,000 years ago during the Amerindian Arawaks days. They traveled and settled on islands. The group Caiquetios, were the ones who found the island, thus giving it its name.
More famous stories of Curacao history are those of Christopher Columbus’ famous voyages. It was believed that Alonso de Ojeda, one of his lieutenants, discovered Curacao around 1499. It was also said that Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian, was with Ojeda when he found Curacao. Some stories have it that during the voyage, Vespucci’s men suffered from scurvy. Vespucci was said to have left these men on the island, only to find out on his return that they were all well. It was presumed that the fruits on the island were rich in Vitamin C, thus curing the sailors. He was said to have named it Curacao which means “cure” in Portuguese. Being Italian, and Ojeda being a Spaniard, this version is quite absurd but is more famous and more interesting than the others.
Some people say though that Curacao’s original name which was Curazon, was given by Spaniards to mean “heart”. However changes have converted it to the Portuguese form which is Curacao.
Anyway, more than a hundred years later, the Spanish government was thrown out when the Dutch conquered Curacao. The Dutch put up plantations all over the island. The landhuizen structures are still very visible today, some of which are converted into restaurants and other establishments. Famous Dutch activity was the slave-trade, beckoning the start of the Papiamentu language. This became the primary form of communication, being a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and African dialects.
The 18th century is significant in Curacao history. The British tried to overthrow the Dutch plenty of times until everything was settled by the Treaty of Paris. Curacao was rewarded back to the Dutch, slavery was totally abolished but the economy was slow.
The early 19th century opened new doors with the discovery of oil. Soon Curacao and Aruba were distilling crude oil for a Venezuelan oil company. World War II made Curacao a part of the Netherland Antilles along with Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten.
Whichever Curacao history is true, all of them are very interesting. Some may just be figments of someone’s imagination or a story pieced together with other stories. One thing is common to all these tales though, Curacao history is as colorful as the place that it is today.