Caribbean Netherlands

Caribbean Netherlands
Caribbean Netherlands
Caribisch Nederland (Dutch)
Hulanda Karibe (Papiamento)
Flag Coat of arms
Location of the  BES islands  (green)in the Caribbean
Location of the  BES islands  (green)

in the Caribbean

Official language(s) Dutch,
English (Saba, St. Eustatius),
Papiamentu (Bonaire)[1]
Government See Politics of the Netherlands
 -  National Representative Wilbert Stolte
 -  Lt. governor (Bonaire) Glenn Thodé
 -  Lt. governor (Sint Eustatius) Gerald Berkel
 -  Lt. governor (Saba) Jonathan Johnson (Saba)
Constitutional monarchy Part of the Netherlands 
 -  Total 328 km2 
127 sq mi 
 -  2010 census 18,000 
Currency US dollar (USD)
Time zone -4 (UTC-4)
Drives on the right
ISO 3166 code BQ
Internet TLD .nl, .an (probably to be discontinued); .bq assigned but not used[2]
Calling code +599

The Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch: Caribisch Nederland, Papiamento: Hulanda Karibe) collectively refers to the three special municipalities (officially public bodies) of the Netherlands that are located overseas, in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The territorial grouping is alternately known as Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba[a 1] or the BES islands. Although part of the country of the Netherlands, the special municipalities remain overseas territories[3] of the European Union at least until 2015.[4]

Bonaire (including the islet of Klein Bonaire) is located east of Aruba and Curaçao, close to the coast of Venezuela. Sint Eustatius and Saba are located south of Sint Maarten and northwest of Saint Kitts and Nevis. The three islands gained their current status following the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010,[5] while the islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten became autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[6] The BES islands have a collective population of 18,000 and a total area of 328 square kilometres (127 sq mi).



The special municipalities (Dutch: bijzondere gemeenten) carry many of the functions normally performed by Dutch municipalities. The executive power rests with the governing council (Dutch: bestuurscollege) headed by a Lieutenant Governor (Dutch: gezaghebber). The main democratic body is the island council (Dutch: eilandsraad). Residents of these three islands are entitled to vote in Dutch national and (as all Dutch nationals) in European elections.

Officially the islands are classed in Dutch law as being openbare lichamen (literally translated as "public bodies") and not gemeenten (municipalities). They do not form part of a Dutch province,[7] and the powers normally exercised by provincial councils within municipalities are divided between the island governments themselves and the central government (by means of the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands).

For many Dutch laws there is a special BES version.[8] For example, social security is not on the same level as it is in the European Netherlands.[citation needed]

The islands do not form part of the European Union and instead constitute "overseas countries and territories" of the Union to which special provisions apply.[a 2] The Lisbon Treaty introduced a procedure where the European Council may change the status of an extra-European territory of Denmark, France or the Netherlands regarding the application of the EU treaties to that territory.[a 3] It is intended to review the position of the islands after a five year transitional period began with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in October 2010.

Flag Name Capital Largest city Area[9]
(per km²)
Bonaire Bonaire Kralendijk Kralendijk 294 13,389 46
Sint Eustatius Sint Eustatius Oranjestad Oranjestad 21 2,886 137
Saba Saba The Bottom The Bottom 13 1,737 134
Total 328 18,012 55

National Office

Logo of the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands

The National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch: Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland) has assumed responsibility for taxation, policing, immigration, transport infrastructure, health, education and social security in the islands and provides these services on behalf of the Government of the Netherlands.[11] This agency was established as the Regional Service Center in 2008 and became the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands on 1 September 2010.[12][13] The current director is Sybren van Dam.[14] The Representative for the public bodies of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba represents the Government of the Netherlands on the islands and also performs tasks similar to a Queen's commissioner.[citation needed] The current representative is Wilbert Stolte.[15]


Map showing Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba within the former Netherlands Antilles

The Caribbean Netherlands form part of the Lesser Antilles. Within this island group,


The islands of the Caribbean Netherlands enjoy a tropical climate with warm weather all year round. The Leeward Islands are warmer and drier than the Windward islands. In summer, the Windward Islands can be subject to hurricanes.


Until 1 January 2011, the three islands used the Netherlands Antillean guilder and after that all three switched to the US dollar, rather than the euro which is used in the European Netherlands or the Caribbean guilder which is being adopted by the other two former Antillean islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten.[16][17] The decision to introduce the US dollar on the three islands was taken in November 2008.[16]


The telephone country code remains 599, that of the former Netherlands Antilles, and is shared with Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The ISO has assigned the two-letter country code BQ for these islands.[18] The IANA has not established a root zone for the .bq Internet ccTLD and whether it will be used is unknown.

See also


  1. ^ "Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba" (English), "Bonaire, Saint-Eustache et Saba" (French) and "Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (Dutch) are the listed names for the territorial grouping in the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 3166-1 standard.
  2. ^ Per the Annex II of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  3. ^ Now contained in Article 355(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


  1. ^ "Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  2. ^ "Delegation Record for .BQ". IANA. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "Official Journal of the European Union – C 83". EUR-Lex. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Regels met betrekking tot de openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba (Wet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba); Verslag" (in Dutch). 12 October 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Besluit van 23 september 2010 tot vaststelling van het tijdstip van inwerkingtreding van de artikelen I en II van de Rijkswet wijziging Statuut in verband met de opheffing van de Nederlandse Antillen" (in Dutch). 1 October 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "Constitutional reform of Netherlands Antilles completed". 10 September 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "31.954, Wet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (in Dutch). Eerste kamer der Staten-Generaal. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "De openbare lichamen vallen rechtstreeks onder het Rijk omdat zij geen deel uitmaken van een provincie. (The public bodies (...), because they are not part of a Province)." 
  8. ^ "Wet- en regelgeving" (in Dutch). [verification needed]
  9. ^ "Statistical Info: Area and Climate". Central Bureau of Statistics (Netherlands Antilles). 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  10. ^ "Statistical Info: Population". Central Bureau of Statistics (Netherlands Antilles). 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  11. ^ Vacatures Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland
  12. ^ Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland
  13. ^ FAQ Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland
  14. ^ Rijksdienst verwelkomt nieuwe medewerkers Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland
  15. ^ Rijksvertegenwoordiger arrived in the Dutch Caribbean
  16. ^ a b Davis, Susan (2008-09-13). "Bonaire Opts for U.S. Dollar as New Official Currency". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  17. ^ "Monetary, Safety Law BES islands approved islands". The Daily Herald. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  18. ^ "ISO 3166-1 decoding table". International Organization for Standardization. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 

External links

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