Bonaire Explained

Conventional Long Name:Bonaire
Common Name:Bonaire
National Anthem:"Tera di Solo y suave biento"
Official Languages:Dutch, Papiamentu[1]
Government Type:See Politics of the Netherlands
Leader Title1:Lt. Governor
Leader Name1:Lydia Emerencia
Sovereignty Type:Constitutional monarchy
Sovereignty Note:Part of the Netherlands
Capital:Kralendijk
Largest City:Kralendijk
Area Magnitude:1_E12
Area Km2:294
Area Sq Mi:113
Population Census:15,666
Population Census Year:End-2010[2]
Population Density Km2:53
Utc Offset:-4
Time Zone:-4
Latd:12
Latm:15
Latns:N
Longd:68
Longm:28
Longew:W
Currency:US dollar
Currency Code:USD
Drives On:Right
Cctld:.an,[3] .nl
Calling Code:599
Footnote1:Caribbean portal

Bonaire (; Dutch; Flemish: Bonaire, Papiamentu: Boneiru) is a special municipality (officially public body) of the Netherlands,[4] consisting of the Caribbean island of Bonaire and, nestled in its western crescent, the uninhabited islet of Klein Bonaire. Together with Aruba and Curaçao it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles. The name Bonaire is thought to have originally come from the Caiquetio word 'Bonay'. The early Spanish and Dutch modified its spelling to Bojnaj and also Bonaire, which means "Good Air".

Bonaire was part of the Netherlands Antilles until the country's dissolution on 10 October 2010,[5] when the island (including Klein Bonaire) became a special municipality within the country of the Netherlands.

History

Original inhabitants

Bonaire's earliest known inhabitants were the Caquetio Indians, a branch of the Arawak who came by canoe from Venezuela in about AD 1000. Archeological remains of Caquetio culture have been found at certain sites northeast of Kralendijk and near Lac Bay. Caquetio rock paintings and petroglyphs have been preserved in caves at Spelonk, Onima, Ceru Pungi, and Ceru Crita-Cabai. The Caquetios were apparently a very tall people, for the Spanish name for the ABC Islands was 'las Islas de los Gigantes' or 'the islands of the giants.'

European arrival

In 1499, Alonso de Ojeda arrived in Curaçao and a neighboring island that was almost certainly Bonaire. Ojeda was accompanied by Amerigo Vespucci and Juan de la Cosa. De La Cosa's Mappa Mundi of 1500 shows Bonaire and calls it Isla do Palo Brasil or "Island of Brazilwood." The Spanish conquerors decided that the three ABC Islands were useless, and in 1515 the natives were forcibly deported to work as slaves in the copper mines of Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola.

Spanish period

In 1526, Juan de Ampies was appointed Spanish commander of the ABC Islands. He brought back some of the original Caquetio Indian inhabitants to Bonaire and Curaçao. Ampies also imported domesticated animals from Spain, including cows, donkeys, goats, horses, pigs, and sheep. The Spaniards thought that Bonaire could be used as a cattle plantation worked by natives. The cattle were raised for hides rather than meat. The Spanish inhabitants lived mostly in the inland town of Rincon which was safe from pirate attack.

Dutch period

The Dutch West India Company was founded in 1621. Starting in 1623, ships of the West India Company called at Bonaire to obtain meat, water, and wood. The Dutch also abandoned some Spanish and Portuguese prisoners there, and these people founded the town of Antriol which is a contraction of "al interior" or "inside." The Dutch and the Spanish fought from 1568 to 1648 in what is now known as the Eighty Years War. In 1633, the Dutch, having lost the island of St. Maarten to the Spanish, retaliated by attacking Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba. Bonaire was conquered in March 1636. The Dutch built Fort Oranje in 1639.[6]

While Curaçao emerged as a center of the slave trade, Bonaire became a plantation of the Dutch West India Company. A small number of African slaves were put to work alongside Indians and convicts, cultivating dyewood and maize and harvesting solar salt around Blue Pan. Slave quarters, built entirely of stone and too short for a man to stand upright in, still stand in the area around Rincon and along the saltpans as a grim reminder of Bonaire's repressive past.

British period

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Netherlands lost control of Bonaire twice, once from 1800–1803 and again from 1807-1816.[7] During these intervals, the British had control of the neighboring island of Curaçao and of Bonaire. The ABC islands were returned to the Netherlands under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. During the period of British rule, a large number of white traders settled on Bonaire, and they built the settlement of Playa (Kralendijk) in 1810.

Emancipation

From 1816 until 1868, Bonaire remained a government plantation. In 1825, there were about 300 government-owned slaves on the island. Gradually many of the slaves were freed, and became freemen with an obligation to render some services to the government. The remaining slaves were freed on September 30, 1862 under the Emancipation Regulation. A total of 607 government slaves and 151 private slaves were freed at that time.

Allotment

In 1867 the government sold most of the public lands, and in 1870 they sold the saltpans. The entire population became dependent on two large private landowners, and this caused a great deal of suffering for many people. Many inhabitants were forced to move to Aruba, Curaçao, or Venezuela.

World War II

During the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, Bonaire was a protectorate of Britain and the United States. The American army built the Flamingo Airport as an air force base. After Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, many Dutch and German citizens were interned in a camp on Bonaire for the duration of war. In 1944, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands and Eleanor Roosevelt visited the troops on Bonaire.

Post-war

After the war, the economy of Bonaire continued to develop. The airport was converted to civilian use, and the former internment camp was converted to become the first hotel on Bonaire.[8] The Dutch Schunck family built a clothing factory known as Schunck's Kledingindustrie Bonaire. In 1964, Trans World Radio began broadcasting from Bonaire. Radio Netherlands Worldwide built two short wave transmitters on Bonaire in 1969. The second major hotel (Bonaire Beach Hotel)[9] was completed in 1962. Salt production resumed in 1966 when the salt pans were expanded and modernized by the Antilles International Salt Company, a subsidiary of the International Salt Company.[10] The Bonaire Petroleum Corporation (BOPEC) oil terminal was opened in 1975 for trans-shipping oil.[11]

Referendum 2010

An announced referendum that was scheduled on March 26, 2010, on the future of the island of Bonaire was cancelled in February 2010. The Governor of the Dutch Antilles, Frits Goedgedrag, decided to cancel it because it probably contravened international law, since part of the population is barred from voting. European Dutch nationals are only allowed to vote if they arrived on the island before January 1, 2007.[12] [13] The referendum was postponed to September and then October 2010.[14] Eventually the referendum was held on December 17 2010, with 84% voting in favour of becoming part of the Netherlands. However as the 35% voter turnout rate was below the required 51%, the results of the referendum were declared invalid.[15]

On 10 October 2010 the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved, making Bonaire a public body of the Netherlands.

Tourism

Bonaire's economy is mainly based on tourism. The island caters mainly to scuba divers and snorkelers, as there are few sandy beaches, while the surrounding reefs are easily accessible from the shore. Bonaire is world renowned for its excellent scuba diving and is consistently rated among the best diving locations in the world. Bonaire's license plates carry the logo Divers Paradise (in English). Bonaire is also consistently recognized as one of the best destinations for snorkeling. Wind surfers also make a strong group of island tourists, as the east side of the island (facing the Caribbean Sea) has the large waves and wind gusts needed for windsurfing. Lac Bay, in the south east, is shallow, yet windy, and hence is considered an excellent place for intermediate sailors to improve their skills. Tourism infrastructure in Bonaire is contemporary and based on time-share resorts. There are a few small bed and breakfasts. Most resorts have an on-site dive shop. The rest are affiliated with a dive operation.

Transportation

Bonaire's first airport was located near Tra'i Montaña Subi Blanku and walked across the current path of Kralendijk to Rincon and was built in 1936. The airport proved to be too small when American soldiers arrived on Bonaire in the second half of 1943 commander stated that a new airport had to be built. In December 1943, construction began in the vicinity of where the present airport now stands. The new airport, named "Flamingo Airport", was put into use in 1945. A small terminal was built that was suitable for the number of passengers at the time. This building was used until mid 1976. The airport had received many extensions of both the runway and the terminal itself.

Today, the airport is currently known as Flamingo International Airport and is currently served by a variety of both Domestic and International Airlines. Services from the US include, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Insel Air. Airlines providing European service include Arkefly and KLM. Consistent air service from Curaçao is available through Divi Divi Air, Dutch Antilles Express, EZAir and Insel Air, and also direct service from Aruba to Bonaire is provided by Tiara Air.

The airport comes equipped with a fire station, control tower, and hangar. Plans are underway for modifications to the current airport facilities, runway and the fire station.

Geography

Bonaire has a land area of 288 km² (111 sq. miles), while Klein Bonaire is a further 6 km² (2.3 sq. miles). Bonaire's Afdeling Bevolking (census) office reported that the population was 14,006 inhabitants as of December, 2006, which gives Bonaire island proper a population density of 49 inhabitants per km².

Bonaire lies outside the hurricane belt, and is served by Flamingo International Airport.

The island is ringed by a coral reef which is easily accessible from the shore along the Western and Southern sides. Furthermore, the entire coastline of the island has been declared a marine sanctuary, preserving local fish life.

The coral reef around uninhabited Klein Bonaire is particularly well preserved, and it draws divers, snorkelers, and boaters.

Bonaire also has several coral reefs where seahorses can be found.

Bonaire is also famed for its flamingo populations and its donkey sanctuary. Flamingos are drawn to the brackish water, which harbours the shrimp they feed on. Starting in the 16th century, the Dutch raised sheep, goats, pigs, horses and donkeys on Bonaire, and the descendants of the goats and donkeys roam the island today, with a small population of pigs roaming as well.

Washington Slagbaai National Park, located at the north side of the island, is an ecological preserve. The highest point of Bonaire, the mountainous Brandaris, high, located within this preserve, has a complete view of the island.

Elsewhere, environmental issues are a cause for concern, particularly with unregulated and illegal dumping of raw sewage and chemical pollutants which leach through the permeable limestone of the island and threaten the quality of groundwater. This is particularly of concern at the landfill site, which environmentalists state has no impermeable membrane present to prevent possible groundwater contamination by toxic waste. Destruction of wildlife habitat for commercial development thus threatening endangered species is also highlighted as a problem.

Lac Bay, (also known as Lac Cai or Lac Cay) on the eastern side of the island, is a windsurfer's paradise. Locals Taty and Tonky Frans in 2004 were ranked in the top five of the world's freestyle windsurfing professionals.

Atlantis Beach, on the western part of the island, is the local kitesurfing spot.

Aside from the tourist sites, Bonaire has become home to Saint James School of Medicine, which was founded by physicians practicing and teaching basic/clinical medicine in the United States. Their goals encompass motivating students in the art of medicine utilizing a curriculum which parallels that of any U.S. based medical school.

Education

Bonaire’s educational system is patterned after the Dutch system. Early grades are taught solely in Papiamentu, with more and more Dutch being introduced as the grade level progresses.

There is also an offshore American Caribbean Medical Schools in Bonaire called Saint James School of Medicine.

Settlements

The only generally recognized towns on the island are Kralendijk and Rincon.

Kralendijk has many suburbs/neighbourhoods (on an island with such a small population, the distinction is not always clearcut). Kralendijk's suburbs/neighbourhoods include:

Other smaller settlements include

Labra, Ishiri, Kokorobi, Jan Doran, Vlijt, Rigot, Porto Spano, and Kunchi were several smaller towns that had existed in the national park, but were later abandoned.

Languages

Dutch is the official language on Bonaire, since it is part of the Netherlands. Nevertheless, Papiamentu is recognised as another language on the island.[1]

Media

Trans World Radio relay station

Trans World Radio operates on Bonaire a radio relay station with a mediumwave transmitter and several shortwave transmitters at . The mediumwave transmitter is the most powerful mediumwave transmitter in America, having operated with as much as a half megawatt (500 kilowatts).The antenna of the mediumwave transmitter consists of four 231.6 metre-tall masts arranged in a parallelogram.

Radio Netherlands relay station

Radio Netherlands Worldwide operate a shortwave relay station at .

See also

External links

Government
Island Information
Nature
News
WebCams

Notes and References

  1. Papiamentu can be used in relations with the government
    Web site: Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba. Dutch. wetten.nl. 2011-01-01.
  2. Web site: Bevolkingsontwikkeling Caribisch Nederland; geboorte, sterfte, migratie. Central Bureau of Statistics. 2012. 2012-12-13. Dutch.
  3. The domain for the Netherlands Antilles has remained active after its dissolution. The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code BQ was established for the entity "Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba". (Web site: ISO 3166-1 decoding table. International Organization for Standardization. 2010-12-17.) An Internet ccTLD has however not been established by the IANA, and it is unknown if it will be opened for registration.
  4. Web site: Antillen opgeheven. NOS Nieuws. 2009-11-18. 2010-10-10.
  5. Web site: Fort Oranje(Bonaire). 19 February 2009.
  6. Web site: The Map Room: Caribbean: Bonaire. British Empire. 2010-10-10.
  7. Web site: Divi Flamingo Beach Resort Bonaire. 19 February 2009.
  8. Web site: Bonaire Beach Hotel. 19 February 2009.
  9. Web site: Cargill Salt Company. 19 monkey.
  10. Web site: Bonaire Petroleum Company. http://web.archive.org/web/20070301191150/http://www.rocargo.com/Bopec.html. 2007-03-01. 19 February 2009.
  11. http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/uncertainty-about-bonaire-referendum Uncertainty about Bonaire referendum
  12. Web site: Bonaire referendum cancelled. Expatica.com. 2010-10-10.
  13. http://www.rnw.nl/english/bulletin/bonaire-referendum-postponed-again Bonaire referendum postponed again
  14. http://bonairereporter.com/news/010pdfs/12-31-10.pdf The Referendum that wasn't