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History of Bonaire

Our history is inside of us

Colonization

1492, when Columbus sailed into the Caribbean, was the beginning of several centuries of colonization. We have been ruled by the British, French, Dutch, Spaniards and Scandinavians. They completely robbed our island on turn, leaving it empty and without room for the Indians: they died of an unknown illness or were killed, discarded or enslaved. At present, there are only 4,000 direct descendants of the Indians in the entire Caribbean.

Traces of the first residents

The first inhabitants of our island have left many traces. You can admire many beautiful discoveries in our museums like tools, utensils, weapons and jewelry made of earth, coral, bones and shells. On our island, you can admire rock paintings in many places, created by our first settlers.

Slavery

The first Dutch set foot ashore in 1623, but Bonaire was captured by the Dutch West India Company only in 1636. At that time, slaves were employed as laborers in the country. In 1816, the ABC islands were added to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and in 1862 slavery was abolished.

Special municipality of the Netherlands

Curaçao has elections since 1937 and belonged to the Netherlands Antilles since 1948. Between 1993 and 1995 our residents voted for maintaining the Antilles ruling from Willemstad, but in 2004, by a referendum more than half of our residents stated that they prefer to have a direct relationship with the Netherlands. Meanwhile, our island is a special municipality of the Netherlands since 2010.


Daily tips from locals!

Going on a vacation to Bonaire?

Discover our island as a local!

  • daily tips during your stay!
  • discover local secrets
  • completely free!
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