Curacao is a culture apart. The entire population is about 145,000 divided into 55 different cultures. We Dutch know only too well what it is like to live with so many different cultures around us. Not to mention the size of Curacao compared to the Netherlands where all these cultures live together.
Curacao has as native language Papiamento. The origin of Papiamento is not entirely clear. Most likely the language originated from Portuguese where "papear" means to talk. Papiamento is a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish and English.
In the seventeenth century, the language was developed to allow residents of Curacao to communicate with the then-feared slave masters. Today, most people from Curacao speak Spanish and English in addition to Dutch and Papiamento. To get you acquainted with the language, here are a few small opening sentences:
- Bon Bini: Welcome.
- Kon ta bai: How are you doing / How are you doing?
- Mi ta bon: I am doing well.
- Pasa un bon dia: Have a nice day.
In times of occupation, the colonists were almost all Protestant. The Dutch adventurers hardly interfered with the locals on Curacao. As a result, to this day, most residents are still Roman Catholic. The Jewish community among the curacao population cannot be missed. They are descendants of the Portuguese Jews who arrived on Curacao from Brazil in 1654. Surely a large minority on the Caribbean island are the Jehovas, Muslims and Methodists.
The Dutch educational system is applied in Curacao. Examples include kindergarten and primary school, secondary and higher education. In addition to the regular subjects, lessons are also given in Papiamentu. Spanish and English classes are also given to students at the higher schools.
The language of Dutch regularly causes minor problems in kindergarten. This is mainly because parents in the first years of life speak Papiamento and not Dutch. As a result, early school leavers have increased considerably in numbers in recent years.
Since 1979, Curacao has become the proud owner of its own University. A legal, technical and economic faculty are present. Should the student not want to learn at the university level, they often go to the united states or to the Netherlands, eventually earning a degree there.
The eating in curacao has much in common with South American cuisine with an emphasis on seafood. A typical dish from Curacao is Keshi Yena; a hollowed-out round cheese filled with fish or meat.
Residents of Curacao wear airy summer clothes, understandable with the warm temperatures. The clothing does not compare to that of tourists on the island. Tourists have a tendency to tan. An Antillean on the other hand has little need for that. This one is already of dark descent. An Antillean wears yellow underwear during New Year's Eve. It is believed that this brings good luck and prosperity for the new year.