Monday, February 15, 2010

Ten Ten Ten - Netherlands Antilles Has The X-Factor?

It might be a score on the X Factor… er no, actually Simon Cowell would surely never give ten. As it turns out 10 October 2010 is a key date in the Dutch Caribbean calendar, as it is the moment when political changes will take place in several of the Netherlands Antilles.

Two of the islands – Curacao and St Maarten - will be following the lead of Aruba and will take ‘Status Aparte’. While they will remain within the Kingdom of the Netherlands they will have more autonomy and become responsible for their own internal affairs. The three remaining islands, Bonaire and the tiny islands of Saba and St Eustatius, or BES as they are currently known, will actually go the other way, and will become more integrated into the Dutch system. Well, that’s if Bonaire actually goes through with it – having agreed to, they were looking for a referendum on the subject recently.

So, what does it all mean? It means that the BES states will become members of the European Union (this is already the case with Martinique and Guadeloupe, so it is not actually that extraordinary, despite their 4000 or so miles from Europe). The Netherlands Antilles Florin will probably cease to exist – St Maarten is undecided, but Saba will be taking the US Dollar as its currency. And last and most importantly, Mt Scenery on Saba, which has historically been the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, will now actually be the highest point in Holland.

Nigel Tisdall Goes Dutch - A travel writer's exploration of St Maarten, Saba and Statia.

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