Curacao is an island in the in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea off the north-west coast of Venezuela. Curacao is the largest and the most populous of the three so-called ABC Islands (for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). The island belongs to the Netherlands Antilles, a self-governing part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Curacao is situated about 60 km off the Venezuelan coast outside the hurricane belt. Willemstad is the capital of Curacao.

Curacao is semiarid island and most of the flora is of desert character. Oil refining is the main industry in Curacao and the island boasts one of the world’s largest refineries, receiving oil from the enormous reserves at nearby Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. Other main industries include tourism and ship repairing. The ship repairing dry dock of Curacao is one of the largest in the Americas.

Curacao was first visited in 1499 by Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci. At that time the island was inhabited by Arawak Amerindians. In 1527, Spaniards decimated the Arawak and settled in Curacao. The Dutch gained control of the island in 1634. The island remained in the possession of the Dutch except for a brief period of British rule during the Napoleonic Wars (1807–1815). The island gained limited self-government in 1954.

Other points of tourist interest include Curacao Liqueur Distillery, Queen Juliana Bridge (the highest bridge in the Caribbean), Curacao Ostrich and Game Farm (one of the biggest ostrich ranching operations outside of Africa), and Boca Tabla (a sea cave situated on the north coast).

Willemstad is one of the finest shopping centers in the Caribbean. The Historic Area of Willemstad was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site on December 1997. The capital is dotted with several Dutch-style houses, thatched cottages, cunucu houses (based on African-style mud and wattle huts), and country houses.

Situated at the center of the capital is the mustard-colored Fort Amsterdam was a fortified town from 1648 to 1861. It is now the seat of the government of the Netherlands Antilles. The present Governor’s Residence, situated nearby, dates back to the Dutch colonial days.

Hato International Airport, officially called Albert Plesman Luchthaven, is located at the capital city of Willemstad. Car rental are available from the airport.