Caribbean-American Heritage Month

Celebrating the vibrant culture of people from the Caribbean/West Indies.

Associated Countries: Netherlands Caribbean

Kmusser, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten are countries that made up the Netherlands Antilles until 2010. Along with Aruba, they are now member states of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With the exception of Sint Maarten, they are individual islands.

The Caribbean was originally inhabited by indigenous people, who migrated through the islands from Central and South America. While not every island's or country's indigenous name is known, you can learn most of them here. After the arrival of the Europeans, the indigenous people were either enslaved, killed, or died from diseases they were exposed to by European settlers.

Each country has its own history but there is also a common history of the destruction or removal of the native people, the colonization by European countries, the introduction of enslaved West Africans to the region via the Transatlantic Slave Trade; the establishment of slavery-based economies, the revolts or anti-slavery movements that eventually emancipated the enslaved populations, the indentured servants from East India and Asia, the stirring and mixing of African, European, Indigenous, East Indian, and Asian cultures that formed new cultures.

The infusion of musical traditions, culinary arts, climate, and heritage produced unique customs that bring the Caribbean community together. Despite different languages, dialects, or creoles spoken throughout the countries, there is a unifying value shared: an appreciation of and pride in who they are.


Aruba is home to over 300 petroglyphs and pictographs, which is a lot for a small island. Petroglyphs are carved images. Pictographs are drawings painted with natural dyes. Both can be found in rock formations and caves throughout the island.

Language(s): Papiamento, Spanish, English

Capital: Oranjestad

National Anthem: "Aruba Dushi Tera" (Aruba Sweet Land), written by Juan Chabaya Lempe, composed by Rufo Weaver. It was adapted in 1976.

Agriculture/Economy: Tourism, financial services

Currency: 1 Aruban Florian = $0.55 USD

National Dish: Keshi Yena, a dish of seasoned meat and vegetables baked or steamed in a cheese rind.


The highest peak, at 2,910 feet, within the Kingdom of the Netherlands is located on Saba. Mount Scenery is a volcano, believed to be active. As of 2020, an estimated 1,933 people reside on Saba.

Language(s): English, Dutch

Capital: The Bottom

National Anthem: "Saba, You Rise From the Ocean," written and composed by Dominican nun, Christina Maria Jeurissen, in 1960. Adopted in 1985.

Agriculture/Economy: Livestock, vegetation, tourism

Currency: United States Dollar

National Dish: Goat meat with rice and peas

Image Credit: Canva


Called chogogo in Papiamento, the flamingo chooses Bonaire as one of the four Caribbean countries to breed and raise offspring every year. Tens of thousands of flamingos arrive on Bonaire each year to hatch their egg in nests made of mud. The preferred location on Bonaire is Pekelmeer Sanctuary, in the southern part of the island. 

Language(s): Dutch, Papiamentu

Capital: Kralendijk

National Anthem: "Tera di Solo y Suave Biento," written by Hubert Booi, composed by J.B.A. Palm. It was adopted in 1981.

Agriculture/Economy: Tourism, construction, financial services

Currency: United States Dollar

National Dish: Stoba Kabritu, a stew made with seasoned goat meat, onions, and tomatoes. Sometimes served with rice and beans.

Sint Eustatius (Statia)

Also called Statia, Sint Eustatius is mostly uninhabited. The local governing body was removed in 2010 in favor of direct authority by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The dormant volcano on the island is called Quill.

Walter Hellebrand, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Capital: Oranjestad

Language(s): English, Dutch

National Anthem: "Golden Rock" ("Gouden Rots) is the regional anthem, written and composed by Pieter A. van den Heuvel. Adopted in 2004 and ratified in 2010.

Agriculture/Economy: Government, oil terminal employment

Currency: United States Dollar

National Dish: Goat meat, rice and peas, and ground provisions

Image Credit: Canva


Known as part of the ABC islands, Curaçao is made up of two islands. The Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a title bestowed on a location of cultural or architectural significance. The Hato Caves, made of coral limestone, were formed below sea level before the Ice Age.

Language(s): Papiamento, Dutch, English

Capital: Willemstad

National Anthem: "Anthem of Curacao" ("Himno di Kòrsou"), composed by Candidus Nouwens with several lyricists. Adopted in 1978.

Agriculture/Economy: Tourism, financial services, oil refining

Currency: 1 Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG) = $0.56 USD

National Dish: Keshi Yena, a baked stuffed cheese dish.

Image Credit: Canva

Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten is the smallest island in the world and shares the land with Saint Martin. Sint Maarten, the southern part, is a Dutch overseas territory. Maho Beach, in the capital of Phillipsburg, is well-known for watching planes descending very closely to the sandy coastline. Both countries share a bi-national anthem, in both French and Dutch.

Language(s): English, Dutch, Spanish, Papiamento

Capital: Phillipsburg

National Anthem: "O Sweet Saint Martin's Land" / "Saint-Martin, Si Jolie," written by Gerard Kemps in 1958.

Agriculture/Economy: Tourism, sugar 

Currency: 1 Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG) = $0.56 USD

National Dish: Conch (pronounced 'konk') and dumplings, a dish of seasoned sea snail pressure cooked with dumplings and spices.

Image Credit: Canva