Saturday, 24 March 2012

Hato Caves, Curaçao

Today's last card is another treat I received from my penpal Lauren from her Caribbean cruise earlier this year. She really seems to have visited the most amazing places!

Hato Caves are show caves and a popular tourist attraction on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. The caves are north of the town of Willemstad on the Roosevelt Weg. The first known inhabitants of the caves were the Amerindian Arawaks, about 1,500 years ago. They left behind many petroglyphs (cave drawings). In the days of slavery, runaway slaves used the caves as hiding places.

Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao, which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao ("Little Curaçao"), is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its capital is Willemstad.

Curaçao is the largest and most populous of the three ABC islands (for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) of the Lesser Antilles, specifically the Leeward Antilles. It has a land area of 444 square kilometres. As of 1 January 2009, it had a population of 141,766.

Curaçao has a semiarid climate with a dry season from January to September and a wet season from October to December. The temperatures are relatively constant with small differences throughout the year. The trade winds bring cooling during the day and the same trade winds bring warming during the night. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of 26.5 °C and the warmest month is September with an average temperature of 28.9 °C. The year's average maximum temperature is 31.2 °C. The year's average minimum temperature is 25.3 °C. Curaçao lies outside the hurricane belt, but is still occasionally affected by hurricanes, as for example Omar in 2008.

Because of its history, the island's population comes from many ethnic backgrounds. There is an Afro-Caribbean majority of African descent, and also sizeable minorities of Dutch, Latin American, French, South Asian, East Asian, Portuguese and Levantine people. In the early 19th century, many Portuguese and Lebanese migrated to Curaçao attracted by the financial possibilities of the island. East and South Asian migrants arrived during the economic boom of the early 20th century. There are also many recent immigrants from neighbouring countries, most notably the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Anglophone Caribbean and Colombia. In recent years the influx of Dutch pensioners has increased significantly, dubbed locally as pensionados.

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