Adios, Antilles: St. Maarten and Curacao Gain Independence

Words by Jesse Serwer, via Associated Press

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St. Maarten and Curacao are, as of this weekend, the world’s newest countries. The two islands (Well, in the case of St. Maarten, it’s actually one-third of an island shared with the French territory of St. Martin) were formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles. But on 10/10/10 that Dutch territory was officially dissolved, with the remaining three Antillean islandsโ€”Saba (pictured above), St. Eustatius and Bonaireโ€”becoming “special municipalities” of the Netherlands. Several thousand revelers attended festivities on both islands this weekend, with officials lowering the Netherlands Antilles flag and raising the flags of St. Maarten and Curacao in their place. No word on how wild the party got.

What exactly does this mean for residents and visitors to St. Maarten and Curacao, besides shiny new flags? Not much, according to the AP. The news service reports that matters of defense and foreign policy will still be under The Netherlands’ jurisdiction, with citizens retaining Dutch passports. But each country, with their respective populations of 50,000 and 190,000, will now collect their own tax revenues, and share a central bank and supreme court. According to the Jamaica Observer, Curacao and St Maarten are expected to introduce a new currency linked to the U.S. dollar, while Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba will, strangely, switch to U.S. dollars instead of the Euro.

In other Curacao news, it may soon offer rides to space. Yes, that’s rightโ€”the island best known to the world for its blue liqueur could soon be home to a spaceport, if Mojave, Calif.-based XCOR Aerospace has its way. The company last week announced plans to begin offering suborbital flights to both tourists and scientists from the island starting in 2014, for a price tag of $98,000. Real talk.

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