Bonaire, the Caribbean island, with the uninhabited islet of Klein Bonaire nestled in its western crescent, forms a special municipality (officially public body) of the Netherlands. Together with Aruba and Curaçao it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles. The name Bonaire is thought to have originally come from the Caquetio Indian word 'Bonay'. The early Spanish and Dutch modified its spelling to Bojnaj and also Bonaire, which means "Good Air". Bonaire's capital is Kralendijk.
Economy and Population
Bonaire, a special municipality within the Dutch Kingdom, has an economy that still offers many opportunities. The government, salt industry, oil transshipment and oil storage, services and (dive) tourism are the major employers on the Caribbean island.
The population growth of Bonaire has been spectacular in the last ten years. From 10.000 inhabitants in 2003 to a current 20.9 thousand inhabitants in the year 2020.
In addition the tourism is in the uplift in recent years. More than 137.000 tourists (in 2015) fly to Bonaire annually and 230. 000 cruise passengers cruise guest (2015) visit the Caribbean island each year.
Up to 2015 no less than 75% of Bonaire's economy thrives on tourism. This makes the island unique in the Caribbean region. Most Caribbean islands are 22% economically dependent on tourism. For European Netherlands a rate of only 4% applies.
Furthermore, an increased interest of Europeans to settle in the new Caribbean municipality of the Netherlands is expected in the coming years.
By this developments more and more homes, holiday accommodation and facilities will be needed and there is a great demand for skilled and qualified people in this industry. But not only the construction industry in great demand of employees, in other fields such as financial services, business services, automation, education and health is in need of qualified staff.
Heritage and Culture
Influences from around the world have been combined on Bonaire in a unique mixture, testifying to how successfully the people have been able to integrate their different ethnic backgrounds from Africa, Spain, England , the Netherlands to Latin America.
The harsh living conditions on Bonaire during slavery fostered a tremendous resilience in the spirit of the people and produced much of the extraordinary liveliness and richness of Bonairean culture.
Dutch is the official language of Bonaire, as it is part of the Netherlands. The most widely spoken language is the language Papiamentu, alongside Dutch, English and Spanish.
Bonaire Marine Park
Bonaire Marine Park comprises the waters around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire to a depth of 60 metres from the high water mark. The site falls entirely within the territorial waters and the authority of the island executive of Bonaire. Klein Bonaire, the largest uninhabited island in the Caribbean, is part of the protected underwater park and is surrounded by abundant coral reefs.
The Bonaire Marine Park consists of 2,700 hectares of coral reef, seagrass beds and mangroves, and is the habitat of over 50 varieties of stony coral and over 350 species of reef fish. The Bonaire Marine Park has outstanding universal value. The Park's flora and fauna are in excellent condition. Its coral reefs are the least degraded in the entire Caribbean Sea. Sea turtles nest on the beaches of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire and feed in Lac Bay, which is partly closed off from the sea by a coral reef. The bay contains seagrass meadows and is surrounded by mangroves.