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CURACAO, or CURACOA

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 636 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CURACAO, or CURACOA, an island in the Dutch West Indies. It lies 40 M. from the north coast of Venezuela, in 120 N. and 69° W., being 40 M. long from N.W. to S.E., with an average width of ro m. and an area of 212 sq. m. The surface is generally fiat, but in the south-west there are hills attaining an elevation of 1200 ft. The shores are in places deeply indented, forming several natural harbours, the chief of which is that of St Anna on the south-west coast. Curacao consists of eruptive rocks, chiefly diorite and diabase, and is surrounded by coral reefs. Streams are few and the rainfall is scanty, averaging only 16 in. per annum. Although the plains are for the most part arid wastes, sugar, aloes, tobacco and divi-divi are produced with much toil in the more fertile glens. Salt, phosphates and cattle are exported. The commerce is mainly with the United States, and there is a large carrying trade with Venezuela. The famous Curacoa liqueur (see below) was originally made on the island from a peculiar variety of orange, the Citrus Aurantium curessuviensis. Willemstad (pop. about 8000), on the harbour of St. Anna, is the principal town. It bears a strong resemblance to a Dutch town, for the houses are built in the style of those of Amsterdam, and the narrow channel separating it from its western suburb of Overzijde and the waters of the Waigat, which intersect it, recall the canals. The narrow entrance leading to the Schottegat or Inner Harbour is protected by forts. The negroes of the island speak a curious dialect called Papaimento, composed of Spanish, Dutch, English and native words. Curacao gives name to the government of the Dutch West Indies, which consists of Aruba, an island lying W. of Curacao, with an area of 69 sq. m. and a population of 9591; Buen Ayre, lying 20 M. N.E., with an area of 95 sq. m. and a population of 4926; together with St Eustatius, Saba and part of St Martin. The governor is assisted by a council of four members and a colonial council of eight members nominated by the crown. The island of Curacao has a population of 30,119; and altogether the Dutch West Indies have a population of 51,693. Curacao was discovered by Hojeda about 1499 and occupied by the Spaniards in 1527. In 1634 it fell into the hands of the Dutch, who have held it ever since, except during the year 1798 and from 18o6 to 1814 when it passed into the possession of Great Britain. See Wynmalen, " Les Colonies neerlandaises dans les Antilles," Revue colon. internat. (1887), ii. p. 391; K. Martin, West-Indische Skizzen (Leiden, 1887); De Veer, La Colonie de Curacoa (Les Pays Bas, 1898). Also several articles on all the islands in Tijdschrift v. h. Ned. Aardr. Genootschap (1883-1886). CURAcOA, a liqueur, chiefly manufactured in Holland. It is relatively simple in composition, the predominating flavour being obtained from the dried peel of the Curacoa orange. The method of preparation is in principle as follows. The peel is first softened by maceration; then a part of the softened peel is distilled with spirit and water, and the remainder is macerated in a portion of the distillate so obtained. After two or three days the infusion is strained and added to the remainder of the original distillate. This simple method is subject to variations in manufacture, and the addition of a small quantity of Jamaica rum, in particular, is said to much improve the flavour. Dry Curacoa contains about 39%, the sweet variety about 36% of alcohol. A lighter variety of Curacoa, made with fine brandy, is known as " Grand Marnier."
End of Article: CURACAO, or CURACOA
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