Good News For Country Counters: Curuacao and St. Maarten are now Autonomous Countries

Friendly banter among travel enthusiasts can quickly become competitive. The conversation may start with “where were you last?” progress to “where else have you been?” and then escalate to “how many country have you visited?” Well, here’s some good news for country counters — you know the types who collect passport stamps for bragging rights. There are two new countries on the scene: Curacao (pictured above) and St. Maarten.

Perhaps you’re thinking that you’ve heard of Curacao and St. Maarten before and that they don’t sound new at all. Well, until Monday they were two of the five island territories of the Netherlands Antilles, a group which has now been dissolved. Now they’re autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a status that Aruba has enjoyed since 1986.

What this really means is that Curacao and St. Maarten can fully reap the benefit of taxes brought in and invest in their infrastructure. It also means that they will each have their own prime ministers. Curacao’s first Prime Minister, Gerrit Schotte, is just 36 — pretty cool.

In case you’re wondering what happened to the other three members of the now-defunct Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, have become autonomous special municipalities of the Netherlands.

So if you have plans to go Curacao or St. Maarten, then you’ll be able to include them in your “countries I’ve visited list.” If you took your trip back when they were island territories, I’m not sure that counts. You’ll have to ask someone like John Rheinberger, the Minnesota resident who’s made it to 192 countries since 1974. At the very least, you’ll have bragging rights that you got to swim in that turquoise Caribbean water.

One Response to Good News For Country Counters: Curuacao and St. Maarten are now Autonomous Countries

  1. Margot December 14, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    I have had the luck to live in Curacao for four years now and had many visitors come to visit. Invariably transportation is an issue. We were really hoping that the Dutch tradition of cycling had been duly exported but apart for mountain bike races in the rugged landscape, it is pretty much out of the day to day life. Over the years, our favorite solution has been to hire the services of various car rentals throughout the island. The cheapest car rental is of course preferred but we noticed there was a lack of comprehensive site on the Internet to be able to compare them. Recently I have asked a friend of mine who is a lot more knowledgeable about computers than I to set up a page for my family to be able to find the cheapest rental rates. Not only did he oblige but he created a whole site which I find very informative. So if you are interested in comparing car rentals on the island, enjoy this link: It even works if you are coming from the cruise ships. Some car rental companies will drop a car off at the terminal for you.

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