Bonaire History

Bonaire history includes the Caquetios Indians.

Located just off the northern tip of South America, Bonaire was originally home to the Caquetios Indians, who colonized the island in 1000 AD.

Bonaire is one of the many small, charming islands that have seemingly slipped out of the breakneck pace of the modern world and embraced the slowed down lifestyle of a tropical paradise.

Here's a picture of some slave huts in Bonaire.

While the culture has long since disappeared, their cave and rock art lives on to this day for all of us to see. It is good to be reminded of the past so we don't make the same mistakes in the future.

European colonization brought dark times to the local inhabitants of this beautiful island, as they were first subjugated and enslaved by the Spanish in 1499 and for the next hundred years or so the island stood largely empty except for cattle and their tenders.

As a result of the constant conflict between the Spanish and the Dutch, the Netherlands took control of Bonaire in 1633 and shifted the economic focus of the island from livestock to agriculture, employing slave labor to support the Dutch West India Company.

Bonaire’s generous salt beds gave the small territory a prominent role for several hundred years in the production of this mineral.

The Dutch West India Company dissolved in 1791, and most of the island was nationalized by the government of the Netherlands, with slavery eventually being abolished in 1862.

Finally freedom was returned to the the Caquetios Indians. A happy part of Bonaire history.

Dutch control of Bonaire remained shaky during the 1800’s, as constant war and conflict with Britain caused the island to see several shifts in power, most notably in 1800 and in 1807.

The Netherlands eventually regained control of the territory, however, and continued to develop its naturals resources.

This picture shows you the salt pans in Bonaire. See how the salt makes the water pink? They call this area Pink Beach.

The timber and salt trade were bolstered by the further installation of military forts designed to keep marauding colonial powers at bay.

While no longer slaves, the Caquetios Indian population of Bonaire had a difficult time finding a role in the local economy, enduring poverty and hardship at the hands of European landowners until the South American oil industry enabled an investment in infrastructure that led to greater prosperity for all of the island’s inhabitants.

While the right to vote was granted in 1936, Bonaire did not become self-deterministic until 1954 when the Dutch royal family granted its citizens their independence.

Over the past 70 years, Bonaire has worked hard to put the past behind it and has transformed from an industrial economy into the tourist-oriented, beautiful exotic travel destination that it is today.

Go to Things To Do In Bonaire

Go From Bonaire History to About Bonaire

Go From Bonaire History to Bonaire Beaches Home