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 The Island Territory of Bonaire


Bonair is one of five island areas (Eilandgebieden) of the Netherlands Antilles, consisting of the main island of Bonaire and, nestled in its western crescent, the uninhabited islet of Klein Bonaire. 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.

As part of the Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire is accordingly a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The structure of the relationship between Bonaire, the Netherlands Antilles and the Kingdom is being considered for change under proposed legislation. The Netherlands Antilles was scheduled to be dissolved as a unified political entity on 15 December 2008, so that the five constituent islands would attain new constitutional statuses within the Kingdom of the Netherlands but this dissolution has been postponed to an indefinite future date. As of December 15, 2008, legislation to amend the charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and to define the new status of Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius was still being reviewed.

Bonaire's first inhabitants were the Caquetios Indians, a branch of the Arawak who came by canoe from Venezuela in about 1000 AD. Archeological remains of Caquetio culture have been found at sites northeast of Kralendijk and near Lac Bay. Caquieto rock paintings and petroglyphs have been preserved in caves at Spelonk, Onima, Ceru Pungi, and Ceru Crita-Cabai. The Caquetios were apparently a very tall people, for the Spanish name for the ABC Islands was 'las Islas de los Gigantes' or 'the islands of the giants'.

In 1499, Alonso de Ojeda, discovered Curaçao, and a neighboring island that was almost certainly Bonaire. Ojeda was accompanied by Amerigo Vespucci and Juan de la Cosa. De La Cosa's Mappa Mundi of 1500 shows Bonaire and calls it Isla do Palo Brasil or "Island of Brazilwood." The Spanish conquerors decided that the three ABC Islands were useless, and in 1515, the natives were forcibly deported to work as slaves in the copper mines of Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola 

Bonaire's economy 

Bonaire's economy

The economy of Bonair is mainly based on tourism. The island caters almost exclusively to scuba divers and snorkelers because the island has few sandy beaches. The entire island is surrounded by coral reefs for miles in every direction, and access to these is often by driving to a entry point in a truck, with almost all locations being easily found and reached. Wind surfers also constitute a strong group of island tourists, as the north side of the island (which is facing the Caribbean Sea) has the large waves and wind gusts needed for windsurfing. Tourism infrastructure in Bonaire is contemporary and based on time-share resorts. There are a few small bed and breakfasts. Most resorts have an on-site dive shop. The rest are affiliated with a dive operation.

Bonaire is a popular tourist destination for both recreational diving and shore snorkeling.
Bonaire Island and Klein Bonaire, from space, March 1996. The white and flat red areas in the south are salt flats.
The Old Malmok lighthouse - in Washington Slagbaai National Park. 


Bonaire has a land area of 288 km² (111 sq. miles), while Klein Bonaire is a further 6 km² (2.3 sq. miles). Bonaire's Afdeling Bevolking (census) office reported that the population of was 14,006 inhabitants as of December, 2006 which gives Bonaire island proper a population density of 49 inh. per km².
Bonaire lies outside the hurricane belt, and is served by Flamingo International Airport.

Bonaire is world renowned for its excellent scuba diving and is consistently rated among the best diving and Caribbean diving locations in the world. Bonaire's license plates carry the logo Diver's Paradise (in English). The island is ringed by a coral reef which is easily accessible from the shore along the Western and Southern sides. Furthermore, the entire coastline of the island has been declared a marine sanctuary, preserving local fish life. Bonaire is also consistently recognized as one of the best destinations for snorkeling.
The coral reef around uninhabited Klein Bonaire is particularly well conserved, and it draws divers, snorkelers, and boaters.
Bonaire also has several coral reefs where seahorses are common.
Bonaire is also famed for its flamingo populations and its donkey sanctuary. Flamingos are drawn to the brackish water, which harbours shrimp they feed on. Starting in the 1500s, the Dutch raised sheep, goats, pigs, horses and donkeys on Bonaire, and the descendants of the goats and donkeys roam the island today.



Bonaire Slagbaai National Park 



Bonaire Washington Slagbaai National Park, located at the north side of the island, is an ecological preserve. The highest point of Bonaire, Brandaris, located within this preserve has a complete view of the island.

Lac Bay, (also known as Lac Cai or Lac Cay) on the eastern side of the island, is a windsurfer's paradise. Locals Taty and Tonky Frans in 2004 were ranked in the top five of the world's freestyle windsurfing professionals.
Atlantis Beach, on the western part of the island, is the local kitesurfing spot.
Aside from the tourist sites, Bonaire has become home to Saint James School of Medicine, which was founded by Physicians practicing and teaching basic/clinical medicine in the United States. Their goals encompass motivating students in the art of medicine utilizing a curriculum which parallels that of any U.S. based medical school.[citation needed]

The only generally recognized towns on the island are Kralendijk and Rincon.
Kralendijk has many suburbs/neighbourhoods (on an island with such a small population, the distinction is not always clearcut). Kralendijk's suburbs/neighbourhoods include:

    * Antriol
    * Belnem
    * Hato
    * Lima
    * Noord Salina
    * Nikiboko
    * Republiek
    * Sabadeco
    * Sabana
    * Santa Barbara
    * Tera Cora

Other smaller settlements include
    * Fontein
    * Lagoen
    * Sorobon
    * Spelonk
    * Wanapa 

Several smaller towns had existed in the national park, but are now abandoned. They were: Labra, Ishiri, Kokorobi, Jan Doran, Vlijt, Rigot, Porto Spano, and Kunchi.

The official languages are Dutch, Papiamentu, and English. English became an official language of the Netherlands Antilles in March 2007. In practice, it is not used for official purposes on Bonaire. Spanish and English are widely spoken on the island. 

The flag of Bonaire 


Bonaire's Flag has a large blue triangle in the lower right corner and a smaller yellow triangle in the upper left corner. The triangles are separated by a white strip, inside of which is a black compass and a red six-pointed star. The blue and yellow triangles represent the sea and sun respectively while the dividing white strip represents the sky. The colors red, white, and blue also show Bonaire's loyalty to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The black compass represents the population of Bonaire who come from the four corners of the world. The red six-pointed star represents the original six islands of the Netherlands Antilles; Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, Saba, Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire. vexillologist Whitney Smith was also involved in developing the flag's design. 

 Activities on The Island of Bonaire

Activities on BonaireFor over twenty-five years, Bonaire has led the Caribbean in the conservation of its marine resources. Since 1979, all the waters off the island's coast have been declared a marine park, which has led them to the enviable position of being ranked as one of the finest scuba diving and snorkeling destinations in the world.
Visitors to Bonaire will soon find that not all the activities are confined to just under or in the sea. Bonaire have many more water-related activities that are being discovered by today's active traveler. As a windsurfing location, the island is becoming well known for our steady trade winds and protected areas with onshore winds. Bonaire other water sports include both ocean and sea kayaking as well as sailing.

Other topside activities that are being enjoyed by visitors are cycling and nature tours through the "kunuku" or outback.
Bird watching has always been a rewarding past time in Bonaire. More and more visitors are enjoying the thrill of catching glimpses of some of Bonaire almost two hundred species of birds including there signature bird, the pink flamingo.

A trip to the Washington/Slagbaai National Park will present visitors with starkly beautiful vistas filled with many varieties of cacti, divi-divi trees, unbelievable landscapes and there wildlife, including semi-tame iguanas.
Bonaire is one place that takes seriously its responsibility to the environment and has pledged to keep that trust. 

Getting Married 

Getting -Married-in -bonaire

You need to allow four to six weeks for all the paper work. One of the couple needs to procure a temporary residency permit from immigration. To apply for a temporary residency permit the following are required:
• 2 Passport photos of the Bride & Groom (and any witnesses being brought to the island, if applicable)
• Photo copy of first page of passport (Signature & Photo page)
• Date of arrival on Bonaire
• Intended length of stay on Bonaire
For the official marriage petition the following documents are required for both the bride and groom:
• Photo copy of first page of passport (Signature & Photo page)
• Original Birth Certificate endorsed with an Apostille
• Declaration of Marital Status by the Civil Registry
• If divorced or widowed, divorce decree or document of proof is required. 

If you choose to bring witnesses from home, they should also apply for temporary residency. Your island coordinator can also arrange for local witnesses.

After arrival on Bonaire, it takes four working days to arrange for all the forms to be processed. If you are arriving on a Saturday or Sunday and the following Monday happens to be a holiday, you will have to wait the four working days until you are able to marry and  there may be a problem getting the permission arranged on time. It is advisable to check with the agency that handled your papers as to the holiday schedules. The best suggestion is to allow a full week for the papers to go through. There is much to see and do here so an extra day or two will be an additional bonus to your happy occasion. 

With respect to the original birth certificates required of the bride and groom, these must be issued by the state or province of birth, feature a raised seal, have the names of both the mother and the father on them, and for citizens of the U.S., Canada, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, or the United Kingdom, must have an Apostille affixed to them. An Apostille is an internationally recognized validation of a certificate or document, and is only issued by the office of vital statistics located within the state or province capital office (in the U.S. this would be your state's Secretary of State). Declarations of civil status and divorce or widow decrees must also be affixed with an Apostille.

Note that all certificates must be originals and have been issued no more than six months prior. The passports used must be valid for at least six months beyond the intended departure date from Bonaire. Your Bonaire Wedding coordinator can help you understand all these requirements in greater detail as well. 

 Bonaire Accommodations
Visitors to Bonaire will find a wide variety of choices of places to stay. Bonaire has a number of resorts that offer world class service to the discerning traveler. They have been rated as among some of the best in the Caribbean.

Taxes on accommodations are US$5.50 to $6.50 per person per night. Beware of rentals that do not mention this tax in advance as this can add up to quite an amount by the end of your stay. There are also some illegal rentals which do not charge the tax and are therefore not regulated by any governing agency and may not meet basic standards set by the government. Bonaire does not have a Better Business Bureau (BBB), but all businesses must be registered with the Chamber of Commerce.


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