The island of Curaçao was first settled by the Arawaks, an Amerindian people native to the area. They are believed to have inhabited the island for many hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans.
The Sephardic Jews who arrived from the Netherlands and then-Dutch Brazil since the 17th century have had a significant influence on the culture and economy of the island. Curaçao is home to the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Americas, dating to 1651. The Jewish Community of Curaçao also played a key role in supporting early Jewish congregations in New Amsterdam (present-day New York City), Cayenne and Coro in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the years before and after World War II there was an influx of Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, many of whom were Romanian Jews.
For much of the 17th and 18th centuries, the primary business of the island was the slave trade. Slaves arrived often from Africa and were bought and sold on the docks in Willemstad before continuing on to their ultimate destination. Between 1662 and 1669, Domingo Grillo and Ambrosio Lomelín shipped 24,000 slaves, assisted by the Dutch West India Company and the Royal African Company from Jamaica.
The slaves that remained on the island were responsible for working the plantations established earlier. This influx of inexpensive manpower made the labor-intensive agricultural sector far more profitable and between the Netherlands and China the trading done on the docks and the work being done in the fields, the economic profile of Curaçao began to climb, this time built on the backs of the slaves.
In 1795, there was a slave revolt, which was eventually put down by the Dutch.
The defeat of the Dutch in the Napoleonic Wars caused Curaçao to be conquered by the British Empire from 1800 to 1803, and again from 1807 to 1816, after which it was handed back to the Dutch due to the Treaty of Paris.
Curaçao's proximity to Venezuela resulted in interaction with cultures of the coastal areas. For instance, architectural similarities can be seen between the 19th-century parts of Willemstad and the nearby Venezuelan city of Coro in Falcón State. In the 19th century, Curaçaoans such as Manuel Piar and Luis Brión were prominently engaged in the wars of independence of Venezuela and Colombia. Political refugees from the mainland (such as Simon Bolivar) regrouped in Curaçao. Children from affluent Venezuelan families were educated on the island.
The Dutch abolished slavery in 1863, bringing a change in the economy with the shift to wage labour. Some inhabitants of Curaçao emigrated to other islands, such as Cuba, to work in sugar cane plantations. Other former slaves had nowhere to go and remained working for the plantation owner in the tenant farmer system. This was an instituted order in which the former slave leased land from his former master. In exchange the tenant promised to give up most of his harvest to the former slave master. This system lasted until the beginning of the 20th century.
In the 1920s and early 1930s Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe came to Curacao . Most of them started their careers as peddlers, but they knew how to get ahead and managed to attain great prosperity. They kept their Jewish identity and formed a close-knit and isolated group. In the 1980s and 1990s the group’s size diminished dramatically. Most of the first settlers died of old age and, because of political insecurity and economic decline, many Ashkenazi Jews left the island in the 1980s to settle elsewhere, especially in the United States .
On 8 June 1929 Fort Amsterdam was raided and captured by Venezuelan rebel Rafael Simón Urbina together with 250 others. They plundered weapons, ammunition and the treasury of the island. They also managed to capture the Governor of the island, Leonardus Albertus Fruytier, and hauled him off to Venezuela on the stolen American ship Maracaibo.
Following the raid the Dutch government decided to permanently station marines and ships on the island.
Frits Goedgedrag was the first governor of Curaçao. He submitted his resignation to Queen Beatrix on 24 October 2012, to become effective one month later.
A fourth cabinet was sworn in on 7 June 2013, and was characterized as a "political" cabinet, set to complete the full term of parliament.
The third cabinet was termed a "Task cabinet" and coalition of Partido pa Adelanto I Inovashon Soshal (PAIS), Sovereign People (PS), National People's Party ,(PNP) and independent member Glenn Sulvaran. It was planned to be in office for 3 to 6 months and resigned on 27 March 2013 continuing in a demissionary capacity until a new cabinet is formed. Hodge had been director of the Postspaarbank Curaçao. The composition of the cabinet is:
On 29 September an interim cabinet was appointed consisting of 4 ministers. The cabinet will continued in a demissionary capacity from 19 October upon the elections until a new cabinet took over on 31 December 2012.
The first Cabinet of Curaçao, installed on 10 October 2010 lost its majority in the Parliament of Curaçao in 2012, after 2 members of the parliament left their party. The cabinet stayed as a demissionary cabinet and called elections for 19 October 2012. As a result of a request by the majority of the Parliament of Curaçao, the Governor appointed an interim-cabinet on 29 September 2012. This move was termed a coup by Schotte, who did not accept the decision.
This cabinet included five members of the Movement for the Future of Curaçao, including Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte, Minister of Economic Affairs Abdul Nasser El Hakim, and Minister Plenipotentiary of Curaçao Sheldry Osepa; three members of the Sovereign People's Party, and two members of the Partido MAN.