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Curacao Customs & Etiquettes


The social influences in Curaçao are predominantly Dutch, combined with Indian and African traditions. The small scale of the island societies influences everyday interaction patterns. To outside observers, communication styles lack openness and goal orientation. Respect for authority structures and gender and age roles are important. Refusing a request is considered impolite.

There is a silent code of "Bonaire time" where there is a 15-20 minute leeway. After that one should be giving notice that one will be late. People don't really covet their time; there is usually not a rigid schedule for things.

Women usually work, but they are also held responsible for the raising of their children and the organisation of their household. This usually holds for foreign women as well.

Men wear tropical lightweight suits for business appointments and formal wear for evening engagements. Similarly, women should take some evening wear, but dress for daytime is casual. Swimwear should be confined to the beach and poolside.

Meeting & Greeting

Men usually shake hands when greeting one another and maintain direct eye contact. At a first meeting a warm handshake will suffice and is sometimes combined with slight touches on the arms and/or elbows. Good friends and family will engage in a light hug.

Among women, at a first meeting, women generally shake hands. Friends and close acquaintances may share a light hug with a kiss on the cheek.

As for greetings between men and women, at a first meeting a regular handshake will do. Friends, family and close acquaintances usually share a light kiss on the cheek.

Communication Style

The communication style tends to depend heavily on how well you know the other person. People tend to be more direct the more familiar they are with each other.

Saying good morning/afternoon/night when arriving and saying have a good day/after/night when leaving is very important. Otherwise you would be considered impolite. Direct eye contact is considered good manners in most all instances.

People tend to communicate at an arms length, although with an increased level of familiarity, this distance can decrease (i.e. with family, friends, etc.).

Touching during conversations is not very common, and usually frowned upon in a work setting. With good friends and family it's not that common as well, just during greetings.

Pointing with one finger is a bit rude; people usually use the whole hand. Beckoning is also done with the whole hand. Same for saying goodbye and hello.





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