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Curacao Geography


Like Aruba and Bonaire, Curaçao is a transcontinental island that is geographically part of South America but is also considered to be part of West Indies and one of the Leeward Antilles. Curaçao and the other ABC Islands are in terms of climate, geology, flora and fauna more akin to nearby Paraguaná Peninsula, Guajira Peninsula, Isla Margarita, Araya and the nearby Venezuelan areas of the Coro region and Falcón State. The flora of Curaçao differs from the typical tropical island vegetation. Xeric scrublands are common, with various forms of cacti, thorny shrubs, evergreens, and the island's national tree, divi-divis. Curaçao's highest point is the 375 m (1,230 ft) Christoffelberg ("Mount Christoffel") in the northwestern part of the island. This lies in the reserved wildlife park, Curaçao Christoffelpark, and can be explored by car, bike, horse or on foot. Several trails have been laid out. Curaçao has many places where one can hike. There are Saliñas, salt marshes where flamingos fly out to rest and feed. 24 km (15 mi) off the coast of Curaçao, to the southeast, lies the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao ("Little Curaçao").

Curaçao is known for its coral reefs, used for scuba diving. The beaches on the south side contain many popular diving spots. An unusual feature of Curaçao diving is that the sea floor drops steeply within a few hundred feet of the shore, and the reef can easily be reached without a boat. This drop-off is known as the "blue edge". Strong currents and lack of beaches make the rocky northern coast dangerous for swimming and diving, but experienced divers sometimes dive there from boats when conditions permit. The southern coast is very different and offers remarkably calm waters. The coastline of Curaçao features many bays and inlets, many of them suitable for mooring.

Some of the coral reefs are affected by tourism. Porto Marie beach is experimenting with artificial coral reefs in order to improve the reef's condition. Hundreds of artificial coral blocks that have been placed are now home to a large array of tropical fish.

Curaçao has a semi-arid savannah-like climate with a dry season from January to September and a wet season from October to December. The temperatures are relatively constant with small differences throughout the year. The trade winds bring cooling during the day and the same trade winds bring warming during the night. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of 26.5°C (79.7°F) and the warmest month is September with an average temperature of 28.9°C (84.0°F). The year's average maximum temperature is 31.2°C (88.2°F). The year's average minimum temperature is 25.3°C (78.1°F).

Curaçao lies outside the hurricane belt, but is still occasionally affected by hurricanes, as for example Hurricane Omar in 2008. A landfall of a hurricane in Curaçao has not occurred since the National Hurricane Center started tracking hurricanes. Curaçao has, however, been directly affected by pre-hurricane tropical storms several times; the latest which did so were Cesar-Douglas in 1996, Joan-Miriam in 1988, and Tomas in 2010. The latter brushed Curaçao as a tropical storm in early November, dropping up to 265 mm (10.4 in) of precipitation on the territory and triggering widespread flooding. This made Tomas one of the wettest events in the history of Curaçao, as well as one of the most devastating; cumulatively, damage across the island was preliminarily estimated at Naƒ60 million ($28 million), and two fatalities were confirmed.


Location :
Caribbean, an island in the Caribbean Sea - located 56.35 km off the coast of Venezuela

Geographic coordinates :
12 10 N, 69 00 W

Map references :
Central America and the Caribbean

Area :
total: 444 sq km
land: 444 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative :
more than two times the size of Washington DC

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