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Bonaire , island and special municipality within the Kingdom of the Netherlands , in the westernmost group of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. The capital is Kralendijk. The northern part is hilly, with a peak, Brandaris, feet metres high, while the southern part is flat, with desertlike vegetation. An adjacent islet, Klein Bonaire Little Bonaire , with an area of 3 square miles 8 square km , is uninhabited, but its sandy white beaches are popular with divers.
Most of the population is descended from enslaved Africans, while the remainder are descended from Caribbean Indians and the Spanish and Dutch settlers, in various combinations. The vast majority of the people are Roman Catholic. Bonaire became part of the Netherlands Antilles in and had control of local matters through an Island Council, an Executive Council, and a lieutenant governor.
In the people of Bonaire, along with those of the other islands and the government of the Netherlands, agreed to dissolve the Netherlands Antilles, an event that took place in October Bonaire, like Saba and Sint Eustatius , became a special municipality with close relations to the central government, similar to municipalities of the metropolitan Netherlands. Farming on the arid island provides food only for local consumption; the only export crop, aloes, does not require irrigation.
Drinking water is provided by the government desalination plant. Tons of salt from the extensive salt flats are exported annually from the deepwater port at Kralendijk. The tourist trade is of increasing importance. The brilliant pink flamingos, a protected species, are the pride of the island and inspired the name of the local airport Flamingo Airport. Kralendijk is a small, quiet town with some fine examples of Dutch colonial architecture. Area square miles square km.
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Subscribe Now. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Ojeda and Vespucci also sighted Bonaire during their voyage in The island was settled by the Spanish in and claimed by the Dutch in It became part of the Dutch West India Company in and remained a government plantation until…. Netherlands , country located in northwestern Europe, also known as Holland.
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