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State structure

The government of the Netherlands Antilles is formed by a governor and the Council of Ministers. The Queen appoints the Governor, who in turn appoints the Ministers.

Traditionally, each island of the Netherlands Antilles provides ministers for the central government. The Governor has a double function: he is both head of government and representative of the Royal House in the Kingdom territories. He is not responsible for the decisions and actions of the Government. The Council of Ministers is, however, accountable to the representative body of the people, the Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles (comparable to the Lower House of Parliament in the Netherlands).

In the Netherlands Antilles, there are two levels of government, the National Government and the (five) Island Governments. The government of the Antilles is based in Willemstad, Curacao.

The governor, who represents King Willem-Alexander on Sint Maarten, acts as the island's head of state and watches over the general interests of the Kingdom, ensuring that no decisions are taken by legislative and administrative bodies in the Netherlands Antilles that could harm the unity of the Kingdom or that are in conflict with the provisions of the Kingdom Charter or with international regulations. The executive power rests with the Governor in cooperation with the Council of Ministers.

The Governor is assisted in this by an Advisory Council, which consists of at least five members appointed by him and advises on all draft state regulations, state laws, state decrees containing general measures and the like. The Governor is the chairman of this Council, but he exercises this function only on special occasions. A vice-president, appointed from among the members of the council, presides over the ordinary meetings.

In the Netherlands Antilles, the States represent the population. They are elected in general elections for four years. The Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles consists of 22 members (Curaçao 14, Bonaire 3, Sint Maarten 3 and Saba and Sint Eustatius 1 each). Together with the governor, they form the legislative power. The Parliament has the right of amendment, of inquiry and of interpellation. It also has the right of initiative. It must approve the national budget.

ach island territory has its own government, consisting of the island council, the executive board and the governor. The Island Councils of Curaçao (21 members), Bonaire (9 members), Sint Maarten (11 members), Saba (5 members) and Sint Eustatius (5 members) represent the population of the island territory. The members are elected for four years. The Executive Council and the Island Governor can be compared to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in a Dutch municipality. The Executive Council forms the daily administration of the island territory and executes the decisions of the Island Council. For the current political situation see chapter history.


The economy of the Windward Islands is based on tourism and (financial) services. The Antillean economy is therefore strongly focused on foreign countries. It is largely dependent on imports. The Netherlands Antilles are not a member of the European Union, but they are associated with it. That offers a number of trade advantages. The Antillean currency is the Antillean guilder. This is linked to the American dollar.



Derksen,G / Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba

Soesbergen, M. van / Bovenwindse eilanden

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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