Welcome to the Bonaire GenWeb page! Bonaire's beginnings are similar to Aruba's in that after Columbus lost favor with the queen, Spain claimed the island. They did not pursue developing this settlement, which made it very easy for the Dutch to capture it in 1633. It became a center for slave trade and a government plantation of the Dutch West India Company. Salt was found to be a profitable trade, and the slaves were used to harvest it. When the production of salt declined severely, the government sold the land at public auctions, to private parties. The slaves' living conditions worsened, and rumors of uprisings went throughout the island in the 1800's. Slavery was abolished, and the island began to slowly come back to being a productive island, thanks to the discovery of oil in nearby Venezuela. For a more thorough history, visit History of Bonaire. Papiamentu is the common language spoken, Dutch the official one.
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