Visit Holland - The Netherlands
The Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch: Caribisch Nederland) refers to a group of three special municipalities of the Netherlands (officially public bodies) that are located in the Caribbean Sea: the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba,which are also known as the BES islands.
Although they are part of the Netherlands, these special municipalities will remain overseas territories of the European Union at least until 2015.
Bonaire (including the islet of Klein Bonaire) is located east of Aruba and Curaçao, close to the coast of Venezuela. Sint Eustatius and Saba are located south of Sint Maarten and northwest of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The three islands gained their current status following the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010, while at the same time the islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten became autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Distinctly, the Caribbean Netherlands does not include these autonomous countries (nor Aruba) as it refers only to those Caribbean islands that are administrative divisions of the country of the Netherlands, as opposed to the complete Dutch Caribbean which includes all the Caribbean islands within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The BES islands have a collective population of 21,000 and a total area of 328 square kilometres (127 sq mi).
The Caribbean Netherlands form part of the Lesser Antilles. Within this island group, Bonaire is part of the ABC islands within the Leeward Antilles island chain off the Venezuelan coast. The Leeward Antilles have a mixed volcanic and coral origin. Saba and Sint Eustatius are part of the SSS islands. They are located east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Although in the English language they are considered part of the Leeward Islands, French, Spanish, Dutch and the English spoken locally consider them part of the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands are all of volcanic origin and hilly, leaving little ground suitable for agriculture. The highest point is Mount Scenery, 877 metres (2,877 ft), on Saba (also the highest point in all the Kingdom of the Netherlands).