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Bonaire is an island in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Its capital is Kralendijk, located near the ocean on the lee side of the island. Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao form the ABC islands located less than one hundred miles northwest of Venezuela. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, the ABC islands lie outside Hurricane Alley.
A short 0.80 kilometres (0.50 mi) west of Bonaire across the sea is the uninhabited islet Klein Bonaire with a total land area of 6 km2 (2.3 sq mi). Klein has low growing vegetation, no trees, and is bordered by white sandy beaches and a fringing reef. The reefs, beaches and on-island reserves located on both Bonaire and Klein Bonaire are under the protection of the Bonaire National Marine Park, and managed by Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA).
An 80% majority of Bonaire's population are Dutch nationals, and nearly 60% of its residents were born in the former Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.
Bonaire's earliest known inhabitants were the Caquetio, a branch of the Arawak who came by canoe from Venezuela in about 1000 AD. Archeological remains of Caquetio culture have been found at certain sites northeast of Kralendijk and near Lac Bay. Caquetio rock paintings and petroglyphs have been preserved in caves at Spelonk, Onima, Ceru Pungi and Ceru Crita-Cabai. The Caquetios were apparently a very tall people, for the Spanish name for the ABC Islands was 'las Islas de los Gigantes' or 'the islands of the giants'.
In 1526, Juan de Ampies was appointed Spanish commander of the ABC Islands. He brought back some of the original Caquetio Indian inhabitants to Bonaire and Curaçao. Ampies also imported domesticated animals from Spain, including cows, donkeys, goats, horses, pigs and sheep. The Spaniards thought that Bonaire could be used as a cattle plantation worked by natives. The cattle were raised for hides rather than meat. The Spanish inhabitants lived mostly in the inland town of Rincon which was safe from pirate attack.
The Dutch West India Company was founded in 1621. Starting in 1623, ships of the West India Company called at Bonaire to obtain meat, water and wood. The Dutch also abandoned some Spanish and Portuguese prisoners there, and these people founded the town of Antriol which is a contraction of Spanish al interior (English: inside). The Dutch and the Spanish fought from 1568 to 1648 in what is now known as the Eighty Years War. In 1633, the Dutch—having lost the island of St. Maarten to the Spanish—retaliated by attacking Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba. Bonaire was conquered in March 1636. The Dutch built Fort Oranje in 1639.
While Curaçao emerged as a center of the slave trade, Bonaire became a plantation of the Dutch West India Company. A small number of African slaves were put to work alongside Indians and convicts, cultivating dyewood and maize and harvesting solar salt around Blue Pan. Slave quarters, built entirely of stone and too short for a man to stand upright in, still stand in the area around Rincon and along the saltpans as a grim reminder of Bonaire's repressive past. Historically, Dutch was not widely spoken on the island outside of colonial administration; its use increased in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Students on Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire were taught predominantly in Spanish until the late 19th century when the British took Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire. The teaching of Spanish was restored when Dutch rule resumed in 1815.
*Text compliments of Wikipedia