Bonaire is - according to the geographical coordinates - between 12˚2 'and 12˚19' north latitude and between 68˚11 'and 69˚25' west longitude off the coast of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean.
Bonaire Island is situated in the Caribbean, close to Venezuela. The island is 40 kilometers long and about 5 to 12 kilometers wide with an area of 288 km2. Together with Aruba and Curaçao, Bonaire belongs to the Leeward Islands, also called the ABC islands.
Bonaire is one of the more than 1,000 islands of a 3,500 km long arch in the Caribbean. This island belt runs from the south of North America to the north of South America. On the east there is the Atlantic Ocean and on the west the Caribbean Sea.
The distance between Bonaire and Curaçao is 52 km and between Bonaire and Aruba 130 km. Furthermore, Bonaire is located at a distance of 80 km off the coast of Venezuela.
Between Bonaire and the Dutch-tinded Windward Islands Sint Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius lies about 900 km of the Caribbean Sea. Because of the favorable geographical location of Bonaire, the sun shines almost every day. Add the cooling trade winds and you have a heavenly climate.
Bonaire belongs together with Aruba and Curaçao to the Leeward Islands. These three islands are also called the ABC islands and Bonaire is the most easterly island. Saba, Sint Maarten and Sint Eustatius are part of the Windward Islands. These three islands are also called the SSS islands.
The islands in the Caribbean archipelago are divided into three groups: the Lucayan Archipelago, the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.
The Lucayan Archipelago includes the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Greater Antilles consist of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico. The Lesser Antilles are further subdivided into the so-called Windward and Leeward Islands, a term from the old sailing vessels.
The name 'Antilles' dates from the time of Christopher Columbus. This Italian explorer thought he had reached the islands off the coast of India when he sailed around the Caribbean archipelago. He therefore called these islands 'Las Ante-Isla' or 'islands before'. The names 'The West' or 'West Indies' for the Caribbean dates back to that time.
Bonaire has an area of 281 km2. The island is 38.5 km long, 4.0 - 8.0 km wide and has a population of 19.408 (August 9, 2017).
The population density on the Caribbean is 62 people per km2. For comparison. In the Netherlands the population density is 403 people km2. Most Bonaireans live in the capital Kralendijk. In the north is Rincon where a few thousand people live.
In the past 4 decades, the population of the coral island has doubled. Immigration is the main cause of the explosive increase in the population, with the development of tourism in particular being a major driver.
Bonaire is sparsely populated. Especially if you compare it with the other ABC island Curaçao. Curaçao is almost as large as Bonaire, but there are eight times more Curaçaoans than Bonaireans.
The composition of the population of Bonaire has been undergoing major changes in the last 30 years. In 1980, 93% of the population of the Leeward Island was born on the Antilles, nowadays only 63%.
Most migrants who now move to Bonaire come from South America, Central America and the European Netherlands.
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