Why should you choose Bonaire for your next vacation?

Okay, tell me what is more idyllic than this; lying in the sun in the cooling shade of a palm tree on a Caribbean island, with a snorkel and face mask handy if you get a little bit too hot, and when you get bored there is your own little dinghy waiting for you to skim over the waves on!

This Caribbean paradise is called Bonaire; it is in a group of islands called the Antilles which were once owned by the Dutch and is not particularly big; 0 mi.² in area is a nice manageable size; and the population of about 1200 people are a pretty laid-back group who know how to enjoy themselves. Life was not always so pleasant however; the island is situated not far from Curaçao, about 50 miles away from Venezuela, and at one time it was the main slave market for the Curaçao plantations. The planters brought along their own Christian religion and imposed it up on their subjects; it could be argued that the only good thing that came from them was Roman Catholicism and at once slavery was suppressed by the British navy the majority of slaves on the island were freed but given no means of sustaining themselves and others who were still at sea were merely dumped on the island and left to survive as best they could. As a result the island now contains a real racial mix; Dutch, Spanish, native Indians and the Africans live together and intermingled so their descendants are now every colour under the sun!

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Freedom brought with it responsibilities; the islanders now govern themselves, and send representatives to the Dutch Antilles Council which is situated in Curaçao.

Bonaire was never an easy place to live on; it has always been hot, dry and arid so agriculture is extremely difficult and the lack of rainfall means that most drinking water has to be extracted by the desalinisation of sea water so there is little of it free to spread over the fields. Every cloud has a silver lining however and the hot dry climate, together with the by-products of the desalinisation plant has meant that the island has been an ideal area for extracting salt from seawater and the sale of this is a major factor in the island's economy as indeed is tourism; leaving aside the idyllic beach life, sailing and snorkelling large numbers of highly coloured flamingos are attracted to the salt flats and they in turn attract large numbers of birdwatching tourists.

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