Caribbean Netherlands

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Adapted from the entry on the Re.ViCa/VISCED wiki by Paul Bacsich

The Caribbean Netherlands is not a country.

The Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch: Caribisch Nederland, Papiamento: Hulanda Karibe) collectively refers to the three special municipalities (officially public bodies) of the Netherlands that are located overseas, in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

The territorial grouping is alternately known as Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba or the BES Islands. Although part of the country of the Netherlands, the special municipalities remain overseas territories of the European Union at least until 2015.

Bonaire (including the islet of Klein Bonaire) is located east of Aruba and Curacao, 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 in October 2010,while the islands of Curacao and Sint Maarten became autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The BES islands have a collective population of 18,000 and a total area of 328 square kilometres (127 sq mi).

The special municipalities (Dutch: bijzondere gemeenten) carry many of the functions normally performed by Dutch municipalities. The executive power rests with the governing council (Dutch: bestuurscollege) headed by a Lieutenant Governor (Dutch: gezaghebber). The main democratic body is the island council (Dutch: eilandsraad).

Residents of these three islands are entitled to vote in Dutch national and (as all Dutch nationals) in European elections.

Officially the islands are classed in Dutch law as being openbare lichamen (literally translated as "public bodies") and not gemeenten (municipalities). They do not form part of a Dutch province, and the powers normally exercised by provincial councils within municipalities are divided between the island governments themselves and the central government (by means of the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands).

For many Dutch laws there is a special BES version. For example, social security is not on the same level as it is in the European Netherlands.

The islands do not form part of the European Union and instead constitute "overseas countries and territories" of the Union to which special provisions apply.[The Lisbon Treaty introduced a procedure where the European Council may change the status of an extra-European territory of Denmark, France or the Netherlands regarding the application of the EU treaties to that territory. It is intended to review the position of the islands after a five year transitional period that began with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in October 2010.

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