Curaçao, island in the Caribbean Sea and a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Although physiographically part of the South American continental shelf, Curaçao and neighboring islands off the northern coast of South America are usually considered to constitute the southwestern arc of the Lesser Antilles. The capital is Willemstad.
Curaçao was settled by Arawak people from the South American mainland. It was first visited by Europeans in 1499 and was settled by the Spanish. Later, by the Dutch, who established it as a major centre of trade for the Dutch West India Company. Curaçao is the home of the oldest continuously inhabited Jewish community in the Western Hemisphere. Originally formed by Sephardic Jews who emigrated from Portugal in the 1500s.