Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Island Territory of Curaçao, which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is one of five island territories of the Netherlands Antilles, and as such, is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its capital is Willemstad.
Curaçao is the largest and most populous of the three ABC islands (for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) of the Lesser Antilles, specifically the Leeward Antilles. It has a land area of 444 square kilometers (171 square miles). As of 1 January 2008, it had a population of 140,796.
Like Aruba and Bonaire, Curaçao is a transcontinental island that is geographically part of South America but is also considered to be part of West Indies and one of the Leeward Antilles. Curaçao and the other ABC Islands are in terms of climate, geology, flora and fauna more akin to nearby Paraguaná Peninsula, Isla Margarita and the nearby Venezuelan areas of the Coro region and Falcón State. The flora of Curaçao differs from the typical tropical island vegetation. Xeric scrublands are common, with various forms of cacti, thorny shrubs, evergreens, and the island's national tree, divi-divis. Curaçao's highest point is the 375 metre (1,230 ft) Christoffelberg ("Mount Christoffel") in the northwestern part of the island. This lies in the reserved wildlife park, Curaçao Christoffelpark, and can be explored by car, bike, horse or on foot. Several trails have been laid out. Curaçao has many places where one can hike. There are Saliñas, salt marshes where flamingos fly out to rest and feed. 24km (15 miles) off the coast of Curaçao, to the southeast, lies the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao .
Curaçao is known for its coral reefs, used for scuba diving. The beaches on the south side contain many popular diving spots. An unusual feature of Curaçao diving is that the sea floor drops steeply within a few hundred feet of the shore, and the reef can easily be reached without a boat. This drop-off is known as the "blue edge." Strong currents and lack of beaches make the rocky northern coast dangerous for swimming and diving, but experienced divers sometimes dive there from boats when conditions permit. The southern coast is very different and offers remarkably calm waters. The coastline of Curaçao features many bays and inlets, many of them suitable for mooring.
Some of the coral reefs are affected by tourism. Porto Marie beach is experimenting with artificial coral reefs in order to improve the reef's condition. Hundreds of artificial coral blocks that have been placed are now home to a large array of tropical fish.
Curaçao has a semi-arid savanna-like climate with a dry season from January to September and a wet season from October to December. The temperatures are relatively constant with small differences throughout the year. The trade winds bring cooling during the day and the same trade winds bring warming during the night. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of 26.5 °C (79.7 °F) and the warmest month is September with an average temperature of 28.9 °C (84.0 °F). The year's average maximum temperature is 31.2 °C (88.2 °F). The year's average minimum temperature is 25.3 °C (78.1 °F). Curaçao lies outside the hurricane belt, but can still occasionally be smitten by hurricanes, as for example Omar did in 2008. A landfall of a hurricane in Curaçao has not occurred since the National Hurricane Center started tracking hurricanes. Curaçao is however several times directly affected by a pre-hurricane tropical storm, the latest which did so were Cesar-Douglas at 1996 and Joan-Miriam at 1988.