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The Curaçao Difference

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Weather and Scenery

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Geology and geography

Curaçao is divided in four geological units: the Curaçao Lava Formation, the Knip Group, the Middle Curaçao Formation, and the Limestone Formation.

The oldest known rock on our island is the Curaçao Lava Formation. It's a 5,000-meter-thick succession of submarine basalts, formed in deep waters in the mid-upper Cretaceous. The Knip Group formed in the upper Cretaceous ages and consists of siliceous sedimentary rock. It's noticeably thicker on the northwestern part of the island than in the southeast. The Middle Curaçao Formation is found principally in the middle section of the island. Its turbidite sequence, formed in the upper Cretaceous and or Paleocene age, consists of fine-grained conglomerates, mudstones, sandstones, and shales. The Limestone Formation can be divided in two units -- the Seru Domi formation and the Quaternary limestone terraces. The Seru Domi Formation basically formed as a sub-marine reef talus slope, and the Quaternary limestone terraces were formed by sea level changes combined with tectonic uplift.



At first glimpse Curaçao may seem a rather barren island. Due to the scant rainfall, there is certainly a limit to the types of plants and animals that can survive here. But on closer inspection, you'll be amazed at the variety nature has to offer. What at first seems to be a monotonous desert landscape turns out to be terrain teeming with life. Curaçao's total surface area is 444 square km. The stretched northern coast of the island is characterized by rough limestone cliff formations set on top of eons-old volcanic rock and weather-beaten terrain. At the western end of the island you will find expansive, hilly landscapes. The Christoffel Park encompasses most of the landscapes. Inside the park you will find the highest point on the island -- the 375-meter-high Mt. Christoffel. The east end of the island comprises flat and mostly barren plain, with few settlements and some secondary roads weaving to and from its coastal inlets.


Local plants have ingenious mechanisms allowing them to weather the dry, desert climate, scant rainfall, and the ever-present tradewinds. These include marvelous adaptations to their roots, leaves, and stems. Total vascular flora amounts to about 450 species. Species composition differs significantly between the different geological formations. No group of plants is as well suited to the climate as the cacti, which are specially designed to reduce the amount of moisture lost to evaporation. Their nasty thorns are, in fact, modified leaves. The island hosts hundreds of species. Not all of the species on the Island are harmless.

One plant you have to avoid contact with is the manzaliña tree, called manchineel in other parts of the Caribbean. This tree has rough, dark bark and small green leaves. The fruit of this plant is poisonous, and will cause skin irritations and burning if touched. One of Curaçao's most characteristic trees is the Dividivi tree -- recognizable by its "wind form," caused by the trade winds.

Preserving Curacao’s natural beauty

Helping to safeguard Curacao’s natural splendor is CARMABI – a local foundation that conducts research and conservation. CARMABI manages different natural reserves such as the well-known Christoffel Park and Shete Boka National Park. Activities and projects are organized in these parks to support sustainable development. CARMABI also implements an environmental education program for different levels of the local primary and secondary schools. For more information, visit

Learn more about our exotic wildlife.

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