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Presentation of Bonaire

Member state: The Kingdom of the Netherlands
Surface area (km2): 294
Population: 16 000
Density (/km2): 49
Capital: Kralendijk


The island of Bonaire is part of the leeward islands of the Dutch Caribbean. It is a small island located in the South-Eastern part of the Caribbean, off the coast of Venezuela. Together with Aruba and Curaçao it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands.


Bonaire is of volcanic origin. Volcanic rocks of the Washikemba formation (of Cretaceous age) form the base and core of the island. After the Eocene age these volcanic rocks came to the surface due to tectonic uplifting. Around this small island, coral growth formed a fringing reef system. While the island was lifted, the central part eroded exposing the volcanic rocks.


Bonaire is relatively flat and arid, lying in a climatologically unique part of the Caribbean, drier and with a short rainy season in the winter (Oct-Jan). As a result, the island has a rare and unique flora and vegetation: cacti, acacia trees and thorny plants, but also mangroves and salt marshes. Average annual precipitations range between 560 mm and 1,000 mm and temperatures between 24°C - 32°C year round.

Economic activities

Bonaire’s economy is mainly based on tourism. Bonaire is world renowned for its excellent scuba diving and is consistently rated among the best diving locations in the world. Tourism infrastructure in Bonaire is contemporary and based on time-share resorts. There are a few small bed and breakfasts. Most resorts have an on-site dive shop. The rest are affiliated with a dive operation.

Political and administrative status

From the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010, the BES islands Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius were given the status of public entity (often referred to as “special municipality”) within the Netherlands, while the islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, just like Aruba. It is now part of the Netherlands and an overseas territory of the European Union.


Bonaire’s school network is limited to preschool, primary and secondary educational establishments. Furthermore there are two Faculties of Medicine on the island.


Sustainable waste management

Bonaire strives for a sustainable development.
Assets are the internationally renowned Bonaire National Marine Park, the Washington - Slagbaai National Park and the wind farm. The wind farm produced 27% of the total energy demand in the first year of its operation. During testing, this percentage increased to 77%, which is unique in the world.

Sustainable waste management forms part of the “green” ambitions of the island. Bonaire produces 17,000 tons of waste per year. The majority of this waste originates from households. Until recently, all this waste was deposited onto a landfill.

However, Bonaire wishes to achieve a high standard of waste processing. The limiting factor is the small scale of the island in relation to the financial- and economic feasibility.

Studies indicate that separation and reuse of 15% of the total waste production is feasible by 2017. This would concern paper, carton, ferrous and nonferrous metals, plastics and glass. These waste products are of economic value. Currently, these waste products are separately collected where possible. In addition, the separate collection of cooking- and waste oil is gaining momentum. Bonaire, in collaboration with the private sector, is exploring the region for waste processing markets, particularly in South America.