An independent country and a constituent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curacao was originally inhabited by the Arawaks and discovered in 1499 by the Spanish Alonso de Ojeda. It became ruled by the Dutch in 1634, when the Netherlands became independent from Spain. There was no gold discovered on the island, but the Dutch mined salt in the area.
It became an important commercial center and also a center for slave trade, and it flourished during the 18th and 19th centuries, too, even though the British, the French and the Dutch took turns ruling it. Slavery was abolished on the island in 1863. In 1915, oil was found on Curacao, a discovery that has been dominating the economy of the area, along with tourism, up to our days.