Two new countries have joined the global community and one has disappeared. It sounds complicated, but what happened in the Caribbean last week means that the group of countries formerly known as the Netherlands Antilles or the Dutch Antilles, is no longer.  On October 10th, 2010, folks living on the Caribbean islands of Curacao and St. Maarten greeted the day and found themselves in autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Three smaller islands, (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) formerly part of the Dutch Antilles, will now be ruled directly by the Dutch government.

The federation of the Dutch Antilles was formed in 1954 and it was economic issues, primarily debt, that tore them apart. What does this mean for travelers to the Caribbean islands? A sampling of sites shows very few are even mentioning the change…at least not yet. Even the U.S. State Department site is yet to update information. For now, according to The Economist magazine, the Netherlands will continue to handle the islands’ defense and foreign policy. If you are planning a trip to the region, make sure you ask a lot of questions about visa and passport documents and any changes that may be in the works.

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