Bonaire is an enchanting island. Semi-arid, the main vegetation is cactus, divi divi trees and mangroves. Rainfall is about 22 inches a year. Trade winds blow all year round, averaging 20-25 knots from January to August and 15-20 knots from September to December. The air temperature is generally around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Centigrade) and the water 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Centigrade).
The Island lies approximately 50 miles north of Venezuela. It is 24 miles long and between 3 to 7 miles wide and has a population of around 16,500. The official language is Dutch, but the local tongue is Papiamentu, and English and Spanish are widely spoken.
Bonaire became a special municipality of Holland on 10th October 2010 along with Saba and St Eustasius. The official currency is the US dollar. Voltage is 120 VAC 50Hz with US style socket outlets. 220VAC is sometimes used for air-con and major appliances.
Arawak Indians were the first to inhabit Bonaire. The first Europeans came to the Island in 1499 when Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci arrived and claimed it for Spain. In 1633 the Dutch captured Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. The Dutch strugled to keep possession of the colony between 1800 and 1815, and twice during this period the British captured Curacao and took control of Bonaire. The islands were returned to the Dutch in 1816. The salt pans have played an important part in the island's history. It was a valuable commodity until the middle of the 19th century when profitability was sharply reduced with the abolition of slavery and increased international competition. In 1870 the island's nine salt pans were bought from the Government, and today they are operated by Cargill Salt. Using only solar energy the salt pans are a supreme example of a zero carbon footprint process.