- Languages: Dutch (English, Spanish, and Papiamento widely spoken)
- Currency: US Dollar
- Temperature: Average 82°F year-round
- Square Miles: 112 Approx.
- Population: 18,000
ABOUT. Bonaire, a thinly populated, barren-looking island, is part of the Caribbean Netherlands. While the island itself is the top of an underground mountain in the Caribbean Sea, the surrounding water is a world-famous diving area.In 1499, Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci arrived in Bonaire and claimed Bonaire for the Spaniards. By 1636, after having been to Bonaire before, the Dutch took possession of the Island. Bonaire was colonized as a military base by the Dutch in 1634, who used it to graze cattle and goats. The Dutch West India Company produced salt by evaporating sea water. Salt was necessary for preserving meat and fish. While salt remains an export, tourism is now the major foreign currency source. The entire west coast has coral reefs, and water sports draw many of the island’s tourists. Bonaire’s culture is rooted in religious and holiday celebrations. Many traditions take origin from African homelands and European harvest and feast days. Indian, African, Asian and European inhabitants have all contributed to who Bonaire is today. Once a Visitor Always a Friend is the island’s motto.