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The highest mountain in the Netherlands is suddenly 900 metres high, the population grows by 21,000 people – thanks to a state reform.

On Sunday, Mount Scenery, 887 metres high, replaced Vaalserberg as the highest mountain in the Netherlands, the kingdom has gained an important oil port next to Rotterdam, and the population will grow by 21,000 subjects of Her Majesty without immigration. The reason for these drastic changes lies in the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On Sunday the islanders celebrated their new status together with the heir to the throne Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima.

The ceremony marked the end of the state restructuring of the former colonial area of the Netherlands. The dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles is the most far-reaching state reform since 1954. At that time the so-called Kingdom Statute was created – the attempt to escape the decolonisation pressure of the United Nations by granting the Netherlands Antilles extensive autonomy. At the same time, the Kingdom could be held together as a whole. The “last remnants of the tropical Netherlands”, as a book by the novelist W. F. Hermans is called, were not part of the European Union and had their own currency. Aruba was the first of the islands to leave the Netherlands Antilles Association in 1986 and gain extensive autonomy within the Kingdom. Until Saturday, the Dutch Antilles included Curaçao and Bonaire as well as the islands of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Marteen 900 kilometres further north, which the Dutch have shared with St. Martin since 1648. As part of the overseas department of Guadeloupe, St. Martin belongs to France and thus to the European Union. There is no border between the two parts of the country.

But that is now over. Following Aruba’s example, the economically strong islands of St. Marteen and Curaçao in particular have expressed a desire for autonomy within the kingdom. After five years of tough negotiations, these two islands are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and therefore have the same status as Aruba. The remaining islands Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire become special municipalities of the Netherlands. With this further federalisation, the Kingdom of the Netherlands now consists of the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Marteen.

The so-called BES islands together have 21,000 inhabitants, who are now also allowed to take part in the elections to the Dutch parliament. The Antillean guilder will be abolished on the BES islands and replaced by the American dollar. “This is simply more practical for trade and tourism,” said the spokesman for the Ministry of Kingdom Relations in The Hague.

About Netherlands Antilles

The Netherlands Antilles was a Dutch overseas territory geographically part of the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean. Until their dissolution on 10 October 2010, they formed a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, alongside the (European) Netherlands and Aruba, which was also part of the Netherlands Antilles until the end of 1985.

After the reorganisation of the political situation, Curaçao and St. Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, comparable to Aruba. The islands of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius are special municipalities of the Netherlands, but do not belong to any province.

In addition to tourism, which was the main source of income for the islands, the islands also served as a centre for numerous banks. There were also smaller oil refineries. The electricity grid of the former Netherlands Antilles has 110 volts and 60 hertz.

The Princess Juliana Airport, the airport of St. Maartens, deserves to be mentioned, whose location attracts and inspires numerous onlookers. In most cases, the landing approach leads over the water until shortly before the aircraft touch down. Directly in front of the runway there is a beach which is often visited by onlookers and other interested people, despite the considerable noise and the sometimes violent gusts caused by the airplanes. The airplanes fly to the runway over the beach at a height of only about 20 meters.