Curaçao - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Curaçao's economy centers on the oil refinery, shipbuilding and repair, construction, small local industries, tourism, financial services, and the transit trade. Agricultural production is decidedly modest, and almost all consumer goods have to be imported. There is an extensive informal economic sector in which people who have no access to formal jobs earn a living by selling foodstuffs and illegal lottery tickets. The island has a very open and dependent economy based heavily on imports. As a result, exports and Dutch development aid are essential to pay for the inflow of goods and for public expenditures.

Industrial Arts. With the exception of straw hats, which were manufactured in the first half of the twentieth century, industrial arts were not of great significance on Curaçao.

Division of Labor. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Afro-Antillean women were engaged in various spheres of paid domestic work, petty production, and home industry for the local market. Before industrialization came to Curaçao, women performed many of the agricultural tasks, engaged in crafts such as weaving straw hats for export, and sold agricultural products, fish, homemade foodstuffs, and handicrafts. Industrialization brought the end of agriculture and craft. More and more articles that were formerly homemade were replaced by machine-made substitutes. Even the traditional female domain of small trade was taken over by males of foreign minority groups that had settled on the island, and the oil refinery, with its highly mechanized production techniques, provided no alternative employment for Afro-Antillean women.

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