After losing most of their colonies in Brazil, the Dutch continued
fighting for expansion. One of Curaçao's most important governors, Peter
Stuyvesant, led an attack against St. Martin in 1644, and the following
year he was made governor of New Amsterdam (present-day New York), as
well as retaining his position in Curaçao.
In 1648, the Dutch and the French decided to split St. Martin, and
the two countries control the island to this day. The Dutch kept the
important salt areas, for which they had claimed the island originally.
A few years earlier in 1640, the Dutch founded Saba. However, this
colony was home to so little agriculture that its people remained
predominantly white, without much African slave labor. This was very
unique among the Caribbean islands.
Curaçao served as the Dutch base for raiding not only the mainland of
South and Central America, but Cuba and Puerto Rico. However, it wasn't
until after the war with Spain ended in 1648 that Curaçao became a
profitable colony. The Treaty of Muenster recognized the Dutch colonies,
but prohibited trade with Spain.
The Dutch controlled most of the trade in the region, but Curaçao's
position in the slave trade was also historically important, and the
island became a slave depot. Since the Dutch controlled a majority of
the region's human trafficking as well as other commerce, Spain
eventually turned a blind eye to their colonies' illicit trade with the
Although at first the Dutch and the English worked together to wrest
control of the Caribbean from Spanish hands, they do not always share
the region so easily. Soon, problems between the two come to a head.