The World Gets Two New Countries! (Sort Of.)

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Raising the flag of Curaçao

LEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images

Goodbye, Netherlands Antilles. Hello, Curaçao and St. Maarten.

Many of us were probably too distracted by the day’s glorious 10-10-10 symmetry to notice, but yesterday the Caribbean locales Curaçao and St. Maarten, like Aruba before them, became “autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.” The other three islands that constituted the late Dutch Antilles — Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire — have become “special municipalities” of the Netherlands.

If you’re puzzled about what this actually means, you’re not alone. The AP reports “Some St. Maarten residents who showed up for the public celebration said they were confused about what the change in political status meant for their lives.”

While St. Maarten and Curaçao will have greater self-government, matters of defense and foreign policy are still under The Netherlands’ jurisdiction, and according to the AP, citizens will retain Dutch passports.

In other, potentially more life-changing Curaçao news, the island might one day be your portal to space.

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