The Netherlands Antilles was a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The country was originally a group of six islands in the Caribbean Sea. Some were discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, and some were discovered in 1499 by Alonso de Ojeda.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are part of the Leeward Islands. They are near Venezuela. Saint Martin, Sint Eustatius, and Saba are part of the Windward Islands. They are near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Of these, the island Sint Maarten is in fact part of two countries: the northern part belongs to France (as Saint Martin), but the southern part is Dutch (as Sint Maarten).
Aruba left the Netherlands Antilles in 1986. When Curaçao and Sint Maarten did the same thing on 10 October 2010, the country no longer existed. The remaining BES Islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba now belong to the Netherlands and are called the Dutch Caribbean islands.
Because the Netherlands Antilles was a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands proper was also the Queen of the Netherlands Antilles, but the islands' residents had a government of their own. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are now separate countries within the Kingdom. All of these places still have King Willem-Alexander as their monarch today.
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- Method of Securing the Ports and Populations of All the Coasts of the Indies is an old document from 1694 that talks about the Netherlands Antilles