The legal status of the five Caribbean islands which make up the Netherlands Antilles changes from October 10, five years after the process to draw up a new relationship between the islands and the Netherlands began. In the new set up, Curacao (population 142,000) and Sint Maarten (population 37,000) become independent countries with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This means the two countries will have more independence in terms of law making and government but that the Netherlands will keep an eye on their finances and remain responsible for defence and foreign policy.
Aruba has had this status since 1986.
The other three islands, Bonaire (population 13,000), Sint Eustatisu (2,900 inhabitants) and Saba (population 1,700) will have the status of independent local authorities within the Netherlands. They will be subject to Dutch law but can take a different standpoint on controversial issues such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage.
The changeover will also affect legal currency on the islands. Curacao and Sint Maarten will have their own currency, which will be linked to the US dollar. The three other islands will use US dollars, Nos tv reports.
For the original report go to http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/10/dutch_caribbean_islans_get_new.php