Dutch West Indies

Colony of the Netherlands, consisting of: Surinam or Dutch Guiana, on the northern coast of South America, area, 54,291 square miles, and a small group of islands in the Caribbean Sea, known as Curacao (area, 403 square miles. Regarding the former there are traditions telling of Catholic missionaries who are said to have accompanied explorers as early as the 16th century. Confusion caused by the long struggle of the Netherlands, France, and England, for possession of this region, made it difficult to establish permanent missions; and for some time Catholic missionaries were restricted by the Protestant authorities of Dutch Guiana. At present complete religious liberty is granted. The islands of Curacao were visited in the 16th and early 17th centuries by Spanish missionaries of the Order of Saint Jerome, who built two churches there. In 1634 the Dutch West India Company forbade the practise of Catholicity, but in the next century. missionary work was resumed, and in 1772 Curacao became a prefecture Apostolic. At present the majority of the population are Catholics, and other religions are freely tolerated.

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