Cultural adaption of the First and Second Generation British West Indian Migrants in Curaҫao

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Cultural adaption of the First and Second Generation British West Indian Migrants in Curaҫao

Curaçaoan society consists in large part of a population that at one time in history migrated to the island. The recent study by Jeanne de Bruijn and Maartje Groot concludes that an estimated forty percent of the present population of Curaçao is descendant of migrants that arrived on the island during the last 100 years (de Bruijn en Groot, 2014). In the first half of the 20th century, immigration was important for population increase on the island, and Syrians, East-European Jews, (East) Indians, Chinese, Venezuelans, Portuguese (mainly from Madeira), Surinamese, and natives of the English-speaking Caribbean (the British West Indies and the Dutch Windward Islands) settled here. The majority of the migrants came as manual laborers for CPIM, an oil refinery that established itself on the island in 1915.3 The subsequent expansion of the oil refinery resulted in a severe shortage of industrial workers. The island then began admitting more immigrants, especially young males, to work in the oil industry. During the economic heydays of the oil industry from 1920-1960, the island’s population grew, in part due to increased immigration, from 32,709 to 125.094 an approximate 320% growth in 30 years. Growth peaked in the period between 1940 and 1950, when the population grew from 67,317 to 102,206 – an increase of almost 35,000 people in a ten-years span (Palm de, 1985:71).