|Throughout the centuries, salt has been an important
trade commodity. In early Roman days, the soldiers were paid
their wages in salt - salarium- hence the English work for
pay became salary. Salt was no less important to the
sixteenth century Dutch- they had cornered the European
market with salt that came mostly from Portugal.
Arround 1550, Portugal came under the rule of Spain, a
country with whom the Netherlands was already at war. Faced
with the loss of their salt source, the Dutch sailors began
to explore the Caribbean in search of a new supply. One of
the first places they explored was Punta de Araya,
Venezuela, on the South American coast. A Salt industry soon
developed there, and the area became major supply center.
The Dutch sailors continued to explore the Caribbean islands
that lay off the South American continent, Bonaire being one
In 1623, the first Dutch ships landed on Bonaire, and in
1636 the Dutch occupied the islands and began to develop the
salt, dyewood and mutton industries.