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In addition, in 1662, the Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a centre for the Atlantic slave trade, often bringing slaves here for sale elsewhere in the Caribbean and on the mainland of South America.
Sephardic Jews with ancestors from the Iberian Peninsula settled here with the Dutch and in then-Dutch Brazil; they have had a significant influence on the culture and economy of the island.
Curaçao had been ignored by colonists, because it lacked gold deposits.They were believed to have migrated from the Amazon Basin.The first Europeans recorded as seeing the island were members of a Spanish expedition under the leadership of Alonso de Ojeda in 1499.They had made a serious navigational error, hitting the reefs on , a week after setting sail from Saint Kitts.Curaçao marked the events by a day of thanksgiving, celebrated for decades into the 18th century, to commemorate the island's escape from being invaded by the French.
Many Dutch colonists grew affluent from the slave trade, and the city built impressive colonial buildings.