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Curacao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curacao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curacao, is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its capital is Willemstad. Curacao is the largest and most populous of the three ABC islands of the Lesser Antilles, specifically the Leeward Antilles. It has a land area of 444 square kilometres . As of 1 January 2009, it had a population of 141,766. The origin of the name Curacao is debated. The explanation gathering more consensus among the Portuguese and the Spanish is that the word derives from the Portuguese word for the state of becoming cured. The reason for this is that sailors travelling for months in the sea would often contract scurvy. It appears that in one of such long travels, a group of Portuguese sailors landed for the first time in Curacacao and were cured from scurvy, probably after eating fruit with vitamin C. The island was known from then on as Ilha da Curacao . Another explanation is that it is derived from the Portuguese word for heart , referring to the island as a centre in trade. Spanish traders took the name over as Curacao, which was followed by the Dutch. Another explanation is that Curacao was the name the indigenous peoples of Curacao had used to label themselves. This theory is supported by early Spanish accounts, which refer to the indigenous peoples as "Indios Curacaos" which means "Healing Indians" as the aboriginals were likely already aware of the disease called scurvy and its cure from past experience as in North American natives.
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