The wide range of historic buildings in and around Willemstad has resulted in the capital being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Landhouses (former plantation estates) and West African style kas di pal'i maishi (former slave dwellings) are scattered all over the island. In 1795, a major slave revolt took place under the leaders Tula Rigaud, Louis Mercier, Bastian Karpata, and Pedro Wakao.Spanish traders took the name over as Curaçao, which was followed by the Dutch.Another explanation is that Curaçao was the name by which the indigenous peoples of the island identified themselves, their autonym. Early Spanish accounts support this theory, as they refer to the indigenous peoples as Indios Curaçaos, or "healing Indians".Although a few plantations were established on the island by the Dutch, the first profitable industry established on Curaçao was salt mining.
European powers were trying to establish bases in the Caribbean.In the 19th century, Curaçaoans such as Manuel Piar and Luis Brión were prominently engaged in the wars of independence of Venezuela and Colombia.Political refugees from the mainland (such as Simon Bolivar) regrouped in Curaçao.The natural harbour of Willemstad proved to be an ideal spot for trade.Commerce and shipping—and piracy—became Curaçao's most important economic activities.
Another explanation is that it is derived from the Portuguese word for heart (coração), referring to the island as a centre in trade.