Klef Raraha is a small Caribbean island in British
territory with an area of 870 acres. The island is about 3 miles long and up
to a mile wide offering two safe anchorages.
Klef Raraha, meaning Citrus Reef in English, is
operated as a citrus plantation that is now owned by the islanders who
number 465 at the latest census. The local population speaks Papiamentu and
Klef Raraha was once owned by a family of Portuguese
origins (the Lopes family). The family operated the island as well as a
number of other investments, however the present generation did not desire
to live on the island. Since the cost to upkeep the island was rising and
citrus prices were not the best, the family opted to sell Klef Raraha. Like
Florida, Klef Raraha was hurting thanks to Brazil's low wages paid to farm
For a few years, in the late 1990s, the island was for sale, marketed as a
tourist destination at a very high price, but no takers came forward.
Finally, the island was offered to the workers at a much reduced price,
thought to be in the neighborhood of 25 million dollars.
Klef Raraha has operated continuously since the late
1850s. The island community was built to be self-sufficient. Generally
speaking, most food is grown locally. Primary imports are oil/gasoline,
basic necessities and some food items. A school, small medical facility,
electricity, sewage and water treatment facility are a part of the
The island ships oranges, grapefruit, limes and
tangerines and has a reputation of sweet high quality fruit. A juicing plant
and refrigerated storage facility operate on the island. The physical
quality of the fruit and it's sweet taste has made Klef Raraha citrus
popular among more upscale establishments in the region.
Most homes are simple structures made of wood. They are plumbed and wired
for electricity. The standard of living is considered above average compared
to most of the Caribbean.
Klef Raraha is governed by a board selected by the adults on the island by
popular vote. Anyone over 21 years of age may serve on the board. The board
handles all aspects of the operation of Klef Raraha. The board operates as a
cooperative owned by the islanders. The unusual duties of the board include
managing the output of the island and basic governing of Klef Raraha.
There is a small business community on the island. A
move in recent years toward private ownership of business has been
encouraged as the board seeks to get out of its responsibility to purchase
the needed supplies for the people and seeing to its distribution.
Most recently, the board has considered the potential
of tourism. A small inn was being considered but we do not know how such
discussions are proceeding.
Klef Raraha has come a long way in the past few
decades as the population has moved from an almost feudal society to one
that is considered modern and progressive, although islanders will admit
everything from the houses to the equipment was neglected for years and in
need of maintenance and repairs. In addition, some recent years the crops
suffered from hurricanes that battered the island. Like many islands, the
money is short and the list of needs long, but with the hope of better
years, Klef Raraha hopes to maintain and prosper in the future years.
The people of Klef Raraha have a varied mix of ethnic influences and most
came from southern islands of the Caribbean.
There have been many islands throughout the oceans of
the world where the island's owner operated the island as a business with
the objective to exploit the fruits of the land. In most cases, these
outposts differed little from life in the 'Dark Ages'. The workers and their
families worked the land while the owner took care of finding a buyer for
the bounty of the land. Generally, anything the worker families needed came
through the owner at the price the owner commanded.
Klef Raraha, like the much more famous, Cocos Keeling
Islands, worked this way. The goods the working families needed were bought
at the store that was owned by the island owner. The island owner was the
bank as well. The owner doled out payments for work and generally was the
We do not know all types of payment that were issued, but in more recent
years a 'picker check' type of paper note was given. There were several
varieties, some in Portuguese and some in Papiamentu.
More recently, probably as a promotional or moneymaking scheme, enameled
coins have been produced. It is assumed these were made for collectors and
possibly merchants who regularly purchase Klef Raraha produce. These coins
come in several different metals. They are valued at the typical payment
issued for a bag of fruit picked. Most citrus is picked and placed in a
cloth bag that will hold about 90 pounds of citrus. This seems to be the
standard. Denominated as 2 East Caribbean Dollars, it has a face value of
about $0.75 in U.S. Dollars. Thus, a citrus picker would receive roughly 75
cents for picking a 90 pound bag of citrus.
There is a set of five commemorative coins each having
a denomination of $2 E. C. Dollar from Klef Raraha. Only 100 pieces are made
in each metal.
It consists of Gold Finish, Silver Finish, Nickel, Copper and Brass. The center
is enamel, I suppose, with a clear coating. These are big 39 mm diameter heavy coins.
These coins are creation of Bill Turner and were designed and minted by