multicultural past is reflected in its cuisine, architecture and warm, friendly
people. The country has changed hands
between the Spanish and Dutch throughout the centuries, and is now a diverse
constituent country of the Netherlands.
Its population of
about 105,000 inhabitants is made up of a broad international mixture of
well-educated people with a pleasant nature and a zest for hospitality. The
modern Aruban is generally of mixed ancestry, claiming Caquetio Indian, African
and European roots. The Caquetio Indians of the Arawak tribe from the South
American mainland were Aruba's first inhabitants. Aruba has an exceptionally diverse population,
with more than 90 nationalities present. Aruba's strong economy, excellent living conditions and prime weather
continue to attract individuals from all over the world. Immigrants hail from South America (primarily
Colombia, Venezuela and Peru), other Caribbean islands, and as far away as
China, the Philippines, and seventeen African nations. Despite a multi-cultural
background, Arubans share a strong national identity buoyed by the success of a
healthy economy, a strong educational system, and one of the highest standards
of living in the Caribbean.
Aruba is one of the four constituent countries that
form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along
with the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint
Maarten. The citizens of these countries all share a single
nationality: Dutch. Aruba has no
administrative subdivisions, but, for census purposes, is divided into eight
regions. Its capital is Oranjestad. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba
has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn
landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can
reliably expect warm, sunny weather. It has a land area of 179 km2
(69.1 sq. mi) and is densely populated.
The GDP per
capita for Aruba was estimated to be $21,800 in 2004; among the highest in the
Caribbean and the Americas. Its main trading partners are Venezuela, the United States and the Netherlands. The island's economy has been dominated
by five main industries: tourism, gold mining, phosphate mining (The Aruba Phosphaat Maatschappij), aloe export, and petroleum refining (The Lago Oil and Transport Company and
the Arend Petroleum Maatschappij Shell Co.). Before the "Status
Aparte" (a separate completely autonomous country/state within the
Kingdom), oil processing was the dominant industry in Aruba despite expansion
of the tourism sector. Today, the influence of the oil processing business is
minimal. The size of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors also remains
minimal. Aruba is at the forefront of
the energy revolution. Ten large windmills line the rugged eastern coast.
currency of Aruba is the Aruban florin (Afl), which is divided into 100 cents.
The silver Florin coins are divided into denominations of 5, 10, 50 cents, and
one florin. American dollars are readily accepted everywhere on the island.
Papiamento are Aruba's official languages, but most Arubans speak at least
four languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese.