/ah rooh"bah/, n.
an island in the Netherlands Antilles, in the West Indies, off the NW coast of Venezuela. 62,788; 69 sq. mi. (179 sq. km).

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Introduction Aruba
Background: Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. The island's economy has been dominated by three main industries. A 19th century gold rush was followed by prosperity brought on by the opening in 1924 of an oil refinery. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry. Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's request in 1990. Geography Aruba -
Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela
Geographic coordinates: 12 30 N, 69 58 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 193 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 193 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 68.5 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical marine; little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: flat with a few hills; scant vegetation
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Mount Jamanota 188 m
Natural resources: NEGL; white sandy beaches
Land use: arable land: 10.53% (including aloe 0.01%) permanent crops: 0% other: 89.47% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 0.01 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: lies outside the Caribbean hurricane belt Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: a flat, riverless island renowned for its white sand beaches; its tropical climate is moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean; the temperature is almost constant at about 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) People Aruba
Population: 70,441 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 21% (male 7,635; female 7,169) 15-64 years: 68.4% (male 23,270; female 24,906) 65 years and over: 10.6% (male 3,081; female 4,380) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.59% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 12.22 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.29 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: NEGL migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/ female total population: 0.93 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 6.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.67 years female: 82.19 years (2002 est.) male: 75.32 years
Total fertility rate: 1.8 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Aruban(s) adjective: Aruban; Dutch
Ethnic groups: mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%
Religions: Roman Catholic 82%, Protestant 8%, Hindu, Muslim, Confucian, Jewish
Languages: Dutch (official), Papiamento (a Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English dialect), English (widely spoken), Spanish
Literacy: definition: NA total population: 97% male: NA% female: NA% Government Aruba
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Aruba
Dependency status: part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs obtained in 1986 upon separation from the Netherlands Antilles; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Oranjestad Administrative divisions: none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
Independence: none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
National holiday: Flag Day, 18 March
Constitution: 1 January 1986
Legal system: based on Dutch civil law system, with some English common law influence
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980), represented by Governor General Olindo KOOLMAN (since 1 January 1992) head of government: Prime Minister Nelson O. ODUBER (since 30 October 2001); deputy prime minister NA cabinet: Council of Ministers (elected by the Staten) election results: Nelson O. ODUBER elected prime minister; percent of legislative vote - NA% elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed for a six-year term by the monarch; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by the Staten for four-year terms; election last held 28 September 2001 (next to be held by December 2005)
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislature or Staten (21 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms) election results: percent of vote by party - MEP 52.4%, AVP 26.7%, PPA 9.6%, OLA 5.7%, Aliansa 3.5%, other 2.1%; seats by party - MEP 12, AVP 6, PPA 2, OLA 1 elections: last held 28 September 2001 (next to be held by NA 2005)
Judicial branch: Joint High Court of Justice (judges are appointed by the monarch) Political parties and leaders: Aruba Solidarity Movement or MAS [leader NA]; Aruban Democratic Alliance or Aliansa [leader NA]; Aruban Democratic Party or PDA [Leo BERLINSKI]; Aruban Liberal Party or OLA [Glenbert CROES]; Aruban Patriotic Party or PPA [Benny NISBET]; Aruban People's Party or AVP [Tico CROES]; Concentration for the Liberation of Aruba or CLA [leader NA]; People's Electoral Movement Party or MEP [Nelson O. ODUBER]; For a Restructured Aruba Now or PARA [leader NA]; National Democratic Action or ADN [Pedro Charro KELLY] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization Caricom (observer), ECLAC
participation: (associate), Interpol, IOC, UNESCO (associate), WCL, WToO (associate) Diplomatic representation in the US: none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands) Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Consul General
US: Barbara J. STEPHENSON embassy: J. B. Gorsiraweg #1, Curacao mailing address: P. O. Box 158, Willemstad, Curacao telephone: [599] (9) 461-3066 FAX: [599] (9) 461-6489
Flag description: blue, with two narrow, horizontal, yellow stripes across the lower portion and a red, four-pointed star outlined in white in the upper hoist-side corner Economy Aruba -
Economy - overview: Tourism is the mainstay of the small, open Aruban economy, with offshore banking and oil refining and storage also important. The rapid growth of the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction has boomed, with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level. In addition, the reopening of the country's oil refinery in 1993, a major source of employment and foreign exchange earnings, has further spurred growth. Aruba's small labor force and low unemployment rate have led to a large number of unfilled job vacancies, despite sharp rises in wage rates in recent years. The government's goal of balancing the budget within two years will hamper expenditures, as will the decline in stopover tourist arrivals following the 11 September terrorist attacks.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.94 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.5% (2000)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $28,000 (2000 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA% industry: NA% services: NA% Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4% (2000)
Labor force: 41,501 (1997 est.) Labor force - by occupation: most employment is in wholesale and retail trade and repair, followed by hotels and restaurants; oil refining
Unemployment rate: 0.6% (1999 est.)
Budget: revenues: $135.81 million expenditures: $147 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000)
Industries: tourism, transshipment facilities, oil refining Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 450 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 418.5 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: aloes; livestock; fish
Exports: $2.58 billion (including oil reexports) (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: live animals and animal products, art and collectibles, machinery and electrical equipment, transport equipment
Exports - partners: US 42%, Colombia 20%, Netherlands 12% (1999)
Imports: $2.61 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Imports - commodities: machinery and electrical equipment, crude oil for refining and reexport, chemicals; foodstuffs
Imports - partners: US 63%, Netherlands 11%, Netherlands Antilles 3%, Japan (1999)
Debt - external: $285 million (1996) Economic aid - recipient: $26 million (1995); note - the Netherlands provided a $127 million aid package to Aruba and Suriname in 1996
Currency: Aruban guilder/florin (AWG)
Currency code: AWG
Exchange rates: Aruban guilders/florins per US dollar - 1.7900 (fixed rate since 1986)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Aruba Telephones - main lines in use: 33,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 3,402 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: more than adequate international: 1 submarine cable to Sint Maarten (Netherlands Antilles); extensive interisland microwave radio relay links Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 6, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 50,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)
Televisions: 20,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .aw Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA
Internet users: 4,000 (2000) Transportation Aruba
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 800 km paved: 513 km note: most coastal roads are paved, while unpaved roads serve large tracts of the interior (1995) unpaved: 287 km
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Barcadera, Oranjestad, Sint Nicolaas
Merchant marine: includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: Monaco 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 1 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2001) Military Aruba
Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; Royal Dutch Navy and Marines, Coast Guard
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Transnational Issues Aruba Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: drug-money-laundering center and transit point for narcotics bound for the US and Europe

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Island (pop., 2002 est.: 91,600), Lesser Antilles, off northwestern Venezuela.

Aruba is an internally self-governing part of The Netherlands. It has an area of 70 sq mi (180 sq km). Its capital is Oranjestad. Most of the present-day population is a combination of Amerindian, Spanish, and Dutch, with traces of African stocks. Dutch is its official language; Papiamento, a creole language, is used for daily affairs. The principal religion is Roman Catholicism. Its currency is the Aruban florin. Aruba's lack of water severely limits agriculture. Its petroleum-refining complex, among the world's largest, was the main source of employment until it closed in 1985. Since then, tourism has become the island's economic mainstay. The island's earliest inhabitants were Arawak Indians, whose cave drawings can still be seen. Though the Dutch took possession of Aruba in 1636, they did not begin to develop it aggressively until 1816. The Netherlands controls Aruba's defense and foreign affairs, but internal affairs are handled by an island government directing its own judiciary and currency. In 1986 Aruba seceded from the Federation of the Netherlands Antilles in an initial step toward independence.

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Aruba, flag of  island lying southwest of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, some 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Curaçao and 18 miles (29 km) north of the Venezuelan peninsula of Paraguaná (Paraguaná Peninsula). Aruba was formerly a part of the Netherlands Antilles. In 1986 it became a separate self-governing part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands (Netherlands, The). Tourists flock to Aruba, attracted by its white-sand beaches in the south and west, rugged coastline in the northeast, and desert environment in the interior. The capital is Oranjestad, which also is the main port.

   Aruba is 20 miles (32 km) long and 6 miles (10 km) across at its widest point. Generally low in elevation, the island consists largely of igneous rocks overlain by limestone deposits and is fringed with coral reefs. Its highest point is Mount Jamanota, which rises to 620 feet (189 metres) above sea level. Among the isolated steep-sided hills that characterize the landscape is the mountain known as Hooiberg (“Haystack”), which reaches 560 feet (171 metres). In some places immense monolithic boulders of diorite are peculiarly piled on top of one another. Aruba has barren soil with little or no natural irrigation. Most drinking water is obtained by desalinating seawater. The temperature varies little from an annual average of 81 °F (27 °C), and the heat is tempered by northeasterly trade winds. Precipitation is low and variable, usually amounting to about 17 inches (430 mm) per year. The island lies outside the usual path of hurricanes, though one occasionally does reach it. The natural vegetation consists of a variety of drought-resistant cacti, shrubs, and trees.

      Most of Aruba's population is ethnically mixed, including many people of American Indian ancestry, often in combination with Dutch, Spanish, and African heritage. There are few people of predominantly African descent, however, because—unlike most other Caribbean islands—Aruba had few slave-based plantations during colonial times. The official language is Dutch, but the most commonly spoken language is Papiamentu (also spoken in Curaçao and Bonaire), a creole that evolved mainly from Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. English and Spanish are also widely used. Nearly nine-tenths of the people are Roman Catholic; most of the remainder are Protestant. The birth and death rates are both relatively low, and the rate of natural increase is less than average for the West Indies. Life expectancy for both men and women is among the highest in the region and is comparable to that in developed countries.

 Services form the basis of the Aruban economy. These activities centre primarily on tourism, but offshore banking and other services are also important. Until the end of the 18th century, Aruba was used by the colonial authorities for horse breeding, and local and mainland Indians served as herdsmen. Only from the early 19th century was land sold to individual settlers. Agriculture remained of little importance despite efforts to grow aloe for pharmaceutical products. Gold mining began in 1824 but was discontinued in the early 20th century. Aruba's economy improved when oil refining started in the 1920s at the port of San Nicolas (Sint Nicolaas); crude oil was imported mainly from Venezuela. The refinery closed in 1985, provoking a serious economic crisis. Arubans responded by aggressively promoting and expanding tourism, including building luxury hotels and casinos, to exploit the idyllic island setting. The refinery later reopened and resumed full production by 1993. However, petroleum now plays a smaller role in the economy, although it does constitute virtually all of Aruba's export earnings, and crude petroleum is the major import commodity. The economy has been diversified by developing a free-trade zone, a data-processing sector, and international offshore financial services. The island has an international airport and is further linked to the outside world by steamship and cruise ship services. Local currency is the Aruban florin, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Government and society
      A governor, appointed to a six-year term by the Dutch crown, is the formal head of government and representative of the reigning monarch of The Netherlands. Executive authority is vested in a Council of Ministers, headed by a prime minister. The council is responsible to a 21-member unicameral legislature, the Staten (States), elected by universal adult suffrage. The vast majority of the population is literate. Primary and secondary education are free and, since 1999, compulsory from age 4 to 16. Dutch is the main language of instruction, with Papiamentu being used in some primary classrooms. The University of Aruba, a teacher's college, and a community college provide postsecondary instruction, though most Arubans go abroad for higher education. Health standards on the island are high.

Cultural life
 Aruba's long stretches of white sand and clear waters attract numerous tourists. The Cultural Center in Oranjestad offers concerts, ballet, folkloric presentations, and art exhibits throughout the year. The city also includes historical, archaeological, and numismatic museums. The New Year's Day festivities and pre-Lenten carnival in February are especially colourful and popular celebrations.

History (Aruba)
      This section focuses specifically on the history and development of the island of Aruba. For a discussion of the history of Aruba in its broader, regional context, see West Indies, history of (West Indies).

 The island's earliest inhabitants were Arawak Indians, who left behind red cave drawings and clay pottery and stone tools. After Aruba was claimed by Spain in 1499, it became a centre of piracy and smuggling. In 1636 it was taken by the Dutch and occupied by the Dutch West India Company. As part of the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba came briefly under British rule during the Napoleonic Wars (French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars) but was returned to The Netherlands in 1816.

      The economy remained weak until an oil refinery was constructed at San Nicolas (Sint Nicolaas) in the 1920s, which raised the standard of living dramatically. Immigration from the rest of the Caribbean, the United States, Venezuela, and Europe contributed to a substantial increase in population. Despite its new economic strength, Aruba remained politically subordinated to the Antilles' main island of Curaçao.

      In 1986 Aruba obtained autonomous status, the result of a popular movement led by the People's Electoral Movement (Movimento Electoral di Pueblo) to break away from Curaçaoan—rather than from Dutch—domination. In 1994 the Aruban government, in conjunction with the governments of The Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, decided to postpone indefinitely the transition to full independence.

Harmannus Hoetink Ed.

Additional Reading
Geographic information is provided in Mark Sullivan (ed.), Aruba, 3rd ed. (2005); and Vera M. Green, Migrants in Aruba: Interethnic Integration (1974).A comprehensive history of Aruba is J. Hartog, Aruba, Past and Present: From the Time of the Indians Until Today, trans. from Dutch (1961). Also useful are Steven Hillebrink, Political Decolonization and Self-Determination: The Case of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba (2007); and Cornelis C. Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and on the Wild Coast, 1580–1680 (1971), The Dutch in the Caribbean and in the Guianas, 1680–1791 (1985), and A Short History of the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam (1979). An overview of historical sources is given in M.A.P. Meilink-Roelofsz (ed.), Dutch Authors on West Indian History: A Historiographical Selection, trans. from Dutch (1982). Ed.

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Universalium. 2010.

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