A Map of 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.
Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela. Area: Total: 193 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 193 sq km. Area - comparative: Slightly larger than Washington, DC. Coastline: 68.5 km.
Climate and Terrain: 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. Geography - note: a flat, river less 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: Population: 70,441. 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.
Government: 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.
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. Labor force - by occupation: Most employment is in wholesale and retail trade and repair, followed by hotels and restaurants; oil refining. Industries: Tourism, transshipment facilities, oil refining.
Statistics: Telephones - main lines in use: 33,. Telephones - mobile cellular: 3,402. Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 6. Radios: 50,000. Television broadcast stations: 1. Televisions: 20,000. Internet users: 4,000. 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 Airports: 1.

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