Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the
in 1636. The island's economy has been dominated by three
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
Map and Info on Aruba
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Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela.
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.
extremes: Lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Mount
Natural resources: NEGL; white sandy beaches.
note: a flat, river less island renowned for its white sand
tropical climate is moderated by constant trade winds from the
Ocean; the temperature is almost constant at about 27 degrees Celsius
Ethnic groups: mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 82%, Protestant 8%, Hindu, Muslim, Confucian,
Languages: Dutch (official), Papiamento (a Spanish, Portuguese,
dialect), English (widely spoken), Spanish.
Dependency status: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy
internal affairs obtained in 1986 upon separation from the
Antilles; Dutch Government responsible for defense and
Government type: parliamentary democracy.
Tourism is the mainstay of the small, open Aruban economy,
banking and oil refining and storage also important. The rapid
the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a
expansion of other activities. Construction has boomed, with
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
arrivals following the 11 September terrorist attacks.
Labor force - by
occupation: Most employment is in wholesale and retail trade
followed by hotels and restaurants; oil refining.
transshipment facilities, oil refining.
Telephones - main lines in use: 33,.
Telephones - mobile
Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 6.
Television broadcast stations: 1.
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