Cities in ARUBA


Geography and Landscape


Aruba is the westernmost island of the Leeward Islands. The surface of the island is over 193 km2.

Aruba Satellite photoAruba Satellite photoPhoto: Public domain

Aruba consists of a core of ancient rocks that were formed more than a hundred million years ago by, among other things, submarine eruptions. About 60 million years ago, this rock appeared above sea level. It was then surrounded by much younger deposits in the form of coral limestone.


Aruba Beach
Aruba BeachPhoto: Public domain

The oldest, volcanic part of Aruba is therefore located in the center of the island. Here are also the highest peaks of the island, the 189 meter high Jamanota and the 188 meter high Arikok. The north coast is steep and rocky. Due to the northeast trade wind, the sea is constantly pounding the coast with great force. The southeastern part of the island consists of limestone formations. On the west side is a kilometer-long sandy beach, which is considered among the most beautiful in the world. Almost all hotels are located here. Unlike the north side, the sea here is calm and very clear.

Climate and Weather

Aruba Sun Aruba SunPhoto: Rumblebee CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Aruba has a tropical climate and it is always sunny. The average temperature is almost 28 °C. degrees and there is always a northeasterly trade wind blowing. The difference between summer and winter is on average only 3.6 °C and the difference between day and night is on average 5.5 °C.

The average rainfall is about 60 cm per year, and it usually falls in the form of short, heavy local showers. Most rain falls in the months of November, December and January. The hottest months are August, September and October. Tropical storms and tornadoes do not occur in Aruba.

Plants and Animals


Dividivi Aruba Dividivi ArubaPhoto: Serge Melki CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Due to the tropical climate with its limited rainfall, plant growth on the dry soil is limited to about 500 species. There are mainly shrubs, agaves and tree species such as the typical dividivi. This tree species is formed by the wind. The most striking family of plants are the cacti that are spread over the island in a large number of species.


Cascabel Aruba Cascabel ArubaPhoto: Montealto CC 4.0 International no changes made

There are seven types of lizard species, of which the iguana is the best known. There are also two snake species, the Santanero and the poisonous Cascabel. Aruba has about 174 bird species. Most, however, only come to hibernate or are on their way to another breeding ground. About 50 species breed on the island.

Mammals come mainly in the form of goats and donkeys. Because goats eat everything they are very threatening to the already fragile plant growth.The living organisms of the coral belong to the cavity animals. In addition, there are barracudas, squid, sharks, crabs, lobsters, rays, turtles, sea horses and starfish in the sea.


Vespuci Aruba Vespuci ArubaPhoto: Public domain

Little is known about the original inhabitants of Aruba. Excavations show that the island has been inhabited for hundreds of years before it was discovered by the Spanish, the so-called pre-Columbian era. The primeval population of Aruba consisted of Arowak, who came from mainland South America. Archaeological research has shown that the island was inhabited by Indians who had the same culture as the inhabitants of the South American continent. Further evidence for the assumption of Native Americans' South American origins is also found in the petroglyphs discovered in many places, especially at the entrance to the caves. In addition, the dead were buried in large pots like in the Amazon. In the fourteenth century, the Caribbean, themselves chased away by South American Indian tribes, conquered Aruba. At the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, the Indians still lived in the Stone Age, in small groups scattered across the island in simple mud huts. They lived on fishing and plant food. According to tradition, the Leeward Islands were discovered by the Spanish in 1499. Historians disagree whether they were discovered by Alonso de Ojeda or Amerigo Vespucci. Based on map drawings and writings, it is suspected that Ojeda has been to Curacao and Bonaire, but not to Aruba. Aruba was probably "discovered" a few years later during reconnaissance trips. The Spanish called the islands "Islas de los Gigantes" because the Native American population stood head and shoulders above them in height. In 1513, the Spanish took away the entire Indian population of Aruba to work as slaves in the copper mines of Santa Domingo. The island remained uninhabited, but gradually inhabitants from the mainland came to the island again to settle there. A little later the Spaniards came to live on the island and the Indians served as staff.

At that time the Dutch were an enterprising people and sailed all the seas of the world. They needed a lot of salt for herring fishing. They got this from Spain and Portugal, but the Eighty Years' War against Spain forced them to look for new salt pans, which they found in the Caribbean. As interests in South America grew, a foothold in the Caribbean was of great importance. In 1634 the Dutch conquered Curaçao and used the island as a base during the Eighty Years' War to attack the Spanish fleet. In 1636 the Dutch also took Bonaire and Aruba to prevent attacks from these islands. The Leeward Islands were developed into agricultural colonies by the West India Company. In Aruba they started breeding horses and especially goats. The number of goats on the island at one point became so great that Aruba was also called "goat island". The island was controlled by a commander with some white helpers. Furthermore, only Indians lived on the island. Due to the virtually absence of Negro slaves, the Indian character traits in Aruba have been more strongly preserved than in Curaçao and Bonaire. It was not until after 1770 that Negro slaves arrived on the island, but on a very limited scale. The many wars of the Dutch with the English also had consequences for Aruba. In 1806 Aruba fell into English hands and the occupation lasted until 1816. In 1816 the Netherlands got Aruba back from the English. Gold was found in 1824 and phosphate in 1859. A hundred years later, gold mining was stopped and phosphate mining was also stopped.

Lagos Refinery Aruba

Lagos Refinery ArubaPhoto: Willem van der Poll in the public domain

The most dramatic event in Aruba's modern history is the arrival of the Lago Oil and Transport Company. The arrival of this refinery brought about major changes for Aruba and its people. Because there were not enough workers on the island, workers came to Aruba mainly from other English-speaking Caribbean islands. Another consequence was that Aruba became interesting for other companies and commercial institutions. As a result of all this, the standard of living rose rapidly, which was an unprecedented luxury for a small island in the Caribbean. However, automation meant that the number of employees continued to decline. Of the 8,300 people who worked for Lago in 1949, only 1,350 were left in the early 1980s. Due to the very outdated refinery and the resulting increasing losses, the Lago refinery closed its gates in 1986. The arrival of the Lago oil refinery also had political consequences. In the early 1930s, the Kingdom government expressed its wish that Aruba wanted to separate itself from Curaçao and establish a direct relationship with the Netherlands. In 1948 a commission of inquiry was set up to study the relations between Aruba and Curaçao. In 1951 the Netherlands Antilles obtained a large degree of independence. In 1954 the Aruban Island Council tried to become a separate part of the Dutch Kingdom through a motion. In the course of the 1970s a separatist movement gained momentum in Aruba, aimed at disengagement from the administrative context of the Netherlands Antilles.

Betico Croes Aruba Betico Croes ArubaPhoto: Ian Mackenzie CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The leader of this movement for 'separashon' was Betico Croes. This endeavor was finally honored in 1983 with the granting of a separate status from January 1, 1986. The Status Aparte was to lead to independence from January 1, 1996. In May 1991, Aruba abandoned this and the pursuit of independence was shelved . In July 1994, the Aruban People's Party (AVP) won the parliamentary elections and Henny Eman became prime minister of a coalition government aiming for a thorough restructuring of public spending. In November 1996 relations with the Netherlands came under pressure after Dutch politicians criticized the inadequate law enforcement and the opaque relationship between government and business in Aruba. In the parliamentary elections on 23 September 2005, the incumbent MEP party again won the absolute majority with 11 of the 21 seats. Since June 2005, Aruba has been widely in the news worldwide because of the missing and possible kidnapping of the American tierner girl Natalee Holloway. The US government is angry with the Aruban authorities and the rights system because, according to the US government, they are not doing enough to track down Natalee. This has cooled the relationship between both countries.

The Netherlands Antilles no longer exist since October 10, 2010. Aruba was already an independent country, Curaçao and Sint Maarten became so from that date. Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius became special Dutch municipalities.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands now consists of four countries with their own governments: Aruba, the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have a separate status within the Netherlands and are called the Caribbean Netherlands, together with Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten they form the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

On September 27, 2013, Aruba elected a new parliament, in which the Christian Democratic Aruban People's Party (AVP) of Mike Eman obtained an absolute majority of 13 of the 21 seats. 52-year-old Eman, who led Aruba since 2009, has focused on improving the Aruban economy for the past four years and strengthened ties with the Netherlands.

Mike Eman, Third Prime Minister of Aruba Mike Eman, Third Prime Minister of ArubaPhoto: Public domain

Between 12 and 21 November 2013, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima visited the six islands in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On November 20 and 21 it was the turn of Aruba. In 2015 and 2016, the Port of Amsterdam will support Aruba in particular with the expansion of the terminal port. In September 2017, Eman's party won the elections, but lost the absolute majority. Eman withdraws from politics. In November 2017, Evelyne Wever-Croes becomes Aruba's first female prime minister as head of a coalition government. In January 2018, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao will face an export ban and a sea, air and land blockade of the islands by Venezuela. In 2020 there will be a dispute between Aruba and the Netherlands about the conditions for a Corona loan from the Netherlands to Aruba.

Where does the name Aruba come from?

Historians have not yet found out where the name Aruba comes from. The following theories are circulating:

-a combination of the Caribbean words "oro" and "oubao" or shell and island, which would mean Aruba Shell Island

-the Guarani Indians called the island "Oirubae" which means companion; the island would be the companion of the island of Curaçao

- derived from the Spanish word "oro hubo" meaning "once upon a time there was gold"

-from an inlet of the Venezuelan lake of Maracaibo called "Oruba"; the Indians who lived there belonged to the same tribe as the inhabitants of Aruba

-from word "uru" meaning canoe; Aruba would then mean Kano Island because the Indians could only reach the island by canoe.


Population Pyramid ArubaPopulation Pyramid ArubaPhoto: Sdgedfegw CC 4.0 International no changes made

It is clear to most Arubans that they are descended from Indians. But Dutch and Spanish influences are also clearly present. The Native American traits do not come from the original Native American population, but from the Native Americans of Spanish Indian descent who later came from Venezuela and Colombia. As mentioned before, the black element is less represented in relation to the other islands. With the advent of the oil industry in the 1920s, people from all over the world moved to Aruba. As a result, more than 40 nationalities now live there. In the last 13 years, the population of Aruba has grown from 65,000 to just over 115,000. (2017) The majority of them are Aruban and the rest consists largely of Dutch people and the rest mainly French, English and Portuguese, from other Caribbean islands. Approx. 10,000 people are illegal. The main cause of the growth of illegal immigrants is the economic development of Aruba in recent years.


Language map DutchLanguage map DutchPhoto: Public domain

Although Dutch was the official language of Aruba, Papiamento is the most widely spoken language. Papiamento originated from Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French and a little African. The name Papiamento is derived from the verb "papia" which means to talk. The basis of Papiamento is mainly of Spanish and Portuguese origin. With the arrival of the Dutch, Dutch was added. English and French descend from the occupiers of other Caribbean islands. The mixed language that developed from this has slowly but surely taken the place of a mother tongue. Aruba even has an official spelling of Papiamento. This differs from the spelling as used on the islands of Bonaire and Curacao. In addition to Papiamento and Dutch, most Arubans often also speak excellent Spanish and English.

In March 2007, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao recognized Papiamentu as an official language in addition to Dutch and English. It had taken ten years before a bill to this effect was finally passed.


Church Aruba Church ArubaPhoto: JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

With the arrival of the Spanish, the Roman Catholic faith came to Aruba. The Indians were almost all Catholic in no time. The Indians who later settled on the island from the South American mainland had already come into contact with the Roman Catholic faith there. The Dutch who later came to the island were almost all Protestant. However, they hardly interfered with the local populations and missionary work was left to the missionaries. Currently about 80% of the population is Roman Catholic. The oil industry triggered extensive immigration and with it various religious groups including Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodists, Adventists and adherents of the Jewish faith.



The Netherlands Antilles no longer exist since October 10, 2010. Aruba had been an independent country since January 1, 1986 with its so-called Status Aparte, Curaçao and Sint Maarten became so from that date. Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius became special Dutch municipalities.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands now consists of four countries with their own governments: Aruba, the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have a separate status within the Netherlands and are called the Caribbean Netherlands, together with Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten they form the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Aruba has only one tier of government, the government is formed by a Governor and a Council of Ministers.

Aruba has a unicameral parliament called the 'States'. Via direct elections, the Arubans entitled to vote elect 21 States members for a period of four years. After the members of Parliament have been sworn in, a chairman and vice-chairman of parliament is appointed from among their number. Each individual Member of Parliament may nominate two members of parliament, after which the election takes place. The appointment of the chairman and vice-chairman is definitively determined in a so-called national decree. The current political situation is described in the chapter history.

Parliament hall ArubaParliament hall ArubaPhoto: Ajathode CC 4.0 International no changes made


There is virtually no illiteracy in Aruba. This is mainly due to the excellent education, which is of a very high standard for the Caribbean. There are schools for public and special education. The education system in Aruba is almost the same as the Dutch school system. In addition to the normal subjects, the children are also taught in Papiamento. Many schools also teach English and Spanish in the upper classes. After primary education, you can choose from primary, secondary and higher professional education. For university education, people rely mainly on foreign countries.


Aruba is an important cruise destination

Aruba is an important cruise destinationPhoto: Satori Son at English Wikipedia CC3.0 Unported no changes made

Until the arrival of the Lago refinery, the Aruban economy was not doing well. Before that, the economy depended on a few meager livelihoods and the population was living below the subsistence level. Agriculture and animal husbandry also had little significance and the extraction of natural minerals such as gold and phosphate has never really been a rich source of income. With the advent of the "black gold" much changed in Aruba. All other livelihoods were subordinated or neglected. Automation of the refining process eventually resulted in the Lago refinery closing its gates permanently in 1986. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, an entirely new livelihood was emerging: tourism. This grew into a second important source of income. After the closure of the oil refinery, tourism suddenly became the main source of income. Hotels were set up at a rapid pace. As a result, Aruba does have a one-sided economy that is very fragile and highly dependent on the United States, where most tourists come from. In 1990 the closed refinery was put back into operation on a small scale by the American oil group Coastal. Despite the one-sided economy and large government deficit, the average Aruban income is the highest in the entire Caribbean. Other economic activities in Aruba are offshore banking (banks with a lot of foreign capital that settle here because of the favorable financial climate). Aruba's main trading partners are Venezuela, the United States and of course the Netherlands.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Aruba is an excellent holiday destination for those looking for good weather, long beaches, good food and top accommodations. Yet it is mainly Americans who have been the most important group of tourists since the middle of the last century, when tourism to Aruba increased sharply. Aruba attracts about 1.5 million tourists a year and about 90% of them are American, and it is clear that everything is aimed at this group of tourists that is so important to the Aruban economy. Aruba therefore focuses on the higher market segment and mainly offers luxury holidays.

Bushiribana ArubaBushiribana ArubaPhoto: Serge Melki CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In 1750 the Indians built the first Catholic chapel on the island. The chapel was made of branches on a stone base and has slowly but surely decayed. In 1952, a new Maria chapel was built on the site of the old church, the Alto Vista chapel, in memory of this first church in Aruba.

On the north coast is Bushiribana, a ruin of what used to be a gold smelter in Aruba. At the time, a lot of gold was mined in this area, and old mine shafts can still be found in various places. Some of the shafts are up to 30 meters deep.

Aruba Fort Zoutman Aruba Fort ZoutmanPhoto: Natalie Liao Jen CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Fort Zoutman in the capital Oranjestad is the oldest building in Aruba. It was built in 1796 to protect the harbor from invasion. After 1816 government offices were established there. In 1868 a tower was added, which also served as a lighthouse. The Museo Historico Arubano is currently located in the fortress and tower.

The island has some interesting caves. The caves of Fontein are known for the beautiful Indian rock paintings, which can be found in the ceiling. South of the cave is the "Tunnel of love", an underground tunnel with dark caverns and corridors with a length of 200 meters and a height of 5 to 6 meters.

The museum is located in Fort Zoutman, and one can find shells, archaeological finds, rocks and fossils. One also gets an impression of the former gold mining.

Aruba Natural BridgeAruba Natural BridgePhoto: PrasadGondi CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

There is a special twist of nature near the bay of Aindicouri. Due to the enormous power of the surf, a kind of bridge has been carved into the limestone rocks. This natural bridge is the tallest and most spectacular natural canopy in all of the Caribbean and one of Aruba's main attractions.

On the west side of the island you will find Aruba's biggest attraction, the fantastic white and palm-fringed beaches.

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Bant, W. / Nederlandse Antillen

Encyclopedie van de Nederlandse Antillen
De Walburg Pers

Helm, R. v.d. / Reishandboek Aruba

Paula, M. / Nederlandse Antillen & Aruba
Van Reemst

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated December 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb