Bon Bini, Welcome to the island the sun calls home! In many songs Aruba is referred to as the Pearl of the Caribbean for its south-west coastline offering some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters and breathtaking sunsets. First class resorts, best bars & clubs, restaurants offering multi-course meals of haute cuisine, natural wonders, world-class golf courses, exciting, glitzy casinos, thriving nightlife, Vegas-style shows, historic sites, museums, a butterfly farm, art galleries, famous Carnival parades, festivities, Colorful malls, great Downtown shopping, scuba dive, windsurf, snorkel, horse ride, and much more, blended with the European and Caribbean charms, is the perfect mix for an island that convinces many people every day that happiness lives here! A lifetime of memories to be made! You will be as awed by the splendor of its land as the warmth of its friendly people. Discover all the reasons why you see so many smiling faces everywhere in Aruba, worldwide known as “One Happy Island”.
Aruba is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, located about two-and-a-half hours from Miami, Florida by air and 15 miles off the Venezuelan coast. The island is 19.6 miles long, and six miles across at its widest point, with a total area of 70 square miles.
The earliest inhabitants of Aruba were Arawak Indians called the Caiquetios. There are many legends about the origin of Aruba’s name. It was once thought that the name was Spanish for “there was gold” (“oro huba”), but in reality the Spanish were unsuccessful in their mission to hit the gold jackpot. Another possibility for Aruba’s name source is that it was a Carib Indian word for “shell” and “island.” Today it certainly means exploration, adventure and relaxation!
In 1499, the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda made his way to this remote corner of the Caribbean Basin and laid claim to the territory for Queen Isabella.
Around 1636, the Dutch acquired ownership of Aruba and it remained that way for the next 200 years. For a brief period in the early 1800s, the British took control, but it was soon after returned to the Dutch in 1816. The Dutch colonial architecture in Aruba’s capital city of Oranjestad still proves the island’s colonization by the Netherlands.
The year 1824 saw the discovery of gold near Bushiribana. The ruins of a nineteenth-century smelting plant still survive in Balashi near the center of the island. The mines had to be shut down in 1916 as these became unprofitable. Not long afterwards, however, in 1924, another valuable commodity replaced it, “black gold”, oil. Aruba became home to one of the world’s largest refineries and made San Nicolas a major commercial center and the island’s second largest city.
The development of the tourism industry in the last decades of the 20th century has made Aruba also one of the Caribbean’s best spots for vacationers from around the world. In fact, Aruba has developed a reputation as being the “Las Vegas of the Caribbean.” To this day, Aruba’s two main industries are oil and tourism. The San Antonio U.S.-based Valero Energy Corporation gained control of the refinery in 2004.
The population is estimated at about 120,000. The official language is Dutch. Native language Papiamento, English and Spanish are widely spoken.
Aruba is an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands overseen by the Constitutional Monarchy with a democratically elected government. The Chief of State is the Governor, appointed by the Queen of the Netherlands to represent her for a period of 6 years. The Head of Government is the Prime Minister elected every 4 years who holds executive power with a Council of Ministers and is sustained by a 21-member parliament. Legal certainty and proper administration of the law is under the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the cooperation of the Aruban Minister of Justice. Judges of the Common Court in Aruba are appointed by the Queen. Appeals may be made to the Supreme Court sitting in the Netherlands. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is responsible for the defense, external political and diplomatic relations.
Aruba’s currency is the florin denoted by the letters ‘Awg.’ but also widely known as ‘Afl.’ The official rate at which banks accept U.S. dollar banknotes is Awg. 1,77. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted in Aruba, and banks may exchange other foreign currency.
Aruba’s topography and vegetation are unusual for a Caribbean island. On the south and west coasts are miles of pristine white beaches that rank among the most beautiful in the world, rimmed by calm blue seas with visibility in some areas to a depth of a hundred feet. The northeast coast, along the windward shore, is rugged and wild. The interior is desert like, with a variety of cacti and dramatic rock formations. The island’s most famous trees are the watapana, or divi-divi trees, all permanently sculpted into graceful, southwest-bending shapes by the constant trade winds. Weather conditions are no daily news! Always “Sunny and Warm”! Average daytime temperature is 82° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius). Aruba is located safely away from the traditional path of hurricanes.
Aruba is strategically located to serve the international business between the Caribbean, South America, the United States and Europe with direct sea and air connections. The political stability, a well-educated, multilingual and friendly population, a pleasant and secure business climate make Aruba an ideal place for doing business in the Caribbean. The free zone of Aruba holds a strategic position for import from/export to North, South America, the Caribbean and Europe. Aruba has modern physical facilities with good roads and up to date utilities. It has a modern and well developed communication infrastructure. Aruba has a quality of life featured by a high standard of living and with all kinds of amenities and services, while maintaining an informal and affordable life style in a tropical and safe environment. In order to maximize economic opportunities, the Government policy is primary focused on international developments. As a result, the most dynamic sectors of the economy are tourism, oil refining, international trade and finance. Click on video for a presentation of the Economic Department of the Government of Aruba. For more information about the economy and doing business in Aruba, please click on “Links” on this website.
Hear and feel Aruba!