History of Aruba

Aruba Flag

Aruba's first inhabitants were the Caquetios Indians from the Arawak tribe who migrated there from Venezuela to escape attacks by the Caribs. Fragments of the earliest known Indian settlements date back to about 1000. Due to Aruba's mostly distant location from other Caribbean islands and strong currents in the sea which made canoe travel to the other islands difficult, the Caquetios remained more tied to South America than the Caribbean.

Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda is regarded as the first European to arrive in about 1499. Although he established a colony there, it was limited in scope. Unlike many other Caribbean islands, no plantation society evolved on Aruba. Instead, the Spanish sent many Caquetios to Hispaniola, where they were enslaved in the mines.

In 1636, Aruba was acquired by the Netherlands and remained under their control for nearly two centuries.

In 1796, the town that was later named Oranjestad, was founded and became the island's capital.

During the Napoleonic wars, the British Empire took control over the island, between 1799 and 1802, and between 1804 and 1816, before handing it back to the Dutch.

A 19th-century gold rush was followed by prosperity brought on by first the opening of a crude oil transshipment facility in 1924 and then in 1928 with the opening of an oil refinery. This was the Lago Oil and Transport Company a 100% owned subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey. The Lago refinery was located on the east end of the island and on the west end Royal Dutch Shell had a small refinery, the Eagle Refinery which closed soon after World War II. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry, which became Aruba's primary industry when the refinery closed in 1985. Because of the focus on tourism and the number of resorts on the island, Arubans enjoy a very low unemployment rate. Aruba has earned a reputation as the "Las Vegas of the Caribbean."

In 1986, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, under the Dutch crown. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's prerogative in 1990. Aruba has a mixture of people from South America, Europe, the Far East, and other islands of the Caribbean.

After a break in the coalition between the ruling Arubaanse Volkspartij (AVP) and the Organisashon Liberal Arubano (OLA), the election of July 1998 was pushed forward to December 1997. The results were unclear, with votes equally divided between the People's Electoral Movement Party (MEP), the AVP, and the OLA. After negotiations failed to unite the MEP and AVP, a new coalition between the AVP and OLA formed, which forced the MEP to be the opposition. Four years later in September 2001, the opposition MEP won a decisive victory in a free election, taking 12 of 21 seats to form Aruba's first one-party government. Due to its small margin of majority status, the MEP has left open the possibility of a future coalition partner.

Cities and Towns

Aruba Map Aruba Map - Click for larger view

The island, with a population of just over 100,000 inhabitants, does not have major cities.

Oranjestad (33,000 in 2006)
• Paradera
• San Nicolas
• Noord
• Santa Cruz
• Savaneta


In 1976, Aruba presented its National Anthem (Aruba Dushi Tera) and Flag.

Aruba has a varied culture. According to the Bureau Burgelijke Stand en Bevolkingsregister (BBSB), in 2005 there were ninety-two different nationalities living on the island. Dutch influence can still be seen, as in the celebration of "Sinterklaas" on 5 and 6 December and other national holidays like 30 April, when in Aruba and the rest of the Kingdom of the Netherlands the Queen's birthday or "Dia di La Reina" (Koninginnedag) is celebrated.

Christmas and New Year's Eve are celebrated with the typical music and songs for gaitas for Christmas and the Dande for New Year, and "ayaca", "ponche crema", ham, and other typical foods and drinks. Millions of florins worth offireworks are burnt at midnight on New Year's Eve. On 25 January, Betico Croes' birthday is celebrated. Dia di San Juan is celebrated on June 24.

Besides Christmas, the religious holy days of the Feast of the Ascension and Good Friday are holidays on the island.

The holiday of Carnaval is also an important one in Aruba, as it is in many Caribbean and Latin American countries, and, like Mardi Gras, that goes on for weeks. Its celebration in Aruba started, around the 1950s, influenced by the inhabitants from Venezuela and the nearby islands (Curaçao, St. Vincent, Trinidad, Barbados, St. Maarten and Anguilla) who came to work for the Oil refinery. Over the years the Carnival Celebration has changed and now starts from the beginning of January till the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday with a large parade on the last Sunday of the festivities (Sunday before Ash Wednesday).

Tourism from the United States has recently increased the visibility of American culture on the island, with such celebrations as Halloween and Thanksgiving Day in November.


There are many languages spoken on the Caribbean island of Aruba. The official language is Dutch and schools require students to learn both English and Spanish. French and, to a lesser extent, Portuguese are also spoken on the island. According to the Government of Aruba the mother tongue and primary vernacular of almost all Arubans is a local language known as Papiamento. an Afro-Portuguese Creole.

Dutch has been the official language of the island for years as the island is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba has recognized English as an international language, and has required that children learn English as early as the 4th grade. Since May 2003 Papiamento has also been officially declared as the official language, alongside Dutch. Aruba's location off the coast of South America has also made Spanish extremely important. Students begin learning this as early as 5th grade.

Papiamento is a language with roots mainly from Portuguese, and to a lesser extent, from Dutch, Spanish and English. It originated in the 16th century as a means of communication among slaves and slave drivers.

Papiamento was not considered important on Aruba until 1995. It was officially included in school curriculum in 1998 and 1999. Since then, the island has embraced the native language of Papiamento. A Papiamento dictionary and fairy tales written in Papiamento are now readily available on the island.


Most of Aruba's inhabitants are Catholic. But, just as so many nationalities live harmoniously side by side, so it is with those of other religious beliefs. Tourists are welcome at all houses of worship.

Weather and Climate

Aruba Weather

In Aruba the newspapers almost never publish a weather report. They don't need to. Around here, "sunny and warm" is not news. With an average rainfall of less than 20 inches a year, an average daytime temperature of 82° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius), a location completely outside the hurricane belt, and the constant cooling influence of the trade winds, Aruba is one of the most temperate islands in the Caribbean. And just as comfortable in July as it is in January.

The difference between median day and night temperatures, and between summer and winter temperatures, is just 3.6°. The rainfall occurs mainly in short showers during November and December.

Weather can't be forecast more than a week or so in advance, but weather averages are good indicators of what to expect any month.



Entry Requirements

Travelers are not allowed to work during their stay in Aruba. To enter Aruba, one should be able to present the following at time of entry:

• a passport that is valid upon entry and for the duration of stay in Aruba. If the tourist/traveler holds a passport from a visa required country (list A), he must have a valid visa sticker in his passport. Visas are however not required for citizens of list A countries if they are permanent residents of Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, The Netherlands or any Schengen country.
• a completely filled-in and signed Embarkation and Disembarkation card (ED Card);
• a valid return- or onward ticket;
• the necessary documents for returning to the country of origin or to a country that he or she has the right to enter, for example a valid residence permit (temporary or permanent), a re-entry permit or a (entry) visa;
• if so requested, the tourist/traveler has to be able to prove to the satisfaction of the migration officer that he has a valid reservation for an accommodation in Aruba (e.g. hotel or apartment) or that he owns property in Aruba (a residence, condominium, apartment, time-share apartment or a pleasure yacht moored in Aruba with a length of at least 14 m measured at the water line);
• if so requested, the tourist/traveler has to be able to prove to the satisfaction of the migration officer that they are disposed of adequate financial means to provide for hotel expenses (if applicable) and living expenses during their planned stay or that they have a declaration of guarantee from a legal resident of Aruba.

The final authorization for admission to Aruba remains with migration officer at the border-crossing/port of entry. The migration authorities at the border-crossing/port of entry have the authority to grant or refuse admission. Admission can be refused if not all admission requirements are fulfilled by the time of entering Aruba of if the tourist/traveler has been blacklisted.

Public Holidays

Public Holidays Aruba 2015
New Year’s Day Thursday, January 1, 2015
Betico Croes Birthday Sunday, January 25, 2015
Carnival Monday Monday, February 16, 2015
National Anthem and Flag Day Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Good Friday Holiday Friday, April 3, 2015
Easter Monday Monday, April 6, 2015
King's Day Monday, April 27, 2015
Labour Day Friday, May 1, 2015
Ascension Day Thursday, May 14, 2015
Christmas Day Friday, 25 December 2015
Boxing Day Saturday, 26 December 2015

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Aruba. Exercise normal security precautions.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

• You should not wear beach attire anywhere but on the beaches or by the pool.
• Make sure to properly greet someone.
• Ask before photographing someone.
• Men should wear dress shorts or slacks to dinner, no jeans allowed in most restaurants.

Aruba uses 120V at 60Hz, which is identical to the US and Canadian standard. Outlets are NEMA 5 grounded outlets identical to standard wall outlets in the US and Canada. Occasionally non-grounded outlets may be found, which do not accept the third, round pin present on grounded plugs and require an adapter. Older North American outlets may not be polarized (with one slot wider than the other). Otherwise, adapters are available which accept a polarized plug and adapt it for use with a non-polarized outlet.

Aruba may be best known for its beautiful Caribbean beaches and perfect weather, but venture off the sand and check out fun attractions. You'll find a happy island full of history, culture, rugged landscapes, exotic local dishes and even more fun activities in Aruba.