Area: 180 sq. km. (112 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capital--Oranjestad (pop. 60,000,
Terrain: Flat with a few hills; scant
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Aruban(s).
Population (2004): 97,518.
Annual growth rate: 3.57%.
Ethnic groups: Mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian
Religion: Roman Catholic 81%, Protestant 3%,
Hindu, Muslim, Methodist, Anglican, Adventist,
Evangelist, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish.
Languages: Dutch (official); Papiamento,
Spanish, and English also are spoken.
Health: Infant mortality rate--5.2/1,000.
Life expectancy--75 years for men, 81.9
years for women.
Work force (41,501): Most employment is in
wholesale and retail trade and repair, followed
by hotels and restaurants and oil refining.
Unemployment--about 7.3% (2004).
Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Independence: Part of the Kingdom of the
Branches: Executive--monarch represented
by a governor (chief of state), prime minister
(head of government), Cabinet. Legislative--unicameral
parliament. Judicial--Joint High Court of
Justice appointed by the monarch.
Subdivisions: Aruba is divided into eight
regions--Noord/Tank Leendert, Oranjestad (west),
Oranjestad (east), Paradera, Santa Cruz,
Savaneta, Sint Nicolaas (north), and Sint
Political parties: Aruba Patriotic Movement (MPA),
Aruban Socialist Movement (Aliansa), Aruban
Liberal Party (OLA), Patriotic Party of Aruba (PPA),
Aruban People's Party (AVP), Concentration for
the Liberation of Aruba (CLA), People's
Electoral Movement Party (MEP), Democratic
Network (RED), Real Democracy, Workers Political
Platform (PPT), Summum Bonum.
Suffrage: Universal at 18 years.
GDP (2004): $2.145 billion.
Growth rate (2004): 3.5%.
Per capita GDP (2004): $21,878.
Natural resources: Beaches. Tourism/services and
oil refining are dominant factors in GDP.
Trade: Exports--$3.48 billion (f.o.b.,
including oil re-exports, 2002): oil products,
live animals and animal products, art and
collectibles, machinery and electrical
equipment, transport equipment. Major markets--U.S.
(40.4%), Venezuela (19.9%), Netherlands (10.2%),
Netherlands Antilles (14.8%). Imports--$1.5
billion: crude petroleum, food, manufactures.
Major suppliers--U.S. (60.4%), Netherlands
(12.7%), Netherlands Antilles (3.3%).
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
Aruba's first inhabitants were the Caquetios
Indians from the Arawak tribe. Fragments of the
earliest known Indian settlements date back to
about 1000 A.D. Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda
is regarded as the first European to arrive in
about 1499. The Spanish garrison on Aruba
dwindled following the Dutch capture of nearby
Bonaire and Curacao in 1634. The Dutch occupied
Aruba shortly thereafter, and retained control
for nearly two centuries. In 1805, during the
Napoleonic wars, the English briefly took
control over the island, but it was returned to
Dutch control in 1816. 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. In 1986 Aruba seceded from the
Netherlands Antilles and became a separate,
autonomous member of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands. Movement toward full independence
was halted at Aruba's prerogative in 1990. Aruba
has a mixture of people from South America and
Europe, the Far East, and other islands of the
Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba
has full autonomy on all internal affairs with
the exception of defense, foreign affairs, and
some judicial functions. The constitution was
enacted in January 1986. Executive power rests
with a governor while a prime minister heads an
eight-member Cabinet. The governor is appointed
for a 6-year term by the monarch, and the prime
minister and deputy prime minister are elected
by the Staten, or legislature, for 4-year terms.
The Staten is made up of 21 members elected by
direct, popular vote to serve 4-year terms.
Aruba's judicial system, which has mainly been
derived from the Dutch system, operates
independently of the legislature and the
executive. Jurisdiction, including appeal, lies
with the Common Court of Justice of Aruba and
the Supreme Court of Justice in the Netherlands.
Principal Government Officials
Governor—Fredis Jose Refunjol
Prime Minister—Nelson Oduber
After a break in the coalition between the
ruling Arubaanse Volkspartij (AVP) and the
Organisashon Liberal Arubano (OLA), the election
due in July 1998 was pushed forward to December
1997. Unfortunately, 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 into 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. In 2005
elections, the MEP maintained its majority in
parliament with 43% of the vote, earning a slim
majority with 11 seats in the Staten.
Through the 1990s and into the 21st century
Aruba posted growth rates around 5%. However, in
2001 a decrease in demand and the terrorist
attack on the United States led to the first
economic contraction in 15 years. Deficit
spending has been a staple in Aruba's history,
and modestly high inflation has been present as
well, although recent efforts at tightening
monetary policy may correct this. Oil processing
is the dominant industry in Aruba, despite the
expansion of the tourism sector. Over 1.5
million tourists per year visit Aruba, with 75%
of those from the United States. The sizes of
the agriculture and manufacturing industries
Although Aruba conducts foreign affairs
primarily through the Dutch Government, it also
has strong relations with other Caribbean
governments. Aruba is an observer in the
Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an associate
member of the World Trade Organization through
the Netherlands, and is a full member of the
Association of Caribbean States.
Principal U.S. Officials
Consul General—Robert E. Sorenson
Consul—Sharon E. Feiser
Vice Consul—Jean Akers
U.S. Consulate General for Aruba and the
Netherlands Antilles is located at J.B.
Gorsiraweg #1, Willemstad, Curacao; tel.
599-9-461-3066, fax: 599-9-461-6489, Monday
through Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 pm. Email: