ETHNONYMS: none; historical names for the island, of pre-Colombian or Spanish origin: Oirubae ("companion," that is, to Curaçao), Ora Oubao ("shell island"), Oro Ubo ("once there was gold")
Identification. Aruba is a multicultural island society with both Caribbean and Latin American features in its culture and social structure. Its people have been strongly influenced by the globalization of world culture.
Location. Aruba is the most southeastern island of the Caribbean archipelago. It is located 27 kilometers off the coast of the Venezuelean peninsula of Paraguana and 90 kilometers west of Curaçao. Together with Curaçao and Bonaire, it forms the Dutch Leeward Islands. Aruba's area is 193 square kilometers. The climate is tropical, with an average temperature of 28° C. The main rainy season is from October to January. Yearly rainfall usually does not exceed 50 centimeters.
Demography. The population and housing census of 1991 showed that 66,687 people live on Aruba, not including an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 illegal aliens. Compared to the period 1972-1981, during which the population increased 4.2 percent, the growth rate climbed to 10.6 percent between 1981 and 1991, mostly owing to immigration after 1987. The proportion of foreign-born inhabitants has risen from 18.5 percent in 1981 to 23.9 percent in 1991.
Linguistic Orientation. The traditional language of Aruba is Papiamento (Talk), a creole language that is also spoken on Curaçao and Bonaire. The origins of Papiamento are much debated. Two points of view dominate the discussion. According to one, it originated as a lingua franca, based on Portuguese and West African languages, during the seventeenth-century slave trade. Others maintain that it developed during the interaction between the Spanish and the Dutch. Indian names of plants and places are included in its lexicon. Owing to 350 years of colonial domination, Dutch is the official language in education and public affairs. The oil industry, tourism, and subsequent migration brought English and Spanish to the island, which are the second- and thirdmost spoken languages. Most Arubans are multilingual.
History and Cultural Relations
Prior to European discovery, Aruba was inhabited by Indian populations. From 2000 to 1000 b.c. the island was populated by preceramic Indians. Around 1000 b.c. Arawak from the east of Venezuela migrated to Aruba, introducing pottery and agriculture.
Aruba was discovered by the Spanish around 1499. Because of the absence of precious metals, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao were declared islas inutiles (useless islands). In 1515 their inhabitants were deported to Hispaniola to work in the mines. After an unsuccesful effort toward colonization by Juan de Ampíes (1526-1533) the islands were abandoned to their fate. Other Indians later migrated to Aruba, and Spanish priests from the Falcón region of Venezuela undertook to Christianize them.
The Dutch West India Company (WIC) took possession of Aruba in 1636, two years after the conquest of Curaçao. Colonization of the island was forbidden until 1754; the island was used to breed cattle for trade and to supply food for the residents of Curaçao. After the dissolution of the WIC (1792) and the English interregnum (1810-1816), colonization started on a more serious footing. A short-lived trade upheaval and, in 1824, the discovery of gold and the introduction of more liberal regulations of administration favored colonization. Although gold mining and (after 1879) phosphate mining temporarily supported economic growth, the elite were mainly active in commercial agriculture and (illegal) trade with the South American mainland. The Aruban peasantry remained dependant on small-scale agriculture, fishing, and labor migration to the mainland and the Cuban sugar estates. Slavery was marginal; colonists and Indians intermixed and formed the traditional Aruban population. Between 1816 and 1924 the population increased from 1,732 to 9,021.
The arrival of the oil industry in the 1920s resulted in rapid modernization and massive immigration of thousands of industrial laborers, merchants, and civil servants from the Caribbean, Europe, and the Americas. Aruba became a pluralistic society consisting of over forty nationalities. The Eagle Oil Refining Company (a Royal Dutch/Shell affiliate) ceased its activities in 1953. The Lago Oil and Transport Company changed hands several times and became part of the Standard Oil concern (later Exxon) in 1932. Lago began to automate in 1952 and closed its gates in 1985. Since then, tourism, which was first initiated in the 1950s, has strongly expanded, becoming the main source of income and employment. The need for labor resulted in a new wave of migration from the Caribbean, South America, and the Netherlands. In 1988 the Coastal Oil Company was established on the island.
As a relatively wealthy island, Aruba has strived for separation from the former colony of the Netherlands Antilles since 1933. Insular nationalism was and is strengthened by cultural and racial differences with Curaçao. In the 1970s this sense of nationalism resulted in a heightened cultural self-esteem and increased political participation on the part of the traditional Aruban population. In 1986 Aruba became an autonomous entity within the Dutch kingdom. The mass media and tourism are the agents of rapid change in Aruban cultural identity. Growing concern about this issue inclines some Arubans toward cultural conservatism.
The capital, Oranjestad, is situated on the west part of the southern coast. San Nicolas, on the east side of the southern coast, is the second-largest town and the locus of the oil industry. Townships are spread over the rest of the island. The most important villages are Noord (located near the tourism area), Santa Cruz, and Savaneta. The hilly northeastern part and the rocky northern coast are uninhabited. Aruba has a population density of 354.7 (legal) inhabitants per square kilometer.
Subsistence and Tourism. Having scant natural resources of its own, Aruba has relied on oil refining and tourism as its main sources of income throughout the twentieth century. The government, the single largest employer on the island, has a payroll of approximately 5,000 persons. After the closure of the Lago refinery in 1985, the number of hotel rooms was more than doubled; a tripling is under way. The trade and construction sectors have expanded but are strongly dependent on tourism. The unemployment rate rose to nearly twenty percent after the closing of the refinery, but was less than 1 percent in the early 1990s. Of the total employed population of 29,220 persons in 1991, 10,604 worked in hotels, restaurants, and wholesale and retail companies. The construction and manufacturing sectors had 2,975 and 1,717 employees respectively.
The gross domestic product more than doubled between 1987 and 1992. Despite the economic recovery, serious concerns have arisen because of inflation and strains on the labor market, infrastructure, and the natural environment. Furthermore, the worsening competitive position in tourism, possible future claims on government guarantees of stalled hotel projects, and a recession in the United States add to the concern about future economic prospects.
Efforts to attract industry in the 1960s proved largely unsuccesful. After the closure of the Lago refinery in 1985, Coastal Oil Corporation renovated the remains of the old refinery and started operations in 1988. Oil transshipment is handled by Wickland Oil Company. Other industrial efforts are of minor importance. The construction sector, which largely depends on tourism and the need for housing and business offices, is booming.
Trade. Apart from oil refining and transshipment, trade is mainly directed toward tourism and local consumption. A free zone is becoming increasingly important because of revenues related to port charges and services. Some nine offshore companies have been established on Aruba.
Division of Labor. Labor participation of men and women between 20 and 54 is respectively 89.8 and 66.0 percent. All through the economy men possess the more important positions. An important division of labor is based on ethnicity. Naturalized citizens and permanent residents of Lebanese, Madeirean, Chinese, and Jewish descent focus mainly on trade. Post-1985 migrants from the Philippines, Colombia, and Venezuela, whose residency may be temporary, hold the lower positions in tourism. Women from Santo Domingo, Colombia, and Jamaica work as live-in maids with upper- and middle-class families. Young Dutch migrants work mostly in business, especially in bars and restaurants. Civil servants are drawn mostly from traditional Arubans and migrants who arrived during the oil-boom years.
Land Tenure. Since the decline of agriculture after the arrival of the oil industry in the 1920s, land tenure has been most important to the population for the construction of houses. Three types of land tenure occur: regular landed property, hereditary tenure or long lease, and the renting of government grounds. For economic purposes, especialy in the oil and tourism industries, government grounds are given in long, renewable leases of sixty years.
Kin Groups and Descent. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the extended family and the conjugal nuclear-family household were the centers of kinship organization. Traditionally, as a result of patri- or matrilocal settlement, groups of brothers and/or sisters and their spouses lived near each other on family grounds. Marriage between close kin was common. Incest prohibition applied to the primo carnal (bilateral first cousin). Geographical and genealogical propinquity therefore were virtualy synonymous. A shortage of land and urbanization caused a decrease in patri- and matrilocal settlement and the weakening of the traditional type of kinship organization. Descent rules are bilateral.
Kinship Terminology. Kinship terminology parallels that of Catholic canon law. The term yui mayó (oldest child) refers to the eldest offspring's special position as the first successor to the parents. Kinship terminology is also used to address oneself to nonrelatives, the terms ruman (brother), primo (cousin), and swa (brother-in-law) meaning "friend." Ritual kinship focuses around the godparents, the padrino and madrina, who each have clearly defined obligations regarding the godchild's baptism, first holy communion, and marriage.
Marriage and Family
Marriage. Monogamy and legal marriage are the norm, but extramarital and premarital relations are common. Concubinage doubled between 1981 and 1991. Teenage pregnancy is a growing concern. Intraethnic marriages are favored, but the census of 1991 showed that in 1990 and 1991, 45.2 percent of Aruban-born men married foreign spouses and 24.8 percent of Aruban women married non-Arubans. One cause of this is the great number of marriages of convenience ("fake marriages"). By marrying Arubans, foreigners can obtain the much-desired Dutch nationality.
Domestic Unit. The conjugal nuclear family is the most favored domestic unit. Nevertheless, one-person households, extended-family or composite households, and consensual nuclear-family households are socially accepted. The traditional household can be characterized as matricentric. The everyday authority lies with the mother, the ultimate authority with the father. In family affairs, the oldest child (yui mayó), who has special influence in situations of decision making and conflict.
Inheritance. Inheritance, like descent, is bilateral; normally, all children receive a share.
Socialization. Socialization generally takes place within the family and social organizations as well as at school. Within the nuclear family, it is predominantly the mother who takes care of the children. A growing number of children attend day-care centers before going to school. The educational system is based on the Dutch model. At the age of 4, children attend kindergarten, and after age 6 primary school. They enroll in secondary or lower vocational school after age 12. Higher education is provided by a pedagogical institute, and the study of law or economics may be pursued at the University of Aruba. A hotel school is designed after the U.S. system. Many students leave for the Netherlands or the United States to attend institutions of higher education. Adult education is very popular and is provided by Enseñanza pa Empleo (Education for Employment), a development project cofinanced by the Aruban and the Dutch governments and a great number of for-profit institutes.
Social organizations are important loci of socialization and social participation for all age groups and classes. The most important organizations are sports and service clubs, scouting associations, community centers, and religious and professional organizations. Ethnic clubs were extremely important between approximately 1945 and 1970 but have lost their impact on later generations.
Social Organization. Aruba is divided along class, ethnic, and geographical lines, which in part overlap. Although the gap between rich and poor is significant, class lines are loosely defined. Anthropological research has devoted much attention to ethnic relations. Ethnic boundaries are not as rigid as in typical Caribbean plural societies such as those of Suriname or Trinidad but can be seen between (descendants of) traditional Arubans and Afro-Arubans. Trade groups, such as the Chinese and the Portuguese from Madeira, and the traditional elite hold their own position. Recent migration has created new boundaries between newcomers and older ethnic groups. Ethnic and geographical divisions can be seen in labor specialization, patterns of marriage and settlement, choice of language, and political affiliations.
Political Organization. Aruba has been an autonomous part of the Dutch kingdom since 1986. The gouvernor is the local representative of the Dutch monarch and the head of the Aruban government. The kingdom's Council of Ministers consists of the complete Dutch cabinet and two ministers plenipotentiary, one representing Aruba and the other the Netherlands Antilles. It is in charge of joint foreign policy, defense, and justice and the safeguarding of fundamental rights and freedoms. Political autonomy in internal affairs is almost complete. Although it was decided in 1983 that Aruba would become independent and leave the Dutch kingdom in 1996, this is now being changed and Aruba will maintain its autonomous status within the kingdom. Execution of this resolution, however, is contingent on restructuring of the governmental apparatus, enhancing the quality of administration, and reducing public expenditures.
Aruba is a parliamentary democracy with a multiparty system. Elections are held every four years. Since achieving the Status Aparte, government has been dependent on coalitions between one of the two bigger parties and the smaller ones. The biggest parties are the Christian-democratic Arubaanse Volkspartij (People's party of Aruba) and the social-democratic Movimento Electoral di Pueblo (People's Electoral Movement). Democracy functions with a certain degree of patronage and nationalistic rhetoric. Political parties carefully select candidates from different regional and ethnic backgrounds.
National festive days are the Day of the National Anthem and the Flag on 18 March and Queen's Day on 30 April. The first stresses Aruba's political autonomy, the second the partnership with the Dutch kingdom. Aruba's former political leader François Gilberto "Betico" Croes (1938-1986) is commemorated on his birthday, 25 January. Croes is the personification of Aruba's struggle for separation from the Netherlands Antilles. He was seriously injured in a car crash, a few hours before the proclamation of the Status Aparte, on New Year's Eve 1985. He died in November 1986.
Social Control. The small scale of the society allows gossip to be an effective means of social control. Newspapers, of which Aruba has four in Papiamento, two in Dutch, and three in English, also function as such. Legal forms of social control are provided by the juridical system. Aruba has its own legislative powers but shares a Common Court of Justice with the Netherlands Antilles. The Supreme Court is situated in the Netherlands.
Conflict. Most public conflicts on the island arise from political and ethnic differences. Some labor conflict occurs but has virtually never led to serious threats to peace in the workplace or to economic stability. Massive migration and a shortage of adequate housing cause much social tension and resentment. The rise in criminality is often ascribed to the growing number of immigrants. Informants state that the kin group is the most important locus of social interaction but also the biggest source of social conflict.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefs. Catholicism is the prevalent religion on Aruba. In 1991, 85 percent of the population claimed to be Catholic. Church attendance is much lower. The first chapel on Aruba was built in 1750. Protestantism, the religion of the traditional elite, is embraced by less than 3 percent of the population. The Protestant Church of Aruba was founded by Lutherans and Reformed in 1822, who both had been without ministers or churches until then; Lutheran and Reformed communities ceased to exist as separate entities. Although, officially, it has no specific denomination, its present identity can be described as "Calvinistic." Twentieth-century migration led to the appearance of other groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodists, and evangelical sects (one having emigrated from Suriname during the oil-boom years, another originating in the United States), each comprising 2 percent or less of the population; as well as small communities of Anglicans, Adventists, Jews, Muslims, and Confucianists. Nearly 3 percent of the population claims to have no religion. The number of and participation in new religious sects and movements is increasing.
Traditional popular assumptions about the supernatural are called brua. Although the term probably originates from the Spanish word bruja (witch), brua is not to be equated with witchcraft. It includes magic, fortune-telling, healing, and assumptions about both good and evil. Magic is conducted by a hacido di brua (practitioner of brua) and can be applied for both beneficently and maliciously. As a counterpoint to Christian belief, the evil spirit is called spirito malu. Belief in brua is often not confirmed because of the low social esteem attached to it.
Ceremonies. Traditional (semi-) religious ceremonies have a Catholic origin or orientation. On New Year's Eve, best wishes are delivered at homes by small bands singing a serenade called Dandé. Saint John's Day (24 June) is celebrated with bonfires and the ceremony of Dera Gai (the burying of the rooster). Traditionally, a rooster was buried, leaving its head under a calabash above the ground. At present the ceremony is carried out without the rooster. Blindfolded dancers from the audience try to hit the calabash with a stick while a small band plays and sings the traditional song of San Juan. Carnival was introduced on Aruba by Caribbean migrants but has become the preeminent festival of the entire population. Easter Monday is called Black Monday; at present people camp for up to a week at the beach in tents and shacks, but the custom originates from the yearly picnic held by Afro-Caribbean Methodists. Of special importance are the celebrations of an individual's fifteenth, fiftieth, and seventy-fifth birthdays.
Arts. Of the fine arts, music, poetry, singing, theater, dance, painting, and other visual arts are the most important. Aruban artistic production can be divided into two spheres, one noncommercial and the other directed at tourism and local recreation. Numerous artists are active in both. Many noncommercial artists are inspired by Aruba's history, tradition, and natural landscape, reworking these in a modern form. A lack of funds and clear governmental policy results in tension between the commercialization of art for the benefit of tourism and the professionalization of local talent for noncommercial purposes. Aruba hosts an annual jazz and Latin music festival and biennial dance and theater festivals.
Medicine. Most family doctors and specialists have been educated in the Netherlands, the United States, or South America. The Doctor Horacio Oduber Hospital has 350 beds. Traditional healing methods (Papiamento: remedi di tera ) make use of herbs, amulets, and so on, and are practiced by a curadó or curioso (healer), who often also acts as hacido di brua. Some of the methods are legally forbidden. Modern natural healing methods seem to be growing in popularity.
Death and Afterlife. Opinions on death and the afterlife are in accord with Christian doctrine. The traditional wake is called Ocho Dia—"eight days," the duration of the customary mourning period. In a carefully closed room, prayer and singing around a small altar continue for those eight days. The wake is concluded by a ceremony in which close kin and friends participate: at the last evening of mourning, the altar is taken apart, and chairs are turned upside down. The windows are opened to make sure the spirit of the deceased is able to leave the house. The ceremony ends with a meal and storytelling. The wake, which has a medieval Spanish origin, is losing popularity in the course of modernization.
Alofs, Luc, and Leontine Merkies (1990). Ken ta arubiano?: Sociale integratie en natievorming op Aruba (Who is Aruban?: Social integration and nation building on Aruba). Antillen Working Papers, 15. Leiden: Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde, Caraïbische Afdeling.
Eelens, Frank C. H. (1993). The Population of Aruba: A Demographic Profile. Aruba: Central Bureau of Statistics.
Green, Vera (1974). Migrants in Aruba. Assen: Van Gorcum.
Kalm, Florence (1975). The Dispersive and Reintegrating Nature of Population Segments of a Third World Society: Aruba, Netherlands Antilles. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms.
Koulen, Ingrid, and Gert Oostindie, with Peter Verton and Rosemarijn Hoefte (1987). The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba: A Research Guide. Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology, Caribbean Series, no. 7. Dordrecht and Providence, R.I.: Foris Publications.
Phalen, John Harvey (1977). "Kinship, Color, and Ethnicity: Integrative Ideologies in Aruba, Netherlands Antilles." Ph.D. thesis, State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Alofs, Luc. "Arubans." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3458001317.html
Alofs, Luc. "Arubans." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. 1996. Retrieved July 23, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3458001317.html
|Official Country Name:||Aruba|
|Region:||Puerto Rico & Lesser|
|Language(s):||Dutch, Papiamento, English, Spanish|
Aruba, a 74.5 square mile island located in the southern Caribbean Sea, was first inhabited by Arawak Indians and later was discovered by a Spaniard, Alonso de Ojeda. The chain of dates documenting Aruban governmental history includes: 1499, the date of the Spanish discovery; 1636, when the Dutch took control of the island following the 80 Year War between Spain and Holland; 1805 to 1816, when the English took possession during the Napoleonic Wars; 1816, when the Dutch returned to power; 1986, when as a member of the Netherlands Antilles Federation, Aruba petitioned to automatically become a separate entity; and 1990, when Aruba requested cancellation of the agreement to become totally independent and remained a third part of the Dutch realm. Aruba is a parliamentary democracy and is autonomous in internal affairs, but the Kingdom of the Netherlands is responsible for the island's defense and foreign affairs. Oranjestad is Aruba's capital.
Linked to its Dutch heritage, Aruba's educational system is administered by the Aruban Ministry of Education and requires the high standards maintained by educational institutions in the Netherlands. In 2000, approximately 24 percent of the island's budget was designated to fund education, a designation that purportedly resulted in Aruba having one of the highest levels of education in the Caribbean. The literacy rate is 97 percent. Reflecting the island's rich ethnically-diverse history, although public school instruction is in the official Dutch language, lower grades are taught English and Spanish, and upper-grades have additional language offerings including French and German. Further, the local language, Papiamento, is being progressively introduced in the schools. Papiamento is a combination of Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, English, French, African, and Arawak Indian languages.
Education became compulsory in 1999. The Compulsory Education Act requires kindergarten beginning at the age of 4; a 6-year primary education beginning at 6 years of age; and a 5-year period of secondary education beginning at age 12. At the preprimary level, there are 4 public and 19 private kindergartens. During the 1998-1999 school year, there were 2,601 kindergarten students and 98 teachers. At the primary level, there were 5 public and 28 private schools (1998-1999: 8,456 students and 397 teachers), as well as 4 special education schools with a total of 291 students and 54 teachers.
Secondary education levels include nine schools offering a four-year preparatory course to middle level professional education (1998-1999: 2,485 students and 141 teachers); and one private school offering a four-year non-university, higher professional education and a six-year preparatory course to university higher education (1998-1999: 1,628 students and 81 teachers). In addition, one school offers lower level, basic professional, technical and vocational education (1998-1999: 1,968 students and 148 teachers).
Middle level professional education includes: one public school offering a four-year middle technical education (1998-1999: 467 students and 36 teachers); one public school three-year secretarial program (337 students and 26 teachers); and two private schools—the Aruba Hotel School (121 students and 9 teachers) and the Colegio Paso Sigur, a school for human services (151 students and 29 teachers).
Institutions of higher learning include a community college and two universities, The University of Aruba (1998-1999: 214 students and 28 teachers) and The Teachers College (180 students and 25 teachers). The University includes a law school and a school of business administration. English-language education, remediation, and advance-standing admissions for degree programs in a number of fields for are provided in Aruba, the United States, and online. For example, the university offers an online two-year health profession program, and scholarship arrangements for specialized professions are available with the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America. A number of Arubans choose to attend higher education institutions in the Netherlands.
Across time, Aruba's economy has been influenced by the discovery of gold in 1824, the discovery of oil in 1924, and by a blossoming tourist industry. An ever increasing population coupled with the rapidly emerging tourist industry impacted education by making clear the need for training institutes, technical organizations, and special-purpose schools. One such special-purpose school, funded in part by the European Common Market Development Fund, is the Aruba Hotel School, which opened in August 1982. The school provides accredited Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees in Hospitality Management and meets transference criteria for many institutions of higher learning in the United States and the Netherlands.
Other educational institutions include the International School of Aruba, which provides instruction in English for students pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The school follows a general academic, college preparatory, U.S. public school curriculum, and it is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The institution is incorporated in Aruba and is non-profit, with about 95 percent of the 1999-2000 school year being funded by student tuition. Major contributors to the school include the Coastal Refinery of Houston, Texas, and the PTA. During the 1999-2000 school year, there were 164 students and 26 faculty members.
During the 1990s and into the 2000s, Aruba's Minister of Education and Labor, Mary Wever-Lacle, was instrumental in bringing modern technology into the island's education system, providing classroom computers and distance learning opportunities. These and other initiatives designed to enhance education by meeting the challenges of modern technology continue to reflect the high academic and practical standards of excellence required in Aruba.
ABC Country Book of Aruba, 2000. Available from www.theodora.com/wfb/aruba_government.
"Aruba Education." Changes in L'attitudes, Inc., February 2001. Available from www.aruba-tours.com/info/education.
Aruba Fast Facts. "Education," 2000. Available from www.bestvaluetimeshares.com/arubafacts.
Aruba Hotel School. Educacion Profesional Intermedio, March 2001. Available from aruba4you.com/aruba_hotel_school.
"Aruba History." Changes in L'attitudes, Inc., February 2001. Available from www.aruba-tours,com/info/history.
"Aruba Language." Changes in L'attitudes, Inc., February 2001. Available from www.arubatours.com/info/language.
"Aruba: Ministry of Education and Labor." Washington Times, March 1999. Available from http://www.washtimes.com/internatlads/aruba/10.
Brender, Karen W., and Elise Rosen. Foder's Pocket Aruba. Fodor's Travel Publications, November 2000.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.
Europa World Year Book, 41st Ed. "Netherlands Dependencies: Aruba," 2000.
Global Investment Center. "Aruba: A Country Study." In World Country Study Guides: Business & Investment Opportunities, Vol. 199. Washington, DC: International Business Publications, May 2000.
International School of Aruba, 2000. Available from www.state.gov/www/about_state/schools/oaruba.
Schoenhlas, Kai (Compiler). "Netherlands Antilles & Aruba." World Bibliographical Series, Vol. 168. California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1994.
—Duffy Austin Wilks
Wilks, Duffy Austin. "Aruba." World Education Encyclopedia. 2001. Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3409700020.html
Wilks, Duffy Austin. "Aruba." World Education Encyclopedia. 2001. Retrieved July 23, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3409700020.html
|Official Country Name:||Aruba|
|Region (Map name):||Caribbean|
|Language(s):||Dutch, Papiamento, English, Spanish|
Located off the coast of Venezuela, the Caribbean island of Aruba is an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, it seceded in 1986 and began moving toward full independence—a move it chose to halt in 1990. The population is estimated at 70,000 with a 97 percent literacy rate. The official language is Dutch, but Spanish, English, Portugese and Papiamento, a derivation of Spanish, are also spoken. The government is based on Dutch traditions. The Dutch monarch selects the Governor; the Prime Minister is appointed by the Staten, who in turn are elected by a popular vote. Tourism is by far the largest source of revenue for Arubans, followed by oil and gold.
Freedom of the press, as guaranteed under Dutch law, is observed in Aruba. Aruba has five major newspapers. The Corant newspaper publishes in Papiamento, as do the more widely read daily newspapers, Diario Aruba and Bon Dia Aruba, which is also published online. The News and Aruba Today both appear in English—Aruba Today is published by the same company that producesBon Dia.
There are no Dutch-language newspapers published on the island, but three titles that originate from the neighboring island of Curacao, in the Antilles, distribute in Aruba and dedicate special sections and reporters to its news and events. The most widely read of these newspapers are Amigoe, a daily print and online newspaper that debuted in 1884, Algemeen Dagblad, a daily, and DeCuracaosche Courant, a weekly.
Four AM and six FM stations broadcast to approximately 50,000 radios. One television station reaches approximately 20,000 televisions. Aruba's only Internet service provider is Setar, the government-operated telephone company.
Amigoe, 2002 Home Page. Available from http://www.amigoe.com.
"Aruba." Aruba On-line 2001. Available from http://www.arubatourism.com.
"Aruba." CIA World Fact Book 2001. Available from http://www.cia.gov.
"Aruba." KrantNet, 2002. Available from http://www.krantnet.f2s.com.
Bon Dia, 2002 Home Page. Available from http://www.bondia.com.
Diario Aruba, 2002 Home Page. Available from http://www.diarioaruba.com.
Jenny B. Davis
Davis, Jenny B.. "Aruba." World Press Encyclopedia. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3409900020.html
Davis, Jenny B.. "Aruba." World Press Encyclopedia. 2003. Retrieved July 23, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3409900020.html
Aruba (ərōō´bə), island, autonomous part of the Netherlands (2005 est. pop. 71,600), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), in the Lesser Antilles off the coast of Venezuela. Oranjestad is the capital and main port. The population is largely of mixed European and indigenous Caribbean descent. Roman Catholics make up more than 80% of the island's population. Dutch is the official language, but many Arubans also speak Papiamento (a Spanish-based creole with Portuguese, Dutch, and English elements) and English. Tourism, oil refining, and offshore banking are the economic mainstays of the island, although Aruba's refinery has been closed for extended periods since the mid-1980s. The reigning monarch of the Netherlands, the titular head of state, is represented by a governor-general. Aruba's government is led by a prime minister; its unicameral 21-seat legislature is popularly elected. The Spanish claimed Aruba in 1499. It fell to the Dutch in 1636 and since then, with the exception of a few years during the Napoleonic Wars, it has belonged to the Netherlands. Aruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles until 1986 and is still linked with them economically.
"Aruba." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Aruba.html
"Aruba." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Aruba.html
Identification. Aruba is a multicultural island society, with Caribbean and Latin American features.
Location and Geography. Aruba is the most southwestern island of the Caribbean archipelago, located 20 miles (32 kilometers) off the Venezuelan coast. With Curaçao and Bonaire, it forms the Dutch Leeward Islands. Aruba's area is 70 square miles (180 square kilometers). The climate is tropical, with an average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). Yearly rainfall usually does not exceed 20 inches (500 mm). Aruba lays outside the Caribbean hurricane belt.
Demography. Aruba's population was 93,424 in 1998, as compared to 59,995 in 1987. That growth is attributed mostly to immigration. Not included are an estimated 5,000 illegal aliens. The proportion of foreign-born inhabitants has risen from 18.5 percent in 1981 to 28 percent in 1994. Life expectancy is 71.1 years for men and 77.1 years for women. The population density is 200 legal inhabitants per square mile.
Linguistic Affiliation. The traditional language is Papiamento (Talk), a Creole language that is also spoken on Curaçao and Bonaire. The origins of Papiamento are much debated. According to the more popular monogenistic theory Papiamento, like other Creole languages from the Caribbean, originates from one single Afro-Portuguese proto-Creole, which developed as a lingua franca in Western Africa in the days of the slave trade. The polygenetic theory maintains that Papiamento developed on Curaçao with a Spanish base. Aruban Papiamento has a stronger Spanish influence compared to that spoken on Curaçao and Bonaire.
Owing to 360 years of colonial domination, Dutch is the official language in education and public affairs. The oil industry, tourism, and subsequent migration brought English and Spanish to the island and those are the second and third most spoken languages. Most residents are multilingual.
Symbolism. Papiamento and the national flag, anthem, and coat of arms are the most important national symbols. They stress the inhabitants love for the island, the close connection to the Caribbean Sea, and the multi-cultural composition of the population. The national anthem is played and sung on many occasions. The Dutch flag functions as a symbol of the unity of Aruba, the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Antilles.
History and Ethnic Relations
Emergence of the Nation. Indian populations inhabited Aruba prior to the European discovery. Between 2000 b.c.e. and approximately 850 b.c.e., the island was populated by preceramic Indians. Around 850 b.c.e., Caquetio Arowaks from western Venezuela migrated to Aruba, introducing pottery and agriculture.
The Spanish discovered Aruba in or around 1499. Because of the absence of precious metals Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao were declared Islas Inutiles (Useless Islands). In 1515 their inhabitants were deported to Hispaniola to work in the mines. After an unsuccessful colonization effort by Juan de Ampíes (1526–c. 1533), the island was used for cattle breeding and wood cutting. Small numbers of Indians from the mainland migrated to Aruba. Spanish priests from Venezuela attempted to Christianize them.
The Dutch West India Company (WIC) took possession of Aruba in 1636, two years after the Dutch conquest of Curaçao. Indians from the mainland continued to migrate. Colonization of the island was forbidden until 1754. In 1767, the colony consisted of one hundred twenty households, twelve of which were in the employ of the WIC. Another one hundred were Indian households. After the dissolution of the WIC (1792) and two English interregnums (1801–1803 and 1806–1816), serious colonization started. The elite was mainly active in commercial agriculture and illegal trade with South America. Peasants remained dependant on small scale agriculture, fishing, and labor migration within the region. Slaves never exceeded 21 percent of the population (1849). Slavery was abolished in 1863, when 496 slaves obtained freedom. In the absence of a plantation economy a peasant culture emerged. Colonists, Indians, and blacks intermixed forming the traditional Mestizo-Creole population.
The oil industry arrived in the 1920s and brought rapid modernization and immigration of industrial laborers, merchants, and civil servants from the Caribbean, Europe, the Americas, and China. Aruba became a pluralistic society of over forty nationalities. Afro-Caribbean migrants surpassed the traditional population in economic position and cultural esteem. The position of the traditional elite as commercial entrepreneurs was taken over by Lebanese, Jewish, and Chinese migrants and foreign trade companies.
The Eagle Oil Refining Company (a Royal Dutch/Shell affiliate) ceased its activities in 1953. A major economic setback occurred when the last major international oil company, Lago (owned by EXXON), went out of business in 1985. Tourism, which was first initiated in the 1950s, strongly expanded and became the main economic pillar. The need for labor resulted in a new wave of immigration from the Americas, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and the Netherlands.
Aruba has been part of the Dutch Empire since 1636. Between 1845 and 1954 Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, and the windward islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and the Dutch part of Sint Maarten formed the colony of Curaçao and dependencies. As a relatively wealthy island, Aruba worked to separate itself from the colony since 1933. Insular nationalism was strengthened by cultural and racial differences with Curaçao. In 1954, the Netherlands Antilles were granted autonomy within the Dutch kingdom. After a rebellion on Curaçao in 1969, the Netherlands pressed for formal independence of the six Antillean Islands. Out of fear of becoming decolonized as a part of the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba opted for separate status. Despite unwillingness on the part of Curaçao and the Netherlands, Aruba became an autonomous part of the Dutch kingdom in 1986. The decision that Aruba would become fully independent in 1996 was revoked; Aruba remains autonomous within the Dutch kingdom.
National Identity. Papiamento is the most important marker of Aruban identity. Cultural and historical differences with Curaçao are stressed in the island's national identity. Identification with Dutch culture is weak, while Aruba's unique Indian history and cultural heritage are accentuated. The rural life of the mestizo population during the nineteenth century is an additional source of identity. Mass media, tourism, and massive immigration are agents of rapid change in cultural reality. Some citizens are cultural conservatives because of growing concern about this rapid change.
Ethnic Relations. Ethnic tensions focus around the immigrants who came to Aruba since 1988. A division exists between the immigrants from the Netherlands, the United States, and India and the unskilled or semi-skilled laborers from South America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. The former hold better positions in tourism, trade, and banking, and also work in the government or the educational system. Some eight thousand South American, Caribbean, and Filipino immigrants are employed in lower-level positions in tourism, trade, and the construction sector. Women from Santo Domingo, Colombia, Haiti, and Jamaica work as live-in domestics for upper- and middle class families.
Political participation of non-Dutch immigrants is absent. Participation in trade unions is limited. Ethnic pressure groups do not exist, although internal informal ties are strong. Participation of immigrants in social, cultural, and political life is stagnating. In local newspapers and on radio stations the tensions between lower class Arubians and Latin American migrants are often expressed. The rise in crime is often unjustifiably ascribed to immigrants. The tourism sector and the educational system are the most important areas of social interaction and integration.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space
Aruba's capital, Oranjestad, is on the southwestern coast. It is the seat of the government and has a growing number of hotels. Cruise ships, shopping malls, and tourists dominate the street scene. A small fort called Fort Zoutman (1798) is Aruba's oldest building and is situated near the harbor of Oranjestad. Interesting monuments in Oranjestad are private homes from the 1920s and 1930s. The National Monument Office promotes the preservation of the 300 registered monuments. Thanks to public and private initiatives, several of these have been restored and relocated. San Nicolas, on the east side of the island, is the second largest town and the industrial center. Its industrial and private buildings date from the 1940s and 1950s. Plans for preservation and restoration are hampered by a lack of funds and political priority. The west and southwest shore form the tourism area. Luxurious hotels are built along the white beaches. Townships are spread over the island. Most important are Noord, Santa Cruz, and Savaneta. In Oranjestad and the townships many unique small colonial peasant houses—socalled "cunucu-houses"—were restored and modernized by their owners. Traditional elements, such as the saddle roof, are frequently incorporated in modern architecture.
Population growth has led to the building of many new residential areas. The lack of town and country planning threatens the balance between urbanization and the preservation of rural and natural landscapes. The hilly northeastern part of the island is the National Park, Ari Kok, which is allocated for preservation and eco-tourism.
Food and Economy
Food in Daily Life. In the traditional menu maize dishes ( funchi, pan bati ), goat meat, fish, and stoba —stewpots of local vegetables (peas, beans) dominate. Nowadays, rice, chicken, beef, and fish are eaten most. The number one snack is the pastechi, a small pie filled with cheese or beef. International food chains and Chinese, Italian, and other ethnic restaurants have gained popularity. Most food products are imported.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Food is an important ingredient at most secular celebrations. At children's parties a piñata filled with sweets hangs on the ceiling. Blindfolded, the children try to hit the piñata with a stick. Bolo pretu (black cake) is offered at special occasions.
Basic Economy. Having scant natural resources of its own, Aruba has relied on oil refining and tourism as its main sources of income throughout the twentieth century. After the last major refinery close in 1985, government revenues and the standard of living declined 30 percent. Reconstruction of public finances and the expansion of the tourism sector resulted in economic recovery. The number of hotel rooms and time-shares tripled between 1986 and 1999.
Other sectors of the economy boomed after 1988, when unemployment disappeared. The gross domestic product (GDP) doubled between 1987 and 1992. Despite the economic recovery, serious concerns arose because of inflation and strains on the labor market, infrastructure, and the environment. Since about 1995 economic growth has stabilized. The establishment of Coastal Oil in 1988 and the expansion of free zone activities serve to diversify the vulnerable tourist-based economy. Government, hotels and restaurants, construction, transportation, real estate, and business are the nation's major employers.
Land Tenure and Property. The government owns approximately two-thirds of the island. Since the decline of agriculture after the arrival of the oil industry, land tenure has been important mostly for the construction of houses. Three types of land tenure occur: regular landed property; hereditary tenure or long lease; and the renting of government grounds. For economic purposes, especially in the oil industry and tourism, government grounds are rented in renewable leases of sixty years.
Commercial Activities. Commercial activities are concentrated in tourism and the oil industry. A small number of offshore companies specializing in banking, insurance, and investment are established on the island.
Major Industries. Coastal Oil Corporate renovated the remains of the old Lago refinery and started operations in 1988. Wickland Oil Company handles oil transshipment. Small industries, such as breweries and bottling companies, are established in Oranjestad and near the Barcadera free zone area. Production is for local consumption and export.
Trade. Like commerce, trade is mainly directed towards tourism and local consumption. The United States is Aruba's largest trade partner. The free zone is becoming increasingly important because of revenues related to port charges and services.
Division of Labor. An important division of labor is based on ethnicity. Civil servants are drawn mostly from traditional Arubians and immigrants who arrived between 1924 and 1948, during the oil-boom years. In tourism these groups hold middle- and upper-management positions. Naturalized citizens and permanent residents of Lebanese, Madeirean, Chinese, and Jewish descent focus mainly on trade. Newly arrived Chinese immigrants have opened restaurants and supermarkets all over the island. Recent immigration includes Filipinos, Colombians, and Venezuelans, who hold lower-level positions in tourism and house keeping.
Classes and Castes. Aruba is divided along class, ethnic, and geographical lines, which to a large degree overlap. Although socio-economic inequality is significant, class lines are loosely defined. The upper class consists of traditional elite and Lebanese, Chinese, and Jewish minorities. Economic recovery after 1988 increased upward economic mobility for the middle class, whose spending has increased. Lower class Arubians and recent immigrants from South America and the Philippines form the lower social classes.
Symbols of Social Stratification. Social stratification is evident in consumption patterns. Conspicuous consumption is obvious for the upper class. Aruba's middle class has upper class consumptive aspirations. Arubians consider private ownership of houses extremely important. Residential patterns also reveal aspects of social stratification. Oranjestad west and Malmok are the residential areas of the upper class. Oranjestad east and San Nicolas are the poorest districts.
Government. Aruba has been an autonomous part of the Dutch kingdom since 1986. The governor of Aruba is the head of the Aruban government and the local representative of the Dutch monarch. The Netherlands' Council of Ministers consists of the Dutch cabinet and two ministers plenipotentiary, one representing Aruba and the other the Netherlands Antilles. The council is in charge of joint foreign policy, defense and justice, and the safeguarding of fundamental rights and freedom.
Leadership and Political Officials. Aruba is a parliamentary democracy with a multiparty system. Elections are held every four years. Since achieving the Status Aparte, the government has been dependent on coalitions between one of the two bigger parties and the smaller parties. The biggest parties are the Christian-democratic Arubaanse Volkspartij (Peoples Party of Aruba) and the social-democratic Movimiento Electoral di Pueblo (Peoples Electoral Movement). Democracy functions with a certain degree of patronage and nationalistic rhetoric. Political parties usually have one powerful leader who carefully selects candidates from different socio-economic, regional, and ethnic backgrounds.
Social Problems and Control. Some labor conflicts occur, but these have never led to serious threats to peace in the work place or to economic instability. An increase in petty crime is a concern to many citizens. Serious crimes are rare although armed robbery has increased during the last five years. Alcohol and drug abuse are serious concerns. Drug addicts, chollers, are resented. Local social control is provided by the juridical system. Aruba has its own legal powers but shares a Common Court of Justice with the Netherlands Antilles. The Supreme Court is situated in the Netherlands.
Military Activity. There has been no military activity on or near the island since 1942, when a German submarine attacked the Lago and Eagle oil refineries. Part of the Dutch Forces Caribbean is in Savaneta where approximately 270 Dutch and Aruban marines are stationed. Their primary task is to protect the island and its territorial waters. The Coast Guard of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba started operations in 1995 to protect the islands and territorial waters from drug trafficking. In 1999 a division of the Maritime Interdiction Division of the United States Customs Service started surveying international waters for drug trafficking.
Social Welfare and Change Programs
Unemployment compensation is available for all persons born in Aruba. Free legal assistance is provided to those who are insolvent and registered. There is an increase in programs concerning child abuse, teenage pregnancy, school drop outs, marital violence, and drug abuse.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations
UNOCA (Union di Organisacionnan Arubano— Union of Aruban Cultural Organizations) is a nongovernmental board, which advises the minister of culture on the allocation of subsidies for cultural and scientific projects. CEDE-Aruba (Centro pa Desaroyo Social di Aruba—Center for Social Development of Aruba) is a more autonomous NGO that allocates funds to social and educational projects. UNOCA and CEDE-Aruba are funded by the Dutch development aid program. A large number of welfare organizations focus on different topics, varying from the quality of day care centers to the care of the elderly. The government supports many of these with personnel and/or project subsidies.
Service clubs such as Lions, Rotary, and Jaycees have become more influential in recent years. They support welfare institutions with gifts and other forms of aid. Aruba has about ten environmental organizations. Some focus on educational activities, others act as pressure groups.
Gender Roles and Statuses
Division of Labor by Gender. The number of women in the labor market has increased enormously. Participation between 20 and 50 years of age varied between 60.3 and 74.4 percent in 1994, as compared to 31.6 and 59.8 percent in 1981. Unemployment for women is higher than for men. Women tend to leave the labor force at an earlier age than men do. Women outnumber men in service and sales positions. The minimum wage for men and women is the same. Discriminatory rules, which hampered female participation in the civil service, have been removed. Nevertheless, men continue to hold the more important positions.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Gender-oriented groups work for the re-evaluation of the existing position and role of women within the family and society. A feminist movement, which strives for a fundamental reconstruction of gender categories and roles, does not have a strong voice or a large following.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Monogamy and legal marriage are the norm, but extramarital and premarital relations are common. Fifty-nine of every one hundred marriages end in divorce. In 1998, 42.2 percent of live births were illegitimate. Intra-ethnic marriages are most common, but far from exclusive. In 1990 and 1991 45.2 percent of Aruban-born men and 24.8 percent of Aruban women married non-Arubians. One cause of this is that by marrying Arubians, foreigners can obtain much-desired Dutch nationality.
Domestic Unit. The conjugal nuclear family is the most common domestic unit, but many other types are also common. The traditional household is matricentric.
Inheritance. Normally all children share in the inheritance.
Kin Groups. Until the beginning of the twentieth century the extended family and the conjugal nuclear-family household were the centers of kinship organization. As a result of patri- or matrilocal settlement, groups of brothers and/or sisters with their spouses lived near to each other on family grounds. Although a shortage of land and urbanization has caused a decrease of patri-and matrilocal settlement and the weakening of the traditional type of kinship organization, the kin group remains the most important locus of social interaction.
Infant Care. Within the nuclear family the mother predominantly takes care of infants.
Child Rearing and Education. Socialization takes place mainly within the family and at school. As a consequence of the growing number of divorces and women's participation in the labor market, the nuclear family is weakening. A growing number of children are attending day care centers before entering the educational system. After-school care is taken up by private enterprise and the government supported project Tra'i Merdia (afternoon). Education is based on the Dutch system. At the age of four children attend kindergarten and after age six they attend primary school. After age twelve they enroll in secondary or vocational schools. After secondary education many students leave for Holland for further studies. In 1988 a large-scale renovation project of the educational system at all levels was initiated and was directed at modernizing and Arubanizing the Dutch oriented system.
Higher Education. The Aruban Teacher Training College provides higher education. The University of Aruba has departments of law and business administration. Adult education is provided by Enseñanza pa Empleo (Education for Employment).
Etiquette, ceremony, and protocol are enjoying growing popularity for many occasions. Aruban etiquette is basically a variation of the classical European formal tradition, with a Latin American couleur locale.
Religious Beliefs. Eighty-six percent of the population is Roman Catholic but church attendance is much lower. Dutch Reformed-Lutheran Protestantism, the religion of the traditional elite, is embraced by less than 3 percent of the population. Twentieth century migration led to the appearance of smaller groups such as Methodists, Anglicans, Evangelists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Muslims, and Confucianists. The number of and participation in religious sects and movements are increasing.
Religious Practitioners. Traditional popular assumptions about the supernatural are called brua. Although the term originates from the Spanish word bruja (witch), brua is not equated with witchcraft. It includes magic, fortune telling, healing, and assumptions about both good and evil. Magic is conducted by a hacido di brua (practitioner of brua) and can be applied both beneficently and maliciously. Belief in brua often is not confirmed because of the low social esteem attached to it.
Rituals and Holy Places. Aruba has eight Catholic parishes and churches and a growing number of chapels. The chapel of Alto Vista (founded in 1750) is the most famous. The Dutch Reformed-Lutheran community has three churches; other Protestant denominations also have places of worship. The Jewish community (ashkenazim) has a synagogue in Oranjestad. Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish cemeteries are located in Oranjestad. A small cemetery of the free masonry is located next to these. Public cemeteries are located in San Nicolas and Sabana Basora, in the center of the island.
Death and Afterlife. Opinions on death and the afterlife are in accord with Christian doctrine. The traditional wake, called Ocho Dia (eight days), is the duration of the customary mourning period, in which close kin and friends participate. On the last evening of mourning the altar is taken apart, and chairs are turned upside down. Windows are opened to make sure the spirit of the deceased is able to leave the house. The wake, which has a medieval Spanish origin, is losing popularity.
Medicine and Health Care
The Doctor Horacio Oduber Hospital has 305 beds. San Nicolas has a public medical center. The number of private medical centers is increasing. Aruba has three geriatric homes. The introduction of general health insurance has met with many practical and political difficulties. Traditional healing methods (remedi di tera ) make use of herbs and amulets, and are practiced by a healer (curado or curioso ) who sometimes acts also as practitioner of brua. Modern natural healing methods are growing in popularity.
Traditional ceremonies typically have a Catholic origin or orientation. On New Year's Eve, best wishes are delivered at homes by small bands singing a serenade called Dande. Saint John's Day (24 June) is celebrated with traditional bonfires and the ceremony of Dera Gai (the burying of the rooster). Traditionally, a rooster was buried with its head under a calabash above the ground. At present the ceremony is carried out without the rooster. While a small band is playing and singing the traditional song of San Juan, blindfolded dancers from the audience try to hit the calabash with a stick. Of special importance are the celebrations of the 15th, 50th and 75th birthdays. Carnival was introduced on Aruba in the 1930s by Caribbean immigrants, and has become the most popular festival for the entire population.
National festive days are the Day of the National Anthem and the Flag on 18 March and Queen's Day on 30 April. The former stresses Aruba's political autonomy, while the latter celebrates the partnership with the Dutch kingdom. Aruba's former political leader, Francois Gilberto 'Betico' Croes (1938-1986), is commemorated on his birthday, 25 January. Croes is the personification of Aruba's struggle for separation from the Netherlands Antilles. Croes was seriously injured in a car crash a few hours before the proclamation of the Status Aparte on New Year's Eve 1985. He died in November 1986.
International Labor Day is celebrated on 1 May. Many occupational and service organizations groups have their own festive days.
The Arts and Humanities
Support for the Arts. Aruban art life can be divided into two spheres: a commercial one and one directed at tourism and local recreation. Numerous artists are active in both. A lack of funds and clear governmental policy results in a tension between the commercialization of art for the benefit of tourism and the professionalization of local talent for non-commercial purposes. Expositions are mostly held in banks and ateliers. Plans to start a national arts museum are under discussion.
There has been a strong development and a growing popularity of different disciplines and styles since approximately 1986. Aruba's history, tradition, and natural landscape inspire many artists, who interpret in a modern, universal form. In recent years a number of artists have worked from a more individualistic perspective. Training abroad, workshops and interchange with foreign artists residing on Aruba, and participation in expositions abroad keeps the art community from isolation.
Literature. Literature focuses on poetry and youth literature. In the 1980s interesting novels, plays, and poetry by Aruban writers were published by the publishing house Charuba. At present little literary work of quality is being published. Most authors publish their own work. Efforts to revive Charuba have not yet been successful.
Graphic Arts. The Aruban landscape is a source of inspiration to many professional and leisure painters. Portrait painting is not very widespread. The popularity of both traditional sculpture as well as interdisciplinary three-dimensional graphic arts is rising. Following the economic recovery the number of graphic arts studios has increased since 1988. Most studio artists work as commercial designers. As an art form, graphics is still unrecognized.
Performance Arts. Aruba has several theater groups, of which Mascaruba is the oldest and most popular. The Foundation Arte pro Arte (FARPA, Art for the Arts) promotes local cultural and artistic projects, especially theatre. The Aruba Dance Foundation organizes international festivals and workshops. Several dance and/or ballet schools focus on youth. A theater, Cas di Cultura, is situated in Oranjestad. Aruba hosts biannual international dance and theater festivals. Musicians make a living by playing in the tourist sector and for local audiences. A new generation of Aruban musicians combines traditional Aruban and Caribbean musical styles, with modern influences of hip-hop and reggae. The celebration of Carnival is the high point of the year. The Aruban School of Music offers instrumental music courses. A large number of choirs exist on the island.
The State of the Physical and Social Sciences
Archeological research is carried out by the Aruba Archeological Museum under cooperation with the Dutch University of Leiden. The National Historical Archives and the Cultural Institute undertake some historical and cultural research, but scientific research leans heavily on private and foreign initiative. FUNDINI (Fundacion pa Investigacion y Informavcion—Foundation for Information and Investigation) is a foundation for the promotion of social scientific research and information.
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