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Arubans

Arubans

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")


Orientation

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.


Settlements

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.

Economy

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.

Kinship

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.


Sociopolitical Organization

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.


Bibliography

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.


LUC ALOFS

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Aruba

Aruba

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Aruba
Region: Puerto Rico & Lesser
  Antilles
Population: 69,539
Language(s): Dutch, Papiamento, English, Spanish
Literacy Rate: 97%


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 schoolsthe 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.

Bibliography

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

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Aruba

Aruba

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Aruba
Region (Map name): Caribbean
Population: 69,539
Language(s): Dutch, Papiamento, English, Spanish
Literacy rate: 97%

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 independencea 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 EnglishAruba 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.

Bibliography

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

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Aruba

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.

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Aruba

Aruba

Culture Name

Aruban

Orientation

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 (1526c. 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 (18011803 and 18061816), 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 housessocalled "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.

Social Stratification

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.

Political Life

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 ArubaCenter 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.

Socialization

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

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.

Religion

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.

Secular Celebrations

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 InformavcionFoundation for Information and Investigation) is a foundation for the promotion of social scientific research and information.

Bibliography

Alofs, Luc. Indian Aruba: An Anthropological Perspective, 2001.

and Leontine Merkies. Ken ta Arubiano?: Sociale integratie en natievorming op Aruba, 2nd ed., 2001.

DeHaan, T. J. Antilliaanse Instituties: De Economische Ontwikkelingen van de Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba, 19691995, 1998.

Green, Vera. Migrants in Aruba 1974.

Hartog, J. Arbua, zoals het was, zoals het werd: van de tijd der indianen tot heden, 1980.

Labor Force Survey 1994, 1995.

Lampe, A., ed. The Future Status of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, 1994.

Oostindie, G. and P. Verton. "ki Sorto di Reino/What Kind of Kingdom? Antillean and Aruban Views and Expectations on the Kingdom of the Netherlands." West Indian Guide 72 (1 and 2): 4375, 1998.

Versteeg, Aad. H. and Stephen Rostain, eds. The Archaeology of Aruba: The Tanki Flip Site, 1997.

and Arminda C. Ruiz. Reconstructing the Brasilwood Island: the archaeology and the landscape of Indian Aruba, 1995.

Luc Alofs

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Aruba

Aruba Dutch island in the Caribbean, off the coast of nw Venezuela; the capital is Oranjestad. It was part of the Netherlands Antilles until 1986, when it broke away as a step to full independence. This was revoked in 1990, at Aruba's request, and it is now an autonomous part of the Netherlands. Industries: oil refining, phosphates, tourism. Area: 193sq km (75sq mi). Pop. (2000) 58,000.

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Aruba

Arubaabba, blabber, dabber, grabber, jabber, stabber, yabber •Alba, Galbaamber, camber, caramba, clamber, Cochabamba, gamba, mamba, Maramba, samba, timbre •Annaba, arbor, arbour, barber, Barbour, harbour (US harbor), indaba, Kaaba, Lualaba, Pearl Harbor, Saba, Sabah, Shaba •sambar, sambhar •rebbe, Weber •Elba •Bemba, December, ember, member, November, Pemba, September •belabour (US belabor), caber, labour (US labor), neighbour (US neighbor), sabre (US saber), tabor •chamber • bedchamber •antechamber •amoeba (US ameba), Bathsheba, Bourguiba, Geber, Sheba, zariba •cribber, dibber, fibber, gibber, jibba, jibber, libber, ribber •Wilbur •limber, marimba, timber •winebibber •calibre (US caliber), Excalibur •briber, fibre (US fiber), scriber, subscriber, Tiber, transcriber •clobber, cobber, jobber, mobber, robber, slobber •ombre, sombre (US somber) •carnauba, catawba, dauber, Micawber •jojoba, Manitoba, October, sober •Aruba, Cuba, Nuba, scuba, tuba, tuber •Drouzhba • Toowoomba • Yoruba •Hecuba

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Aruba

Aruba

PROFILE
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-ARUBA RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the December 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Aruba

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 180 sq. km. (112 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Oranjestad (pop. 60,000, 2003).

Terrain: Flat with a few hills; scant vegetation.

Climate: Subtropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Aruban(s).

Population: (2006) 103,484.

Annual growth rate: 2.2%.

Ethnic groups: Mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%.

Religions: 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.

Education: Literacy—97%.

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 6.9% (2005).

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Independence: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Government 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.

Political subdivisions: Aruba is divided into eight regions—Noord/ Tank Leendert, Oranjestad (west), Oranjestad (east), Paradera, Santa Cruz, Savaneta, Sint Nicolaas (north), and Sint Nicolaas (south).

Political parties: People's Electoral Movement (MEP), Aruba People's Party (AVP), Network (RED), Aruba Patriotic Movement (MPA), Real Democracy (PDR), Aruba Liberal Organization (OLA), Aruba Patriotic Party (PPA), Aruba Democratic Alliance (ALIANSA), Socialist Movement of Aruba (MSA).

Suffrage: Universal at 18 years.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $2.26 billion.

Growth rate: (2005) 2.4%.

Per capita GDP: (2006) $23,426.

Natural resources: Beaches. Tourism/services and oil refining are dominant factors in GDP.

Trade: Exports—$2.61 billion (f.o.b., including oil re-exports & free zone, 2006) oil products, live animals and animal products, art and collectibles, machinery and electrical equipment, transport equipment. Major markets—U.S. (43.61%), Venezuela (5.9%), Netherlands Antilles (16.67%), Netherlands (9.60%). Imports—$2.84 billion: crude petroleum, food, manufactures. Major suppliers—U.S. (57.50%), Netherlands (11.79%), Netherlands Antilles (3.32%).

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 Caribbean.

GOVERNMENT

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 legislature, or Staten, 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, mainly 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

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Governor: Fredis REFENJOL

Prime Minister: Nelson ODUBER

Min. of Education: Fredis REFENJOL

Min. of Finance & Economic Affairs: Nilo SWAEN

Min. of General Affairs & Utilities: Nelson ODUBER

Min. of Justice: Rudy CROES

Min. of Public Health: Booshi WEVER

Min. of Public Works: Marisol TROMP

Min. of Sports, Culture, & Labor: Ramon LEE

Min. of Tourism & Transportation: Eddy BRIESEN

Attorney General: Ruud ROSINGH

Pres., Central Bank: A.R. CARAM

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In the parliamentary elections of September 23, 2005, the People's Electoral Movement (MEP) gained 11 of the 21 seats available. Voter turnout had been 85%. MEP had also won the previous September 2001 elections with 12 seats, forming Aruba's first one-party government. Despite losing one seat in the 2005 elections, the party retained a slim majority in Parliament. MEP’ biggest rival, the Aruba People's Party (AVP) obtained 8 seats and remained the largest opposition party on the island.

ECONOMY

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. Approximately 1.3 million tourists per year visit Aruba, with 75% of those from the United States. The sizes of the agriculture and manufacturing industries remain minimal.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

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.

U.S.-ARUBA RELATIONS

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

CURACAO (CG) J.B. Gorsiraweg #1, 599-9-461-3066, Fax 599-9-461-6489, INMARSAT Tel 00-874-383-133-190, Workweek: M-F 8AM-5 PM AST, Website: http://www.amcongencuracao.an.

CM:Timothy J. Dunn
CON/POL ECO:William J. Furnish Jr..
MGT:Donald J. Feeney
CG:Timothy J. Dunn
PAO:William J. Furnish, Jr..
RSO:Timothy Dumas
DEA:Michael Rzepczynski
EEO:Ricardo Cabrera
FMO:Robert Hively
IMO:Joe X. Smith
ISSO:William J. Furnish Jr..

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

May 3, 2007

Country Description: Aruba is an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Tourist facilities are widely available.

Entry Requirements: For information, travelers may contact the Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue, NW., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300, or the Dutch Consulate in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Houston or Miami. Visit the web site for the Embassy of the Netherlands at http://www.netherlands-embassy.org and the Aruban Department of Immigration http://www.aruba.com/pages/entryrequirements.htm for the most current visa information.

Sea travelers must have a valid U.S. passport (or other original proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified U.S. birth certificate with a government-issued photo ID). While a U.S. passport is not mandatory for sea travel, it is recommended since it is a more readily recognized form of positive proof of citizenship. The U.S. Consulate General recommends traveling with a valid U.S. passport to avoid delays or misunderstandings. A lost or stolen passport is also easier to replace when outside of the United States than other evidence of citizenship.

Visitors to Aruba may be asked to show onward/return tickets, proof of sufficient funds and proof of lodging accommodations for their stay. Length of stay for U.S. citizens is granted for thirty days and may be extended to 180 days by the office of immigration.

Important Information: On June 8, 2007, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or countries in the Caribbean region who have applied for, but not yet received passports, can re-enter the United States by air by presentation of a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport through September 30, 2007. The federal government is making this accommodation for air travel due to longer than expected processing times for passport applications in the face of record-breaking demand. This accommodation does not affect entry requirements to other countries. Foreign immigration officials may still require a passport, or require a birth certificate or other evidence of U.S. citizenship in addition to proof of application for a U.S. passport and a government-issued photo identification. Travelers are strongly advised to check with the appropriate foreign embassy for information on their country's entry/exit requirements in relation to this announcement.

Safety and Security: There are no known extremist groups, areas of instability or organized crime on Aruba, although drug trafficking rings do operate on the island.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: The crime threat in Aruba is generally considered low although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. There have been incidents of theft from hotel rooms and armed robberies have been known to occur. Valuables left unattended on beaches, in cars and in hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft.

Car theft, especially that of rental vehicles for joy riding and stripping, can occur. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen or damaged. Be sure you are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles and jet skis.

Parents of young travelers should be aware that the legal drinking age of 18 is not always rigorously enforced in Aruba, so extra parental supervision may be appropriate. Young female travelers in particular are urged to take the same precautions they would when going out in the United States, e.g. to travel in pairs or in groups if they choose frequenting Aruba's nightclubs and bars, and if they opt to consume alcohol, to do so responsibly. Anyone who is a victim of a crime should make a report to Aruban police as well as report it immediately to the nearest U.S. consular office. Do not rely on hotel/restaurant/tour company management to make the report for you.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is good in Aruba. There is one hospital, Dr. H.E. Oduber Hospital, whose medical standards can be compared with an average small hospital in the U.S. The hospital has three classes of services and patients are accommodated according to the level of their insurance (i.e. first class: one patient to a room, TV, better food; second class: two to three patients to a room, shared bathroom, etc; third class: 15 to 20 people in one hall). There is a small medical center in San Nicolas. The many drug stores, or “boticas” provide prescription and over the counter medicine. Emergency services are usually quick to respond. There are no country-specific health concerns.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Aruba is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate for a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Aruba is on the right-hand side of the road. Local laws require drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Children under 5 years of age should be in a child safety seat; older children should ride in the back seat. Right turns on red are prohibited in Aruba.

Aruba's main thoroughfare, L.G. Smith Boulevard, is well lit and most hotels and tourist attractions can be easily located. There is a speed limit in Aruba and driving while intoxicated may result in the loss of a driver's license and/or a fine. However, these are not consistently enforced. Drivers should be alert at all times for speeding cars, which have caused fatal accidents. In the interior areas of the island, drivers should be alert for herds of goats or donkeys that may cross the roads unexpectedly. Buses provide convenient and inexpensive service to and from many hotels and downtown shopping areas. Taxis, while expensive, are safe and well regulated. As there are no meters, passengers should verify the price before entering the taxi. The emergency service telephone number is 911. Police and ambulance tend to respond fast to emergency situations.

Also, travelers may wish to visit the website of the country's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety in Aruba for information: http://www.aruba.com/pages/traffictips.htm.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Aruba's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Aruba's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: The time-share industry and other real estate investments are two of the fastest-growing tourist industries in Aruba. Time-share buyers are cautioned about contracts that do not have a “non-disturbance or perpetuity protective clause” incorporated in the purchase agreement. Such a clause gives the time-share owner perpetuity of ownership should the facility be sold. Americans have also sometimes complained that the time-share units are not adequately maintained, despite generally high annual maintenance fees.

Potential investors should be aware that failed land development schemes involving time-share investments could result in financial losses. Interested investors may wish to seek professional advice regarding investments involving land development projects. Real estate investment problems that reach local courts are rarely settled in favor of foreign investors.

An unusually competitive fee to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment could indicate that the dealer is unlicensed or uninsured. Visitors planning to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment should carefully review all liability and insurance forms presented to them before signing any contracts or agreements. The renter is often fully responsible for replacement costs and fees associated with any damages that occur during the rental period. Visitors may be required to pay these fees in full before being allowed to leave Aruba, and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties if they cannot or will not make payment.

Dutch law in principle does not permit dual nationality. However, there are several exceptions to the rule. For example, American citizens who are married to Dutch citizens are exempt from the requirement to abandon their American nationality when they apply to become a Dutch citizen by naturalization. For detailed information, contact the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, DC or one of the Dutch consulates in the U.S.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Aruba's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Aruba are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Aruba are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Aruba. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Consulate General is located at J.B. Gorsiraweg 1, Willemstad, Curacao, telephone number (599-9) 461-3066; fax (599-9) 461-6489; e-mail address: [email protected] state.gov.

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Aruba

ARUBA

Compiled from the December 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Aruba


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

180 sq. km. (112 sq. mi.).

Cities:

Capital—Oranjestad (pop. 60,000, 2003).

Terrain:

Flat with a few hills; scant vegetation.

Climate:

Subtropical.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Aruban(s).

Population (2004):

97,518.

Annual growth rate:

3.57%.

Ethnic groups:

Mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%.

Religion:

Roman Catholic 81%, Protestant 3%, Hindu, Muslim, Methodist, Anglican, Adventist, Evangelist, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish.

Language:

Dutch (official); Papiamento, Spanish, and English also are spoken.

Education:

Literacy—97%.

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).

Government

Type:

Parliamentary democracy.

Independence:

Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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 Nicolaas (south).

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.

Economy

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 Caribbean.


GOVERNMENT

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

Last Updated: 3/2/2005

Governor: Fredis REFENJOL
Prime Minister: Nelson ODUBER
Min. of Education: Fredis REFENJOL
Min. of Finance & Economic Affairs: Nilo SWAEN
Min. of General Affairs & Utilities: Nelson ODUBER
Min. of Justice: Rudy CROES
Min. of Public Health: Booshi WEVER
Min. of Public Works: Marisol TROMP
Min. of Sports, Culture, & Labor: Ramon LEE
Min. of Tourism & Transportation: Eddy BRIESEN
Attorney General: Ruud ROSINGH
Pres., Central Bank: A.R. CARAM


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

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.


ECONOMY

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 remain minimal.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

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.


U.S.-ARUBA RELATIONS

The 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: [email protected]

Principal U.S. Consulate Officials

CURACAO (CG) Address: J.B. Gorsiraweg #1; Phone: 599-9-461-3066; Fax: 599-9-461-6489; INMARSAT Tel: 00-874-383-133-190; Workweek: M-F 8AM-5 PM AST; Website: www.amcongencuracao.an

CG:Robert E. Sorenson
POL:Robert E. Sorenson
COM:Robert E. Sorenson
CON:Jean E. Akers
MGT:Sharon E. Feiser
DEA:Gary Tennant
ECO:Robert E. Sorenson
FMO:Sharon E. Feiser
GSO:Jean E. Akers
ICASS Chair:Gary Tennant
IMO:Doyle Lee
RSO:Daniel Garner
Last Updated: 12/22/2005

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 8, 2004

Country Description:

Aruba, an autonomous island in the Caribbean, is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Tourist facilities are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A valid U.S. passport, or U.S. birth certificate (original or a certified copy) or Certificate of Naturalization accompanied by a valid photo identification must be presented. While a U.S. passport is not mandatory, it is recommended since it is a more readily recognized form of positive proof of citizenship. No visa is required for stays up to three months, but tourists may be asked to show onward/return tickets and proof of sufficient funds for their stay. The length of stay actually authorized may be based on the ability to show sufficient funds. U.S. citizens must obtain residency and/or work permits for long term stays (e.g. for work or study). Aruba 's immigration office will advise on the types of documents required to obtain these permits. Failure to obtain proper permits may result in arrest and/or deportation. Airline passengers are subject to departure taxes for international and inter-island travel.

Visit the Embassy of The Netherlands web site at http://www.netherlands-embassy.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security:

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Street crime is low, but there have been incidents of theft from hotel rooms. Armed robbery has been known to occur. Valuables left unattended on beaches, in cars and in hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft.

Car theft, including that of rental vehicles for joy riding and stripping, can occur. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen or damaged. Be sure you are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles and jet skis.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical care is good in Aruba. There is one hospital, Dr. H.E. Oduber Hospital; its medical standards can be compared with an average small hospital in the U.S. The hospital has three classes of services and patients are accommodated according to the level of their insurance.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Aruba is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Aruba is on the right-hand side of the road. Local laws require drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Children under 5 years of age should be in a child safety seat; if older they should ride in the back seat. Right turns on red are prohibited in Aruba.

Aruba's main thoroughfare, L.G. Smith Boulevard, is well lit, and most hotels and tourist attractions can be easily located. Although there is a speed limit in Aruba, it is not consistently enforced. Drivers should be alert at all times for speeding cars, which have caused fatal accidents. In the interior areas of the island, drivers should be alert for herds of goats or donkeys that may cross the roads unexpectedly. Buses provide convenient and inexpensive service to and from many hotels and downtown shopping areas. Taxis, while expensive, are safe and well regulated. As there are no meters, passengers should verify the price before entering the taxi.

Visit the website of Aruba's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.aruba.com.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Aruba's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Aruba's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances:

The timeshare industry and other real estate investments are two of the fastest growing tourist industries in Aruba. Time-share buyers are cautioned about contracts that do not have a "non-disturbance or perpetuity protective clause" incorporated in the purchase agreement. Such a clause gives the time-share owner perpetuity of ownership should the facility be sold. Americans sometimes complain that the time-share units are not adequately maintained, despite generally high annual maintenance fees.

Potential investors should be aware that failed land development schemes involving time-share investments can result in financial losses. Interested investors may wish to seek professional advice regarding investments involving land development projects. Real estate investment problems that reach local courts are rarely settled in favor of foreign investors.

An unusually competitive fee to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment could indicate that the dealer is unlicensed or uninsured. Visitors planning to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment should carefully review all liability and insurance forms presented to them before signing any contracts or agreements. The renter is often fully responsible for replacement costs and fees associated with any damages that occur during the rental period. Visitors may be required to pay these fees in full before being allowed to leave Aruba, and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties if they cannot or will not make payment.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Aruba laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Aruba are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Aruba are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Aruba. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Consulate is located at J.B. Gorsiraweg 1, Willemstad, Curaçao, telephone number (599-9) 461-3066; fax (599-9) 461-6489; e-mail address: [email protected]

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Aruba

Aruba

Compiled from the September 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Aruba

PROFILE

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

GOVERNMENT

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-ARUBA RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 180 sq. km. (112 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Oranjestad (pop. 60,000, 2003).

Terrain: Flat with a few hills; scant vegetation.

Climate: Subtropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Aruban(s).

Population: (2004) 97,518.

Annual growth rate: 3.57%.

Ethnic groups: Mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%.

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.

Education: Literacy—97%.

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).

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Independence: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Government 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.

Political subdivisions: Aruba is divided into eight regions—Noord/Tank Leendert, Oranjestad (west), Oranjestad (east), Paradera, Santa Cruz, Savaneta, Sint Nicolaas (north), and Sint Nicolaas (south).

Political parties: People’s Electoral Movement (MEP), Aruba People’s Party (AVP), Network (RED), Aruba Patriotic Movement (MPA), Real Democracy (PDR), Aruba Liberal Organization (OLA), Aruba Patriotic Party (PPA), Aruba Democratic Alliance (ALIANSA), Socialist Movement of Aruba (MSA).

Suffrage: Universal at 18 years.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $2.26 billion.

Growth rate: (2005) 2.4%.

Per capita GDP: (2004) $21,878.

Natural resources: Beaches. Tourism/services and oil refining are dominant factors in GDP.

Trade: Exports—$2.85 billion (f.o.b., including oil re-exports & free zone, 2004) 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 Antilles (14.8%), Netherlands (10.2%). Imports—$3.0 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 Caribbean.

GOVERNMENT

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 legislature, or Staten, 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, mainly 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

Last Updated: 3/2/2005

Governor: Fredis REFENJOL

Prime Minister: Nelson ODUBER

Min. of Education: Fredis REFENJOL

Min. of Finance & Economic Affairs: Nilo SWAEN

Min. of General Affairs & Utilities: Nelson ODUBER

Min. of Justice: Rudy CROES

Min. of Public Health: Booshi WEVER

Min. of Public Works: Marisol TROMP

Min. of Sports, Culture, & Labor: Ramon LEE

Min. of Tourism & Transportation: Eddy BRIESEN

Attorney General: Ruud ROSINGH

Pres., Central Bank: A.R. CARAM

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In the parliamentary elections of September 23, 2005, the People’s Electoral Movement (MEP) gained 11 of the 21 seats available. Voter turnout had been 85%. MEP had also won the previous September 2001 elections with 12 seats, forming Aruba’s first one-party government. Despite losing one seat in the 2005 elections, the party retained a slim majority in Parliament. MEP’s biggest rival, the Aruba People’s Party (AVP) obtained 8 seats and remained the largest opposition party on the island.

ECONOMY

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 remain minimal.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

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.

U.S.-ARUBA RELATIONS

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

CURACAO (CG) Address: J.B. Gorsiraweg #1; Phone: 599-9-461-3066; Fax: 599-9-461-6489; INMARSAT Tel: 00-874-383-133-190; Workweek: M-F 8AM–5 PM AST; Website: www.amcongencuracao.an

CM:Robert E. Sorenson
CG:Robert E. Sorenson
MGT:John Chris Laycock
CON/POL/ECO:William J. Furnish Jr.
DEA:Michael Rzepczynski
EEO:Ricardo Cabrera
FMO:Robert Hively
IMO:Joe X. Smith
ISSO:William J. Furnish Jr.
PAO:William J. Furnish, Jr.
RSO:Timothy Dumas

Last Updated: 12/12/2006

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : October 11, 2006

Country Description: Aruba is an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Tourist facilities are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: Either a valid U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate (original or certified copy) accompanied by a valid photo identification must be presented. While a U.S. passport is not mandatory, it is recommended since it is a more readily recognized form of positive proof of citizenship. The U.S. Consulate General recommends traveling with a valid U.S. passport to avoid delays or misunderstandings. A lost or stolen passport is also easier to replace when outside of the United States than other evidence of citizenship. Tourists may be asked to show onward/return tickets or proof of sufficient funds for their stay. Length of stay is granted for two weeks and may be extended for 90 days by the head office of immigration. For further information, travelers may contact the Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300, or the Dutch Consulate in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Houston or Miami. Visit the web site for the Embassy of the Netherlands at http://www.netherlands-embassy.org for the most current visa information.

Important New Information: Effective January 23, 2007, all U.S. citizens traveling by air to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada are required to have a valid passport to enter or reenter the United States. As early as January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USAPPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on applying for a passport.

Safety and Security: There are no known extremist groups, areas of instability or organized crime on Aruba, although drug trafficking rings do operate on the island.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747

toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: The crime threat in Aruba is generally considered low although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. There have been incidents of theft from hotel rooms, and armed robbery has been known to occur. Valuables left unattended on beaches, in cars and in hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft.

Car theft, especially that of rental vehicles for joy riding and stripping, can occur. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen or damaged. Be sure you are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles and jet skis.

Parents of young travelers should be aware that the legal drinking age of 18 is not always rigorously enforced in Aruba, so extra parental supervision may be appropriate. Young female travelers in particular are urged to take the same precautions they would when going out in the United States, e.g. to travel in pairs or in groups if they choose frequenting Aruba’s nightclubs and bars, and if they opt to consume alcohol, to do so responsibly.

Anyone who is a victim of a crime should make a report to Aruban police as well as report it immediately to the nearest U.S. consular office. Do not rely on hotel/restaurant/tour company management to make the report for you.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is good in Aruba. There is one hospital, Dr. H.E. Oduber Hospital, whose medical standards can be compared with an average small hospital in the U.S. The hospital has three classes of services and patients are accommodated according to the level of their insurance (i.e. first class: one patient to a room, TV, better food; second class: two to three patients to a room, shared bathroom, etc; third class: 15 to 20 people in one hall). There is a small medical center in San Nicolas. The many drug stores, or “boticas” provide prescription and over the counter medicine. Emergency services are usually quick to respond.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Aruba is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate for a particular location or circumstance. Driving in Aruba is on the right-hand side of the road. Local laws require drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Children under 5 years of age should be in a child safety seat; older children should ride in the back seat. Right turns on red are prohibited in Aruba.

Aruba’s main thoroughfare, L.G. Smith Boulevard, is well lit and most hotels and tourist attractions can be easily located. There is a speed limit in Aruba and driving while intoxicated may result in the loss of a driver’s license and/or a fine. However, these are not consistently enforced. Drivers should be alert at all times for speeding cars, which have caused fatal accidents. In the interior areas of the island, drivers should be alert for herds of goats or donkeys that may cross the roads unexpectedly. Buses provide convenient and inexpensive service to and from many hotels and downtown shopping areas. Taxis, while expensive, are safe and well regulated. As there are no meters, passengers should verify the price before entering the taxi. The emergency service telephone number is 911. Police and ambulance tend to respond fast to emergency situations.

Also, travelers may wish to visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety in Aruba for information: http://www.aruba.com/pages/traffictips.htm.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Aruba’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Aruba’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: The time-share industry and other real estate investments are two of the fastest-growing tourist industries in Aruba. Time-share buyers are cautioned about contracts that do not have a “non-disturbance or perpetuity protective clause” incorporated in the purchase agreement. Such a clause gives the time-share owner perpetuity of ownership should the facility be sold. Americans have also sometimes complained that the time-share units are not adequately maintained, despite generally high annual maintenance fees.

Potential investors should be aware that failed land development schemes involving time-share investments could result in financial losses. Interested investors may wish to seek professional advice regarding investments involving land development projects. Real estate investment problems that reach local courts are rarely settled in favor of foreign investors.

An unusually competitive fee to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment could indicate that the dealer is unlicensed or uninsured. Visitors planning to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment should carefully review all liability and insurance forms presented to them before signing any contracts or agreements. The renter is often fully responsible for replacement costs and fees associated with any damages that occur during the rental period. Visitors may be required to pay these fees in full before being allowed to leave Aruba, and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties if they cannot or will not make payment.

Dutch law in principle does not permit dual nationality. However, there are several exceptions to the rule. For example, American citizens who are married to Dutch citizens are exempt from the requirement to abandon their American nationality when they apply to become a Dutch citizen by naturalization. For detailed information, contact the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, DC or one of the Dutch consulates in the U.S.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.

Persons violating Aruba’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Aruba are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Aruba are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Aruba. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Consulate General is located at J.B. Gorsiraweg 1, Willemstad, Curaçao, telephone number (599-9) 461-3066; fax (599-9) 461-6489; e-mail address: [email protected]

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Aruba

Aruba

From 1636 to 1986 Aruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles, administered by the government center at Curaçao. Until 1954 the islands were officially referred to as "Curaçao and its dependencies." The dependency on Curaçao has always been a source of resentment for Aruba. In several aspects, Aruba was different from the five other islands of the Netherlands Antilles, even in comparison with Curaçao and Bonaire, although Aruba and these two islands have in common the spoken Papiamento, a Portuguese-based Creole language familiar to the Criolo of Cabo Verde.

In colonial times, slavery in the salt pans of Bonaire was the backbone of the local Netherlands Antillean economy, with Curaçao serving as a shipment point for the slaves. Sugar plantations with slave workers were the principal source of internal revenue. Slavery was rare, however, on Aruba. Aruba's first inhabitants were the Arawak Indians; the European colonists are believed to have mixed with the indigenous population. The Arawak legacy is considered to constitute a component of the Aruban culture. In general, the Aruban population is light-colored, except in the southern cone of the island, where black immigrants from other Caribbean countries came to work in the oil industry. Aruba shares with the other islands of the former Netherlands Antilles a fixation on color and race. Although never explicitly mentioned, the dominance of the "black" governments in Curaçao after 1954, when the Antilles acquired political autonomy, increased antagonism against "colonialist Curaçao."

In 1986 Aruba, at the behest of a political movement insisting on autonomy vis-à-vis Curaçao, seceded from the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba became a separate, autonomous "country" within the kingdom of the Netherlands under the Dutch crown. The status aparte granted by The Hague applied to the period between 1986 and 1996, after which Aruba had to become independent—a condition imposed by the Dutch government. Even in 1986 it was clear that Aruba had only agreed with this commitment in order to get its autonomy. Once it had been achieved, independence was not longer a case, and the Netherlands accepted this fait accompli: After 1996, the kingdom of the Netherlands no longer insisted on independence and Aruba continues to be incorporated in the kingdom.

Aruba's economy was dependent on the oil industry for more than fifty years. In 1928 Standard Oil built a refinery on Aruba to process Venezuelan oil. The island economy prospered, and oil processing was the dominant industry until the mid-1980s, when the refinery was closed. After its secession from the other Antilles, Aruba's economy was stagnant, even moribund, for a couple of years. Unemployment rose, a considerable portion of the population migrated, and the number of inhabitants diminished from 65,000 to 50,000. Then the government opted for a huge investment in mass tourism, trying to appeal to U.S. visitors. The effort to finance the hotels and other infrastructure for tourism also attracted illicit funding and drug money. In the 1990s the governments in The Hague and of Aruba (collaborating with U.S. customs and other agencies) were able to curtail considerably the influence of illicit financing and drug-related activities. An elaborated triangular system of cooperation and control was established.

Aruba
Population: 100,018 (2007 est.)
Area: 75 sq. mi
Official language: Dutch
Languages: Papiamento (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect); Spanish; English
National currency: Aruban guilder/florin
Principal religions: Roman Catholic 82%; Protestant 8%; other (includes Hindu, Muslim, Confucian, Jewish) 10%
Ethnicity: Mixed white/Carib Amerindian 80%; other 20%
Capital: Oranjestad
Annual rainfall: Averages 24 in
Economy: GDP per capita: US$21,800 (2004)

In the meantime, Aruba's tourist industry has been thriving, and the island enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean region. Poverty and unemployment rates are very low. About half of the Aruban GNP is tourism related. Yearly, more than a million tourists from the United States, Canada, and the European Union visit the island. As of January 2007, the national population exceeded 100,000 inhabitants; 33 percent were immigrants from the Caribbean island states and Colombia.

See alsoCuraçaoxml .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Oostindie, Gert. Paradise Overseas; The Dutch Caribbean: Colonialism and Its Transatlantic Legacies. Oxford: Macmillan, 2005.

Oostindie, Gert, and Inge Klinkers. Decolonising the Caribbean: Dutch Politics in a Comparative Perspective. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2003.

                                        Dirk Kruijt

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Aruba

Aruba

Dependency of the Netherlands

  • Area: 75 sq mi (193 sq km) / World Rank: 197
  • Location: Northern and Western Hemispheres, in the southern Caribbean Sea off the north coast of the South American continent
  • Coordinates: 12° 30′ N, 69°58 W
  • Borders: No international boundaries
  • Coastline: 42.6 mi (68.5 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM (22 km)
  • Highest Point: Mount Jamanota, 617 ft (188 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest Distances: 18.6 mi (30 km) NW-SW / 5 mi (8 km) SW-NE
  • Longest River: None
  • Natural Hazards: None
  • Population: 70,007 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 190
  • Capital City: Oranjestad, on northwest coast
  • Largest City: Oranjestad (20,046, 1991 est.)

OVERVIEW

Aruba is a Caribbean island about the size of Washington, D.C., located 15 mi (25 km) north of the coast of Venezuela and 42 mi (68 km) northwest of Cura©ao, the largest island of the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba's terrain is mostly flat with a few hills. There is little in the way of vegetation or outstanding physical features and no inland water. Aruba's best-known geographical feature is its white-sand beaches, which are the basis of an active tourism industry that is the mainstay of the island's economy.

Aruba is situated on the Caribbean Tectonic Plate. The island is made up of limestone-capped hills and ridges, with cliffs on the northern and northeastern coasts and coral reefs on the southern coast.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Aruba's terrain is almost entirely flat. The highest elevation, so-called Mount Jamanota, is only 617 ft (188 m) above sea level. Rock formations characterize the interior of the island.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Aruba has no inland waterways.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

The Coast and Beaches

Aruba has three deepwater harbors located at Oranjestad, Barcadera, and San Nicolas (Sint Nicolaas). The coastal area is known for its white-sand beaches and the calm waters surrounding Aruba are clear, making it a popular tourist destination.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

Aruba's tropical marine climate varies little seasonally, with an average annual temperature of 81°F (27°C), varying from about 78°F (26°C) in January to 84°F (29°C) in July.

Rainfall

Most rain brought by the prevailing easterly winds of the region falls on the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, leaving Aruba with a very dry climate. Rainfall averages 20 in (51 cm) or less annually, and the island's residents rely on one of the world's largest desalination plants for most of their drinking water. The rainy season occurs between October and December.

Forests and Other Vegetation

Aruba has little vegetation. Due to the island's scant rainfall only hardy, drought-resistant tree, shrub, and cactus species can survive, and there is no arable land.

HUMAN POPULATION

Most Arubans live in the island's major cities and work in the tourism industry or at the island's oil refinery. The average estimated life expectancy for 2001 was 78.5 years, with an estimated population growth rate of 0.64 percent and an estimated birthrate of 12.64 per 1,000 population. Over two-thirds of the population is aged 15–64.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Aruba has few natural resources. Its major economic activities are tourism and refining crude oil imported from Venezuela.

FURTHER READINGS

Brushaber, Susan, and Arnold Greenberg. Aruba, Bonaire andCuracao Alive! 2nd ed. Edison, N.J.: Hunter, 2002.

Fine, Brenda. "Aruba: Let's Go Dutch." Travel-Holiday (February 2000): 74.

Fodor's Pocket Aruba. New York: Fodor's Travel Publications, 1998.

Garrett, Echo, and Kevin Garrett. "Dutch Treats." Chicago (November 2000): 75-8.

Official Web site of the Aruba Tourism Authority. Bon Bini:Welcome to Aruba. http://www.interknowledge.com/aruba/index.htm (accessed January 26, 2002).

GEO-FACT

A ruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles until 1986, when it seceded and became a separate dependency. The island was on its way to full independence by 1996—until deciding to turn it down. In 1990 it took back its request for independence, electing to remain a dependency.

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Aruba

ARUBA

Compiled from the July 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.




Official Name:
Aruba




PROFILE
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 180 sq. km. (112 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Oranjestad (pop. 60,000, 1995).

Terrain: Flat with a few hills; scant vegetation.

Climate: Subtropical.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Aruban(s).

Population: (2002) 94,149.

Annual growth rate: 1.63%.

Ethnic groups: Mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%.

Religion: Roman Catholic 81%, Protestant 3%, Hindu, Muslim, Methodist, Anglican, Adventist, Evangelist, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish.

Language: Dutch (official); Papamiento, Spanish and English also are spoken.

Education: Literacy—97%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—5.2/1,000. Life expectancy—75 years for men, 81.9 years for women.

Work force: Most employment is in wholesale and retail trade and repair, followed by hotels and restaurants and oil refining. Unemployment—About.6%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Independence: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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 Nicolaas (south).

Political parties: Aruba Solidarity Movement (MAS), Aruban Democratic Alliancer (Aliansa), Aruban Democratic Party (PDA), Aruban Liberal Party (OLA), Aruban Patriotic Party (PPA), Aruban People's Party (AVP), Concentration for the Liberation of Aruba (CLA), People's Electoral Movement Party (MEP), For a Restructured Aruba Now (PARA), National Democratic Action (ADN).

Suffrage: Universal at 18 years.

Flag: Blue, with two narrow, horizontal, yellow stripes across the lower portion and a red, four-pointed star outlined in white in the upper hoist-side corner


Economy

GDP: $1.724 billion.

Growth rate: (2002) -0.7%.

Per capita GDP: (2002) $19,232.

Natural resources: Beaches. Tourism/services, and oil refinery 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 1,000 A.D. Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda is regarded as the first European to arrive in about 1499. In 1636 Aruba was acquired by the Dutch and remained under their 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 the South America and Europe, the Far East, and other islands of the Caribbean




GOVERNMENT

Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba has full autonomy on all internal affairs with the exception of defense, foreign affairs, and the Supreme Court. The constitution was enacted in January 1986. Executive power rests with a governor while a prime minister heads an eight-member Cabinet. The governor general is appointed for a 6-year term by the monarch, and the prime minister and deputy prime minister are elected by the Staten for 4-year terms. The legislature or 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
Last Updated: 11/8/01


Governor: Koolman, Olindo

Prime Minister: Oduber, Nelson

Min. of Education: Refunjol, Fredis

Min. of Finance & Economic Affairs: Swaen, Nilo

Min. of General Affairs & Utilities: Oduber, Nelson

Min. of Justice: Croes, Rudy

Min. of Public Health: Wever, Booshi

Min. of Public Works: Tromp, Marisol

Min. of Sports, Culture, & Labor: Lee, Ramon




Min. of Tourism & Transportation: Briesen, Eddy

Attorney General: Rosingh, Ruud

Pres., Central Bank: Caram, A.R.




POLITICAL CONDITIONS

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. Unfortunately, the results were unclear, with votes equally divided between the 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 their small margin of majority status, the MEP has left open the possibility of a future coalition partner.


ECONOMY

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. The size of the agriculture and manufacturing industries remain minimal.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

The Netherlands Antilles conducts foreign affairs primarily through the Dutch government, however, Aruba 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. Consulate Officials

Aruba [INS], Queen Beatrix Airport, Oranjestad, Aruba, INS Tel. [297] 5831316, Fax 5831665; US Customs Service Tel 5887240, Fax 5887700; APHIS Tel 5887640, Fax 5887638


Port DIR: Guillermo Carattini
USCS OIC: Florence E. Comer
APHIS: Jose M. Crespo

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce:

International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230.
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE.




TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
January 16, 2004


Country Description: Aruba, an autonomous island in the Caribbean, is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Tourist facilities are widely available.


Entry Requirements: A valid U.S. passport, or U.S. birth certificate (original or a certified copy) or Certificate of Naturalization accompanied by a valid photo identification must be presented. While a U.S. passport is not mandatory, it is recommended since it is a more readily recognized form of positive proof of citizenship. No visa is required for stays up to three months, but tourists may be asked to show onward/return tickets and proof of sufficient funds for their stay. The length of stay actually authorized may be based on the ability to show sufficient funds.

U.S. citizens must obtain residency and/or work permits for long term stays (e.g. for work or study). Aruba's immigration office will advise on the types of documents required to obtain these permits. Failure to obtain proper permits may result in arrest and/or deportation.


Airline passengers are subject to departure taxes for international and inter-island travel.


For further information, travelers may contact The Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202)244-5300, or the Dutch consulates in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Houston, or Miami. Internet: http://www.netherlands/embassy.org.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Dual Nationality: Dutch law in principle does not permit dual nationality. However, there are several exceptions to the rule. For example, American citizens who are married to Dutch citizens are exempt from the requirement to abandon their American nationality when they apply to become a Dutch citizen by naturalization. For detailed information, contact The Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington or one of the Dutch Consulates in the U.S.


In addition to being subject to all Dutch laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Dutch citizens. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.


The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Crime: Street crime is low, but there have been incidents of theft from hotel rooms. Armed robbery has been known to occur. Valuables left unattended on beaches, in cars and in hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft.


Car theft, including that of rental vehicles for joy riding and stripping, can occur. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen or damaged. Be sure you are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles and jet skis. For more information see the section below entitled "Special Circumstances."


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are a victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to the local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical care is good in Aruba. There is one hospital, Dr. H.E. Oduber Hospital; its medical standards can be compared with an average small hospital in the U.S. The hospital has three classes of services and patients are accommodated according to the level of their insurance (i.e. first class: one patient to a room, TV, better food; second class: two to three patients to a room, shared bathroom, etc; third class: 15 to 20 people in one hall).


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas health care provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Visitors planning to engage in scuba diving, snorkeling or other waterbased activities should consider purchasing separate diver protection insurance. Not all medical insurance programs include protection for diving related accidents, recompression chamber treatments, or air evacuation and transportation. Your certifying organization can provide details on qualified insurance programs to supplement you current medical insurance if these are not included items on the policy.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.


Other Health Information: Cases of Dengue Fever, a sometimes-fatal mosquito-borne illness for which there is no vaccine or cure, are occasionally reported on the island. Epidemics of Dengue, however, rarely occur. Dengue is transmitted by mosquito bites, and there is no vaccine. Travelers to Aruba should take appropriate precautions to avoid exposure. These include, but are not limited to, wearing appropriate clothing to cover one's body and using mosquito repellent containing "DEET" to diminish the risk of contracting the disease.


Further information on dengue fever, as well as other information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the U.S. The information below concerning Aruba is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good


Driving in Aruba is on the right-hand side of the road. Local laws require drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Children under 5 years of age should be in a child safety seat; if older they should ride in the back seat. Right turns on red are prohibited in Aruba.


Aruba's main thoroughfare, L.G. Smith Boulevard, is well lit, and most hotels and tourist attractions can be easily located. Although there is a speed limit in Aruba, it is not consistently enforced. Drivers should be alert at all times for speeding cars, which have caused fatal accidents. In the interior areas of the island, drivers should be alert for herds of goats or donkeys that may cross the roads unexpectedly. Buses provide convenient and inexpensive service to and from many hotels and downtown shopping areas. Taxis, while expensive, are safe and well regulated. As there are no meters, passengers should verify the price before entering the taxi.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Aruba driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Netherlands National Tourist Organization offices in New York at 1-888-464-6552, Internet: http://www.goholland.com. See also road safety information from other sources at http://www.aruba.com/.


Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Aruba's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Aruba's air carrier operations.


For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Aruba customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning importation into and exportation out of Aruba. Travelers are allowed to purchase a maximum of $600 worth of duty free merchandise based on the retail value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington or one of the Dutch Consulates in the U.S. for specific information.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the U.S. and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating Aruba laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Do not agree or attempt to smuggle illegal drugs, either internally (swallowing) or in luggage. Aruba has strict gun control laws; if you plan to import firearms or ammunition into Aruba, please make advance arrangements through the Embassy of The Netherlands in Washington.

Consular Access: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.


Special Circumstances: The time-share industry and other real estate investments are two of the fastest growing tourist industries in Aruba. Time-share buyers are cautioned about contracts that do not have a "non-disturbance or perpetuity protective clause" incorporated in the purchase agreement. Such a clause gives the time-share owner perpetuity of ownership should the facility be sold. Americans sometimes complain that the time-share units are not adequately maintained, despite generally high annual maintenance fees.


Potential investors should be aware that failed land development schemes involving time-share investments can result in financial losses. Interested investors may wish to seek professional advice regarding investments involving land development projects. Real estate investment problems that reach local courts are rarely settled in favor of foreign investors.


An unusually competitive fee to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment could indicate that the dealer is unlicensed or uninsured. Visitors planning to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment should carefully review all liability and insurance forms presented to them before signing any contracts or agreements. The renter is often fully responsible for replacement costs and fees associated with any damages that occur during the rental period. Visitors may be required to pay these fees in full before being allowed to leave Aruba, and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties if they cannot or will not make payment.

Disaster Preparedness: Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and abductions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Aruba. Issues relating to U.S. citizens in Aruba are handled by the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao http://www.amcongencuracao.an/. U.S. citizens living in or visiting Aruba may register with the U.S. Consulate General located at J.B. Gorsiraweg #1, Willemstad, Curaçao, telephone (599-9) 461-3066; fax (599-9) 461-6489; e-mail address: [email protected] The Consular section walk-in hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

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Aruba

ARUBA

Compiled from the October 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Aruba


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 180 sq. km. (112 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Oranjestad (pop. 60,000, 2003).

Terrain: Flat with a few hills; scant vegetation.

Climate: Subtropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Aruban(s).

Population: (2003) 94,154.

Annual growth rate: 1.63%.

Ethnic groups: Mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%.

Religions: 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.

Education: Literacy—97%.

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 0.6%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Independence: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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.

Administrative subdivisions: Aruba is divided into eight regions—Noord/Tank Leendert, Oranjestad (west), Oranjestad (east), Paradera, Santa Cruz, Savaneta, Sint Nicolaas (north), and Sint Nicolaas (south).

Political parties: Aruba Solidarity Movement (MAS), Aruban Democratic Alliancer (Aliansa), Aruban Democratic Party (PDA), Aruban Liberal Party (OLA), Aruban Patriotic Party (PPA), Aruban People's Party (AVP), Concentration for the Liberation of Aruba (CLA), People's Electoral Movement Party (MEP), For a Restructured Aruba Now (PARA), National Democratic Action (ADN).

Suffrage: Universal at 18 years.

Economy

GDP: (2003) $2.021 billion.

Growth rate: (2003) 1.4%.

Per capita GDP: (2003) $21,158.

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 Caribbean.


GOVERNMENT

Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba has full autonomy on all internal affairs with the exception of defense, foreign affairs, and the Supreme Court. The constitution was enacted in January 1986. Executive power rests with a governor while a prime minister heads an eight-member Cabinet. The governor general 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

Last Updated: 8/5/04

Governor: Refenjol , Fredis
Prime Minister: Oduber , Nelson
Min. of Education: Refunjol , Fredis
Min. of Finance & Economic Affairs: Swaen , Nilo
Min. of General Affairs & Utilities: Oduber , Nelson
Min. of Justice: Croes , Rudy
Min. of Public Health: Wever , Booshi
Min. of Public Works: Tromp , Marisol
Min. of Sports, Culture, & Labor: Lee , Ramon
Min. of Tourism & Transportation: Briesen , Eddy
Attorney General: Rosingh , Ruud
Pres., Central Bank: Caram , A.R.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

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. 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 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.


ECONOMY

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. The sizes of the agriculture and manufacturing industries remain minimal.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

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.


U.S.-ARUBA RELATIONS

Principal U.S. Consulate Officials

CURACAO (CG) Address: J.B. Gorsiraweg #1; Phone: 599-9-461-3066; Fax: 599-9-461-6489; INMARSAT Tel: 00-874-383-133-190; Workweek: M–F 8AM-5 PM AST; Website: www.amcongencuracao.an

CG:Robert E. Sorenson
POL:Robert E. Sorenson
COM:Robert E. Sorenson
CON:Jean E. Akers
AFSA:Christopher Degnan
DEA:Gary Tennant
ECO:Robert E. Sorenson
FMO:Christopher Degnan
GSO:Jean E. Akers
ICASS Chair:Gary Tennant
IMO:Christopher Degnan
ISSO:Christopher Degnan
PAO:Christopher Degnan
RSO:Daniel Garner
Last Updated: 12/10/2004

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 8, 2004

Country Description: Aruba, an autonomous island in the Caribbean, is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Tourist facilities are widely available. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Aruba for additional information.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid U.S. passport, or U.S. birth certificate

(original or a certified copy) or Certificate of Naturalization accompanied by a valid photo identification must be presented. While a U.S. passport is not mandatory, it is recommended since it is a more readily recognized form of positive proof of citizenship. No visa is required for stays up to three months, but tourists may be asked to show onward/return tickets and proof of sufficient funds for their stay. The length of stay actually authorized may be based on the ability to show sufficient funds. U.S. citizens must obtain residency and/or work permits for long term stays (e.g. for work or study). Aruba's immigration office will advise on the types of documents required to obtain these permits. Failure to obtain proper permits may result in arrest and/or deportation. Airline passengers are subject to departure taxes for international and inter-island travel.

See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Aruba and other countries. Visit the Embassy of The Netherlands web site at http://www.netherlandsembassy.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: Street crime is low, but there have been incidents of theft from hotel rooms. Armed robbery has been known to occur. Valuables left unattended on beaches, in cars and in hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft.

Car theft, including that of rental vehicles for joy riding and stripping, can occur. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen or damaged. Be sure you are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles and jet skis. For more information see the section below entitled "Special Circumstances."

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is good in Aruba. There is one hospital, Dr. H.E. Oduber Hospital; its medical standards can be compared with an average small hospital in the U.S. The hospital has three classes of services and patients are accommodated according to the level of their insurance.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Aruba is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Aruba is on the right-hand side of the road. Local laws require drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Children under 5 years of age should be in a child safety seat; if older they should ride in the back seat. Right turns on red are prohibited in Aruba.

Aruba's main thoroughfare, L.G. Smith Boulevard, is well lit, and most hotels and tourist attractions can be easily located. Although there is a speed limit in Aruba, it is not consistently enforced. Drivers should be alert at all times for speeding cars, which have caused fatal accidents. In the interior areas of the island, drivers should be alert for herds of goats or donkeys that may cross the roads unexpectedly. Buses provide convenient and inexpensive service to and from many hotels and downtown shopping areas. Taxis, while expensive, are safe and well regulated. As there are no meters, passengers should verify the price before entering the taxi.

Visit the website of Aruba's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.aruba.com

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Aruba's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Aruba's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: The timeshare industry and other real estate investments are two of the fastest growing tourist industries in Aruba. Time-share buyers are cautioned about contracts that do not have a "non-disturbance or perpetuity protective clause" incorporated in the purchase agreement. Such a clause gives the time-share owner perpetuity of ownership should the facility be sold. Americans sometimes complain that the time-share units are not adequately maintained, despite generally high annual maintenance fees.

Potential investors should be aware that failed land development schemes involving time-share investments can result in financial losses. Interested investors may wish to seek professional advice regarding investments involving land development projects. Real estate investment problems that reach local courts are rarely settled in favor of foreign investors.

An unusually competitive fee to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment could indicate that the dealer is unlicensed or uninsured. Visitors planning to rent jet skis or other water sports equipment should carefully review all liability and insurance forms presented to them before signing any contracts or agreements. The renter is often fully responsible for replacement costs and fees associated with any damages that occur during the rental period. Visitors may be required to pay these fees in full before being allowed to leave Aruba, and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties if they cannot or will not make payment.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Aruba laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Aruba are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Aruba are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Aruba. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Consulate is located at J.B. Gorsiraweg 1, Willemstad, Curaçao, telephone number (599-9) 461-3066; fax (599-9) 461-6489; e-mail address: [email protected]

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