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Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. The island's economy has been dominated by three main industries. 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. Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's request in 1990.
Geography Aruba
Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela
Geographic coordinates:
12 30 N, 69 58 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 193 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 193 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
68.5 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical marine; little seasonal temperature variation
flat with a few hills; scant vegetation
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Jamanota 188 m
Natural resources:
NEGL; white sandy beaches
Land use:
arable land: 10.53% (including aloe 0.01%)
permanent crops: 0%
other: 89.47% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
0.01 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
lies outside the Caribbean hurricane belt
Environment - current issues:
Geography - note:
a flat, riverless island renowned for its white sand beaches; its tropical climate is moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean; the temperature is almost constant at about 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit)
People Aruba
71,218 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.3% (male 7,429; female 7,051)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 23,587; female 25,007)
65 years and over: 11.4% (male 3,347; female 4,797) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 37.5 years
male: 35.7 years
female: 39.1 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.51% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
11.53 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
6.47 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.02 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 6.85 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.98 years
male: 75.64 years
female: 82.49 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.79 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Aruban(s)
adjective: Aruban; Dutch
Ethnic groups:
mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%
Roman Catholic 82%, Protestant 8%, Hindu, Muslim, Confucian, Jewish
Dutch (official), Papiamento (a Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English dialect), English (widely spoken), Spanish
total population: 97%
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government Aruba
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Aruba
Dependency status:
part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs obtained in 1986 upon separation from the Netherlands Antilles; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions:
none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
National holiday:
Flag Day, 18 March
1 January 1986
Legal system:
based on Dutch civil law system, with some English common law influence
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980), represented by Governor General Olindo KOOLMAN (since 1 January 1992)
election results: Nelson O. ODUBER elected prime minister; percent of legislative vote - NA%
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed for a six-year term by the monarch; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by the Staten for four-year terms; election last held 28 September 2001 (next to be held by December 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Nelson O. ODUBER (since 30 October 2001); Deputy Prime Minister Fredis REFUNJOL
cabinet: Council of Ministers (elected by the Staten)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislature or Staten (21 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 28 September 2001 (next to be held by NA 2005)
election results: percent of vote by party - MEP 52.4%, AVP 26.7%, PPA 9.6%, OLA 5.7%, Aliansa 3.5%, other 2.1%; seats by party - MEP 12, AVP 6, PPA 2, OLA 1
Judicial branch:
Joint High Court of Justice (judges are appointed by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders:
Aruba Solidarity Movement or MAS [leader NA]; Aruban Democratic Alliance or Aliansa [leader NA]; Aruban Democratic Party or PDA [Leo BERLINSKI]; Aruban Liberal Party or OLA [Glenbert CROES]; Aruban Patriotic Party or PPA [Benny NISBET]; Aruban People's Party or AVP [Jan (Henny) H. EMAN]; Concentration for the Liberation of Aruba or CLA [leader NA]; People's Electoral Movement Party or MEP [Nelson O. ODUBER]; For a Restructured Aruba Now or PARA [Urbana LOPEZ]; National Democratic Action or ADN [Pedro Charro KELLY]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Interpol, IOC, UNESCO (associate), WCL, WToO (associate)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Aruba; the Consul General to Netherlands Antilles, Deborah A. BOLTON, is accredited to Aruba
Flag description:
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 Aruba
Economy - overview:
Tourism is the mainstay of the small, open Aruban economy, with offshore banking and oil refining and storage also important. The rapid growth of the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction has boomed, with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level. In addition, the reopening of the country's oil refinery in 1993, a major source of employment and foreign exchange earnings, has further spurred growth. Aruba's small labor force and low unemployment rate have led to a large number of unfilled job vacancies, despite sharp rises in wage rates in recent years. Tourist arrivals have declined in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. The government now must deal with a budget deficit and a negative trade balance.
purchasing power parity - $1.94 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-1.5% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $28,000 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Population below poverty line:
NA% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.2% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
41,501 (1997 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
most employment is in wholesale and retail trade and repair, followed by hotels and restaurants; oil refining
Unemployment rate:
0.6% (2003 est.)
revenues: $135.81 million
expenditures: $147 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000)
tourism, transshipment facilities, oil refining
Industrial production growth rate:
NA (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
531.9 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
494.7 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
6,500 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Agriculture - products:
aloes; livestock; fish
$128 million f.o.b. (including oil reexports) (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
live animals and animal products, art and collectibles, machinery and electrical equipment, transport equipment
Exports - partners:
Netherlands 28.9%, Colombia 21.9%, Panama 17.2%, US 12.5%, Netherlands Antilles 8.6%, Venezuela 7.8% (2002)
$841 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and electrical equipment, crude oil for refining and reexport, chemicals; foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
US 54.6%, Netherlands 12.7%, UK 5.7% (2002)
Debt - external:
$285 million (1996)
Economic aid - recipient:
$26 million (1995); note - the Netherlands provided a $127 million aid package to Aruba and Suriname in 1996
Aruban guilder/florin (AWG)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Aruban guilders/florins per US dollar - 1.79 (2003), 1.79 (2002), 1.79 (2001), 1.79 (2000), 1.79 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Aruba
Telephones - main lines in use:
37,100 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
53,000 (2001)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: more than adequate
international: country code - 297; 1 submarine cable to Sint Maarten (Netherlands Antilles); extensive interisland microwave radio relay links
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 4, FM 6, shortwave 0 (1998)
50,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (1997)
20,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
923 (2001)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Internet users:
24,000 (2002)
Transportation Aruba
total: 800 km
paved: 513 km
note: most coastal roads are paved, while unpaved roads serve large tracts of the interior (1995)
unpaved: 287 km
Ports and harbors:
Barcadera, Oranjestad, Sint Nicolaas
Merchant marine:
total: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 5,772 GRT/7,068 DWT
registered in other countries: 1 (2003 est.)
foreign-owned: Germany 1, Russia 1
by type: cargo 1, petroleum tanker 2
1 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2003 est.)
Military Aruba
Military branches:
no regular indigenous military forces; Royal Dutch Navy and Marines, Coast Guard
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Transnational Issues Aruba
Disputes - international:
Illicit drugs:
transit point for US- and Europe-bound narcotics with some accompanying money-laundering activity