Background Note: Aruba
180 sq. km. (112 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capital--Oranjestad (pop. 60,000,
Terrain: Flat with a few hills; scant vegetation.
Nationality: Noun and
Population (2004): 97,518.
Annual growth rate:
Ethnic groups: Mixed white/Caribbean Amerindian 80%.
Catholic 81%, Protestant 3%, Hindu, Muslim, Methodist, Anglican, Adventist, Evangelist,
Jehovah's Witness, Jewish.
Languages: Dutch (official); Papiamento, Spanish,
and English also are spoken.
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
Independence: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
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).
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.
GDP (2005): $2.26 billion.
Growth rate (2005): 2.4%.
Per capita GDP
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%).
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.
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
Governor General – Fredis J. Refunjol
Minister – Nelson O. Oduber
Deputy Prime Minister – Marisol J. Tromp
of Labor, Culture, Integration, Community Development & Sports – T.F. Ramon
Minister of Finance & Economic Affairs – Nilo J.J. Swaen
of General Affairs and Foreign Relations – Nelson O. Oduber
Minister of Social
Affairs and Public Works – Marisol J. Tromp
Minister of Public Health and
Environment – Candelario A.S.D. Wever
Minister of Justice – Hyacintho R. Croes
Minister of Tourism & Transportation – Edison Briesen
to The Hague – F. Walfrido Croes
Minister Plenipotentiary to Washington, DC
– D. Henry Baarh
President, Bank of Aruba – Rob Henriquez
– Theresa Croes-Fernandes Pedra
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.
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.
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
Vice Consul--William J. Furnish, Jr.
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@example.com
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