About Aruba


Aruba is a unique island- one to discover and enjoy.   

 

Fun Facts:

  • 19.6 miles long and 6 miles across

  • 19 miles north of the Venezuelan Coast

  • Climate-little variation from yearly average of 81 F/ 27 C

  • Tempered by northeasterly trade winds.

  • Outside of the hurricane belt

  • Time Zone- Atlantic Standard (equivalent to Eastern Daylight Savings)

  • Population: 96,104 (central bureau of stats 2003)

  • Language: Official- Dutch, Native- Papiamento, English and Spanish is widely spoken

  • Political Structure- since 1986, an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands overseen by the Constitutional Monarchy with a democratically elected government.  The Chief of State is the Governor, appointed by the Queen of the Netherlands to represent her for a period of 6 years. The Head of Government is the Prime Minister elected every 4 years who holds executive power with a Council of Ministers and is sustained by a 21-member Parliament.

Money  Matters-

Aruba's paper currency is the florin, written Afl. or Awg. also referred to in speech as the guilder. Aruba extends its visitors the courtesy of accepting US dollars wherever they go, from the smaller gift shops to the largest hotel. Because of the world-wide counterfeiting, however, some stores do not accept $50 or $100 bills. Some places will also only accept the latest issuances (latest security features).

 

Major credit cards are accepted at most establishments; additional forms of identification may also be requested. If you run short, cash can be obtained with American Express, MasterCard and Visa  Credit cards at a credit card office, bank and in some casinos.

 

ATMs are found at more than fifty locations around the island, including banks, hotels, shopping malls and gas stations. Bank cards from Cirrus, Maestro, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.

 

Cell Phones-

The best way to communicate with your loved ones back home is to use a prepaid cell phone.  These can be purchased at the airport as well as the hotel area.

 

Drinking Water- Aruba's drinking water flows from the world's second largest desalinization plant. It is not only perfectly pure and safe to drink, it's delicious.

 

Gasoline- Gas pumps register in liters: 1.06 quarters to 1 liter or 3.78 liters to 1 gallon. Prices at gas stations are in Aruban florins (Afl. 1.75 to US $1.00). Most gas stations have attendants who pump gas for you.

 

Taxis-

Rates are set by the government and are based on destination rather than mileage. Other facts including the number of passengers also affect the far.  Not all taxi's work on Sundays so plan accordingly. (We were able to get a taxi from the hi-rise to Oranjestad on Sunday but had trouble finding a taxi to take us back home.)

 

Safety- Although the island is considered one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean, occasional incidents may occur. For your own safety please don't leave valuables unattended. Before driving, please take a look at the "Rules of the Road" .

 

US Customs-

All passengers departing on flights to the United States must be at the airport 2-3 hours before departure in order to clear both Aruba and US departure procedures including the TSA mandated screening of baggage and passengers.  Upon arrival in the US, passengers will not have to clear customs and immigration again.

 

At check-in, passengers will receive one US customers declaration form per household to complete before entering the US Pre-Clearance Facility. As they go through the immigration process, they will be asked to present their passport as well as the Aruba departure card they received upon arrival. After clearing TSA security, passengers reclaim their baggage and pass through US immigration.

 

Forbidden items include Cuban products, fresh fruit, meats and plants. Both Aruba and the US forbid the removal of marine life as shells and coral. Passengers are permitted an $800 duty free exemption.

 

History-

Throughout its history, the tiny, unassuming island of Aruba has been shaken and stirred by foreign powers and interests. Somehow, like a perfect martini, it has managed to hold on to its distinctive flavor and proud identity.

 

Aruba attracted the attention of great European powers early on. The arrival of the Spaniards in 1500 was a rude awakening for the Arawak Indians. Originally from he South American mainland, they had lived peacefully in Aruba for 4500 years.

 

Searching for treasure in the region, the Spaniards optimistically named the island ruba oro (red gold), but soon placed Aruba on a list of useless islands. Indian occupation ended abruptly when the entire population was taken to work in the Spanish estates in Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti). In 1527, the Spaniards again turned their attention to colonizing Aruba; Indians were recruited as laborers for cattle and horse breeding and converted to Christianity.

 

The Dutch soon became interested in Aruba for its strategic location. In 1634, the Dutch West India Company, established in Curacao, sent ships to explore Aruba. Two years later, the Dutch took control with little resistance from the Spanish. Peter Stuyvesant was named Governor of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. Unlike the Spanish, the Dutch interacted little with the Indians. It was not until 1754 that the first colonist, Moses Levy Maduro, was granted entry, leading the way for the arrival of more Europeans at the end of the eighteenth century.

 

Small farms bred sheep and goats and the horse trade grew in importance. With no harbor facilities, horses were thrown overboard and swam to shore at Paardenbaai (Bay of Horses), later named Oranjestad. Fort Zoutman, Aruba's oldest building dating back to 1796, protected Aruba's new capital.

 

Aruba remained in Dutch control, except for an eleven-year occupation by the English that ended in 1816. Gold was discovered in 1824; mining continued until 1916 with smelters located at Bushiribana and Balashi yielding 3,000 pounds. Phosphate was mined in San Nicolas for 35 years until 1914. Aruba became the largest producer and exporter of aloe at the beginning of the 20th century.

 

The Lago Oil and Transport Company owned by Standard Oil of New Jersey began its own refining in 1927, importing many foreign workers. San Nicolas became a booming West Indian town, with English as its first language. The refinery was so crucial to the Allied effort in World War II that it was the target of the first German attack in the Western Hemisphere in 2942. One year after the closing of the refinery in 1985, Aruba achieved its status aparte, making it a separate autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Tourism then took center stage and has remained Aruba's primary industry.

 

Find out more at www.aruba.com