Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. Traditionally the island’s economy is dominated by three main industries. However, after the 19th century a following 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 (Bonaire and Curacao, which together with Aruba form the ABC-Islands) and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. However, movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba’s request in 1990.
In 1986, the oil refinery closed, which had an impact on Aruba’s economy and accelerated an already-evident shift towards tourism which is now almost complete.
However, the oil refinery reopened in 1991, closed again in 2009, reopened again in 2011, and closed again in 2012.
Today, tourism is the mainstay of the small, open Aruban economy. Furthermore, the rapid growth of the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction boomed, with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level. Moreover, the 1980s tourism boom results in the fact that several projects ran out of money during construction. The results were half-completed eyesores, until other investors came and completed the buildings during the 1990s and 2000s. To prevent a recurrence of that situation, the government imposed a building moratorium in 2007.
The island is flat with a few hills, arid with mostly desert vegetation and negligible natural resources other than white sandy beaches. Furthermore, the highest point of the island is: Mount Jamanota (188 m).
The climate is tropical marine, with little seasonal temperature variation. Because of its location south in the Caribbean there is very strong sun, but a constant light breeze keeps the temperature pleasant. These winds out of the east shape the island’s distinctive, lop-sided divi-divi trees. The divi-divi trees become a signature tree to Aruba’s landscape. Nevertheless, the weather is almost always dry, with most rain showers coming at night and lasting only a little while. However, temperatures in Aruba do not change dramatically. Between the months of January and March the temperatures stay around 76-85 degrees (oF); this is the high season. Moreover, April untill December is off season and temperatures do not change much beyond 79 and 88 degrees (oF). It lies outside the zone usually affected by hurricanes.
Time & Date: GMT -4
The florin (sign: Afl.; code: AWG) is the currency of Aruba. It is subdivided into 100 cents. The florin was introduced in 1986, replacing the Netherlands Antillean guilder at par. Although the Aruban florin is pegged with 1.79 US$, the commonly used street value is at 1.75 US$
There are many languages spoken on the Caribbean island of Aruba. The official language is Dutch and Papiamento, although schools require students to learn English, Spanish, French, and to a lesser extent, Portuguese which is also spoken on the island. According to the Government of Aruba the mother tongue and primary vernacular of almost all Arubans is a local language known as Papiamento, an Afro-Portuguese Creole language spoken since the 16th century. The language, however, was not widespread in Aruba till the 18th and 19th centuries when most materials on the island and even Roman Catholic schoolbooks were written in Papiamento.
When buying your travel insurance, always check the small print – some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, which could be anything from scuba diving to horse riding. You should check whether the medical coverage is on a pay first, claim later basis and, more importantly, ensure that your medical coverage includes the cost of medical evacuation.
Persons who are considered a tourist are those who travel to Aruba for one of the following purposes: vacation and relaxation, sport, health reasons, family matters, study, religious purposes or a business visit. During their stay in Aruba tourists are not allowed to work.
Upon arrival in Aruba a tourist must have:
• a passport that is valid upon entry and for the duration of stay in Aruba. If the tourist holds a passport from a visa required country (list A), he/she must have a valid visa sticker in his/her passport
• a completely filled-in and signed Embarkation and Disembarkation card (ED-card);
• a valid return- or onward ticket;
• the necessary documents for returning to the country of origin or to a country that he/she has the right to enter, for example a valid residence permit (temporary or permanent), a re-entry permit or a (entry) visa;
• if so requested, the tourist has to be able to prove to the satisfaction of the migration officer that he/she has a valid reservation for an accommodation in Aruba (e.g. hotel or apartment) or that he/she owns property in Aruba (a residence, condominium, apartment, timeshare apartment or a pleasure yacht moored in Aruba with a length of at least 14 meters (46 feet) measured at the nominal water line);
• if so requested, the tourist has to be able to prove to the satisfaction of the migration officer to dispose of adequate financial means to provide for hotel expenses (if applicable) and living expenses during his/her stay or that he/she has a declaration of guarantee from a legal resident of Aruba.
The final authorization for admission to Aruba remains with the migration officer at the border-crossing/port of entry. The migration authorities at the border-crossing/port of entry have the authority to grant or refuse admission. Admission can be refused if not all admission requirements are fulfilled by the time of entering Aruba or if the tourist has been blacklisted. Holding a valid visa for Aruba does not guarantee entry to Aruba.
Queen Beatrix International Airport
Currency: Aruban Florin
Official languages: Dutch, Papiamento