Photos of Aruba

Introduction

Background

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, semi-autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's request in 1990.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela

Geographic coordinates

12 30 N, 69 58 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 180 sq km

land: 180 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 217

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

68.5 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical marine; little seasonal temperature variation

Terrain

flat with a few hills; scant vegetation

Elevation

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

highest point: Ceru Jamanota 188 m

Natural resources

NEGL; white sandy beaches foster tourism

Land use

agricultural land: 11.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 11.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 2.3% (2018 est.)

other: 86.6% (2018 est.)

Population distribution

most residents live in or around Oranjestad and San Nicolaas; most settlments tend to be located on the less mountainous western side of the island

Natural hazards

hurricanes; lies outside the Caribbean hurricane belt and is rarely threatened

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 and Society

Nationality

noun: Aruban(s)

adjective: Aruban; Dutch

Ethnic groups

Aruban 66%, Colombian 9.1%, Dutch 4.3%, Dominican 4.1%, Venezuelan 3.2%, Curacaoan 2.2%, Haitian 1.5%, Surinamese 1.2%, Peruvian 1.1%, Chinese 1.1%, other 6.2% (2010 est.)

note: data represent population by country of birth

Languages

Papiamento (official) (a creole language that is a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English, and, to a lesser extent, French, as well as elements of African languages and the language of the Arawak) 69.4%, Spanish 13.7%, English (widely spoken) 7.1%, Dutch (official) 6.1%, Chinese 1.5%, other 1.7%, unspecified 0.4% (2010 est.)

Religions

Roman Catholic 75.3%, Protestant 4.9% (includes Methodist 0.9%, Adventist 0.9%, Anglican 0.4%, other Protestant 2.7%), Jehovah's Witness 1.7%, other 12%, none 5.5%, unspecified 0.5% (2010 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.55% (male 10,524/female 10,437)

15-24 years: 12.06% (male 7,231/female 7,175)

25-54 years: 40.54% (male 23,387/female 25,029)

55-64 years: 14.79% (male 8,285/female 9,383)

65 years and over: 15.05% (male 7,064/female 10,913) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47

youth dependency ratio: 25.6

elderly dependency ratio: 21.5

potential support ratio: 4.7 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 39.9 years

male: 38.2 years

female: 41.5 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 53

Birth rate

11.95 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 159

Death rate

8.54 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 71

Net migration rate

8.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 10

Population distribution

most residents live in or around Oranjestad and San Nicolaas; most settlments tend to be located on the less mountainous western side of the island

Urbanization

urban population: 43.9% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.77% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

30,000 ORANJESTAD (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.65 male(s)/female

total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 12.39 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 16.89 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 117

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.76 years

male: 74.66 years

female: 80.93 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.1% of population

rural: 98.1% of population

total: 98.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.9% of population

rural: 1.9% of population

total: 1.9% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 97.7% of population

rural: 97.7% of population

total: 97.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.3% of population

rural: 2.3% of population

total: 2.3% of population (2015 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.8%

male: 97.8%

female: 97.8% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 13 years

female: 14 years (2012)

Environment

Environment - current issues

difficulty in properly disposing of waste produced by large numbers of tourists; waste burning that occurs in the landfill causes air pollution and poses an environmental and health risk; ocean environmental damage due to plastic pollution

Air pollutants

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.88 megatons (2016 est.)

Climate

tropical marine; little seasonal temperature variation

Land use

agricultural land: 11.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 11.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 2.3% (2018 est.)

other: 86.6% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 43.9% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.77% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 88,132 tons (2013 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 9,695 tons (2013 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 11% (2013 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Country of Aruba

conventional short form: Aruba

local long form: Land Aruba (Dutch); Pais Aruba (Papiamento)

local short form: Aruba

etymology: the origin of the island's name is unclear; according to tradition, the name comes from the Spanish phrase "oro huba" (there was gold), but in fact no gold was ever found on the island; another possibility is the native word "oruba," which means "well-situated"

Dependency status

constituent country 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; part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Capital

name: Oranjestad

geographic coordinates: 12 31 N, 70 02 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: translates as "orange town" in Dutch; the city is named after William I (1533-1584), Prince of Orange, the first ruler of the Netherlands

Administrative divisions

none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

note: Aruba is one of four constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the other three are the Netherlands, Curacao, and Sint Maarten

Independence

none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National holiday

National Anthem and Flag Day, 18 March (1976)

Constitution

history: previous 1947, 1955; latest drafted and approved August 1985, enacted 1 January 1986 (regulates governance of Aruba but is subordinate to the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands); in 1986, Aruba became a semi-autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Legal system

civil law system based on the Dutch civil code

Citizenship

see the Netherlands

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King WILLEM-ALEXANDER of the Netherlands (since 30 April 2013); represented by Governor General Alfonso BOEKHOUDT (since 1 January 2017)

head of government: Prime Minister Evelyn WEVER-CROES (since 17 November 2017)

cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the Legislature (Staten)

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch for a 6-year term; prime minister and deputy prime minister indirectly elected by the Staten for 4-year term; election last held on 22 September 2017 (next to be held by September 2021)
note: on 30 March 2021, Evelyn WEVER-CROES resigned as prime minister and dissolved parliament, an announcement for new elections is expected soon

election results: Evelyn WEVER-CROES (MEP) elected prime minister; percent of legislative vote - NA

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislature or Staten (21 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 22 September 2017 (next to be held in 25 June 2021)

election results: percent of vote by party AVP 39.8%, MEP 37.6%, POR 9.4%, RED 7.1%, other 6.1%; seats by party - AVP 9, MEP 9, POR 2, RED 1; composition as of October 2018 - men 14, women 7, percent of women 33.3%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba or "Joint Court of Justice" (sits as a 3-judge panel); final appeals heard by the Supreme Court in The Hague, Netherlands

judge selection and term of office: Joint Court judges appointed for life by the monarch

subordinate courts:  Court in First Instance

Political parties and leaders

Aruban People's Party or AVP [Michiel "Mike" EMAN]
Democratic Electoral Network or RED [L.R. CROES]
People's Electoral Movement Party or MEP [Evelyn WEVER-CROES]
Pueblo Orguyoso y Respeta or POR [O.E. ODUBER]
Real Democracy or PDR [Andin BIKKER]

International organization participation

Caricom (observer), FATF, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ITUC (NGOs), UNESCO (associate), UNWTO (associate), UPU

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands); note - Guillfred BESARIL (since 20 November 2017) is Minister Plenipotentiary of Aruba, seated with his cabinet in the Aruba House (Arubahuis) in The Hague

none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands) note - there is a Minister Plenipotentiary for Aruba, Rendolf "Andy" LEE,  at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: the US does not have an embassy in Aruba; the Consul General to Curacao 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; the star represents Aruba and its red soil and white beaches, its four points the four major languages (Papiamento, Dutch, Spanish, English) as well as the four points of a compass, to indicate that its inhabitants come from all over the world; the blue symbolizes Caribbean waters and skies; the stripes represent the island's two main "industries": the flow of tourists to the sun-drenched beaches and the flow of minerals from the earth

National symbol(s)

Hooiberg (Haystack) Hill; national colors: blue, yellow, red, white

National anthem

name: "Aruba Deshi Tera" (Aruba Precious Country)

lyrics/music: Juan Chabaya 'Padu' LAMPE/Rufo Inocencio WEVER

note: local anthem adopted 1986; as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, "Het Wilhelmus" is official (see Netherlands)

Economy

Economic overview

Tourism, petroleum bunkering, hospitality, and financial and business services are the mainstays of the small open Aruban economy.

Tourism accounts for a majority of economic activity; as of 2017, over 2 million tourists visited Aruba annually, with the large majority (80-85%) of those from the US. The rapid growth of the tourism sector has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction continues to boom, especially in the hospitality sector.

Aruba is heavily dependent on imports and is making efforts to expand exports to improve its trade balance. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with the US, the Netherlands, and Panama being the major suppliers.

In 2016, Citgo Petroleum Corporation, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, and the Government of Aruba signed an agreement to restart Valero Energy Corp.'s former 235,000-b/d refinery. Tourism and related industries have continued to grow, and the Aruban Government is working to attract more diverse industries. Aruba's banking sector continues to be a strong sector; unemployment has significantly decreased.

Real GDP growth rate

1.2% (2017 est.)

-0.1% (2016 est.)

-0.4% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 166

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BB (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: BBB+ (2013)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$4.158 billion (2017 est.)

$4.05 billion (2017 est.)

$4.107 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 184

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.7 billion (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$37,500 (2017 est.)

$38,442 (2017 est.)

$37,300 (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 51

Gross national saving

14.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

17.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

15.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 147

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.4% (2002 est.)

industry: 33.3% (2002 est.)

services: 66.3% (2002 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 60.3% (2014 est.)

government consumption: 25.3% (2015 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 22.3% (2014 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2015 est.)

exports of goods and services: 70.5% (2015 est.)

imports of goods and services: -76.6% (2015 est.)

Agricultural products

aloes; livestock; fish

Industries

tourism, petroleum transshipment facilities, banking

Labor force

51,610 (2007 est.)

note: of the 51,610 workers aged 15 and over in the labor force, 32,252 were born in Aruba and 19,353 came from abroad; foreign workers are 38% of the employed population

country comparison to the world: 190

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA

industry: NA

services: NA

note: most employment is in wholesale and retail trade, followed by hotels and restaurants

Budget

revenues: 681.6 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 755.5 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

86% of GDP (2017 est.)

84.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$22 million (2017 est.)

$133 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 59

Exports

$137.1 million (2017 est.)

$283.1 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 196

Exports - partners

Malaysia 57%, United States 11%, Netherlands 6%, Jordan 6%, Venezuela 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

refined petroleum, liquors, scrap iron, soap, tobacco (2019)

Imports

$1.122 billion (2017 est.)

$1.142 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

Imports - partners

United States 48%, Netherlands 16% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, jewelry, cars, vehicle parts, tobacco products (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$921.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$828 million (31 December 2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 134

Debt - external

$693.2 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$666.4 million (31 December 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 173

Exchange rates

Aruban guilders/florins per US dollar -

1.79 (2017 est.)

1.79 (2016 est.)

1.79 (2015 est.)

1.79 (2014 est.)

1.79 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 39,582

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33.54 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 163

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 159,471

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 135.13 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 189

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: modern fully automatic telecommunications system; increased competition through privatization has increased mobile-cellular teledensity; three mobile-cellular service providers are now licensed; MNO (mobile network operator) launched island-wide LTE services; MNP (mobile number portability) introduced (2018)

domestic: ongoing changes in regulations and competition improving teledensity; 34 per 100 fixed-line, 135 per 100 mobile-cellular (2019)

international: country code - 297; landing points for the PAN-AM, PCCS, Deep Blue Cable, and Alonso de Ojeda submarine telecommunications cable system that extends from Trinidad and Tobago, Florida, Puerto Ricco, Jamaica, Guyana, Sint Eustatius & Saba, Suriname, Dominican Republic, BVI, USVI, Haiti, Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles,  through Aruba to Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile; extensive interisland microwave radio relay links (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

2 commercial TV stations; cable TV subscription service provides access to foreign channels; about 19 commercial radio stations broadcast (2017)

Internet users

total: 113,277

percent of population: 97.17% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 178

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 19

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 274,280 (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1 (2019)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Barcadera, Oranjestad

oil terminal(s): Sint Nicolaas

cruise port(s): Oranjestad

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Aruban Militia (ARUMIL) (2021)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the Aruba security services focus on organized crime and terrorism; the Dutch Government controls foreign and defense policy; the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard (DCCG) provides maritime security

Transnational Issues

Illicit drugs

transit point for US- and Europe-bound narcotics with some accompanying money-laundering activity; relatively high percentage of population consumes cocaine