East shore near Budi.
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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

highest point: Ceru Jamanota 188 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 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)

Map description

Aruba map showing the island situated in the Caribbean Sea.

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% (2020 est.) (male 7,064/female 10,913)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

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

11.82 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 158

Death rate

8.62 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Net migration rate

8.18 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

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: 44.1% of total population (2022)

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 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.52 male(s)/female

total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 12.09 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 16.46 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 117

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.01 years

male: 74.93 years

female: 81.15 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 78

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: 44.1% of total population (2022)

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"

Government type

parliamentary democracy; part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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

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 25 June 2021 (next to be held by June 2026)

election results: as leader of the majority party of the ruling coalition, 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 25 June 2021 (next to be held in June 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party MEP 35.3%, AVP 31.3%, ROOTS 9.4%, MAS 8%, Accion21 5.8%; seats by party - MEP 9, AVP 7, ROOTS 2, MAS 2, Accion21 1; composition - men 13, women 8, percent of women 38.1%

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

Accion21 [Miguel MANSUR]
Aruban People's Party or AVP [Michiel "Mike" EMAN]
Democratic Network or RED [Ricardo CROES]
Movimiento Aruba Soberano (Aruban Sovereignty Movement) or MAS [Marisol LOPEZ-TROMP]
People's Electoral Movement Party or MEP [Evelyn WEVER-CROES]
Pueblo Orguyoso y Respeta or POR [Alan Howell]
RAIZ (ROOTS) [Ursell ARENDS]

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)

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 (purchasing power parity)

$4.158 billion (2017 est.)

$4.05 billion (2017 est.)

$4.107 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 182

Real GDP growth rate

1.2% (2017 est.)

-0.1% (2016 est.)

-0.4% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 165

Real GDP per capita

$37,500 (2017 est.)

$38,442 (2017 est.)

$37,300 (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.7 billion (2017 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BB (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: BBB+ (2013)

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

$1.45 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$2.56 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$2.56 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 165

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

$1.67 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$2.24 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$2.27 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 178

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)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 296,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 909.442 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 10.27 million kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 83.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 1.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 15.4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 8,100 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 barrels/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 barrels/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

1.254 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 1.254 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 168

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 35,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 141,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 132 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 188

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the telecom sector has seen a decline in subscriber numbers (particularly for prepaid mobile services the mainstay of short term visitors) and revenue; fixed and mobile broadband services are two areas that have benefited from the crisis as employees and students have resorted to working from home; one major casualty may be the region’s second largest telco operator, Digicel; the company filed for bankruptcy in the US in April 2020; it continues to operate in all of its Caribbean markets as it seeks to refinance billions of dollars of debt; the other major telco, regional incumbent Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), is experiencing similar drops in subscriber numbers and revenue; CWC is expanding and enhancing its fixed and mobile networks in many of the countries it serves around the Caribbean, despite many locations being small islands with very small populations; one area of the telecom market that is not prepared for growth is 5G mobile; governments, regulators, and even the mobile network operators have shown that they have not been investing in 5G opportunities at the present time; network expansion and enhancements remain concentrated around improving LTE coverage. (2021)

domestic: ongoing changes in regulations and competition improving teledensity; approximately 34 per 100 fixed-line and 135 per 100 mobile-cellular (2018)

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 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress towards 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

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: 103,121 (2019 est.)

percent of population: 97% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 180

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 19,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 18 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

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

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2021)

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) (2022)

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

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 17,000 (Venezuela) (2021)

Trafficking in persons

current situation:

human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims; foreign men and women are subject to forced labor in Aruba’s services and construction sectors; Venezuelans overstaying visas are at risk of forced labor in domestic service, construction, and commercial sex; Chinese men and women and Indian men are subject to forced labor in retail businesses and domestic service; managers of some Chinese-owned grocery stores and restaurants exploit children through sex trafficking and forced labor



tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Aruba does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; the government provided officials with anti-trafficking training, continued an awareness campaign, and continued to implement the 2018-2022 national action plan; however, officials investigated fewer trafficking cases and did not report prosecuting or convicting any traffickers; efforts were hindered by the conflation of trafficking with migrant smuggling; authorities also did not report identifying any victims, including Venezuelan migrants and refugees, who are vulnerable to trafficking (2020)

Illicit drugs

northbound transshipment point for cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela; Cocaine shipped to the United States, other Caribbean islands, Africa, and Europe