The Netherlands Embassy and Consulates, United States

About Aruba

Aruba has been a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since its inception in March 1815. In fact, relations between Aruba and the Netherlands date back to 1634 when the Dutch settled on the island.

Aruba and the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four autonomous countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten are located in the Caribbean, while the country of the Netherlands has European and Caribbean components, which are the islands of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.

Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba was the first of the islands to obtain its autonomous status in 1986, Curaçao and St Maarten followed in 2010.

Only the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a state; the individual autonomous countries have no international legal personality. It is for this reason that EU treaties are signed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, not the individual countries.

The treaties that are signed for the Netherlands and are therefore not applicable to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius are categorized as Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

The 1954 charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the constitution for the Kingdom as a whole and lays down the division of competences between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its four constituent autonomous countries. Each country is considered to have full autonomy over its internal competences, unless stated otherwise by the charter. Some specific areas are considered to be "Kingdom affairs," and include foreign relations, defense and Dutch nationality.

There is a high level of cooperation between the countries in the Kingdom, particularly when it comes to protecting the independence of the judiciary, tackling corruption and cross-border crime, and maintaining public order.

Click here for more information on the relationship between Aruba and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

History and culture

Aruba’s first settlers arrived from the South American mainland more than 4,000 years ago. They lived in small, scattered groups around the island and were hunters and gatherers. Later, around 1,000 AD, the Caquetio Indians of the Arawak tribe arrived and settled in three large villages.

However, it wasn’t until nearly 400 years later that the Europeans discovered Aruba. In 1499, Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda arrived on the island. In the years that followed, Aruba fell in the hands of several European powers, such as the Dutch and the English. Today, Aruba is still a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Aruba is a multicultural island of 110,000 people from more than 90 nations living in harmony. The official languages are Dutch as well as the native language, Papiamento. The native Papiamento is also spoken in Curaçao and Bonaire and has evolved over many centuries; it is a mixture of Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Arawak Indian, English and French.  English and Spanish are also widely spoken on the island.

Politics and government

Aruba is politically stable with a parliamentary democracy based on the principles of equality and rule of law. On January 1, 1986, Aruba gained its "Status Aparte" within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The "Status Aparte" granted Aruba with full autonomy over internal affairs, including over financial matters.

Aruba has its own constitution and government based on democratic principles as well as full autonomy over its internal affairs, but still relies on the Kingdom government for issues related to foreign relations, defense and Dutch nationality. The Head of State is the Monarch of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, who is represented by a governor. The Governor is appointed by the Monarch, upon the recommendation of the Aruban Council of Ministers, for a six-year term of office.

The executive power on the island is in the hands of the Prime Minister (who is the Head of Government) and Council of Ministers. This Council is responsible to a 21-member Parliament, the "Staten," which is elected every four years on the basis of a multi-party system; they are vested with legislative powers.

For more information on the government and politics of Aruba, visit www.gobierno.aw.

Legal system

Aruba’s judicial system, which has been mainly derived from the Dutch system, operates independently of the legislative and executive. Aruba has its own Court of First Instance and with a Common Court of Justice for Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, this Court is responsible for the administration of justice in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. Jurisdiction, including appeal, lies within the Common Court of Justice of Aruba and the Supreme Court of Justice in the Netherlands. The Supreme Court is located in The Hague and is the court of cassation for all parts of the Kingdom.

Geography and climate

The island of Aruba is located 15 miles north of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean. Aruba is known for its white-sand beaches and calm blue seas. The island is 19.6 miles long and 16 miles across at its widest point, totaling 70 square miles. Aruba’s topography and vegetation are not what you would expect from a Caribbean island; on the south and west coasts you will encounter miles and miles of white-sand beaches and beautiful blue seas.

While the northeast coast along the windward shore is a lot more wild and rugged. The vegetation on the island is desert-like, with various cacti and dramatic rock formations. Aruba has a dry climate, so unlike on many other islands in the Caribbean, it hardly rains. Moreover, because Aruba lies right outside of the hurricane belt, the sun shines all year long!

Economy

The economy of Aruba is largely dependent on tourism. In order to diversify its economy, Aruba is making a serious effort to promote its uniqueness and geographical position by focusing on renewable energies and aiming to become the first green economy in 2020. To achieve this target, Aruba has established a center of excellence. Aruba is building on its position as a hub between Europe and the Americas and is aiming to expand its regional hub function.

To read more about Aruba’s efforts to become the first green economy in 2020, please visit

Education

Education occupies a cardinal function in the development of Aruba. Education on a high level is an important pre-condition for having educated people on the island. Around 26.000 pupils and students are going to school every day in Aruba. In approximately 80 schools, students have the opportunity to discover, develop and use their own skills. During the past few decades, the goal of Aruba concerning education was for it to be similar in quality to any other developed country around the world. The goal now is to improve the quality of education and create exemplary citizens for the entire world.

The ministry of Education provides, ensures and safeguards inclusive and equitable quality education to all children and youths on Aruba and has developed lifelong learning opportunities for the community. Children are stimulated and supported to discover their gifts, talents and, creativity. Education is compulsory for everyone between the ages of four and seventeen. Due to the fact that Aruba’s educational system is modeled after the Dutch one, Dutch is the language of instruction in most schools. Papiamento has also been introduced as a language of instruction up to and including the fourth grade. Spanish and English are also taught from middle school onwards.

The government offers students financial support to enable them to continue their education abroad. However, since the range of subject offered by higher education institutions in Aruba has expanded, students have had more options for remaining in Aruba.

For more information on education in Aruba, please visit the website of the University of Aruba, www.ua.aw or the website of the Central Bureau of Statistics, www.cbs.aw

Healthcare, Sports and Wellbeing

Aruba recognizes the important links between health, happiness, and wellbeing. Aruba provides its citizens with universal access to healthcare. Every legal citizen is eligible to access healthcare, regardless of age, sex, income, or medical history. There is equal access to a guaranteed and comprehensive package of health benefits, with possibility of supplementary insurance by private companies. The life expectancy on the island is 74 years for men and 80 years for women.

As a part of its urban renewal plan, Aruba is making more parks and public spaces available for, and conducive to, walking, jogging, and cycling. Perhaps the single best example is the construction of a linear park that will follow the gorgeous coastline of Aruba from the Queen Beatrix International Airport to the world famous Palm Beach, home of Aruba’s spectacular hotels. The park, when completed, will be one of the world’s longest linear parks, and certainly one of the most beautiful.

Additionally, the Government is assisting businesses and organizations on the island to promote and organize numerous sports and physical activities for community participation through its newly established “Instituto Biba Saludabel y Activo”(IBISA) or Institute for an Active and Healthy Life. IBISA has started with a program known as “Bus di Salud”, or Health Bus, which provides Arubans with free access to Personal Prevention (PP) health screening and a breakdown of individual health risk factors as well as preventative health and lifestyle advice. The PP is an important health initiative that began in the Netherlands and that is now being actively promoted on Aruba.