FACTS ABOUT ARUBA
Aruba is located in the heart of the southern Caribbean, 15 miles from the South American coastline. The island is 19.6 miles long, and six miles across at its widest point, with a total area of 70 square miles. It is a generally flat, riverless island in the Leeward Antilles island arc of the Lesser Antilles.
Aruba's first inhabitants were the Caquetios Amerindians from the Arawak tribe, who migrated there from Venezuela.
Europeans learned of Aruba when Amerigo Vespucci came across it in August 1499.
Together, the State of the Netherlands, the State of the Netherlands Antilles, and the State of Aruba form a Commonwealth. As they share the same Dutch citizenship, these three countries still also share the Dutch passport as the Kingdom of the Netherlands passport.
Aruba's politics take place within a framework of a 21-member Parliament and an eight-member Cabinet. The governor of Aruba is appointed for a six-year term by the monarch, and the prime minister and deputy prime minister are elected by the Staten for four-year terms.
Aruba enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean region. About half of the Aruban gross national product is earned through tourism or related activities. Most of the tourists are from Venezuela, the European Union and the United States.
Aruba's population, around 120 000, is estimated to be about 80% Arawak Amerindian and 20% white and other. Today, the island claims over 79 different nationalities, who live and work peacefully on the island.
The two official languages are the Dutch language and Papiamento. Papiamento evolved from a rudimentary pidgin language, utilized for the purposes of communication among peoples with different native languages, into the more complex language it is today. At its base, the language is an Afro-Portuguese Creole, which, over the years, has grown in syntax and lexicon with increased borrowings from Dutch, English and Spanish, but still possessing its own unique rhythm and meanings.
The official currency of Aruba is the Aruban florin, which is divided into 100 cents.