U.S. Department of State Background Note

Aruba

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Aruba's first inhabitants were the Caquetios Indians from the Arawak tribe. Fragments of the earliest known Indian settlements date back to about 1000 A.D. Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda is regarded as the first European to arrive in about 1499. The Spanish garrison on Aruba dwindled following the Dutch capture of nearby Bonaire and Curacao in 1634. The Dutch occupied Aruba shortly thereafter, and retained control for nearly two centuries. In 1805, during the Napoleonic wars, the English briefly took control over the island, but it was returned to Dutch control in 1816. 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. In 1986 Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's prerogative in 1990. Aruba has a mixture of people from South America and Europe, the Far East, and other islands of the Caribbean.

GOVERNMENT

Governor General--Fredis J. Refunjol
Prime Minister--Nelson O. Oduber
Deputy Prime Minister--Marisol J. Tromp
Minister of Labor, Culture, Integration, Community Development & Sports--T.F. Ramon Lee
Minister of Finance & Economic Affairs--Nilo J.J. Swaen
Minister of General Affairs and Foreign Relations--Nelson O. Oduber
Minister of Social Affairs and Public Works--Marisol J. Tromp
Minister of Public Health and Environment--Candelario A.S.D. Wever
Minister of Justice--Hyacintho R. Croes
Minister of Tourism & Transportation--Edison Briesen
Minister Plenipotentiary to The Hague--F. Walfrido Croes
Minister Plenipotentiary to Washington, DC--D. Henry Baarh
President, Bank of Aruba--Rob Henriquez
Attorney General--Theresa Croes-Fernandes Pedra

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In the parliamentary elections of September 23, 2005, the People’s Electoral Movement (MEP) gained 11 of the 21 seats available. Voter turnout had been 85%. MEP had also won the previous September 2001 elections with 12 seats, forming Aruba’s first one-party government. Despite losing one seat in the 2005 elections, the party retained a slim majority in Parliament. MEP’s biggest rival, the Aruba People’s Party (AVP) obtained 8 seats and remained the largest opposition party on the island.

ECONOMY

Through the 1990s and into the 21st century Aruba posted growth rates around 5%. However, in 2001, a decrease in demand and the terrorist attack on the United States led to the first economic contraction in 15 years. Deficit spending has been a staple in Aruba's history, and modestly high inflation has been present as well, although recent efforts at tightening monetary policy may correct this. Oil processing is the dominant industry in Aruba, despite the expansion of the tourism sector. Over 1.5 million tourists per year visit Aruba, with 75% of those from the United States. The sizes of the agriculture and manufacturing industries remain minimal.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Although Aruba conducts foreign affairs primarily through the Dutch Government, it also has strong relations with other Caribbean governments. Aruba is an observer in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an associate member of the World Trade Organization through the Netherlands, and is a full member of the Association of Caribbean States.

U.S.-ARUBA RELATIONS

Consul General--Robert E. Sorenson
Vice Consul--William J. Furnish, Jr.

The U.S. Consulate General for Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles is located at J.B. Gorsiraweg #1, Willemstad, Curacao; tel. 599-9-461-3066, fax: 599-9-461-6489, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 pm. Email: infocuracao@state.gov

Other Contact Information
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.

Revised: May. 2007

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