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



Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela

Geographic coordinates

12 30 N, 69 58 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 180 sq km
land: 180 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


68.5 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm


tropical marine; little seasonal temperature variation


flat with a few hills; scant vegetation


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: 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%
arable land 11.1%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0%
forest: 2.3%
other: 86.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land


Natural hazards

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

Environment - current issues


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

Ethnic groups

Dutch 82.1%, Colombian 6.6%, Venezuelan 2.2%, Dominican 2.2%, Haitian 1.2%, other 5.5%, unspecified 0.1% (2010 est.)

Birth rate

12.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)


113,648 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Aruban(s)
adjective: Aruban; Dutch


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.)


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: 17.66% (male 10,068/female 9,999)
15-24 years: 13.03% (male 7,441/female 7,366)
25-54 years: 42.16% (male 23,068/female 24,847)
55-64 years: 14.01% (male 7,398/female 8,525)
65 years and over: 13.14% (male 5,853/female 9,083) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 44%
youth dependency ratio: 26.4%
elderly dependency ratio: 17.6%
potential support ratio: 5.7% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 39.1 years
male: 37.3 years
female: 40.9 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.3% (2016 est.)

Death rate

8.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

8.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 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


urban population: 41.5% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: -0.28% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

ORANJESTAD (capital) 29,000 (2014)

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: 0.87 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 11 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.8 years
male: 73.7 years
female: 79.9 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.84 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Drinking water source

urban: 98.1% of population
rural: 98.1% of population
total: 98.1% of population
urban: 1.9% of population
rural: 1.9% of population
total: 1.9% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 97.7% of population
rural: 97.7% of population
total: 97.7% of population
urban: 2.3% of population
rural: 2.3% of population
total: 2.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Major infectious diseases

note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Education expenditures

6.1% of GDP (2014)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.5%
male: 97.5%
female: 97.5% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 28.9%
male: 29.9%
female: 27.5% (2010 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional 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 (Legislature); part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


name: Oranjestad
geographic coordinates: 12 31 N, 70 02 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
note: Aruba is one of four constituent parts (countries) of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the other three parts are the Netherlands, Curacao, and Sint Maarten


none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National holiday

Flag Day, 18 March (1976)


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); note - in October 2010, following dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba became a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (2016)

Legal system

civil law system based on the Dutch civil code


see the Netherlands


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King WILLEM-ALEXANDER of the Netherlands (since 30 April 2013); represented by Governor General Fredis REFUNJOL (since 11 May 2004)
head of government: Prime Minister Michiel "Mike" Godfried EMAN (since 30 October 2009)
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 tern; election last held on 25 September 2009 (next to be held by September 2013)
election results: Michiel "Mike" Godfried EMAN (AVP) 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 27 September 2013 (next to be held in 2017)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - AVP 13, MEP 8

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatitus 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 by the monarch for life
subordinate courts: Courts in First Instance

Political parties and leaders

Aruban People's Party or AVP [Michiel "Mike" EMAN]
People's Electoral Movement Party or MEP [Evelyn WEVER-CROES]
Real Democracy or PDR [Andin BIKKER]

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: environmental groups

International organization participation

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

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands); note - there is a Minister Plenipotentiary for Aruba at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Diplomatic representation from the US

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 - overview

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

Tourist arrivals have rebounded strongly following a dip after the 2008 global financial crisis. Tourism now accounts for a majority of economic activity. Over 1 million tourists per year visit Aruba, with the large majority of those from the US. The rapi

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

Aruba weathered two major shocks in recent years: fallout from the global financial crisis, which had its largest impact on tourism, and the closure of its oil refinery in 2009. However, tourism and related industries have continued to grow, and the Aruba

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$2.516 billion (2009 est.)
$2.258 billion (2005 est.)
$2.205 billion (2004 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.516 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.4% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$25,300 (2011 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 60.3%
government consumption: 26.2%
investment in fixed capital: 22.3%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 70.2%
imports of goods and services: -79% (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.4%
industry: 33.3%
services: 66.3% (2002 est.)

Agriculture - products

aloes; livestock; fish


tourism, petroleum transshipment facilities, banking

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force

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 (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
note: most employment is in wholesale and retail trade, followed by hotels and restaurants

Unemployment rate

6.9% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $696.5 million
expenditures: $751.8 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

27.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-2.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

67% of GDP (2013)
55% of GDP (2012)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-0.8% (2016 est.)
0.5% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

1% (31 December 2010)
3% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

9% (31 December 2016 est.)
8.25% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$1.151 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$2.126 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.942 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$1.768 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.768 billion (31 December 2015 est.)


$299.9 million (2016 est.)
$333.2 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

live animals and animal products, art and collectibles, machinery and electrical equipment, transport equipment

Exports - partners

Colombia 28.2%, Netherlands Antilles 18.1%, US 14.3%, Netherlands 10.1%, Mexico 6.5%, Venezuela 6.3%, Panama 4.1% (2015)


$1.294 billion (2016 est.)
$1.269 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and electrical equipment, refined oil for bunkering and reexport, chemicals; foodstuffs

Imports - partners

US 55.4%, Netherlands 11.2% (2015)

Debt - external

$693.2 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$666.4 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

Aruban guilders/florins per US dollar -
1.79 (2016 est.)
1.79 (2015 est.)
1.79 (2014 est.)
1.79 (2013 est.)
1.79 (2012 est.)


Electricity - production

900 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - access

population without electricity: 11,364
electrification - total population: 91%
electrification - urban areas: 100%
electrification - rural areas: 80% (2012)

Electricity - consumption

800 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

300,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

90.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

9.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

7,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

7,661 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

1 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

1 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

1 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

1 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

900,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 35,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 31 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 141,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 126 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern fully automatic telecommunications system
domestic: increased competition through privatization has increased mobile-cellular teledensity to over 125 per 100 persons; 3 mobile-cellular service providers are now licensed
international: country code - 297; landing site for the PAN-AM submarine telecommunications cable system that extends from the US Virgin Islands through Aruba to Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, and the west coast of South America; extensive interisland microwave radio rela (2015)

Broadcast media

2 commercial TV stations; cable TV subscription service provides access to foreign channels; about 20 commercial radio stations broadcast (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 99,000
percent of population: 88.7% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 19
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,120,578
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

P4 (2016)


1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Barcadera, Oranjestad
oil terminal(s): Sint Nicolaas
cruise port(s): Oranjestad


Military branches

no regular military forces (2011)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the Netherlands; the Aruba security services focus on organized crime and terrorism

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Illicit drugs

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