A small island in the southern Caribbean just fifteen miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is 19.6 miles long and six miles across at its widest point.
Aruba’s unique topography is a combination of world-renowned sugar white beach fringing the calm waters of the south and west coasts; a craggy wind-whipped northeast north east coast hammered by rough seas; and an interior of desert landscape punctuated by interesting rock formations and a
few mountains. Its capital is Oranjestad and its total population is approximately 100,000 (2007 Est.) inhabitants.
The Queen of the Netherlands is the constitutional Head of State of Aruba and is represented by a Governor appointed by Her Majesty.
For information about Aruba visit www.aruba.com the Official Tourism Authority, it Includes accommodations, shopping and dining guides, activities and events and other tourist travel information.
Aruba’s autonomous status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (status aparte) has been realized through the vision of three strong political leaders.
The process began in 1923 with Jan Hendrik Albert (Henny) Eman, a businessman elected to represent Aruba’s interests in the Police Council. His was the first voice in the movement to free Aruba from Curacao and the other islands of the Netherlands Antilles. To achieve this goal, he founded
the AVP political party in 1934. From 1941 until his death, he represented Aruba in the Antillean government. (His statue is found in downtown Oranjestad in from of the Parliament building.) The grandson who carries his name became Aruba’s first Prime Minister on January 1, 1986.
Together with his father, Henny, Shon A. Eman voiced- the desire of Aruba to stand on its own two feet. Known as abogado del pueblo (lawyer for the people), this esteemed statesman began his government career in 1941. On March 18, 1948, during a Netherlands-Surinam-Curacao conference in Hague,
Shon presented a petition with 2147 signatures requesting independence from Curacao. (A statue honoring him and all those who signed is found next to the Parliament Building on L.G.Smith Boulevard.)
Gilberto Francois (Betico) Croes, known as “liberator of Aruba”, was the dynamic politician and activist who started MEP, a political party, in 1969. He renewed the fight for the status aparte, separating Aruba from the rest of the Netherlands Antilles. On March 19, 1976 it was agreed
that March18 would be Aruba’s Nation Anthem and Flag Day.
Status Aparte was finally achieved in 1985 and made official on January 1, 1986. Sadly, Betico died the night before in a tragic car accident and never saw his dream realized. The Main Street in downtown Oranjestad bears his name as does the large plaza in which his statue stands, situated behind
the Cas di Cultura. Aruba celebrates a national holiday in his honor on Betico’s birthday, January 25.
The national flag was officially adopted on March 18, 1976, along with the official anthem “Aruba Dushi Tera.” The four colors each have significance. The blue represents the sea that surrounds Aruba; yellow is the color of abundance, representing the island’s past and its industries
of gold, aloe and oil; red is for the love each Aruban has for the country and the ancient industry of brazil wood; and white symbolizes the snow-white beaches as well as the purity of the hearts of Aruba’s people who strive for justice, order and liberty.
The symbols on the flag consist of a red star and two yellow stripes. The red star represents the four points of the compass, with the island having drawn people from around the world. The star also represents the island itself, surrounded by the beautiful blue sea. The horizontal yellow stripes
denote the free and separate position Aruba enjoys in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Arubans patriotically celebrate the national holiday of Flag and Anthem Day each March18th, commemorating the day in 1948 on which Holland accepted Aruba’s right to autonomous status in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. There are ceremonies, expositions, sporting events and other activities throughout
the island commemoration this defining moment in the island’s history.
On January 1, 1986, Aruba became a separate entity within the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Aruba was previously part of the Netherlands Antilles, a six-island federation that also included Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. Today, the Kingdom consists of three partners: Holland,
Aruba, and the five-islands of the Netherlands Antilles. Briefly stated, this status aparte, is a form of commonwealth with Holland and sister islands, with which Aruba retains strong economic, cultural and political ties. The Dutch Kingdom still retains responsibility for Aruba’s defense
and external affairs.
Aruba has its own constitution based on Western democratic principles and manages its own aviation, customs, immigration, and communications. The political system is based on a parliamentary democracy as in the Netherlands. A 21-member Parliament responsible for legislative matters is chosen by
general multi-party elections every four years. The party or coalition with the most votes places their candidates on the seven-member Council of Ministers; its leader becomes the Prime Minister. Aruba’s head of state is the Queen of the Netherlands, represented on-island by her appointed Aruban-born
Governor. Judicial powers lie with the Common Courts in Aruba and in the Netherlands Antilles and ultimately with the High Court of Justice in Holland.
Located on Aruba’s southern coast, Oranjestad is the historical Dutch capital city and a bustling meeting place for tourists and locals alike. It is a charming yet cosmopolitan with a character all its own. This picturesque city is also a shopper’s paradise with modern shipping centers,
plazas, malls and Main Street occupied by international retailers and one-of-a-kind emporiums. Aruba’s government buildings are located in Oranjestad, as well as landmarks such as Fort Zoutman, the Protestant Church and the Numismatic Museum.