Aruba


Aruba

geographical name

Island, Lesser Antilles, off northwestern Venezuela. Aruba is an internally self-governing part of the Netherlands. Area: 75 sq mi (193 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 107,000. Capital: Oranjestad. The majority of the present-day population is a combination of mostly American Indian, Spanish, Dutch, and African ancestry. Dutch and Papiamentu are the official languages. The principal religion is Roman Catholicism. The currency is the Aruban florin. Aruba's lack of water severely limits agriculture. The large petroleum-refining complex there, once the island's main employer, reopened after closing in the mid-1980s, but tourism has become the island's economic mainstay. The earliest inhabitants were Arawak Indians, whose cave drawings can still be seen. Though the Dutch took possession of Aruba in 1636, they did not begin to develop it aggressively until 1816. The formal head of government is a governor appointed by the reigning monarch of the Netherlands. The Council of Ministers, headed by a prime minister, has executive authority and is responsible to a unicameral legislature called the Staten. In 1986 Aruba seceded from the Federation of the Netherlands Antilles in an initial step toward independence. In 1994 the government postponed indefinitely a decision on independence.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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