Aruba is one of the three ABC islands that comprise the Netherlands Antilles; the other two of them are Bonaire and Curacao. The capital of Aruba is Oranjestad, which is located on the island's southern coast.

As far as can be concluded from historical records, the first European to set foot on Aruba was Alonso de Ojeda. This Spanish explorer landed on the Island in 1499.

The origin of the name is as follows: Popular belief links Aruba’s name with the Spanish phrase "oro huba" which means "there was gold". But the Spanish found no gold, and regarded Aruba as "valueless". Another possibility is that Aruba’s name comes from the Indian word "oruba" which means "well placed ". Yet another possible derivation of the name is from two Carib Indian words "ora" meaning "shell", and "oubao" meaning "island".

By 1642, the 80-year war between Spain and Holland was drawing to a close, and it was in this year that the Dutch took possession of Aruba. Dutch military personnel were sent to maintain Aruba, but contrary to their living conditions under their previous masters, the Indians were allowed to remain free. There was a short period between 1805 and 1816 when the British assumed control. However, the Dutch returned in 1816.

In 1824 gold was discovered and was mined extensively, becoming a major export along with phosphate, divi-divi pods for use in leather tanning and aloe. At one time Aruba satisfied a considerable proportion of world demand for this plant’s gel - used for pharmaceutical purposes and well-known for its capacity to alleviate sunburn pain.

Eventually gold supplies dwindled and the once- booming mining industry became unprofitable resulting in all operations ceasing in 1916. It was ultimately black gold (Texas tea) that brought real prosperity.

In 1928 Royal Dutch Shell built the Eagle oil refinery and this was immediately followed by a refinery built by Lago Oil and Transport Company Ltd. in San Nicolas. Royal Dutch Shell ceased its operations in 1953, after serving as a depot for both refineries during the second world war. In 1932, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (Esso, now known as Exxon) took over the Lago refinery. The refinery employed well over 8,000 people, 16% of Aruba’s population, and up until the 70’s was one of the largest in the world.

On March 31, 1985, Exxon, pressured by a global oversupply, closed the refinery but it was reopened by the Coastal Oil Company of Houston, Texas on April 20,1991.

Aruba has become a great tourist attraction in recent years to Americans in particular but also to Canadians and Europeans. It now has a number of gaming casinos, some of which open twenty four hours a day, while some others open at eleven a.m. until the wee hours of the morning. The large casinos also feature first class entertainment imported mainly from the United States and Latin America

Aruba celebrated its 52nd Carnival from January 1 through February 28 this year.

The official website for Aruba's carnival is :

You may view Aruba's carnival online at:


Information provided courtesy of: Caribbean Association Midwest America