Aruba is an island and constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in the Southern Caribbean Sea. The constituent country, together with the Netherlands, Sint Maarten, and Curaçao, form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba encompasses an area of approximately 69 sq mi, and is located 81 mi north of the coast of Venezuela, and 990 mi west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles. Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are collectively referred to as the ABC islands. Oranjestad is Aruba's capital and most populous city. The other biggest cities in Aruba are listed below.
The Four Most Populous Cities in Aruba
Oranjestad is the capital and largest city of Aruba. The name Oranjestad literally means "Orange Town" in the Dutch language. The city is located on Aruba's southern coast, close the western part of the island, and had an estimated population of 34,980 in 2015. Oranjestad was established near Fort Zoutman, shortly after the fort was built in 1796, and features numerous examples of Dutch colonial architecture, including historic houses and buildings in the middle of the city that have been reconstructed into colorful landmarks. The economy of Oranjestad relies on tourism, and Fort Zoutman serves as one of the the city’s biggest attractions.
San Nicolaas is Aruba’s second-largest city, with an estimated population of 15,824. The city is located 12 miles southeast of Oranjestad, and was named after Nicolaas van der Biest (1808–1873), who owned a vast piece of land in the area. From 1924 until 1985, San Nicolaas was a bustling company town, thanks to the Lago Oil and Transport Company. However, the company was owned by the Exxon Corporation, which closed and dismantled the refinery in 1985 . The refinery was reopened between 1991 and 1995 by the Coastal Corporation, before it was sold to Valero in 2004. San Nicolaas is home to the Palo Marga Raceway Track, and sections of the city’s main street have been transformed into beautiful boardwalks with shops that sell crafts, souvenirs, and snacks.
Located in the central part of the island, Santa Cruz is the third-largest city in Aruba, with an estimated population of 12,900. Most of Santa Cruz is dominated by the Arikok National Park, which covers approximately 18% of Aruba. Highway 7 connects the city from east to west, while Highway 4 connects it from north to south.
Paradera is a town located near the northeastern part of Aruba, and ranks as the fourth most populous on the island, with an estimated population of 2,486 in 2010. However, the larger census region of Paradera includes the town of Paradera itself, as well as nearby settlements such as Shiribana, Piedra Plat, Bloemond, and Ayo. In total, the region has an estimated population of 12,024. Bloemond contains a Catholic church, St. Philomena's Church, which dominates the town’s skyline compared to other buildings in Paradera.
Future Growth of Aruba’s Cities and Infrastructure
With approximately 92 different nationalities living on the island, Aruba has a diverse culture. Tourism is an important contributor to Aruba’s economy, which thrives due to the country’s dry climate that is reliably warm and sunny throughout most of the year. Therefore, the tourism industry is expected to enable Aruba’s cities and infrastructure to grow in the future.