Aruba is a constituent nation of the Netherlands Kingdom which is on the southern parts of the Caribbean Sea. The island is about 18 miles from the Venezuelan coast and 990 miles from the main region of the Lesser Antilles. The island is approximately 20 miles long and 6 miles wide plus it occupies an area of about 69.1 sq miles. Together with Curacao and Bonaire, they create a group of islands known as the ABC islands which are in the Southern American continent shelf. Therefore, geographically Aruba is in South America.
Aruba is a riverless flat island with white sandy beaches on the southern and western coasts. The island has some rolling hills with the highest and most famous mountains being the 617 ft high Mount Jamanota and the 541 ft tall Hooiberg. Unlike all the other Caribbean islands, Aruba features a cactus-strewn arid landscape and dry climate. It is on the southern parts of the Hurricane Alley which means that it does not rain in Aruba for an extended period.
The Caquetio Amerindians were the first inhabitants of the island who migrated from Venezuela to escape from the Caribs. The Caquetios survived on eating wild animals and fish and with time the community thrived in the island. They built five villages in Aruba and began growing corns. The European learned about this island from the Spanish explorations of Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci in 1499. The tales of Ojeda and Vespucci spurred Spain’s interest on the island which they colonized for over a century. The Spanish took the locals as slaves and forced them to work on their mines and plantations. Alonso de Ojeda became the first governor of Aruba in 1508.
The Dutch took over the island in 1636 during the thirty years war, and its first Dutch governor was Peter Stuyvesant. The Dutch West India Company occupied Aruba from 1648 to 1664. The Dutch controlled Aruba for one hundred and thirty-five years leaving the Arawaks to graze and farm in the island.
Aruba was under the United Kingdom for a short time during the Napoleonic battle, but by 1816 it was returned to the Dutch. It became one of the Netherlands Antilles in 1845. Aruba became an autonomous nation of Netherlands Kingdom in 1986, but in 1994 the Dutch government together with the government of Aruba postponed its transition to independence indefinitely.
Aruba has a population of over 104,822 people with a majority of the people living in the island being the Dutch. Over 82.1% of the population is Dutch followed by the Colombians (6.6%), and the Venezuelans (2.2%) among others. 75% of the population is composed of mixed African/Amerindian/European, and 15% are blacks. Arawaks heritage is quite strong in Aruba as compared to the other Caribbean islands, plus a huge percentage of Arubans claiming to be Dutch have an Arawak bloodline. Aruba experienced a high rate of immigration from the Caribbean and American states due to the high paying jobs which forced the government to impose the three years residency bill for immigrants in 2007.