Aruba is a Caribbean island nation of the Lesser Antilles, and a constituent country of the Kingdom of Netherlands. The island occupies a small area of about 69 square miles and has a population of about 100,000 people. The population displays diversity in ancestry, with most Arubans being of European, Amerindian, or African descent. There are various languages spoken in the country by different ethnic groups. Some of the ethnic groups include Dutch, Columbian, Venezuelan, Dominican, Haitian, and other smaller groups. The two official languages of the island are Dutch and Papiamento. Other common languages include Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese. Most islanders are fluent in up to four languages.
The Official Language of Aruba
The Dutch language is an Indo-European language native to Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, and an official language in several countries around the globe. Dutch is the official language of Aruba, alongside Papiamento. The Dutch first settled into the island in the 17th century, bringing their language and culture with them. The use and popularity of the language on the island are due to long political ties between the Dutch and Aruba. A majority of the population speak the language. Besides its use in the publication of official documents, the Dutch language is the principal means of instruction in all institutions of learning in Aruba. While the use of Dutch has a long history, only a tiny percentage of the islanders use it as their first language.
Papiamento is the mother tongue of the majority of islanders. Papiamento is an Afro-Portuguese Creole language with its roots in the 16th century. The language developed from the interaction of various native languages of slaves during that period. Most of these slaves were of African origin who worked under their Portuguese masters. In the period of development, the language borrowed from African and Portuguese languages. Later, the language grew and expanded from influences of foreign languages such as English, Dutch, and Spanish. The origin and development of the language are, however, a matter of debate with various theories contesting the beginning of the language as either Spanish or Portuguese. The use of the language in official documents became widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries. Schools on the island started teaching Papiamento in 1995, while the language attained official status in 2003.
Other Languages Spoken in Aruba
English and Spanish are the common languages spoken by a majority of the population, alongside Dutch and Papiamento. English has the status of an international language and is a compulsory subject for students beginning in the fourth grade, while Spanish is taught beginning in the fifth grade. The use of English has increased due to relations with English-speaking countries and the growth of tourism. The growth of Spanish is mainly due to former links with the Spanish from the 16th century, and close relations with South America, where most people speak the language. French and Portuguese are also spoken amongst the population and are taught in schools. Smaller groups of main immigrants speak other minor languages, such as the Chinese and German.