Aruba is a twenty-one mile long island that is situated in the Caribbean Sea. It is located seventeen miles of Falcon State Venezuela. Aruba covers an area of seventy-five square miles and has a population of of one hundred and four thousand residents. Together with Curacao and Bonaire, it makes up the ABC Islands of the Lesser Antilles. It is a self governed region that is located withing the greater Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The original inhabitants of the island were the Arawak tribe, a tribe who migrated from Venezuela to escape ruthless attacks by the Carib tribe. Archaeologist have found ruins of these initial native settlements that date back almost a thousand years. The first European contact with the island was made in 1499, when Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda stumbled upon it. Spain colonized the island and in 1508, Alonso de Ojeda was appointed as governor.
In the seventeenth century, the island was acquired by the Dutch and remained under their control for almost two hundred years. During the Napoleonic War of the nineteenth century, the British took temporary control of Aruba. Eleven years later it would be returned to the Dutch. In 1986, the island seceded from the Netherland Antilles and became a self governing member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Today, the island has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean. Seventy-five percent of the islands Gross Domestic Product is achieved through tourism. Most tourist to Aruba come from either the United States or Venezuela. The Gross Domestic Per Capita for the island is around $24,000 and it historically has a very low unemployment rate. The educational system of Aruba is modeled after the Dutch system and provides educational opportunities at every level. Aruba has sixty-eight primary schools, twelve secondary schools, two private medical schools and five universities.
Aruba has several attractions that are of interest to tourist. One of these is Alto Vista Chapel. Alto Vista Chapel is a small Catholic chapel that is painted bright yellow and sits on the hills overlooking the North Shore. It was built in 1953 and was built on the same place as the original eighteenth century chapel that was built by Domingo Silvestre. In 1816, the chapel was closed and began to fall into ruin.
After an attack by a German submarine during the second World War, the residents of Aruba decided to rebuild the chapel as a votive chapel. Every October there is a procession and pilgrimage to Alto Vista. Taking up roughly eighteen percent of the island is another prominent attraction, Arikok National Park. Arikok National Park was designed as a National park during the 1980s and contains many different indigenous species of animals. These include Cascabel, Shoco, Santanero, Aruban Parakeets and Aruban Whiptail Lizard.
Hooiberg is another popular attraction on the island of Aruba. It is a five hundred and forty-one foot volcanic formation that is situated in the center of the island and can be viewed from almost any point on Aruba. It derives its name from the Dutch word for Haystack. Ascending the volcano are five hundred and sixty-two concrete steps that lead straight to the top.
Visitors can see Venezuela from its peak on very clear days. Also located on top of this volcano are several cell towers and radio antennas that are a part of the island’s communication infrastructure. California Lighthouse is another prominent site to visit. This lighthouse is situated on the northwestern tip of the island and was named after the steamship California, which wrecked neaby in 1891. Near the lighthouse is the La Trattoria el Faro Blanco Restaurant. This lighthouse used to be open to the public and offered a great view of the area. But, a recent suicide has caused the local government to close it down.
Here’s a great video from The Travel Channel on Aruba