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Aruba - History and Heritage

Aruba - History and Heritage

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Fragments and cave paintings found on the island are widely considered remnants of the island's earliest inhabitants, the Arawak Caquetios Indians from South America, and date as far back as 1000 A.D. The Europeans arrived in 1499, when Spanish explorers found the island. The Spanish then controlled Aruba until the Dutch took over in 1636 and made the island, along with its neighbors Bonaire and Curacao, part of the Netherlands Antilles. Since then, with the exception of a brief period of English possession in 1805, Aruba has remained under Dutch control.

Early on, Aruba became a ranch economy with horse and cattle breeding supporting crops of mango, millet, coconut and aloe. In 1824, the discovery of gold set off a short-lived gold rush, which was soon exhausted and later followed by the rise of the Aruban aloe industry. In the 1920s, Standard Oil built a refinery near the town of San Nicolas and became the island's largest employer. This new industry attracted an influx of immigrants from North America, Europe and the rest of the Caribbean, creating a diverse cultural mix. Soon, English was widely spoken, and it remains so today, although Aruba's official languages are Dutch and Papiamento.

Papiamento, the local Afro-Portuguese Creole language, is only spoken in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, and dates back some 300 years. Papiamento began as a simple pidgin language and evolved upon an African linguistic structure with a vocabulary made up mostly of variations on Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch words.

Although the first cruise ship arrived in Aruba in 1957, the tourism industry began to develop in earnest at the end of the 20th century and is now the island's primary economy. Today, approximately 100,000 people live on Aruba, an island roughly the size of Washington, DC. The official currency is the Aruban gilder, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted.

Fragments and cave paintings found on the island are widely considered remnants of the island's earliest inhabitants, the Arawak Caquetios Indians from South America, and date as far back as 1000 A.D. The Europeans arrived in 1499, when Spanish explorers found the island. The Spanish then controlled Aruba until the Dutch took over in 1636 and made the island, along with its neighbors Bonaire and Curacao, part of the Netherlands Antilles. Since then, with the exception of a brief period of English possession in 1805, Aruba has remained under Dutch control.

Early on, Aruba became a ranch economy with horse and cattle breeding supporting crops of mango, millet, coconut and aloe. In 1824, the discovery of gold set off a short-lived gold rush, which was soon exhausted and later followed by the rise of the Aruban aloe industry. In the 1920s, Standard Oil built a refinery near the town of San Nicolas and became the island's largest employer. This new industry attracted an influx of immigrants from North America, Europe and the rest of the Caribbean, creating a diverse cultural mix. Soon, English was widely spoken, and it remains so today, although Aruba's official languages are Dutch and Papiamento.

Papiamento, the local Afro-Portuguese Creole language, is only spoken in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, and dates back some 300 years. Papiamento began as a simple pidgin language and evolved upon an African linguistic structure with a vocabulary made up mostly of variations on Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch words.

Although the first cruise ship arrived in Aruba in 1957, the tourism industry began to develop in earnest at the end of the 20th century and is now the island's primary economy. Today, approximately 100,000 people live on Aruba, an island roughly the size of Washington, DC. The official currency is the Aruban gilder, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted.

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