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History & Culture

Aruba's first inhabitants are thought to have been Caquetíos Amerinds from the Arawak tribe, who migrated there from Venezuela to escape attacks by the Caribs. Fragments of the earliest known Indian settlements date back to 1000 AD. Sea currents made canoe travel to other Caribbean islands difficult, thus Caquetio culture remained closer to that of mainland South America.

Aruba Images

Europeans first learned of Aruba following the explorations of Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda in the summer of 1499. Though Vespucci boasted of discovering the island, he and Ojeda were likely guided there by natives of nearby islands. Both described Aruba as an "island of giants," remarking on the comparatively large stature of the native Caquetíos compared to Europeans. Ojeda also referred to the island as "Oro Hubo," Spanish for "It Had Gold." Gold was not discovered on Aruba, however, for another 300 years. Vespucci returned to Spain with stocks of cotton and brazilwood from the island and described houses built into the ocean. Vespucci and Ojeda's tales spurred interest in Aruba and Spaniards soon colonized the island.

Aruba was colonized by Spain for over a century. The Cacique or Indian Chief in Aruba, Simas, welcomed the first priests in Aruba and received from them a wooden cross as a gift. In 1508, Alonso de Ojeda was appointed as Spain's first Governor of Aruba, as part of "Nueva Andalucía."

Another governor appointed by Spain was Juan Martinez de Amp√≠es. A "c√©dula real" decreed in November 1525 gave Amp√≠es, factor of Espa√Īola, the right to repopulate the depopulated islands of Aruba, Cura√ßao¬†and Bonaire.

In 1528, Ampíes was replaced by a representative of the "House of Welser". Aruba has been under Dutch administration since 1636, initially under Peter Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant was on a special mission in Aruba in November and December 1642. Under the Dutch W.I.C. administration, as "New Netherland and Curaçao" from 1648 to 1664 and the Dutch government regulations of 1629, also applied in Aruba. The Dutch administration appointed an Irishman as "Commandeur" in Aruba in 1667.

In August 1806, General Francisco de Miranda and a group of 200 freedom fighters on their voyage to liberate Venezuela from Spain stayed in Aruba for several weeks.

In 1933 Aruba sent its first petition for Aruba's separate status and autonomy to the Queen.

Aruba Pictures

During World War II, together with Curaçao, the then world-class exporting oil refineries were the main suppliers of refined products to the Allies. Aruba became a British protectorate from 1940 to 1942 and a US protectorate from 1942 to 1945. On February 16, 1942, its oil processing refinery was attacked by a German submarine (U-156) under the command of Werner Hartenstein, but the mission failed. U-156 was later (8 March 1943) destroyed by a US plane as the crew was sunbathing. In March 1944, Eleanor Roosevelt briefly visited American troops stationed in Aruba. In attendance were: His Excellency, Dr. P. Kasteel, the Governor of Curaçao, and his aide, Lieutenant Ivan Lansberg; Rear Admiral T. E. Chandler and his Aide, Lieutenant W. L. Edgington; Captain Jhr. W. Boreel and his aide, Lieutenant E. O. Holmberg; and the Netherlands aide to Mrs. Roosevelt, Lieutenant Commander v.d. Schatte Olivier.

The island's economy has been dominated by five main industries: gold mining, phosphate mining (The Aruba Phosphaat Maatschappij), aloe export, petroleum refineries (The Lago Oil & TransportCompany) and the Arend Petroleum Maatschappij (Shell Co.), and tourism.


Courtesy of Wikipedia