Aruba; One Happy Island is a Caribbean island 15 miles north of the coast of Venezuela It is one of the four “countries” that together form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is 30 km (19.6 miles) long and 9 km (6 miles) across at its widest point giving it an area of approximately 70 mi² (184 km²). This flat island with no rivers is renowned for its white sand beaches and tropical climate moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean. The temperature is almost constant at about 27°C (81°F). In addition, the yearly rainfall usually does not exceed 20 inches. Aruba lies outside the Caribbean hurricane belt. This beautiful island offers many activities and attractions for people of all ages.
Aruba is divided into the northeast and southwest coasts. The southwest has the white sand beaches, turquoise seas, and warm waters. Futhermore, the northeast coast, exposed to the Atlantic, has a few white sand beaches, cacti, rough seas with treacherous currents, and a rocky coastline. The time in Aruba is Atlantic Standard Time; it is the same as Eastern Daylight Savings time all year round.
The climate is tropical marine, with little seasonal temperature variation. Because of its location south in the Caribbean there is very strong sun, but a constant light breeze keeps the temperature pleasant. These winds out of the east shape the island’s distinctive, lop-sided divi-divi trees. The divi-divi trees become a signature tree to Aruba’s landscape. Nevertheless, the weather is almost always dry, with most rain showers coming at night and lasting only a little while. However, temperatures in Aruba do not change dramatically. Between the months of January and March the temperatures stay around 76-85 degrees (oF); this is the high season. Moreover, April untill December is off season and temperatures do not change much beyond 79 and 88 degrees (oF). It lies outside the zone usually affected by hurricanes.
The island is flat with a few hills, arid with mostly desert vegetation and negligible natural resources other than white sandy beaches. Furthermore, the highest point of the island is: Mount Jamanota (188 m).
Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. Traditionally the island’s economy is dominated by three main industries. However, after the 19th century a following prosperity brought on by the opening in 1924 of an oil refinery. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry. In 1986, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles (Bonaire and Curacao, which together with Aruba form the ABC-Islands) and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. However, movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba’s request in 1990.
In 1986, the oil refinery closed, which had an impact on Aruba’s economy and accelerated an already-evident shift towards tourism which is now almost complete. However, the oil refinery reopened in 1991, closed again in 2009, reopened again in 2011, and closed again in 2012.
Today, tourism is the mainstay of the small, open Aruban economy. Furthermore, the rapid growth of the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction boomed, with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level. Moreover, the 1980s tourism boom results in the fact that several projects ran out of money during construction. The results were half-completed eyesores, until other investors came and completed the buildings during the 1990s and 2000s. To prevent a recurrence of that situation, the government imposed a building moratorium in 2007.