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People & Culture

Aruba Tourism Information

Today, people from all over the world choose Aruba for their get-a-way. This Caribbean Island is one of the most famous hot spots for vacationing where you can enjoy the sun and white sands. But, Aruba though out history was not at all glamorous. The Arubaes, who were a tribe from South America called Aruba home until Alonso de Ojeda discovered this Caribbean island in 1499 and claimed it for Spain. Spain was not really interested in what Aruba had to offer except for shipping the natives to work in the mines on Hispaniola. In 1636, Spain and Holland had some disagreements and the island was seized by the Dutch in 1636. The Dutch did start colonizing Aruba by the end of the 1600's.

The soil was not favorable for planning or slave trade so the Dutch decided to let the Arubaes to raise their livestock on the land. The Dutch used the meat production for other possessions in the Caribbean. During the Napoleonic Wars, the British set foot on Aruba in 1805. They soon lose interest and disappeared in 1816. Within 10 years gold was found which brought immigrants from Europe and Venezuela to Aruba. The gold was mined until 1916.

After, the gold was gone, Aruba started oil refining. They had the largest oil refinery in the world in 1929. The struggle began for Aruba to become an autonomous state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 1940's. It was a long hard battle, but in 1986 Aruba received their autonomy.

Since, Aruba had used up most of their natural resources they turned to tourism.

Aruba Today

Today, Aruba has over 6000 hotels and close to a million visitors every year. The Dutch are still responsible for Aruba's foreign affairs, defense and support their economy.

The majority of people of Aruba speak four languages fluently, Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento. The Papiamento language is a combination of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French and other local Indian languages. The Arawak heritage can still be seen on many of the Caribbean islands. But, there are not any full blooded Indians left today. But, you can see many of the artifacts left behind of this culture on the walls of the caves and at the Oranjestad's Archaeological Museum. The local residents of Aruba know how to party and have a good time. The music is always playing with lively tunes with styles that are strong calypso.

If you are looking for a celebration that will keep you going for weeks then you should visit Aruba in February. This famous carnival last several weeks and is celebrated with parades, masquerades, dancing and music. For the full effect of this carnival you should be in Oranjestad. New Year's Day is also a blast! At midnight, fireworks are set off to keep away evil spirits while along the streets you will enjoy the minstrels that will be serenading everyone in ear shot. Other public holidays include:

  • Christmas - December 24-25
  • Ascension Day - May 20th
  • Labor Day - May 1st
  • Queen's Day - April 30th
  • Easter - March to April
  • National Anthem and Flag Day - March 18th
  • Betico Croes Birthday - January 25th
  • New Year's Day - January 1st

If you wish to know what event might be happening while you are visiting Aruba you can check out this website that will give you all the events for the entire year. You can use this schedule to plan your trip so you can enjoy all that Aruba has to offer.

In Aruba the United States dollar is accepted but the major currency is the Aruban guilder and the Florin. Most every shop, bar, or store will accept the US dollar but you will more than likely receive your change in Florins. Most credit cards are accepted at all the major tourist hang outs, but you will find a few that do not accept them.

Many visitors to Aruba decide on package tours or cruises. A vacation to Aruba is not for anyone that does not enjoy spending money. If you even stay in a medium class hotel and dine in the less expensive restaurants be prepared to spend around $175 per day. This does not include any extra activities such as gambling, water sports, or shopping. A government tax of 7 percent is charged on hotel rooms and the hotel will also charge a 10 to 15 percent service charge. Restaurants also charge a service fee of around 10 to 15 percent. Many people to not tip because of these extra charges. When you do wish to tip the average tip is between 10 to 20 percent according to service that you receive.

Lodging in Aruba can range from $60 to $300 according to the accommodations that you choose. Meals can range from $5 to $40.

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