Aruba is a fairly small island "country" (it is actually a self-governing member state of the Kingdom of Netherlands) situated in the southern part of the Lesser Antilles, in the Caribbean. Aruba is close to the coastline of Venezuela, covers a mere 69 square miles and is home to around 103,000 people. The currency of Aruba is the Aruban Florin, which replaced the Netherlands Antillean Guilder, but is still fixed against the US Dollar. The Aruba economy is somewhat stable and there are several industries that contribute to the stability of the country.
Unlike many of the Caribbean islands, Aruba was never part of the sugar cane production boom of the 17th and 18th centuries. The Spanish found that the soil was inadequate for these purposes and were instead keen to uncover the gold resources of the island. Unfortunately the Spanish did not find gold but the Dutch did once they arrived on Aruba at the turn of the 17th century. As a result the Aruba economy flourished up until 1916 when the reserves of gold had run out. At this time the country faced tough economic times but soon found other ways of building its economy back up again.
Tourism Dominates Aruba Economy
Undeniably, the biggest contributor to the Aruba economy in today's climate is tourism. Since the late 1940s the government of Aruba has been dedicated to maintaining and building this particular niche and has done so very successfully. It is estimated that over 1 million travellers visit the island each year and at least 75% of them are from North and South America. As well as employing much of the island's work force, this boom in tourism helps to boost other service industries such as construction, retail and catering.
One sector that was previously prominent in the Aruba economy and is slowly recovering is the processing of oil. Due to the fact that Aruba is located close to oil production hotspots, the island was used for a time as a base for several oil refineries. During the 1930s and 1940s this meant that oil processing was the major economic force in Aruba. As the oil processing need began to wane, it was replaced at the top of the pile with tourism. In the early 1990s the operation of a few small refineries started again on the island and is making a steady, small contribution to the island's economy.
Aruba Economy Exports
The main exports of Aruba are animals and animal products, machinery, electrical equipment and art which are shipped to the country's main exporting partners which include Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and the Unites States of America. One export which has been around for years is aloe, which contributed massively to the Aruba economy in previous years. The increase in construction has contributed to the dwindling aloe production but the oldest company (which deals in aloe) on the island hopes to bring this industry back in to an internationally competitive market.
There is no doubt that the Aruba economy is one of the most settled and stable to be found in the Caribbean. No matter what has been thrown at this country in the past, it has always managed to find a new set of industries to maintain its economic needs, which is a great trait to have to ensure long-term stability and success.