Aruba is to be found in the Southern Caribbean sea, forming part of the Lesser Antilles. It is also part of a group known as the ABC islands. Aruba is an arid island and has a very dry climate. Currently it is part of the Netherlands although it holds an autonomous status. So was is always the property of the Netherlands or is the history of Aruba slightly more intriguing?
Aruba History: Early Civilization
The very first people to settle in Aruba were the Caquetinos Indians who arrived there in a bit of a hurry; they were fleeing their own settlement in Venezuela in order to escape the pursuing Carib tribes. The earliest evidence found in Aruba of any kind of settlement has been dated at around 1000 A.D.
The first European to reach Aruba was the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda who arrived in 1499. Due to the very difficult climate, there was no real attempt to use the island for plantation. Instead, the Spanish sent many of the native tribes people to slave in the mines.
There was fierce competition in this area amongst European countries who were all after an empire following the British success in colonizing various countries worldwide. In 1636, it was the Dutch who took control over proceedings and it remained this way for the best part of two whole centuries.
The British looked as though they had captured the island in 1805 during the Napoleonic wars but this was to be short lived. The Dutch were having none of it and in 1816, the island was theirs yet again.
Economic Changes in Aruba
The British would have been kicking themselves upon news of the gold rush that spread through Aruba brought on by the opening of a crude oil facility in 1924. There were refineries on all corners of the island and the big oil companies were cashing in big time.
As lucrative as this business proved to be, it soon gave way to the increasing tourism trade which took over half way through the 20th century. A large number of resorts were opened across the island and it made itself a bit of a reputation. Some even called it the Caribbean Las Vegas
In 1986, Aruba chose to cut ties with the Netherland Antilles and became a separate state. This state was autonomous and thus came under its own self governance. There has been no further movement with the scope of obtaining full independence and thus the island of Aruba remains part of the Netherlands.
Such a small island still requires some form of governance. There are only 21 seats to be fought over but this doesn't make it any easier. The first election was held in 1997 but it was unclear as to whom had won. The results left all three parties with seven seats each and thus there was no way forward from this. The course that was followed involved a coalition government.
This coalition was between parties known as the AVP and OLA. The MEP was forced to be the opposition. Against all odds, however, a free election returned a surprising result and the MEP was elected to form the first ever government. The election was marginal with 12 out of 21 seats being awarded to the opposition. The possibility remains of having a coalition with the MEP.
The island of Aruba has not had a simple history and it has not always been a self governing member of the Netherlands. It's history has been far more diverse; from basic civilization to the tropical Las Vegas, it's transformation has been incredible.