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Aruba

Aruba

Summary

The Netherlands Antilles, founded in the 1600’s, were a collection of Dutch territories made up of six islands: Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, (northern) Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Sint Maarten (southern). Aruba seceded from the Antilles in 1986 and became a separate, independent Dutch territory. Three-fourths of all inhabitants of the current Dutch Caribbean islands live on Curacao, but Sint Maarten has the highest population density. The ethnicity of the citizens is mainly black, with a small white minority. The biggest city among the islands is Willemstad, Curacao. 1The arrival of the gold and oil industry in the early 1900’s in Aruba, along with an increased demand for tourism, contributed to the modern economy and urbanization of the island. 2 Aruba is most well-known as a tourist magnet and fuel exporter. 3 1https://www.britannica.com/place/Netherlands-Antilles 2http://www.encyclopedia.com/places/latin-america-and-caribbean/caribbean-political-geography/aruba 3http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-20145233

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Despite its ocean location near the equator, Aruba is the home to a semi-arid, desert-like climate. 1 The arid climate is good for cacti and other desert plants; much other vegetation has been destroyed by overgrazing. The northern Dutch islands are made up of mainly volcanic rock, but have a wide variety of flora and fauna because they receive more precipitation. Hurricanes and tropical storms are also more common in the northern islands. 2 The government is pursuing a higher dependency on renewable resources, such as wind and water, for energy. In 2014, renewable resources were used to produce 20 percent of the country’s energy, with the goal being 50 percent production by 2025. 3

Family

Monogamy and legal marriage is the norm in Aruba, although extramarital relationships and pregnancy are common. Almost half of Aruban marriages end in divorce before they reach their 10th anniversary. While 50 percent of the population are married, 21 percent of adults live on their own.1 30 percent of Aruban marriages today are considered “fake marriages”. Fake marriages happen when non-Arubans marry Aruban citizens in order to gain a much-coveted Dutch citizenship.2 Nearly half of Dutch Caribbean households consist of only one person. Single-parent households are 12 percent of households, and married couples make up 26 percent. Dutch Caribbean households are different from Dutch households in the Netherlands in that 13 percent of families live with extended family members, as compared to only Read More 1.4 percent in the Netherlands.3 Show Less

Human Rights

One of the most well-known human violations in Aruba occurs in the prison and justice system. Abuse of prisoners and improper treatment of detainees by police runs rampant in federal prisons. Human trafficking and abuse of migrant workers is often behind many of the violations of labor laws. 1 Starting in 2009, Aruba took steps to uncover and end human trafficking on the island for the first time. 2 Like many other Caribbean countries, the Dutch islands were a common transit stop for drug trade until the Dutch government cracked down on drug trade in the early 2000’s. 3

Education

Beginning in 1992, education in the Netherlands Antilles was compulsory from age 6 to age 17, and the literacy rate was nearly on a par with that of the metropolitan Netherlands. 12 Since the dissolution of the Antilles in 2010, schools in the Dutch Caribbean have officially been a part of the Netherlands education system and receive all their funding from the Netherlands. 3 Students in secondary school either receive vocational training or preparation courses for university. 4 Almost all Arubans attend school through age 17, but 75 percent of those who continue on to higher education travel outside Aruba to attend a university. 5

Poverty

As of 2015, the unemployment rate in Aruba was 10.8 percent, one of the lowest of the Caribbean islands. 1 This comes as a result of the abundance of jobs in the tourism industry. However, the small labor force and low unemployment rate have led to a large number of job vacancies, despite an increase in the minimum wage. 2 There is no official poverty level in Aruba, but the average monthly wage is equivalent to $914. 3

Religion

Three-fourths of Dutch islanders identify as Roman Catholic, one-sixth are Protestant, and the remaining percentages follow other religions such as Buddhism and Judaism. 1

Clean Water

Like the other islands, a lack of rain and fresh water sources hinder the availability of clean water in Aruba. They often make drinking water by distilling seawater. 1 Efficient water production and management has produced a marked difference in the development and prosperity of the island. 2

Economy

For years after World War II, the Dutch islands feared the economic consequences of independence from the Netherlands. Tourism and hospitality services are the main parts of the economy. Curacao is a center for banking and finance, and along with its oil refinery business, has become the basis of the islands’ economy. 1 Over 1 million tourists visit Aruba per year, generating revenue in the hospitality industry and many other areas. The construction industry has experienced a boom in an attempt to house increased amounts of travelers staying on the island. 2 The country experienced an economic crisis in 2008 with the exit of the oil refining industry, but oil refining is expected to make a return in 2018 and provide another economic boost. Read More 3 Show Less

Government

Although the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010, all six islands retain ties to the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten became autonomous countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 1 There is a single representation with branches on each of three islands that communicates with the Netherlands on the state of affairs on the islands. 2 The Netherlands retains control of Aruban conduct in foreign affairs. 3 Aruba received voting rights in the European Parliament elections for the first time in 2009. 4

Health

Mosquito-borne illnesses, including Zika, are a risk in the Dutch Caribbean islands. 1 All citizens who legally work or reside in the Caribbean Netherlands receive government health insurance, regardless of income. 2 Aruba often serves as a transit location for illegal drugs traveling from Europe to the US, and a high percentage of Arubans consume cocaine. 3 One hospital is located on the island, and only below-average health is available. 4

Children

18 percent of Arubans are 0-14 years old. 1 Almost all children attend school at least through age 17. Upon entering secondary school, they are either trained for a vocation or prepared for continued schooling, depending on their academic skill level. 2

Animals

Aruba is home to several rare species of birds and snakes, along with many wild donkeys and goats that live in the mountainous terrain. 1 The other islands are commonly home to geckos, lizards, sea turtles, and an abundance of marine life, although each island has a distinct variety of wildlife because of its unique landscape. 2 The Parke Nacional Arikok, a nature preserve covering almost one-fifth of the island, is the last protected refuge for the island’s most endangered species, the burrowing owl. 3

Aruba

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