Aruba’s History

Aruba is a Caribbean island located in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea, just off the coast of Venezuela. The history of Aruba spans thousands of years, with indigenous peoples inhabiting the island long before the arrival of European explorers.

Caquetio tribe

Indigenous people, believed to be of the Caquetio tribe, originally settled in Aruba around 1000 AD. They lived a relatively peaceful existence, relying on fishing, hunting, and agriculture. The Caquetio people developed a complex society and had well-established trade routes with other indigenous groups in the region.

The Spanish explorer

The first European contact with Aruba occurred in 1499 when the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda arrived on the island. The Spanish claimed Aruba as part of their territories in the Americas, but they did not establish a permanent settlement there. Over the next several centuries, Aruba changed hands several times between the Spanish, Dutch, and British as various European powers vied for control over the region.

Dutch West India Company

In 1636, the Dutch West India Company took control of Aruba and established a small settlement called Fort Zoutman. The Dutch established a colony on the island and began cultivating crops such as maize and cassava. They also imported African slaves to work on the plantations.

During the colonial period, Aruba’s economy relied primarily on agriculture, particularly aloe vera cultivation and livestock farming. The island’s strategic location also made it an important hub for trade, especially in salt mining.

19th century

In the early 19th century, the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies led to significant changes in Aruba’s society and economy. Many former slaves became independent farmers or laborers. The decline of the aloe vera industry and the rise of the oil industry in neighboring Venezuela further transformed Aruba’s economy.

Oil refineries

In 1940, oil refineries were established on Aruba, which became the backbone of the island’s economy for many years. The refineries provided employment opportunities and attracted a diverse workforce from various parts of the Caribbean and beyond. Aruba’s prosperity continued to grow, and the island gained more autonomy within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Aruba formally seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and became a separate entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This status allowed the island to have greater control over its own affairs and to develop its tourism industry, which has become a vital part of the economy.

Aruba Today

Today, Aruba is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant tourism industry. The island has experienced significant economic growth and has invested in infrastructure, hospitality, and sustainable development. It remains an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with its own government and constitution.