Aruba is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, near Venezuela and the Guajira Peninsula of Colombia. Aruba’s capital is Oranjestad and, together with its nearest neighbours Curaçao and Bonaire, it forms the Southern Island Chain. Aruba was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, together with Saint Maarten and Curaçao. It has a dry, semi-arid climate that visitors can rely on and is outside the hurricane belt. It’s interior is dry and stony with cacti growing in abundance.
The generally flat landscape of Aruba is best known for its sheltered beaches of white sand, particularly on the west and south, where most of the tourist resorts are to be found. By contrast, the east and north coasts are surrounded by wild seas and are relatively undeveloped, which some visitors value highly.
Aruba’s economy relies on tourism, the export of aloe, gold and phosphate mining and petroleum refineries.
Aruba has a rich historic past. It was initially colonized by Spaniards in the 15th century following the visits and trades by Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda, and formed a part of “Nueva Andalucía”. However, Aruba has been under Dutch administration since the early 17th century, until it petitioned for separate status in 1933. It’s now a US protectorate. Aruba is also highly cosmopolitan, from the point of view that as many as ninety-two different nationalities were recently found to inhabit this island.
The food in Aruba is both multi-ethnic, diverse and delicious. Some traditional dishes include cocada (coconut candy), chicken with raisins and corn meal mush. You can sample a variety of Aruba restaurants with the Aruba Gastronomic Association Dine-Around Program.
The varied Aruba night life can be found at most of the large hotels as well as the towns, and includes casinos, dancing, party buses and some pretty unique cafes and wine bars.
The Aruba Carnival takes place from the beginning of January until Ash Wednesday, with its grand parade on the last Sunday. The “Dia di La Reina” (Queen’s birthday) celebrations are in April and the “Dia di San Juan” celebrations in June.
You can still expect to encounter the Dutch influence, particularly around the start of December when “Sinterklaas” is celebrated. The Christmas and New Year set of festivities also take place with traditional food, drink and particularly fantastic fireworks at year’s end.
Posted : Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 at 11:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save