Aruba is an island in the Caribbean Sea, southwest of the Lesser Antilles, about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Curaçao and 18 miles (29 km) north of Paraguaná, a peninsula in Venezuela.
Previously, Aruba belonged to the Netherlands Antilles. It was made a distinct, self-governing region of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1986. The white sand beaches in the south and west, the rocky coastline in the northeast, and the interior desert landscape draw tourists to Aruba. Oranjestad is its capital, which doubles as the nation's primary harbour.
The majority of Aruba's population is ethnically diverse, with many having American Indian descent alongside Dutch, Spanish, and African lineage. However, there aren't many people who are mostly African heritage because, unlike most others, few slave-based farms existed on the Caribbean islands of Aruba during colonial times. The official languages are Dutch and Papiamentu, a creole that mostly developed from Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch and is also spoken in Curaçao and Bonaire. There is also a lot of use of Spanish and English.
The colonial government exploited Aruba as a horse breeding facility until the end of the 18th century, while native and mainland Indians worked as herdsmen. The land was only sold to settlers individually starting in the early 19th century. Attempts to grow aloe for pharmaceutical items didn't change the fact that agriculture was still of little importance. Gold mining started in 1824 but was stopped in the first decade of the 20th century. When oil refining began in the 1920s at the port of San Nicolas (Sint Nicolaas), Aruba's economy improved; crude oil was primarily imported then.