Aruba

Electricity

Aruba uses 120V at 60Hz, which is identical to the US and Canadian standard. Outlets are NEMA 5 grounded outlets identical to standard wall outlets in the US and Canada. Occasionally non-grounded outlets may be found, which do not accept the third, round pin present on grounded plugs and require an adapter. Older North American outlets may not be polarised with one slot wider than the other. Otherwise, adapters are available which accept a polarised plug and adapt it for use with a non-polarised outlet.

Symbolism

Papiamento and the national flag, anthem, and coat of arms are the most important national symbols. They stress the inhabitants' love for the island, the close connection to the Caribbean Sea, and the multi-cultural composition of the population. The national anthem is played and sung on many occasions. The Dutch flag functions as a symbol of the unity of Aruba, the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Antilles.

Climate

The climate is tropical marine, with little seasonal temperature variation. Because of its location south in the Caribbean there is very strong sun, but a constant light breeze keeps the temperature pleasant. These persistent winds out of the east shape the island's distinctive, lop-sided divi-divi trees. The divi-divi trees have become a signature tree to Aruba's landscape. The weather is almost always dry, with most rain showers coming at night and lasting only a little while. Temperatures in Aruba do not change dramatically. Between the months of January and March the temperatures stay around 76-85 degrees; this being their high season. However starting in April and through December this is considered off season and temperatures do not change much beyond 79 and 88 degrees. It lies outside the zone usually affected by hurricanes.

History

Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. The island's economy has traditionally been dominated by three main industries. A 19th century gold rush was followed by prosperity brought on by the opening in 1924 of an oil refinery. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry. In 1986, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles Bonaire and Curacao, which together with Aruba form the ABC-Islands and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's request in 1990.

In 1986, the oil refinery closed, which severely impacted Aruba's economy and accelerated an already-evident shift towards tourism which is now almost complete. The oil refinery reopened in 1991, closed again in 2009, reopened again in 2011, and closed again in 2012.

Today, tourism is the mainstay of the small, open Aruban economy. The rapid growth of the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction boomed, with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level. The 1980s tourism boom led to a bad hangover, in that several projects ran out of money during construction and sat as half-completed eyesores until they were eventually picked up by other investors and completed during the 1990s and 2000s. To prevent a recurrence of that situation, the government imposed a building moratorium in 2007.

Etiquette

You should not wear beach attire anywhere but on the beaches or by the pool.

Make sure to properly greet someone.

Ask before photographing someone.

Men should wear dress shorts or slacks to dinner, no jeans allowed in most restaurants.

Currency & money

Aruba's currency is the florin denoted by the letters 'Awg.' but also widely known as 'Afl.' The official rate at which banks accept U.S. dollar banknotes is Awg. 1,77 and checks at Awg. 1,78. The rate of exchange granted by shops and hotels ranges from Awg. 1,75 to Awg. 1,80 per U.S. dollar. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted in Aruba, and banks may exchange other foreign currency.Traveler's checks are widely accepted and there is no charge for using them in hotels, restaurants and stores. Major credit cards are accepted at most establishments while personal checks are normally not accepted.

Cash may be obtained with MasterCard, Visa and American Express cards at credit card offices, banks, in some casinos and via Western Union. ATM cards and credit cards are accepted by ATMs of Aruba Bank, Banco di Caribe, RBTT Bank, and Caribbean Mercantile Bank. The card must have either a Cirrus or Visa Plus logo. ATM instructions are normally given in Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento. Cash is normally dispensed in local currency.

Landscape

The island is flat with a few hills, arid with mostly desert vegetation and negligible natural resources other than white sandy beaches. Highest point: Mount Jamanota 188 m.