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Aruba
Introduction
Geography
Aruba is a 33km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 30kms north of the coast of Venezuela, at a 35min flight. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles.
Aruba’s terrain is mostly flat, the island is made up of limestone capped hills and ridges, with cliffs on the northern and northeastern coasts and coral reefs on the southern coast. The island's best-known geographical feature is its white-sand beaches and its calm and clear waters.

Capital: Oranjestad
Geographic coordinates: 12 31 N, 70 02 W
Surface: 193 km²
Flora & Fauna
Flora
Aruba hosts fascinating plant life, some of which is found nowhere else but on the island. The divi-divi tree, “watapana” in the Arawak language, is perhaps the most recognizable Aruban icon and an endemic bush in the other ABC Islands (Bonaire and Curacao).  An interesting observation is that attempts to plant this tree in other parts of the world have proved futile - it seems the Divi Divi is most comfortable in Aruba!
Aruba's dry climate is home to large Mondis (forests of cacti). As you explore the island, you can't help but notice the dozens of species of cactus such as the towering kadushi cactus, the yatu cactus, the priclily pear cactus and many others,  that have adapted well to the island´s dry conditions.
Fauna
Lizards (Papiamento - lagadishi) as well as geckoes and Iguanas abound in Aruba. In fact, half of the species of lizard known to man reside exclusively on the island.

Although once thought to be disappearing, wild donkeys are making a comeback and are usually seen in groups of three or four in the more rugged parts of the island. For more information please visit:

<http://www.arubandonkey.org/>
<http://www.aruba-travelguide.com/nature/index.html>
<http://www.visitaruba.com/attractions-and-activities/flora-and-fauna/>
Facts at a Glance
Visa and Documents
A current passport is required to travel to Aruba from the USA, Canada, South America, Europe and the Caribbean. American, Canadian, and EU citizens do not require visas, nor do most South Americans. open this link to see the list of nationals who need a VISA to travel to Aruba:

http://www.aruba.com/sigma/Entry_Req-Eng.pdf

For information about the visa requirements, to apply for a visa for Aruba, and for information on appointments/opening hours, the tourist can contact a consulate or embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in therir country of residence or visit the websites of the Embassy or consulates concerned. For address information and websites of Dutch diplomatic missions abroad, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
www.mfa.nl/en.
Population
In Aruba the majority of the population is a mixture of ancestors descended from the Spanish and Dutch who dominated the island, along with the Arawaks, who were natives of the island. The population of Aruba, which has about 102,000 inhabitants, is composed of a wide international mix of highly educated pleasant nature (about 40 different nationalities).
Political System
As a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba's politics take place within a framework of a 21-member Parliament and an eight-member Cabinet. The governor of Aruba is appointed for a six-year term by the monarch, and the prime minister and deputy prime minister are elected by the Staten (or "Parlamento") for four-year terms. The Staten is made up of 21 members elected by direct, popular vote to serve a four-year term.
Economy - Major Products/Industries
Its principal economic activity is the industry of the tourism, though in the last years there has been a great summit in the real-estate sector.
Religion
Catholics and Protestants
Language
Most of Aruba's population speaks more than four languages (Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento). Its official languages are Dutch and Papiamento, which are used in schools. However the most used language is Papiamento, a combination of Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, Arawak, French and English, which is the mother tongue of most of the population (about 70%).

In Aruba there is a large number of Spanish speakers. Its relative proximity to Venezuela has placed Spanish as the second most spoken language, so that schoolers can learn from fifth grade. You can see also several Venezuelan television channels on the island. A minority also speaks Portuguese and French.
Currency
Netherlands Antillean guilder, American Dollar
The forint is the official currency of Aruba. It is divided into 100 cents. The pennies are in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos, 1, 2 ½ and 5 florins. The square of 50 cents coin "Yotin" is the most popular currency of Aruba. The currency has an exchange rate against the U.S. Dollar 1 U.S. $ = 1.75 guilders in 1986.
Travel Tips
What is the price of gasoline in Aruba?
The price of 1 liter of gasoline is 1.57 guilders ($ 0.89). Gas pumps marked in liters: 1.06 quarts make 1 liter and 3.78 liters make 1 gallon ($ 3.39). The prices of gas stations are in Aruban florins. Some stations have employees who serve gasoline and other stations should enter and pay in advance. For more information on this topic visit www.arubalife.ne
Time difference
UTC/GMT - 4 h

Electricity
The voltage of electricity on the island is 110 volts AC (60Htz).
Its People
Its people are the most kind and hospitable in the Caribbean which makes the tourists visiting the island feel like home. Most of the natives of the island speak in an innate and spontaneous way more than 5 languages.
Water & Food
The water consumed in Aruba is pure and comes from the Caribbean Sea. The company draws Aruba Water salt water, purifies it and then distributed throughout the island. Note that the desalination plant that Aruba has is the second largest in the world.
Vaccines
Vaccination to enter the country (Effective May 2010):
- Compulsory: Yellow Fever (if it comes from an endemic country)
- Recommended: Tetanus-diphtheria, Hepatitis A
Shopping
Perfume, jewelry, brand clothes, glassware, porcelain, Dutch cheese and handicrafts.

Main banks of the island and their schedule
•AIB Bank N.V. - Willhelminastraat 34-36 - 582-7327
•Aruba Bank N.V. - Camacuri 12 - 582-1550
•Caribbean Mercantil Bank N.V. Caya G.F. Betico Croes 53 - 582-3118
•RBTT Bank Aruba N.V. Italiestraat 36 - 523-3100
Banking Hours: Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 16:00 (run time).
Valid Driver’s License
Accept foreign driver's licenses and international. The parking is free throughout the island.
Emergency numbers in Aruba
Ambulance, Fire and Police ............. 911
Hospital .................................. 587-4300
Safety & Security
The island of Aruba is considered one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean. However, incidents can happen. For your own safety, do not leave your belongings unattended.
When is the hurricane season in Aruba?
The Atlantic hurricane season begins in June and ends in November. The island lies outside the path of hurricanes; however, the island is always alert and vigilant and closely follows all environmental performance this season.
Best time to travel to Aruba
January, February and March are the most popular months to visit the island. During Carnival, just before Lent, the island has fun with parades, celebrations and parties. If you prefer fewer crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere plan your trip between April and September. Or if you can't stand any other morning removing the ice from your windshield, take the next plane and come in mid December.
Schedule for shopping
The shops are open from 8:00 to 18:30, Monday to Saturday, although some high street shops close their doors from 12:00 to 14:00 for a nap. On Sundays and holidays the shops are closed, however, some stores may be open in the morning when there are cruise ships in port.
Climate and Season
In its territory there are no rivers. Its climate is tropical, with temperatures averaging between 27 and 32 º C. Its arid soil and limestone, has beautiful white sand beaches, mainly in the south coast.
Telecommunications
Phone: the country's area code is (297) if you are calling from abroad. If you are calling abroad from Aruba there are several options: Operators in the hotel, Setar Teleshop offices in places such as Palm Beach, in front of the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Strada Complex II, at the beginning of Oranjestad Street; and in Royal Plaza.

Telephone Cabins: You can make your calls around the island with phone cards, available in Setar Teleshops and in most cafeterias, gas station and retail stores.

Cyber cafés: Access to e-mail and Internet is possible trough several Cyber Cafés available on the island, located downtown and near the hotel zone. Equally some hotels offer internet service through their business centers.

Sports & Activities
Go on Honeymoon
Aruba makes a great destination to go on honeymoons, but also to propose, to get married, to renew vows, to celebrate anniversaries or any other love commitment. As if the pleasant ocean breeze, pristine turquoise waters and soft white sands weren't enough, you'll find a number of all-inclusive luxury resorts aimed at making your honeymoon a romantic and passionate experience, a vast option of activities, dining options, exotic nature and much more to fully enjoy with your beloved one.
What to see
The island's capital Oranjestad, Palm Beach, Divi Divi trees (trees sculpted by the wind), the Casibari and the Ayo Rock Formations, the Fontein and the Guadirikiri Caves.
Best beaches to visit
Are Playa Druif (Druif Beach), Playa Punta Bravo (Punta Bravo Beach) and Playa El Aguila (Eagle Beach). All these beaches are serene waters and are available 10 minutes from the Cruise Terminal Station. Additionally some of these beaches, there are hotels, restaurants, casinos, golf course and shops. Taxis and buses are also available.
Cycling
Enjoy the island's exotic terrain on a mountain bike. Aruba is just small enough to allow for cycling enthusiasts to enjoy this desert island's exotic terrain. Because some of the roads throughout the island are sandy, a mountain bike is the way to go. The terrain is mainly flat so you won't get exhausted peddling up steep hills. The weather is generally hot and sunny, but cyclists will appreciate Aruba's cooling trade winds. Nevertheless, it is always advised to go armed with plenty of sunscreen to battle the elements.
Hiking
Explore places in Aruba that few others have seen. From dunes with white sand to cacti in a desert interior, to limestone cliffs and hidden caves on the Caribbean shore, hikers live an experience that encompasses the beauty and natural wonders of Aruba.  Enjoy of an intimate contact with the environment at some of the island s most beautiful locations - many remain untouched by noise and development.
Horseback riding
Aruba's topography offers a variety of exotic locations for adventurous visitors. From the challenging sand dunes to the desert-like plains that will make you feel like the star of your own western motion picture. Riding experience is not required, but suntan lotion is recommended!
Golfing
It combines the challenge of constant trade winds and tropical sun with desert beauty and sweeping Caribbean views. The game, further enhanced by paradise sights of the coastline and the stunning contrast of rolling greens landscaped with water features and cactus hazards, is made memorable in Aruba.
Tour the Island
Visit the most popular sights on the island from the comfort of an air-conditioned motor coach or on a jeep safari, and receive detailed information of what you see along the way. You will be visiting the California Lighthouse, the Natural Bridge Ruins, Alto Vista Chapel and other highlights, including Baby Beach.
Windsurf & Kitesurf
Whether you're a beginner, an expert or anywhere in between, you can find a suitable location for windsurfing in Aruba. The constant 15-knot trade winds, along with the variety of flat-water locations and challenging wave conditions, have made Aruba one of the most popular spots on earth for windsurfers and kite surfers.
Sailing & Boating
Hop aboard a pleasure boat or luxury catamaran for a day of sailing. The calm waters of Aruba's leeward coast are great for this activity and the steady trade winds ensure favorable sailing conditions.
Kayaking
This is your opportunity to explore Aruba in the most adventurous way. Kayaking combines the fun of water sports with the thrill of exploration in a unique way. You will see the coast from a different vantage point while kayaking alongside beautiful mangrove forests and mysterious hidden caves. As you glide along the surface of a crystal clear lagoon observe different forms of marine life.
Snorkeling
Snorkeling is one of the best ways to discover Aruba's Underwater Marine life. Swimmers undertake an underwater exploration of Aruba's warm, welcoming marine environment and enjoying a variety of colorful tropical fish and several species of coral. Coming eye-to-eye with a majestic Queen Angelfish as it swims by the coral reef, marveling at a diminutive damselfish as it guards its home by waving sea fans or encountering an entire school of blue parrotfish is an unforgettable experience.

Reef and wreck diving
Aruba earns its reputation as the wreck dive destination of the Caribbean with over half a dozen wrecks submerged in its waters. The Antilla, a German freighter -- which at close to 400 feet long, is also the Caribbean s largest wreck -- is by far the favorite, even among longtime, resident divers, who always seem to find something new at the site.
Dee sea Fishing
In the temperate waters around Aruba, a variety of Atlantic game fish can be caught year-round. Sailfish, white and blue marlin, wahoo, shark, barracuda, amberjack, kingfish, bonito, and blackfin and yellowfin tuna are abundant. The captain and his/her first mate will help the vacationing fishing enthusiast bring in any fish, even if they have little previous experience. Many restaurants will even cook and serve your catch of the day.
Birdwatching
Migratory birds, looking for lush vegetation in which to nest, find an oasis within the Bubali Bird Sanctuary. Birds that inhabit the sanctuary include herons, egrets, gulls, skimmers, coots, cormorants, numerous species of ducks and more. An observation tower has been erected to allow birdwatchers to get a true birds  eye view.