Caribbean

Aruba

 

For a brief historical outline of the Netherlands Antilles click here.

 

The history of Aruba.

Popular belief links Aruba’s name with the Spanish phrase "oro huba" which means "there was gold". In fact the Spanish did not find any gold, and regarded Aruba as "valueless". Another possibility is that Aruba’s name comes from the Indian word "oruba" which means "well placed ". Yet another possible derivation of the name is from two Carib Indian words "ora" meaning "shell", and "oubao" meaning "island". 

 

Long before the Spanish arrived (1499), Caquetio Indians of the Arawak tribe settled on the Paraguana peninsula in Venezuela. Threatened by the Carib Indians who were extremely ferocious, they came to the Island of Aruba perhaps as long as 4000 years ago. Today, many names of towns and other geographical areas such as Turibana, Guadirikiri, Camacuri, Andicuri and Bushiri, originate from the earliest Indian chiefs and warrior settlers.

 

As far as can be concluded from historical records, the first European to set foot on Aruba was Alonso de Ojeda. This Spanish explorer landed on the Island in 1499. One of his first observations was that the remains he found belonging to the first settlers were considered to be larger than the average European of that day. He remarked that he had come to "an Island of giants".

With the arrival of the Spanish many of the Indian population were enslaved and relocated to Hispañola to work in mines. Despite this their fate was merciful when compared to Indian populations on other Caribbean Islands who were exterminated. In fact, the Island was spared the usual horrors of Spanish colonial policies. 

By 1642, the 80-year war between Spain and Holland was drawing to a close, and it was in this year that the Dutch took possession of Aruba. Dutch military personnel were sent to maintain Aruba, but contrary to their living conditions under their previous masters, the Indians were allowed to remain free. There was a short period between 1805 and 1816 when the British assumed control. However, the Dutch returned in 1816.

In 1824 gold was discovered and was mined extensively, becoming a major export along with phosphate, divi-divi pods for use in leather tanning and aloe. At one time Aruba satisfied a considerable proportion of world demand for this plant’s gel - used for pharmaceutical purposes and well-known for its capacity to alleviate sunburn pain.

Eventually gold supplies dwindled and the once-booming mining industry became unprofitable resulting in all operations ceasing in 1916. It was ultimately black gold that brought real prosperity.

 

In 1928 Royal Dutch Shell built the Eagle oil refinery and this was immediately followed by a refinery built by Lago Oil and Transport Company Ltd. in San Nicolas. Royal Dutch Shell ceased its operations in 1953, after serving as a depot for both refineries during the second world war. In 1932, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (Esso, now known as Exxon) took over the Lago refinery. The refinery employed well over 8,000 people, 16% of Aruba’s population, and up until the 70’s was one of the largest in the world.

On March 31, 1985, Exxon, pressured by a global oversupply, closed the refinery but it was reopened by the Coastal Oil Company of Houston, Texas on April 20,1991.

 

The island of Aruba formed a part of the Netherlands Antilles till 1986. On January 1 of that yea Aruba stepped out of the Antilles and got its own status (status Aparte) as a separate country of the Netherlands. It was agreed that Aruba would achieve independence ten years later, thus on 1 January 1996.

However, in the early 1990s independence was cancelled on Aruba's request; the island is a country (103.000 inhabitants) with a Status Aparte in the Kingdom of the Netherlands ssince 2001.

 

 

The Dutch Dominicans and Dominican Sisters on Aruba

 

In 1816 the Netherlands became owner of the island Aruba. The Dutch Dominican Fr. Hendriks (07.05.1870-24.08.1942) built in San Nicolas, called after the Dutch large landowner Nicolaas van der Biest, the wooden church of Saint Theresia  in ca. 1901. Thomas Exler, O.P. (08.12.1898-27.10,.1962) built around the wooden church a brick church in 1931. The Dominican sisters were active in education. One of their students, Laura Paskel (18.02.1911-08.09.1962), was the first female politician of Aruba.


Philately

 

40th Anniversary
of the parish of Saint Theresia at St. Nicholas, Aruba.

 

Netherlands Antilles 1971, Mi 228, Sc 327. 

 

 

   Laura Paskel (1911-1962).

   Famous student of the Dominican Sisters;           
   later the first female politician of Aruba. 

 

   Aruba 1996, Mi 184, Sc 141.

 

   

Chapel in Alta Vista.

 

Spanish missionaries built with the local Indians in Alta Vista, Aruba, in 1750 a simple chapel; it became the first parish church in 1776. The population left  this place on account of deadly ill-health and the church was closed in 1816. The chapel goes to ruin, but the people of Aruba and the Dutch Dominicans built a new chapel, devoted to the Holy Virgin in 1952. In this chapel the Spanish cross is preserved of the missionaries from 1750. There is yearly a procession in October.  

 

250th Anniversary of the Alta Vista Chapel,
dedicated the Holy Virgin. 

Aruba 2000, Mi 20.04.2000, Sc 196.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The chapel of Alta Vista at the right.
  

   Aruba 2006, Mi Bl 5, Sc  - .

 

 

 

 


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