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Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. The island's economy has 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. Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's request in 1990.

Economy – overview: Tourism is the mainstay of the Aruban economy, although offshore banking and oil refining and storage are also important. The rapid growth of the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction has boomed, with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level. In addition, the reopening of the country's oil refinery in 1993, a major source of employment and foreign exchange earnings, has further spurred growth. Aruba's small labor force and less than 1% unemployment rate have led to a large number of unfilled job vacancies, despite sharp rises in wage rates in recent years. The island experiences only a brief low season, and hotel occupancy in 2004 averaged 80%, compared to 68% throughout the rest of the Caribbean. The newly re-elected government has made cutting the budget and trade deficits a high priority.

GDP purchasing power parity - $2.13 billion (2004 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 3.5% (2004 est.)

GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $21,800 (2004 est.)

GDP - composition by sector agriculture:NA%

Population below poverty line NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share lowest 10%:NA%
highest 10%:NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 2% (1999 est.)

Labor force 41,501 (1997 est.)

Labor force - by occupation most employment is in wholesale and retail trade and repair, followed by hotels and restaurants (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate 7.3% (2004 est.)

Budget revenues:$NA
expenditures:$541 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries tourism, transshipment facilities, oil refining

Industrial production growth rate NA%

Electricity - production 475 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source fossil fuel:100%
other:0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption 770 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - exports 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products aloes; livestock; fish

Exports $80 million f.o.b.; note - includes oil reexports (2004 est.)

Exports – commodities: live animals and animal products, art and collectibles, machinery and electrical equipment, transport equipment

Exports - partners Netherlands 28.5%, Panama 17.4%, Venezuela 14.7%, Netherlands Antilles 11.2%, Colombia 10.7%, US 10.4% (2004)

Imports $875 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities machinery and transport equipment, crude oil for refining and reexport; foodstuffs

Imports - partners US 55.5%, Netherlands 14.1%, Venezuela 3.3% (2004)

Debt - external $453 million (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient $17.4 million (2004)

Currency 1 Aruban florin (Af.) = 100 cents

Exchange rates Aruban florins (Af.) per US$1 - 1.7900 (fixed rate since 1986)

Fiscal year calendar year

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