Their ancestors had migrated to the island from the mainland of South America, likely hundreds of years before Europeans arrived. They were believed to have migrated from the Amazon Basin. The first Europeans recorded as seeing the island were members of a Spanish expedition under the leadership of Alonso de Ojeda in The Spaniards enslaved most of the Arawak as their labour force.
They sometimes forcibly relocated the survivors to other colonies where workers were needed. In , after the Netherlands achieved independence from Spain caused by Eighty Years' War , Dutch colonists started to occupy the island. European powers were trying to establish bases in the Caribbean.
The natural harbour of Willemstad proved to be an ideal spot for trade. Sephardic Jews with ancestors from the Iberian Peninsula settled here with the Dutch and in then- Dutch Brazil ; they have had a significant influence on the culture and economy of the island.
They had made a serious navigational error, hitting the reefs on 11 May , a week after setting sail from Saint Kitts. The mineral was a lucrative export at the time and was a major factor for the island being part of international commerce. Emergence of Willemstad[ edit ] Willemstad, Many Dutch colonists grew affluent from the slave trade, and the city built impressive colonial buildings.
Landhouses former plantation estates and West African style kas di pal'i maishi former slave dwellings are scattered all over the island. Some have been restored and can be visited. Up to slaves on the northwest section of the island revolted. More than 1, slaves took part in extended gunfights. After a month, the slave owners suppressed the revolt. Netherlands established economic ties with Viceroyalty of New Granada , which includes present-day countries of Colombia and Venezuela.
Children from affluent Venezuelan families were educated on the island. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the island changed hands among the British, the French, and the Dutch several times. The Dutch abolished slavery in , bringing a change in the economy with the shift to wage labour. Other former slaves had nowhere to go and remained working for the plantation owner in the tenant farmer system.
In exchange, the tenant promised to give up for rent most of his harvest to the former slave master. This system lasted until the beginning of the 20th century.
Historically, Dutch was not widely spoken on the island outside of colonial administration; its use increased in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Teaching of Spanish was restored when Dutch rule resumed in Also, efforts were made to introduce bilingual popular education in Dutch and Papiamentu in the late 19th century. Crude oil production in Venezuela was inexpensive.
The integrated companies Shell and Exxon controlled the entire industry from pumping, transporting, and refining to marketing the end product. This provided a safety net for losses incurred through inefficiency or excessive operating costs at the refineries. The riots damaged Willemstad and resulted in the resignation of the Prime Minister as well as a social prestige for the local language Papiamento.
Several revenue-generating endeavours suffered even more during this period: The offshore industry financial services also experienced a downturn because of new tax laws in the United States.
In the mids, Shell sold the refinery for the symbolic amount of one Antillean guilder to a local government consortium. The aging refinery has been the subject of lawsuits in recent years, which charge that its emissions, including sulfur dioxide and particulate matter , far exceed safety standards. Due to an economic slump in the late s and early s, emigration to the Netherlands has been high.
On 28 November , this was delayed when the island council rejected a clarification memorandum on the process. A new island council ratified this agreement on 9 July The kingdom was also to oversee the island's finances under a debt-relief arrangement agreed between the two. He was succeeded in by Stanley Betrian , ad interim. After elections in Daniel Hodge became the third prime minister, on 31 December The coastlines bays, inlets and hot springs offer an on-site source of natural mineral, thermal, or seawater used in hydrotherapy and mesotherapy, making this island one of many balneoclimateric areas in the region.
Xeric scrublands are common, with various forms of cacti , thorny shrubs, evergreen , and the watapana tree, called divi-divi on Aruba, characteristic for the ABC islands and the national symbol of Aruba.